Mel’s MTB Tips

When it comes to cooler  weather, there are three things to think about: staying warm, staying dry, and protecting yourself from more treacherous conditions.

Warm isn’t as straightforward as it seems. If you dress too warmly during climbs you tend to sweat. Sweat is water no matter how bad it smells and will soak clothes – including the so-called wicking fabrics. And if you take layers off, unless you have a place to store them, they can become either a hazard, get wet, or lost. We solve the problem by wearing packs that are at least water resistant and always bring a lightweight, waterproof jacket of some sort during the cold winter months. Keep any other extra layers in a plastic bag and they’ll stay dry as well. If you think the temperature may really drop on the way down, think about tossing in some ski gloves and maybe even some toe warmers in that pack. Remember, if you lose feeling in your hands, you’re going to lose the ability to maintain control of your bike.

While staying 100% dry from sweat is a huge challenge, it’s easier to stay comfortable and avoid getting the chills.

First up is a good rain jacket. Get one that’s truly, guaranteed, waterproof. Don’t get a thick, heavy, or insulated jacket but rather the thinnest, lightest one you can. You’ll wear and pack it more often and if you need more warmth, layer up underneath; use the jacket to stay dry, and resist the effects of the wind, not to maintain body heat. Also, make sure the jacket has a long tail, specifically for cycling or water and dirt will come off your rear tyre and get in to your shorts and that’s no fun. Oh, and make sure that the jacket arms are also “cycling cut” so you can extend them fully without the jacket material binding anywhere.

Waterproof pants are a good thing to have as well. There again, get material that is truly waterproof and make sure they’re made for biking as hiking, running and other types of clothing may not be reinforced or cut in a way to either last or allow comfortable cycling range of motion. And make sure you have something (like a Velcro strap) to keep that drive side pant leg out of the chain and chain rings!

There are all sorts of special cold and wet weather gear items. Go to your local bike shop and check out everything from Capestorm, First Ascent to waterproof helmet liners to anti-fogging fluids for your eye protection.[/vc_column_text]

Heart rate monitors?

So, you have decided to buy a heart rate monitor. For weight loss purposes, for better performance at your cycling, or just for fun? It doesn’t matter really, any reason is a good one! However, deciding which heart rate monitor you should buy isn’t an easy choice and will be determined by the question: “what are you going to use the monitor for?”.


Goals If your goal is weight loss, you should definitely have a heart rate monitor who provides info about the total number of calories burned. If you’re an athlete in competition, you might want to have some more options on your monitor than if you’re just getting started. Eg. memorising earlier workouts, time zones, lap times… Think about the future While you may think you only need something to measure your heart rate now, you can completely change your mind within 6 months! What if you decide to lose weight, but don’t know how many calories you’ve burnt on your 30 minute ride from this morning? Or what if you decide to enter a race? So while you may think you don’t need many features, just to be sure, take some extra’s that you might use later.  A good rule is: if you think to yourself “hmm, that’s a cool feature that might come in handy”, then buy a monitor with that feature.


Budget The price of a heart rate monitor is usually what determines what kind of heart rate monitor that you’ll buy. If you don’t want or don’t need all the gadgets, then don’t spend thousands of Rands on the watch. Don’t be too stingy either though, the cheap models might be of a lot worse quality. A simple entrylevel model might cost you as little as R 500.


Ease of Use This is something you should also consider when buying a heart rate monitor, especially if you’re not gifted with a talent to work with computers, microwaves, and other electrical machines. Heart rate monitors can work in a very complicated way, depending on the number of buttons and menus. This can be very annoying.  If you’re in the middle of riding, you would have to stand still and hope you can solve it with just 1 button, but you can make it even worse by pressing the wrong button!


Getting the most out of your training doesn’t always mean working faster or harder. The best way to improving your fitness and seeing results is to train at the right intensity. So with a heart rate monitor, you can make sure you’re not over or under training, and make each session count. Use your heart rate monitor as your training partner and you’ll have evidence of your progress – motivating you each and every time you train.


ZONES below : Training based on the percentage of Maximum heart rate, helps monitor your intensity of workout.


Very light:                    50 – 60%          – Helps with recovery

Light:                            60 – 70%          – Improves basic performance and fat burning

Moderate                    70 – 80%          – Improves aerobic fitness

Hard                            80 – 90%          – Increases maximum performance capacity for shorter sessions.

Very Hard                    90 – 100%        – Helps fit athletes develop speed