Importance of Stretching

Hello everyone! It's been a rough few days with the weather still being too cold and brisk to allow a lot of hours outside, but we've been sticking it out and making the most of it, rest assured. With the temperature barely squeaking past 40 degrees today, my dad and I decided to keep it indoors until hopefully tomorrow, when it's supposed to climb a little higher into the low 50s.

One spin class and two hours on the stationary bike later (Jurassic Park was my film of choice today), and I am sitting back while listening to the wind whistle outside my window pane. Can't say I'm disappointed to have called our ride off on account of the weather. But tomorrow we should be back on the road in force, preparing for our big century ride in the morning. It's going to be a 7 hour marathon of rolling hills and straight flats, just another a typical day once we get on the road in California. I am excited to go for the big 100 tomorrow. This can only help us further prepare for the rides that await us once we get going.

One of the things that I touched upon while discussing my preparations for these long rides is the importance of stretching. It cannot be expressed enough on how crucial it is for my dad and I to maintain our flexibility while continuing our training these last few weeks. For those of you who have come in late, a few weeks ago my dad suffered a back injury the day after a long ride in the saddle. The culprit, not enough stretching!

Rather than let his injury hold him up, Ralph has since then done his best to maintain a rigorous stretching regiment both before and after riding the bike so that future risk of injury is minimized. Seeing my dad so committed off the bike, I decided to take a leaf out of his book and ante up my stretching as well. Since then I am pleased to see how much more efficient my legs have been working these past few rides. Before I would spend perhaps 15 minutes at the most stretching after a ride, without really bothering to warm up or prepare as the rides grew longer. Now I dedicate at least 45 minutes to an hour on the floor after I'm done with my rides.

In my continuing search to help reduce soreness and increasing flexibility in my legs, I brought my questions to our local bike shop during a tune-up the other week. There, one of the staff mentioned a practice called "leg draining," a practice that essentially involves elevating your legs up against a vertical wall in an effort to drain the blood and lactic acid from your worn muscles. This supposedly allows them to be "drained" and replaced with fresher fluids as you stand back up and continue with your day.

Sounds kind've quirky, I know, but since I've been implementing this practice into my routine in addition to my increased time dedicated to stretching. Since then I've noticed that it no longer becomes painful during the first few miles in each training ride. Where before it could sometimes it take up to 45 minutes until my legs felt loose, now that time is almost halved and my legs feel stronger than ever.

It's equally important to note that thanks to keeping it flexible, there have been no further back injuries for my dad as well (knock on wood).

The proof is in the performance. As my dad and I continue to raise the bar in an effort to being fully prepared, it is important that we recognize that the bar needs to be raised on all aspects of training both on and off the road.

As I mentioned earlier in this post tomorrow we will be attempting a nice long century ride. With any luck not only will we complete it as scheduled but you all might be in for some video content as I master the workings of my new helmet mounted camera (http://driftinnovation.com/drift-hd/).

Danielle Rivenbark