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Improve your Bike Performance by Mobilising your Spine

Brad Hiskins explains the role of your thoracic spine and demonstrates how to mobilise it to boost your comfort and performance on the bike.

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Comfort and aerodynamics on a bike are two key factors to cycling efficiency, longevity and performance. Let’s explore these factors and educate ourselves on simple ways to increase our body’s capacity to absorb load and increase effectiveness in our cycling pursuits.

Cyclists, of all levels, would have spent time fiddling and adjusting their bikes to obtain the most effective set-up to enable comfort on those long Sunday morning rides. Even with this constant bike tinkering you will inevitably experience some discomfort through your back and/or neck. Sowhat can we do to adjust our backs rather than our bikes to achieve comfort?

Get that thoracic spine mobile!

Comfort

Your thoracic spine is the section of your spine that has the ribs attached, twelve in all (as there are twelve pairs of ribs). Having ribs attached to these vertebrae automatically make this section of your spine less mobile than your cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) spine. Therefore maintaining the little mobility of your thoracic spine is very important.

Why, you ask? Let’s have a look at the typical cycling posture. When seated on your bike you are in a forward bending position (trunk flexion). If you were to simulate this position on land you would look like Figure 1.

 

T-Rack 

Take note of the position of your head in this position; it is facing the ground. However when on a bike, you obviously need to look forward so your head has quite a dramatic change in position—it has to extend
through the cervical spine (Figure 2).

T-Rack

 

Your cervical spine is quite capable of doing this by itself. However this position is much more achievable and efficient if the thoracic spine also extends to take some of the load. It is this extension of the thoracic spine and its ability to bear some of the load that increases comfort levels through your neck and upper back.

See Figure 2 (hyperkyphotic) and Figure 3 (extended) for examples of movement coming predominantly from the cervical spine as opposed to the movement gained from the cervical and thoracic spine.

T-Rack 

Those who can achieve this thoracic spine extension will certainly experience less neck and upper back pain and hence increase their longevity in the sport.

 

Performance

Comfort will obviously improve performance. Reducing pain and muscular spasm from your neck and upper back will give you a physical and emotional advantage. Beyond this, an increase in range of movement in your thoracic spine will allow you to achieve a more aerodynamic position. A mobile thoracic spine allows you to lengthen your back into a streamline position, reducing air resistance and allowing you to travel at greater speeds with less effort and less deceleration. For those looking to improve their time trial ability, a mobile thoracic spine is a must. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on devising changes to bikes to achieve tiny aerodynamic advantages, and similarly huge amounts are spent on helmet and clothing technology. It is highly advisable then to complement this by having the most mobile, aerodynamic spine.

A stiff, hyperkyphotic thoracic spine substantially decreases your ability to breathe freely and deeply.

Breathing Capacity

Your ability to breathe fully is substantially impaired with a stiff thoracic spine. Try the following to see what I mean. While seated, put yourself into a ‘hyperkyphotic’ (excessive curve) thoracic posture (see Figure 4).

T-Rack 

While in this position (and try to keep yourself in this position throughout the exercise), try taking a deep breath. Now, to experience the difference with a less stiff thoracic spine and a ‘better’ postural position, sit up straight, taking away the hyperkyphotic thoracic spine (Figure 5).

T-Rack 

Now take a deep breath. Note the difference. Hence a stiff, hyperkyphotic thoracic spine substantially decreases your ability to breathe freely and deeply. Needless to say, air capacity is vital for the amateur and the professional cyclist to enjoy a Sunday ride or to compete at the
highest levels.

The T-Rack

The T-rack, is designed to reverse the poor posture we find ourselves in during our daily activities or sporting
ventures. It simply acts to mobilise your thoacic spine by you laying on it. Whereas a swiss ball will conform to your stiff spine, the PTR will not. Hence, your spine will have to conform to the shape of the PTR which has been angled to achieve optimal thoracic extension while reducing excessive lumbar extension. The diagrams in figures 6, 7 and 8 show you how this is done in a simple sequence.

T-Rack 

T-Rack

T-Rack 

Furthermore, the PTR has a moveable head piece that adjusts to the length of your spine allowing people of all heights to use it comfortably.

The rack can also be used by a therapist during treatment sessions. If you have regular maintenance massages, take it along with you. Your therapist can help you stretch, or even treat you while you are on the rack.

The PTR is designed for the travelling cyclist as well as the homebody. There are two versions of the Portable Thoracic Rack. The first is a robust model fashioned from aluminium that is more specifically for home and regular use at gymnasiums. The second is an extremely strong and lightweight (700 grams) robust plastic model that fits neatly into sports bags making it an easy tool to carry with you.

For further information about the Portable Thoracic Rack, see www.t-rack.com.au

 

 

 


Brad Hiskins has a Bachelor of Science (maj. Exercise Physiology), a Diploma in Soft Tissue Therapy, and has worked as Head of Service for the Athens Olympic Games, Soft Tissue Therapy service provider to the Australian Team at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympic Games, Head of Service for Manchester and Melbourne Commonwealth Games and Soft Tissue Therapist at the Australian Institute of Sport from 1994 to 2005. He has long been a provider of soft tissue therapy to numerous national sporting teams and AIS athletes.

 

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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Review: SunGod PaceBreaker sunglasses – Look Cool While Dropping Watt Bombs

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SunGod sunglasses are a relatively new player to the market, a successful, UK based, crowd-funded business who’s appeal is focused on the ability to customise the glasses online at an affordable price.

SunGod was founded in 2013 and developed from a frustration that to get quality lenses that would be able to withstand a sports/adventure lifestyle.

They launched their first product, SunGod Classic, as their first complete custom online build, with polycarbonate polarised lenses and TR90 memory polymer frames. This campaign exploded, with SunGods being shipped to 93 countries and making 10x the initial funding target and becoming the largest crowdfunded project of its kind in the UK.

Simple to use interface, customise away.

Jumping on to the website is simple enough, and you get to choose from a variety of frames and styles. The Classics and Renegades focus more on traditional streetwear, extreme sports etc., while the Revolts are focused on snow sports. All of the range bears the funky looking Limited editions, are fully customizable.  As triathletes wouldn’t be seen dead wearing non-race specific gear, we’re going to focus the review on the PaceBreakers – wraparounds focused on riding and running (swimming not tested!)

What design do you ask?

I was lucky enough to get to design a pair of sunglasses via the simple to understand interface. Simple enough in fact that my five-year-old daughter created my first pair below.

From idea….

To reality…!

Going through the interface, you get to choose the frame colour, lens type (4KO Polarised or not – more on that later), icons on the side and ear sock colour (the tips of your glasses). If your creativity is failing you, you can also choose from a set series of best sellers.

The whole process takes around 30 seconds of effort with 20 minutes of procrastination around the right colours to match with your complexion and handbag.

My second pair was a much more straightforward affair focusing on the traditional grey look.

Got to have grey in Melbourne.

The glasses ship from the UK and for me, turned up in 3 days, a surprising and welcome change.

What’s in the box?

SunGod indeed go above and beyond with the packaging and its contents

Funky looking box

As you would expect you get a box with the sunglasses included, but you also get a spare nose clip, a case which also doubles as a cleaning rag and a truckload of stickers to stick around the place. Its quite a few freebies given the low cost of the product.

Quite the haul

4KO pace lens with triple scratch resistance

SunGod claims that the polarised lens is both triple scratch resistant and will enhance both visibility and field of view in both low light and bright conditions. We obviously couldn’t test them in a lab with serious equipment, but we took the glasses out on a treacherous, wet and windy early morning Melbourne ride around the Dandenong mountains in peak hour traffic.

Compared to my Jawbreakers I certainly felt that their visibility in early morning sun up (6am) conditions was improved.  The lens also survived being bounced along the road at high speed when I forgot to put them back on during a decent, with no scratches if I may add.  So science aside, these sunglasses certainly did the job during a challenging day out.

What differentiates SunGod from the competition

SunGod has a few key differentiated points.

Firstly is the price. For around $110 – $130 dollars you get a solid pair of high-performance sunglasses with features to match and outperform glasses twice their price.

The glasses come with a lifetime warranty so if they break they will replace them free of charge. A lofty claim that I haven’t tested but certainly a welcome one – which some of the major players struggle to offer.

The glasses are made from adventure proof flexible rubber which allows the frames to be flexed, and as above bounced along the road, without damage. Which as a clumsy guy is a great feature.

Overall

Simply put, SunGod makes a great pair of sunglasses, both comfortable and high performing, you cannot beat them for value. The customisation feature is excellent and has got my triathlon team all lining up to get the team colours shipped over. I didn’t have anything negative to say about them, to the point where I’m replacing my tried and trusted jawbreakers with these for both racing and training.

Here is a link to the PaceBreakers

  • Price
  • Features
  • Durability
  • Overall

Summary

Simply a great set of sunglasses and are packed with features and value.

Pros
- Well priced
- Great feature set
- Customisable

Cons
- Carbon (Triathlete staple) look frame appears out of stock
- Were clutching at straws to find anything wrong aren't we!

5.0
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A Wearable RFID Fitness & Calorie Tracker that Mounts to Your Teeth

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Fitness and calorie monitoring technology is getting interesting. Researchers at the Tufts University Biomedical Engineering Department are experimenting with wearable trackers that mount to your teeth. The tiny monitors use Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology to track calories, alcohol consumption, multiple types of sugar, and the foods you eat. The researchers also speculate about developing the devices to monitor stress levels from saliva.

The trackers use a square tooth-mounted sensor that is either 4 X 4 or 2 X 2 millimetres. They’re made of titanium and gold and feature detector layers made of either water-based gel or silk fibres.

When testing for the trackers’ ability to detect alcohol and sugar, researchers instructed subjects to swish various liquids. The trackers sent accurate information to tablets and cellphones, distinguishing between liquids such as saliva, water, and alcohols, as well as different types of sugars and their concentrations. Using water-based gel sensors, they were able to track varying temperatures and acidity levels.

These trackers could be a new breakthrough in calorie and fitness tracking. They are not yet available commercially because the researchers are still working out a few kinks and discovering more uses for them.

The Tufts study will be published in the journal, Advanced Materials. For now, you can read it in the Wiley Library below. The paper goes into detail about all the possible uses and the chemicals and nutrients these trackers will likely be able to detect.

Tuft’s Study: Functional, RF‐Trilayer Sensors for Tooth‐Mounted, Wireless Monitoring of the Oral Cavity and Food Consumption

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Shimano Introduces Chain Stabilising Rear Derailleur for Road Bikes

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As road bike riding diversifies towards multiple road surfaces such as adventure and off-road riding Shimano introduces Ultegra RX, an off-shoot of Ultegra, with a rear clutch derailleur (RD-RX800/RX805) for mechanical and Di2 drivetrains.

Riders have been pushing the limits of what a road bike is capable of riding for many years, evolving the sport from racing to encompass greater adventure. In recent years we’ve seen a broader definition of what a drop handlebar bike can look like; road wheels followed that by accommodating wider tyres. Now in a natural evolutionary step, it’s time for drivetrains to evolve too.

Shimano RD-RX805 rear derailleur with clutch

The new RX800/805 rear derailleurs share many characteristics with the Ultegra R8000/R8050 derailleur, such as precise accurate shifting and SHIMANO SHADOW RD derailleur positioning, but with the added chain stabilizing switch (known as SHIMANO SHADOW RD+ technology) to control the drivetrain over rough/uneven ground or off-road surfaces. Much like Shimano’s MTB derailleurs, the On/Off switch can be found next to the upper pulley. When activated the rear derailleur pivot takes a firm hold to reduce excessive movement, noise and general ‘chain chatter’.

The RX800/RX805 rear derailleurs are compatible with road dual control levers (mechanical or Di2) and will accommodate cassettes with low gears from 28T to 34T, making them a very necessary addition for all types of adventure and off-road riding including cyclocross and compact styles with 46T-36T up to 50T-34T chainrings.

Alongside the Ultegra RX rear derailleur comes a new wider rim 700c, E-Thru axle, tubeless-ready, disc-specific, WH-RS370-TL aluminium wheelset for 28-38c tyres (weight 1900/pair).

You can expect the new components to be available in stores from mid-June 2018 onwards.

 

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Shimano 105 R7000 Offers Race-inspired Performance for Greater Riding Styles

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Today’s road riders demand much more than pure on-the-rivet speed. They expect comfort, control and versatility from their bikes, and enjoyment and goal achievement to boot. 105 level riders expect the latest pro-level features but they also want to do more with their bike than racing and training.  So step forward the new 105 R7000 generation with customizable disc or rim brakes and wider cassette options to help you remain in comfort and control wherever you’re riding.

Coming with the high-end aesthetic and race characteristics of its Dura-Ace and Ultegra big brothers, the new 105 series also considers that most riders will use their bikes for purposes other than competitive racing. 105 is Shimano’s first level 11-speed groupset for those who are seriously committed to road bike riding, but that definition now becomes broader with the inclusion of superior handling and adaptable control to master different riding situations.

The biggest news for new 105 is the addition of disc brakes to the series line up. New flat-mount BR-R7070 callipers are compatible with ICE TECHNOLOGIES pads and UCI-compliant non-90 degree SM-RT70 rotors (including a new 140mm size) to offer greater cooling efficiencies. Brake operation is handled by new ergonomically shaped Hydraulic dual control levers (ST-R7020), matching the design of Ultegra ST-R8020 levers with a greater range of reach adjustment for different hand sizes. To provide even greater customisability, 105 R7000 offers a version of the dual control brake/gear lever (ST-R7025) to better suit smaller hands by being angled closer to the bar and taking more of an outboard position for better connection and to avoid interference with the handlebar drop during lever operation.

Whether from the rim brake (ST-R7000) or disc brake (ST-R7020/25) lever, gear shifts have been redesigned to offer faster and lighter shifts with a shorter stroke compared to the 105 5800 series. The front derailleur has a compact toggle (pivot) design, better tyre clearance and an integrated cable tension adjustment port (2-mm hex key) removing the need for an in-cable barrel adjuster. The optional long cage rear derailleur (RD-R7000-GS) can accommodate up to an 11-34T cassette and is designed with a low profile SHIMANO SHADOW RD style to tuck it below the cassette and chainstay.

Updates within the drivetrain include a new mid-compact 52-36T crankset, to add to the 50-34T and 53-39T cranksets, and new 11-30 (CS-R7000) and 10-speed compatible 11-34 cassette (CS-HG700-11) options to better suit gravel, adventure or CX riding. Together with this, the inner crank ring has been positioned to reduce the effects of cross chaining or chain drop, better suiting bikes with disc brake criterium racing bikes.

Tim Gerrits, product manager at Shimano Europe said;

“Increased control and reaction were two points we concentrated developments on, combined with what people have always expected from 105, great versatility and value for riders. With 105’s suitability for a large portion of today’s diverse road bike styles we hope to unlock the potential of where and what it’s possible to ride on a road bike.”

New Shimano 105 R7000 items will be available on the market around June and will be available in an appealing dual tone black colourway and an additional silver option for more classic bike styles.

 

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Ventum is expanding its line of cutting-edge triathlon racing bicycles

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Built around the company’s patented Z-shaped frame design, which eliminates the downtube and seat stays while integrating the water bottle into the frame, the expanded Ventum Z line was developed to allow more triathletes to enjoy the aerodynamic advantages of Ventum technology.

“We designed our flagship triathlon bike, the Ventum One, for the toughest races in the sport,” Ventum co-founder Diaa Nour said, “and we based the new Ventum Z models on feedback from triathletes, who told us they want access to the same technology developed for the Ventum One, but with more flexibility to customize the bicycle to fit their needs.”

The new Ventum Z includes Ventum’s patented Z frame plus a proprietary carbon-fibre Z fork and is available for purchase as a standalone frameset for $2,850. The Ventum Z is also available as a complete bicycle with a mechanical component group featuring a combination of Dura Ace, Ultegra, and other Shimano components for $3,500, and as a complete bicycle with Shimano’s electronic Ultegra Di2 component group for $5,500.

“We wind-tunnel and road-tested every component of every version of the Ventum Z to find the perfect balance between aerodynamics, comfort, and cost. Our goal in reimagining the Ventum Z was to make a more affordable ‘superbike’, and to keep it cutting-edge without cutting corners,” Nour said. “To do that, we developed our new, proprietary Z fork, we included a custom set of 3T Vola aero bars for easy positioning and adjustment, and we are offering a choice of carbon-fibre or alloy wheels that are optimal for the bike.”

Ventum was co-founded in 2014 by Diaa Nour and former professional triathlete Jimmy Seear, to build the world’s fastest racing bicycles. Inspired by fighter jets and Formula One race cars, the company’s triathlon bicycles feature a revolutionary frame design that maximizes aerodynamic performance in non-draft-legal races such as IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 triathlons. Ventum also served as the Official Bike Sponsor of the 2016 and 2017 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Based in Miami Beach, Florida, Ventum bicycles are available worldwide through the company’s dealer network and from the Ventum online store.

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DeFeet to Use Blockchain Technology to Stop Counterfeit Products, Improve Customer Experience

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DeFeet International, a manufacturer of socks and other apparel for cycling, running, and outdoors activities, has partnered with blockchain solutions provider, LuxTag.io.

The new technology will accomplish a few goals that help both the company and the customer. When you receive a DeFeet product that is in a blockchain, you’ll be able to scan it with your phone.

Scanning your DeFeet product will:

  • Ensure the product is not counterfeit
  • Add it to your customer profile
  • Help DeFeet suggest products relevant to your individual behavior & taste
  • Take some hassle out of the warranty & repair process
  • Determine appropriate loyalty rewards
  • Help determine distribution logistics

The overall result is a better and safer customer experience.

The first roll out will cover the company’s Barnstormer line. They’re focusing on matching their Adventure Cycling Club members with relevant products and promotions based on past purchases and other data. Current promotions reward members who complete missions. They’ll expand the practice to more product lines over time.

What is Blockchain Technology?

If you don’t know what blockchain technology is, you may have some trouble comprehending what DeFeet’s new changes mean for customers. Pay attention here, because you’ll be seeing and hearing the term a lot from now on.

The anonymously-invented technology was created in 2008 for Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency. It ensures the authenticity of transactions by decentralizing the locations of documents. This helps people verify the transactions publicly and prevents hacking and counterfeit.

The block in blockchain is a record that shows:

  • Medical info from your doctor
  • The location of your cryptocurrency
  • You voted in an election & who received the vote
  • You bought or sold Bitcoin or a pair of athletic socks & the transaction value
  • You made a bank-free transfer of money or received one

Think Google Docs. Multiple actors can create a document together, and the document is not stored on anyone’s individual computer. In the old days of document collaboration, you had to save it to your computer, edit it, and then email it to another editor. The other editor then had to make edits or comments and send it back to you. In Google Docs, if someone makes an edit, all editors can verify that in real time and even look at the change records. You can set the document to be visible only to certain people, and to allow only one person at a time to edit it.

DeFeet Leads the Way for Retailers Considering Blockchain

Certain sectors of the business world have recently taken an interest in blockchain solutions. Digital ad companies want to distinguish ad views by humans vs bots. Manufacturers want to trace problematic product parts to their sources. Cryptocurrencies want to authenticate transactions and trace the whereabouts of the currencies. Wire money transfer companies want to cut down on costs and pass the savings to users. Voters want to know their votes have been counted.

Retailers have been slow to jump on the blockchain bandwagon. Expect more retailers to follow Defeet’s lead.

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