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  • Writer's pictureJoan Medlen

Biking Bites: The Power of Three

The fun part about the new season is that everyone is starting fresh. Some of you have been working out through the winter and some have not. It’s a relatively safe bet that most of us have not been putting in too many miles. One way to get started is to focus on the power of threes.

The Power of THREE points

Some of the most powerful lessons are learned during off-the-clock discussions with people who are experts. I’ve been working on my core muscles this past winter, which has changed how I sit on my bike. According to Tim, a pilates instructor at reForm Pilates, it is important to remember the rule of three for weight distribution on a bike. Generally, the weight of your body should be distributed between three areas: your legs, your saddle, and your arms. If any one area takes on too much of the burden for a length of time, you will hear about it.

Signs that you may want to consider your distribution include:

  1. Sore wrists

  2. Sore shoulders and neck

  3. Sore “saddle.”

  4. Sore knees or ankles

Interestingly, when I tested out this theory on a recent ride, I found that, indeed, if I kept my core muscles taught and my back straight, my weight was evenly distributed. Clearly I have more work to do!

The Power of THREE for Food

Clearly, fueling your body for your cycling is very important. The idea is to use food more effectively to fuel your body throughout the day. The more even handed your fuel intake, the better your body will perform. The power of three can be used to guide you, especially in to key areas: meal timing and meal balance. For the following examples, please use meat and complete protein interchangeably. If you need assistance understanding complete proteins, please email me (

Meal Timing. You should eat every three to five hours. Sorry, it doesn’t mean you get to eat a full meal every three hours. Your body is designed to be refueled at least every five hours or it begins to panic. Take a look at your calendar. How many hours are between lunch and dinner? If more than five, consider a small snack that includes a source of protein about three hours after lunch. This will help you eat a smaller dinner and avoid frenzied eating when you walk in the door.

Meal Balance. You can balance your meals for carbohydrate, protein, and fat using the power of three. Yes, there are many detailed diets and programs that outline the perfect meal. What your body cares about is that it has a mix of carbohydrate, protein to keep blood sugar stable from one meal to the next. The easiest way to do this is to remember to eat three of the five primary food groups at each meal. It doesn’t matter if you have waffles with tofu and asparagus – that will qualify as three of the five food groups. (tofu is a complete protein source, which counts as a meat). When you’re in a pinch and need to decide how to balance a meal for energy, just remember, the power of three.

The power of three is an easy way to remember some important tips for better biking:

  1. Use your core to distribute weight between three points.

  2. Remember to fuel at least every three to five hours.

  3. Include three of the five main food groups to balance meals.

It’s a gorgeous day here in Portland, Oregon – time to get out and ride!

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