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Some Thoughts on Fixed-Gear Bikes, Running vs Cycling

By Ryan Powell/Power Meter City

Power Meter City

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Ryan Powell of Power Meter City sent me this piece:

In the revolutionary road of crazy-fast power metered cycling, is there still room for the single-speed (fixie) bicycle?

Stripped of its complex hub and gears, a fixed-gear bike is as classic and basic as you can get. It’s simple and it runs without your having to worry about shifting from one gear to the next. Nearly every cyclist’s humble two-wheeled beginnings started with a single-speed bike.

The easy and efficient transfer of power from the pedal to the wheel is all because of the shorter chains and straighter lines.

Tour de France

Early Tour de France riders rode fixed-gear bikes. Tour de France founder Henri Desgrange hated multiple-speed bikes

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Les Woodland's book Cycling's 50 Triumphs & Tragedies: The Rise & Fall of Cycling's Champions is available as an audiobook here.

It’s no secret why there are a growing number of bikers all over the world. People are getting more aware of the long-term effects of motorized vehicles—the slow deterioration of the atmosphere caused by their gas emissions.

And city dwellers usually get the bulk of the pollution.

To lessen our carbon footprint, it’s much more beneficial for more people to get on a bike. City streets are usually flat and designed for easy low-speed riding. When you commute on a fixed-gear bicycle to work or to school, you much make the same contribution to a better planet that a high-end bicycle rider does. Your choice to ride on a bike has a lasting impact on the environment and enables you to maintain a healthy lifestyle without the extra cost.

If you still need a little more convincing on whether or not you should join the pedal movement, here are some thoughts on running and cycling.

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Breaking away from your favorite sport once in a while can be freeing. Now and then the brain and the body need variety. Running is an easy choice for most cyclists.  Here are a couple of things you should know that may make you want to skimp on running if you’re training to be a stronger cyclist:

Running is a high-impact sport. Every time you lift your leg off the ground, the other leg takes in the entire weight of your body. While this may increase bone density in the long run, the short run leads to muscle damage and soreness. This puts a lot of pressure on your knees and surrounding muscle groups.

Studies have shown that those who make running as part of their daily fitness routine have better chances of increasing bone mass density. But to be a better cyclist, you need to be building up on muscles to sustain the long and winding bike rides on the road. You get your pedal power from your muscle tissues. When you come across uneven and steep terrains, you’ll need all the muscle power you can get to push through.

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Cycling engages and strengthens the complementary muscle groups on the thighs to allow you to move smoother and give you faster leg turnover. It doesn’t concentrate the pressure on your knees too much because cycling doesn’t cause any kind of impact on them while you’re riding. There’s less joint pain to cycling compared to running.

The act of running involves the entire body while cycling focuses on specific parts only. Because of this concentrated movement, cyclists can pace their breathing better than runners. Running is challenging not just for your feet but even more for your lungs. Cycling provides better cardio training that can help you take deep breaths during hard terrains and keep you calm.

Running takes a lot more from the body. The continuous foot pounding can increase the risk of acquiring a chronic injury. The effects of running on the body accumulate so you must be more cautious if you’ve chosen it as your part of your fitness routine. You can opt to use supporting muscle tapes to reduce wear and tear on your bones from the daily impact load.

As for cycling, the legs are more restricted to move along a specific path.  There's not much contribution from the rest of the body, which means lower consumption and requirement from stored elastic energy. And because running consumes more internally from your body, it also makes you consume more externally. After a long duration of burning calories, your body automatically goes into a kind of eating rage. Compared to biking, it burns lower in a shorter amount of time. When you bike, you eat less but cover more miles.

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