A short history of the bicycle

By: Heather Nielson

Did you know that the first verifiable ‘bicycle machine’ was invented in 1817 by the German Baron Karl von Drais, commonly called a Velocipede.


The era after the invention of the first bicycle saw the first Tri and Quadcycles in the late 1800’s before the 2-wheeler came back into popularity in the early 1900’s


The 1860s & 1870’s saw the evolution of the bicycle go through the infamous ‘bone shaker’ model made of cast iron to the more endearing Penny Farthing


While cycling continued to gain popularity in Europe in the early 20th century, use in the states dropped off dramatically as the automobile became the main mode of transportation. Unfortunately, this trend continues today. Try using your bike to commute to work, run small errands & get some exercise!



Cycle U 2.0 – We do cycling classes, fitting and coaching, our partners do retail.

Welcome to the new Cycle U, where all we do is what we do best…Cycling Classes, Teams, Bike Fitting and Coaching.  Here is the scoop!  Cycle University (the shop under the West Seattle bridge on the bike trail with the big neon BICYCLES) is happy to announce it’s partnership with Woodinville Bicycle, opening their 2nd shop with us in our current location as Westside Bicycles.
Staying true to our vision of offering outstanding cycling fitness classes, bike fitting, coaching and bicycle skill classes we have partnered with one of the top regional bike shops to update and expand the retail bicycle shop at 3418 Harbor Ave SW beginning October 1st.
Cycle U will be having a big Blow Out liquidation sale beginning Friday September 18th where everything on the main floor of our West Seattle building will be on sale including tools, work stands, fixtures, bikes and accessories, starting at 30% Friday, 40% Saturday, 50% Sunday and down till it is gone by Oct. 1.
Cycle U will continue to run it’s popular classes and bike fitting at West Seattle with a remodeled basement studio at the Harbor Ave location, and beginning October 1st Westside Bicycle will expand retail

Continue reading


Should I get a coach?

By: Cycle University coach Heather Nielson

A common question asked of a bike racer after they win a race is often times ‘Who’s your coach?!’ If you think about this question a little deeper and its’ conscious or even subconscious origins, you’ll probably agree that any athlete’s success is not achieved alone, but rather with a community, support system and multiple resources that they have nurtured, cultivated and fine tuned over many seasons of competition.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 6.05.16 PM


Resources required for riding a bike can be quite large and if you choose to compete, racing a bike becomes a significant portion of your budget in terms of equipment, time training, travel expenses, nutrition, massage/physical therapy/recovery specialists, gear and if there’s anything left in the budget, a coach. As a result, even for the middle class weekend warrior, investing in a personal coach is usually last on their list of priorities.

Everyone however, whether you’re a competitive cyclist hoping to go ‘ pro’ someday, a regular commuter where you live or enjoy the occassional century ride, is usually looking for ways to get fitter. We’ve all done it: we ask our friends for advice, scour the internet,  participate in on-line forums, read books, magazines & articles before we’re willing to invest in professional advice. We do that with everything in life. It’s human and natural. Educating yourself is always a good idea but I believe that with everything in life, once you get in deep enough on a particular subject, the conflicting advice, inexperience & cursive knowledge will eventually catch up with you. Realizing you’ve reached that threshold is the first step, the second step is deciding what kind of professional advice you want and the third step is deciding how much you’re willing to invest. Be very specific about your goals. Write them down with time lines and specific steps; then write down all of the resources available to you. If you decide that part of reaching your goals is investing in professional advice, then here is where going back to asking around might help you again: word of mouth is the most powerful advertising tool.

There are lots of coaches, coaching  products and services, clinics, camps, seminars, books etc. Picking the right type of coaching will depend specifically on your goals & resources while finding the right coach will be the hardest part. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, contact them, read about their experience, training philosophy and success both as an athlete and as a coach. After that, it will probably come down to a personality fit & communication style. Take your time getting to know them. E-mail them, call them and if you can meet them in person over coffee or on a bike ride. There is a fine line however between researching potential coaching resources & attempting to get ‘free advice’. Remember, these are professionals who do this for a living and just like you and your job, you expect a pay check for ‘clocking in’.
Continue reading


Recovery! It’s the most important part of training

By Cycle U coach Heather Nielson

Recovery means a lot of things and probably includes more than you think.

First of all, recovery is going on all the time. Everything you do affects your ability to recover and how quickly you recover.

Below are a few ideas but this is certainly not an all inclusive list. Additionally, you should experiment (NOT DURING A RACE) to see what works for you. Everyone is a little different but the same generalities usually remain the same.

Before: Sleep is, in my opinion, probably the most under estimated and yet one of the most powerful forms of recovery. One of the most annoying things I read or hear are ‘you can sleep when you’re dead!’ Keep living like that you probably will, sooner than you would otherwise; and more than that, your quality of life will decrease significantly.

During: Fueling & hydrating on the bike helps to replace precious muscle glycogen, spare muscle mass as well as electrolytes. The better you fuel optimally during training, the stronger you are during your ride, which means you’ll get the most fitness benefit from your time on the bike and the less reserves you dip in to that could affect tomorrow’s training ride.

After: The time period following a hard &/or long (2 or more hours) work-out for replacing valuable glycogen and optimizing repair to your muscles and the rest of your body is pretty narrow and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Get that recovery drink in ASAP with some fluids.  The longer/harder the work-out, the more the recovery window lasts. Eat more carbohydrate closer to your recovery window and more protein further away.

Other ideas:

-Hot shower/bath/hot tub: for loosening muscles up
-Active recovery: Easy spin for 15-30 min several hours after a hard work-out
-Dry Sauna for 10 minutes
-Relax and stretch – off your feet. Even put your legs up against the wall if you feel like it!
-Go for a short walk
-Sport psychology
-Trigger point/foam roll
-Compression tights & socks



Making changes: when, how, why and what NOT to do

By: Cycle U Coach Heather Nielson

Making any kind of change to a routine is scary for anyone. There’s a level of comfort that goes with the predictability & expectation of the outcomes from following habits & routines in everything we do on a daily basis. Humans are creatures of habit. The advantage to sticking to routines are many and not limited to the aforementioned; but there are also some disadvantages. It’s always worth trying something new if it will make you faster, healthier & smarter but, like most things in life, it’s all about timing.


There are so many topics I could cover when it comes to how, when & why to make changes to one’s training, racing, nutrition, equipment, coaching, teams, clothing, riding style etc as well as what not to do, but that list is obviously too long for one article; so I’ll just talk about some general rules that I’ve found apply across the board.

Levi’s Grand Fondo October 2013


First, if you’re thinking about making multiple changes

Continue reading