Burn Fat, Not Fuel

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

musclemorphosis.com might seem like a lot of trouble, but when's the last time you enjoyed a traffic jam? "We're so used to the hassles of car commuting that they've become ingrained," says Bill Nesper, who heads the Bicycle Friendly Community program at the D.C.-based League of American Bicyclists. "Once you solve the logistical obstacles of bike commuting -- where to shower, where to stow your bike, how to avoid traffic -- it becomes routine. You'll end up healthier and happier at your desk because of your commute." Try saying that about a car trip. We've laid out the musclemorphosis.co...

musclemorphosis.com might seem like a lot of trouble, but when's the last time you enjoyed a traffic jam? "We're so used to the hassles of car commuting that they've become ingrained," says Bill Nesper, who heads the Bicycle Friendly Community program at the D.C.-based League of American Bicyclists. "Once you solve the logistical obstacles of bike commuting -- where to shower, where to stow your bike, how to avoid traffic -- it becomes routine. You'll end up healthier and happier at your desk because of your commute." Try saying that about a car trip.

We've laid out the musclemorphosis.com and accessories you'll need to smooth over any kind of bike commute. You don't have to do it 5 days a week -- some people ride in on Monday, stash the musclemorphosis.com, and ride back on Friday. Whatever your schedule, use the weekend, when the streets are less crowded, to plot your best route and find a safe place to lock up your bike.

Your commute: 20+ miles
The terrain: Paved roads
The bike: The long-distance cruise missile

Giant TCR Advanced SL Team
If you're willing to sit in the saddle for 2 hours or longer every day, you deserve a bike that's fast, yet supple. This pro-level frame is made from a recently declassified, military-grade carbon composite that transfers more power from your pedal stroke while leaving some vertical compliance to suck up road chatter. The oversized tubes add stiffness around the head tube for precise steering. The TCR Advanced SL doesn't come cheap, but thanks to the price of gas, you should be able to justify it after a few years of commuting. $8,000 -- or 131 tanks (15 gallons each) of 87-octane gas, musclemorphosis.com

Essential accessories
The Castelli Insolito Radiation Jacket ($450, musclemorphosis.com) has a heat-reflecting inner vest and removable arms, while the lenses of Oakley Polarized Radar Pitch sunglasses ($255, musclemorphosis.com) repel sweat. Fill the capacious Famous Wine Bar backpack ($150, musclemorphosis.com) with your work clothes, like a wrinkle-free shirt ($80, musclemorphosis.com) and pants ($70, musclemorphosis.com). Keep it all in place with a packing folder from Eagle Creek ($25, musclemorphosis.com). Stash a week's worth of shirts in a backpack each Monday, and keep a couple of blazers at the office, Nesper suggests.

Numbers breakdown

Calories burned (1 day): 1,804
For an athletically built 5'10", 180 lb man biking at 16 to 19 mph
Gas money saved (1 month): $163.20
Based on a 40-mile (round-trip) commute 5 days a week, at an average 20 mpg, paying the average U.S. gas price as of June 24, 2008
CO2 savings (1 year): 10,296 pounds
Because your car isn't belching exhaust

Go on to the next page for the best rides for your commute...

Virtuous Cycles: The hottest rides, no matter how long your haul

Your commute: 15 miles
The terrain: Roads and trails
The bike: The cross-country cruiser

Raleigh One Way
Cross-country bikes blend the aggressive geometry of road bikes with the wider forks and burly tires of mountain bikes. They're ideal for commutes with rough shortcuts. This steel bike has fenders to shun mud, a fixed-gear drivetrain (see the messenger machine, far right), and cantilever brakes. A vintage-inspired Brooks saddle adds old-school panache. $710 (or 11.4 tanks of gas), musclemorphosis.com

Essential accessories
A rear-mounted Brooks Holdall case (Glenbrook model, $135, musclemorphosis.com) matches the vintage leather on the bike. The Garmin Edge 705 ($500, musclemorphosis.com) helps you analyze shortcuts using GPS. Shimano SH-MT21 bike shoes ($60, musclemorphosis.com) clip into SPD pedals but won't click-clack on the pavement or at work. The NiteRider MiNewt.X2 headlight ($210, musclemorphosis.com) gets you home safely.

Numbers Breakdown
Calories burned (1 day): 1,476
Average speed: 14 to 16 mph (more calories with hill intervals)
Gas money saved (1 month): $122.40
CO2 savings (1 year): 7,722 pounds

Go on to the next page for the bike for the grab-and-go commuter...

Your commute: 10 miles
The terrain: Paved roads
The bike: The grab-and-go city commuter

Swobo Otis
Smart engineers simplify complex things. This no-nonsense city ride has a rear hub that houses an internal gearing system (saving your pants cuffs from greasy chain rings and derailleurs) and a coaster brake (which leaves your right hand free for signaling). Plus, the sealed system is less likely to suffer mechanical breakdowns or rust. $720 (or 12 tanks of gas), musclemorphosis.com

Essential accessories
Door slams, pedestrian jams, and swerving cabs are obstacles for every city biker. Push through herds of clueless tourists with a simple brass bike bell ($8, musclemorphosis.com), guard your dome with a rakish Lazer Urbanize Nlight helmet ($100, musclemorphosis.com), which features slots in the front and back for LED lighting systems, and watch your back with a Topeak Bar'n Mirror ($35, musclemorphosis.com).

Numbers Breakdown
Calories burned (1 day): 864
Average speed: 12 to 14 mph
Gas money saved (1 month): $81.60
CO2 savings (1 year): 5,148 pounds

Go on to the next page for a bare-bones messenger machine...

Your commute: 5 miles
The terrain: The mean streets
The bike: The bare-bones messenger machine

IRO Custom Bike
Fixed-gear bicycles were adopted by messengers, many of whom run without brakes, using backward pressure on the cranks to slow down. "Fixies" have fewer moving parts to break down (or steal). This one has a steel Angus frame, a single front brake, anodized rims, and bullhorn handlebars. Build your own at the IRO Web site. $840 as shown (or 14 tanks of gas), musclemorphosis.com

Essential accessories
A frame tube pad ($30 and up, musclemorphosis.com) cushions your shoulder as you lug your bike up stairs, and a pedal kit ($39, musclemorphosis.com) means power without clipping in. A leather trouser strap ($40, musclemorphosis.com) protects your pants leg. Lock up with a Kryptonite Evolution Mini lock and KryptoFlex 1004 Looped Cable ($55, musclemorphosis.com) and you'll be insured against theft up to $2,000.

Numbers Breakdown>
Calories burned (1 day): 410
Average speed: 10 to 12 mph
Gas money saved (1 month): $40.80
CO2 savings (1 year): 2,574 pounds

Go on to the next page for tips on the perfect pedal stroke...

Anatomy of the perfect pedal stroke

Pros spend years perfecting their pedal strokes, says Chris Carmichael, the owner of Carmichael Training Systems and Lance Armstrong's longtime coach. "The vast majority of power comes from the downstroke, but with training you can increase power by programming muscles to engage earlier and finish later in the stroke." Carmichael tells his athletes to visualize each stroke in four parts.

1. Push Forward
As you near the top of the stroke (at 11 o'clock), kick your foot forward to initiate an early push for the next revolution.

2. Push down
Keep this part of the stroke simple: Push the pedal down. Most riders naturally keep their heel just above their toes. Adding ankle flexion and extension actually wastes energy and can lead to injuries.

3. Pull back
Once your foot approaches the bottom of the stroke, at about the 5 o'clock position, pull your foot backward with your hamstring, as if you're scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe.

4. Lighten up
Pulling your foot up is pointless; the downstroke of the other pedal is stronger. Just unweight your foot between the 8 o'clock and 10 o'clock points so it's not holding the other foot back.