Bike Your Butt Off!: Book Review
cycling with minimal knowledge of the bike or the sport.
When the publishers of "Bike Your Butt Off" (BYBO) from Bicycling Magazine asked if I'd like to read and write a review of their book, I have to admit, I initially misunderstood the audience and expected results of the book. Somewhat like my Mom when she went to see the movie, "Magic Mike," and thought it was about a magician. I am a runner turned triathlete, and up until a couple of years ago, my cycling credentials were based on the "killer" paper boy bike I had in college, and the Huffy BMX style bike I had as a kid--my brother got the more expensive and adept Schwinn version, but that's another blog (and therapy) post.
Bike Your Butt Off is intended for the beginner or person that's perhaps intimidated by the bike and looking for a way to get into shape and shed some pounds as a result. I have a decent conditioning level and literally never had a butt so the later makes me a poor choice as a literary review, but my status as a beginner and still somewhat intimidated by the cycling world makes me a perfect candidate.
The book assumes that you're somewhat light in experience in the sport of cycling so it delivers a lot of basics that I found helpful. For anyone that's moved from running to triathlons as I have, the cycling world can be very intimidating. Speaking firsthand, when I decided to move from a 20 year old road bike to investing in my own triathlon bike, I didn't know the lingo or what to ask for when visiting a bike shop. I picked up many of the basics from the book including the terminology; "big ring," "cassette" are no longer confusing terms to me.
BYBO reminds me of Hal Higdon's book Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half Full Marathons which was the book I picked up to learn the sport of marathons and got me through my first ever marathon (at the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in 2007.) Like Higdon's book, BYBO can take you from that grade school bike or college paper bike experience to understanding the bike as an instrument to have fun, lose weight, or in my case advance my knowledge of cycling and advance myself in the sport of triathlons. As I started in the sport of marathon running, I needed a plan in "black and white" to follow each week as I prepared for a race. In the case of BYBO, the book is laid out nicely with a foundation of basics and builds up skills and endurance over a twelve week program to become proficient on two wheels, have fun doing it, and get into shape.
As I've advanced in the sport of marathons and triathlons, one basic tenet I subscribe to is that to advance you need to incorporate the basic skills of the sport, but also weave in two other critical aspects and that is core conditioning and nutrition. BYBO doesn't complicate matters and throw the whole "kitchen sink at you" from the start, but each week builds on all three; cycling skills (and drills,) core conditioning, and nutrition. Based on experience, I am a big believer in this approach.
The other aspect that I could relate to in the book's plan was that it also doesn't demand "pushing yourself" six or seven days a week. My running coach has two days a week that "push me" and the others build on endurance and conditioning. BYBO takes a very similar approach. I can see this working well for the individual "starting from scratch" that doesn't want to get worn out or burned out in the first weeks of a plan.
The book doesn't rely just on the experts words and plans as they incorporate several success case stories throughout the book who have got results from BYBO.
Jennifer Eldridge writes, "I feel really great. My clothing definitely fits better, and I feel tighter all over...decreased inches in my overall body measurements, especially my legs and butt."
While some of the bike basics may seem just that, learning how to ride with "clipless pedals" vs. old-fashioned bike pedals can be intimidating at first, but BYBO spoon feeds the basics yet advances to drills focused on how to round corners (straight outside leg, slightly bent inside knee to the corner, and pushing down onto lower right handle bar.) I'm obviously still learning as I suffered my first bike crash which happened to be in a race and it was a doozy (HERE!) Anyone who thinks they know everything knows nothing (I think Yoda spoke this wisdom once.) The point is that the book includes some basics that may elementary to some (and new to others,) but again delivers intermediate to advanced skills at the right pace.
As you advance in the book, author Selene Yeager lays out her Ten Commandments of Training which all resonate with me as I've progressed in my sport. Hercommandments and my take on them below;
1) Have a plan. I always know what I'm doing in a given week and over a period of weeks leading up to goals.
2) Be prepared to scrap the plan. With my job that requires heavy travel, I know this all too well. Too tired, sick or arrive to New York on a delayed flight. Modify the plan, but don't use as an excuse to skip the work either.
3) Ride at the extremes. Same applies with running. You will never get fast unless you push yourself at least one day a week.
4) Be true to thyself. There will always be races and others faster than you. Know your own goals and stick to that plan.
5) Do what sucks. This isn't the T.V. commercial that offers to trim fat off your waist while watching your favorite program. Be prepared to put in some hard work.
6) Think Progressively. Continue to push yourself and apply what you've learned from previous week's training and drills.
7) Maintain the human machine. The core is the engine. Take care of that and you will advance.
8) Train your brain. Visualize the goal and the prize. It works.
9) Eat. Fuel is key especially as you add the miles on. Don't venture out on a long run or ride without knowing what fuel your body needs to get through the whole thing.
10) Enjoy the ride. If you do it right, you'll enjoy the work and it will become one of your passions vs becoming a chore.
I cannot say that I've lost weight from this plan as I'm already at my target race weight. I can tell you that based on my experience of the approach, if losing weight is your goal and you follow the plan then the results will certainly follow. Well written, easily understood, and includes a detailed week by week approach to make it almost "idiot proof" to implement and follow the plan.
If you fit the profile described above, enter the SeekingBostonMarathon "Bike Your Butt Off!" book giveaway as I'm giving away the copy I read along with a SeekingBostonMarathon.com sticker bookmark below.
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BYBO is written by Selene Yeager with nutrition contributions by Leslie Bonci. Selene has several books on training, nutrition, and weight loss writing for Bicycling Magazine. Leslie is the director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and adds a critical component to anyone looking to master in a sport, get into shape, or lose weight and that's the nutrition aspect.