WEEKEND GROUP RIDES
moderate to race pace with occasional regroupings at the discretion of those present; route determined by those present
NOTE: DUE TO THE COLD WEATHER FORECAST FOR THIS WEEKEND, RIDE START TIME IS 9am
Saturday, December 7
9:00 am Beach Park
Sunday, December 8
9:00 am Beach Park
interesting VeloNews article about amateur racer who gets caught doping....
Bike made out of Cardboard!
check out this interesting short video.....
That’s right. Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni, 50, has developed a way to produce a working bicycle made almost entirely of cardboard.
The actual cost of materials for one of the bikes is about $9. However, using government grants to help offset production costs, he and his partner hope to mass produce the bikes effectively for free and give them away in poor countries.
After the cardboard is cut and shaped, it is treated to make it waterproof and fireproof. The final product is then painted. The tires are made of recycled rubber and are solid, estimated to last for 10 years. The drivetrain uses a automobile timing belt instead of a chain. Then entire bike requires no maintenance or adjustments. A full-size model weighs about 9 kg (20 lbs).
"In six months we will have completed planning the first production lines for an urban bike which will be assisted by an electric motor, a youth bike which will be a 2/3 size model for children in Africa, a balance bike for youngsters learning to ride, and a wheelchair that a non-profit organization wants to build with our technology for Africa," said Nimrod Elmish, Gafni's business partner.
A Reuters reporter who rode one of the bikes wrote, “A ride of the prototype was quite stiff, but generally no different to other ordinary basic bikes.”
....cue "Twilight Zone" theme music!
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a bike of the future allowed you to shift using only your thoughts? Guess what? That bike already exists!
Bike maker Parlee and auto maker Toyota, as part of its Prius Projects program, have designed and built a streamlined carbon road bike that uses a “hacked” Shimano Di2 electronic shifting system connected to a “neural headset” that reads brain waves and shifts gears according to the rider’s thoughts.
The neural headset is incorporated into a helmet, and a rider uses an iPhone app to help train the system to read his or her brainwaves when thinking “shift up” or “shift down.” Once the system can differentiate the thoughts, it’s ready to roll.
To see this amazing display of ingenuity in action, click http://tinyurl.com/43grgcn.
CARPINTERIA BEACH CONDO
2 bdrm, 1 bath, sleeps 6. beautifully decorated surf/beach theme. TV's, VCR, DVD, High speed WiFi. Ground floor unit with beach access 100 steps from patio! Outside patio w/gas grill perfect for relaxing and enjoying ocean, mountain, sunset views. Get out of the Bako fog in the winter, get out of the heat in the summer! The fall months are especially delightful! One minute walk to
surfing/kayak/boogie boarding beach w/lifeguard & activities center. Slow paced town safe to let kids be kids, but
Sharing the road means being familiar with California Vehicle Code...it's worth reviewing:
Check out this POV view of a downhill MTB race in urban Chile!
Use A Heart Rate Monitor?
Not going to spend time extolling the virtues of HRM training, but to suggest using an "Electrode Gel" if you use a Heart Rate Monitor. I had experienced intermittent and irregular readings on my HRM, and after checking all batteries, decided to try an electrode gel. Problem solved! I have found that it's essential to have good electrical conductivity with the chest strap, and the inexpensive gel insures that much better than saliva or tap water. Trying to get the local shops to carry this stuff!
GPS Cycle Computers and Mapping Websites
Many of us are riding with GPS enabled cycle computers. Not only are they wireless and need no bike calibration; they can be transferred from bike to bike and they provide all of the usual minutae (and more!) that conventional cycle computers provide. Some integrate Heart Rate Monitor, Cadence and Wattage (power) functions. I have been riding with the Garmin Edge 500 for the past few years, and I love it. Oh, it has its minor issues, but overall, it's a great device. Even non-users can go onto www.garminconnect.com to lookup rides in pretty much any geographic location. Let's say you go someplace where you're unfamiliar with the local ride options. Go to www.garminconnect.com, search for the location, and....voila!...a list of user submitted rides will pop up! Ride distance, elevation profiles, and maps are all available, and you don't even need a Garmin device to access most of the information! (Garmin's website serves as a training log for users of Garmin devices) In addition to proprietary, dedicated sites such as Garmin's, there are other websites which are not device specific, such as www.strava.com
The Houchin Community Blood Bank Bike Team can be seen gliding along local roadways, pushing up hills, and sprinting across finish lines throughout Kern County and beyond. The team members raise awareness of Life Across America and blood donation each time they train or race. Some of the team members are, from left to right, Greg Walker, MT Merickel, Richard Beene, Katie Nickell, Dr. Bob Smith, Rogers Brandon, Herb Benham, and Scott Garrison. Not present in the photo are Glenn Hammett, Steve Hereford, Ryan Rickard, David Lari, Rhonda Grundeis, Rob Baker, Mike Moseley and Brian Crook. For more info on Houchin Community Blood Bank, visit www.hcbb.com
This space has in the past carried some articles pertaining to "Bike vs Car" interactions/altercations. There is an excellent overview of some significant cases, which should be required reading for those of us who share the road with motor-powered beasts. Check out "Legally Speaking with Bob", a VeloNews column written by Bob Mionske, former National Champion (Road) and Olympic Cyclist and now Attorney. at www.tinyurl.com/yj8yeqf
"It's as strong as Carbon Fiber"
If you're interested in the integrity of carbon-fiber bike parts, here is a website that may creep you out!
STICKER ("goathead") SHOCK?
Bike Path/Kern River Parkway
Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department is very tuned in to keeping the Bike Path in optimal condition, so if you wish to make your opinion heard:
Darin Budak, City Parks Superintendent: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dianne Hoover, Director City Parks/Rec: email@example.com
Bob LeRude, County Parks/Recreation : firstname.lastname@example.org
Motorcyclist Hits Cyclists.....Hmm!
Interesting Story...150,000 sq. ft INDOOR bike park in Cleveland
To Listen, or Not to Listen? That is the Question
Some believe you can safely listen to music or other audio while riding – and many road cyclists do. Others believe that leaving your ears open to the full range of ambient sounds while you ride is the only safe way.
It's important to keep our senses engaged when we ride. We need to see, and hear, and feel everything going on around us to remain safe. Many audio users find that if they keep the volume down, only use an ear bud in their right ear, etc., they can adequately hear the ambient noise and ride safely.
2 Key Issues with Listening While Riding
First is the issue of responsibly listening to audio while riding. In my experience, many audio-using riders do not, in fact, keep the volume down and cannot hear ambient sounds.
As a safety measure when riding in close quarters, I'll often call out “on your left” as I approach to overtake another rider. The reason is to let the rider ahead know I’m coming around, so that neither of us endangers the other with any sudden moves to avoid objects, etc. I consider it the courteous thing to do.
Almost always, the rider ahead says “thanks” as acknowledgement and moves a bit to the right, if there’s room. I get by them as quickly as possible and say “thanks” as well.
On all types of rides – solo, fast group rides, large organized centuries – I have noticed many riders wearing ear buds or earphones, and a number of them have been completely oblivious to what's going on around them.
These riders are not only endangering themselves by not being able to hear what’s going on around them – but they’re also endangering fellow riders.
The second issue is the issue of distraction. We cyclists constantly – and for good reason – harp on the distracted drivers we regularly see on the road. Distracted driving – whether it’s phone-glued-to-the-ear gabbing, hands-free yakking or, worst of all, texting while behind the wheel – is an epidemic, to be sure. A distracted driver’s senses are not fully engaged in the task of driving. The human brain simply cannot divide its attention in such a way for any length of time to allow safe driving.
It seems that direct audio stimulation on the bike can be a distraction in much the same way. If a rider’s attention is divided, how much focus do they lose on what’s happening around them on the road? And does this lost focus make them – and others around them – less safe?
In the end, of course, it’s a personal decision that each cyclist must make. If you choose to "listen while riding", please keep the volume down to hear riders, cars, and the goings-on around you. And do maintain focus on the road and ride safely.
More Commentary on us (road cyclists)!!
....short animated videos worth watching
"It costs to be Epic": http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=vfVDlG0eo-s&NR=1
"Charity Ride": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZxzi0uFM3E&feature=youtu.be
"Cycling Explained": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47cGzu6-q40
these are just three of a whole series of youtube videos with some great observations on our sport!
(They seem kinda dopey when first watching, but they really grow on you)
"Thar she blows"
So, what is it about cycling that makes it necessary for some riders to constantly launch "snot-rockets" and expectorate (that's "spit" in plain English!) while riding? I'm pretty certain that doing this while participating in most any other athletic endeavor would be frowned upon by fellow athletes. Can you imagine a basketball player driving the lane and letting loose a loogie? How about tennis players sliming the baseline with snot? Yet, we seem to tolerate those peloton partners in our midst who shower us with snot or spit. If you have an upper respiratory problem, maybe you need to see an ENT doc and get it solved, but please don't subject fellow riders to your DNA bath! At the very least, make sure that if you absolutely must blow in the peloton, you do it at the back of the group, or well clear of any other riders!
.....some hilarious observations on road cycling!
"the keepers of the cog"
(remember rule #5)
is an acronym for "Manufacture d'Articles Velocipediques Idoux et Chanel", was originally founded by Charles Idoux and Lucien Chanel in 1889
ROAD SURFACE ALERT!!
Hey, it's been fixed! Well, maybe not yet...but, you can get your pet road defect attended to and repaired! Give a call to KC Roads (862-8850) or City of Bakersfield Roads (326-3111) (depending on location/jurisdiction), and the folks there are usually very interested in trying to please. My theory is that they toil on an endless list of projects and get minimal positive stroke for all their effort. If we take the time to call about a specific issue, at least they know that someone cares about what they do! Take the time and give them a call about that pothole, asphalt chunk, debris or dangerous spot on the roads!
...more about Chain Care and Feeding
The condition of your chain is critical to the operation of your bike. A well-maintained chain not only shifts better, it will save you money by helping to avoid premature wear and failure of expensive drivetrain components
YouTube videos worth watching:
How to check for chain wear: http://bicycletutor.com/chain-wear/
Why WD-40 should NOT be used on your chain: http://bicycletutor.com/no-wd40-bike-chain/
Got some newsy items to share?
race results...news from around town...juicy gossip,etc.
email to: email@example.com
a compendium of useful cycling information
....Tuesday/Thursday Noon Rides "fine print"
Tuesdays, the ride starts at 12:20 pm sharp from the FoodMax Shopping center parking lot (right by Blockbuster) at the corner of Chester and Columbus.
Thursdays, the ride starts at 12:20 pm on the Bike Path at the Chester Ave. bridge, just north of Jack-in-the-Box.
There is an early option on Thursdays which leaves the Bike Path at the Chester Ave. bridge at 11:30 am, rides Round Mtn. CCW and meets the main group at Poso Creek/Round Mtn. Rd. around 1:00 pm and returns back to the start point.
Typically we regroup at the top of Round Mountain (before descending the "back" side) and start rolling off the top at 12:30
by Joe Awe
Looking for a spirited ride? Training for a race? Raced in the past and want to use those bike handling skills you worked so hard on? This is your group.
One unique feature of our group is the number of accomplished racers we have on any given day. World champs, a few national and lots of state champions in various disciplines are regulars on these rides. We also have a high number of ultra-distance racers here. The RAAM 4-man relay record has belonged to Bakersfield between one of two teams for over a decade.
During the week riders are up against schedules, thus many rides may find you fixing your own flat and riding home alone. These weekday rides roll out easy then the fun begins! These rides have start times in the morning during the hot summer months, both to beat the heat and because there is light. And 12:20pm start times during the fall and winter.
To be clear, these are fast rides for strong riders. These riders need to ride hard and fast to get their workout and these are the rides for that. Due to the speed and nature of these rides and their inherent danger, a rider lacking bike-handling skills may be approached and told of his deficits. This is born of self-preservation rather than a we-are-better-than-you attitude. These rides are done at close quarters and unless you are one of the truly strong, you’ll need to pace line to keep up. It is not uncommon to have 20-30 riders riding 20-30mph elbow to elbow. If you need help….ASK! There will be someone happy to help folks interested in bettering themselves.
A good rule of thumb for any ride, but especially these, is to talk to folks as the ride is forming up, let them know if you are new, if you have questions, or if you need help with bike handling etc. Each route has regroup points, ask and find out where these are and how long folks will wait. If you don’t ask, the group will assume you know what you’re doing. This is where most fast groups get the reputation for being elitist snobs, they figure someone riding with them knows the route, the etiquette and has the bike handling skills. If you get dropped and didn’t talk to anyone, the group will think you chose to ride a different route or that you wanted to ride home alone. Speak up, make sure someone knows you may have trouble up a hill or down a hill and that you plan on doing the whole route, as with most things communication is king.
A Touchy Situation
If you ride in groups often enough, big or small, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll touch wheels with another rider. But the conditions under which things “get touchy” (on a hill, riding slowly, on a flat, riding fast, etc.) can play a role in the outcome. As can following proper procedure to extricate yourself from potential danger. But prevention is the best protection of all to avoid a touchy situation of your own. Let’s take a look at a couple of tips on how to avoid rubbing wheels in the first place. Then we’ll talk about how to handle wheel rub if you find yourself getting touchy-feely with the rider in front of you.
Keep Your Focus
Most crashes happen when a rider momentarily loses focus. A moment is all it takes: you glance down at your computer, look up and realize the wheel in front of you has slowed, and you can’t avoid it; you catch the edge of the road when putting away your bottle and overcorrect as you get back on the road – the possibilities are endless. Keeping your focus will help you avoid the little slip-ups that we all have from time to time, but that can quickly bring us to the ground.
Don’t Play the Accordion
When riding in big groups, in tight conditions, and in “strategically important” places on a ride – like short hills – the “traffic affect” of riders slowing ahead of you works its way back through the group, causing the entire group to bunch up and slow down, like an accordion being squeezed. You have to “read the situation,” know where and when this might happen, expect it and be ready for it. Reduce your speed slowly before the group accordions back toward you. This will give you more time and space to maintain a safe separation from the riders around you.
Don’t Ride on the Cutting Edge
If you’re on a road with two-way traffic, you don’t want to be too far out on either side of the group. Too close to the oncoming traffic lane leaves you no room to maneuver in that direction to avoid potential problems ahead of you. And too close to the curb or edge of the road likewise leaves you no bailout room.
Leave enough room on either side for some yahoo behind you to pass, if they insist on such a move. At least you’ll know then that you have enough room to maneuver should you need it to avoid an issue in front of you.
The Remedy for Rubbing
Some riding skills are straightforward and instinctual. This is not one of them. Our natural inclination when our front tire rubs against another is to turn away from the other tire quickly to escape danger.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly the wrong thing to do in case of tire rub. Quickly turning away at best takes you immediately off your line (and in a group will likely cause you to veer into other riders), and at worst leads to an overcorrection that throws you completely out of balance, bringing you down.
The proper, paradoxical, remedy is to turn slightly into the tire yours is rubbing. Doing so allows you to maintain your line and balance, and to slowly ease away from the wheel by slowing down just enough to extricate yourself.
Another paradox about this technique is that it’s actually easier to accomplish the faster you’re riding. So many riders go down touching wheels on slow hills because it is harder to maintain control throughout this process at a slower speed. If you’re already riding slowly, your balance is more easily upset, and it’s harder to slow down enough to “back off” the wheel you’re rubbing.
If you’re cruising along at a good clip, though, you’re in better balance and can more easily scrub a little speed just by easing off the pedals a bit as you pull back and escape danger.
Remember, it’s best to do what it takes to avoid getting yourself in a “touchy situation.” But it’s almost inevitable that it will happen to you at some point. So fight your instincts, turn into the wheel you’re rubbing, ease away, and stay upright to ride another day.
Puncture Vine is an annual (or perennial), trailing vine that grows in India, Africa, many areas of the Americas, Asia, Australia and Mediterranian regions, thriving in sandy soil at higher altitudes. It has been called a weedy species and can survive in desert climates and poor soil. In many areas it is considered an invasive species. It is a flowering, taprooted, herbaceous perennial that also grows as a summer annual in colder climates. The leaves are pinnate with small leaflets, and the flowers bear five lemon-yellow petals. A week after each flower blooms, it is followed by a fruit that easily breaks into nutlets, which are hard and bear two spines that are sharp enough to puncture bicycle tires and to cause considerable pain to bare feet.
The seed is an amazing product of natural selection. The seed coat is extremely durable (as you well know if you've stepped on one with a bare foot) and in the right conditions can last upwards of 20 years. Each fruit or burr from the plant separates into five separate segments. Each segment has two to four seeds inside it. Each of those individual seeds have a varying degree of dormancy. One portion of the seed may be past its prime, but there's a couple more still to come into theirs. So the seed can patiently wait and wait for the right conditions to sprout. The seed is also transported across the country in tires of automobiles and in livestock feed which allows the puncturevine to continue to grow and spread in the
In the folk medicine of many areas, such as India, China and Turkey, Puncture Vine has been used to treat sexual impotence, edema, abdominal distention, cardiovascular disease, urinary and kidney problems.
Athletes use Puncture Vine to increase muscle mass and build strength. The herb is thought to be a natural herbal alternative to synthetic anabolic hormones, without producing any ill effects. Its use is said to produce significant results in athletes, and these results first gained recognition when the herb was used by some of the highly successful Bulgarian weightlifting teams. Persons using Puncture Vine (or Tribulus, as it is often called), who have engaged in active training and workouts, reported both increased bodily strength, as well as faster recuperation and recovery from muscular stress. Puncture Vine is said to be beneficial for those whose testosterone is below normal, such as dieters or overtrained athletes.
Puncture Vine may also support cardiovascular health. In recent scientific tests, the herb has demonstrated an ability to lower high cholesterol levels in the blood, which frequently helps to lower blood pressure and increase circulation. This may also reduce hypertension and the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Spraying with herbicide is the most efficient way of controlling this plant. Spray early and spray often.
Propane weed burners (like a flamethrower!) can also be used.
Puncturevine Weevils are a natural predator to Puncturevines. They are host specific, which means they eat Puncturevines and only Puncturevines. The adult female seed weevil deposits an egg in a small hole she chews in the green seed. Then she seals it with fecal material. The egg hatches and burrows its way inside the green seed. In the process eating the viable portion of the seed, so it can not sprout a new plant. The weevil larvae will spend its entire larval stage inside the seed. It actually pupates within the seed and emerges from the seed as an adult. The stem weevil works in the same manner only attacking the stem of the plant. Stem Weevils will inhibit the plant's ability to grow and spread. Unfortunately, Puncturevine Weevils aren't perfect. They won't find every single seed. The thing to keep in mind is every seed a weevil eats is a seed that can't sprout.
sources: www.goatheads.com and wikipedia
How Many Miles Cycling Equals Miles Running?
As cyclists consider running as an off-season alternative to riding, they often seek to equate the two in deciding how much to exercise. The standard comparison is that one mile of running equals four miles of cycling, but that's lousy science, says Gabe Mirkin, M.D., in a recent issue of his ezine.
"Although running requires the same amount of energy per mile at any speed (110 calories per mile), riding is affected by wind resistance, so the faster you ride, the more energy you use. So you have to compare running and cycling at different cycling speeds" Dr. Edward Coyle of The University of Texas in Austin determined average values of oxygen consumption by cyclists to develop a table to estimate the approximate caloric equivalence between running and cycling, according to Dr. Mirkin. He found that if you ride 20 miles at 15 mph, you burn 620 calories (20 miles X 31 calories per mile = 620 calories).
Take those 620 calories and divide them by 110 calories per mile for running and you get 5.63 miles to burn the same number of calories. So, Dr. Mirkin says, riding a bicycle 20 miles at 15 miles per hour is equal to running 5.6 miles at any speed. "Coyle's derived conversion figures are for an average-size adult (approximately 155 pounds)," he says. "A larger cyclist would divide by a slightly higher number; a smaller cyclist, by a slightly lower one. Wind and hills are not accounted for in the table; nor is drafting, which can reduce your energy expenditure by up to one-third." The number of miles ridden divided by the conversion factor for the speed of riding equals the number of miles running to use the same amount of energy. Here's the conversion table:
MPH:Calories per mile:Conversion factor
10: 26: 4.2
15: 31: 3.5
20: 38: 2.9
25: 47: 2.3
30: 59: 1.9
How to use the table
For riding 20 miles at 10 miles per hour, divide 20 miles by the conversion factor of 4.2 to get 4.8 miles running. For riding 20 miles at 20 miles per hour, divide 20 miles distance by 2.9 conversion factor to get 6.9 miles running. For riding 20 miles at 25 miles per hour, divide 20 miles by 2.3 to get 8.7 miles running. For riding 20 miles at 30 miles per hour, divide 20 miles by 1.9 to get 10.5 miles running.
What Rights Do Cyclists Have Regarding Event Waivers?
(reprinted from roadbikerider.com)
Question: My little cycling club (LAB-certified and insured but not incorporated or non-profit status) recently had a fatality on one of our club rides -- a truly horrendous experience for the 15 riders on the ride and for the local cycling community, in general. My question is, What are the specific rights we have as cyclists when we sign the waivers that come along with participation in a club for an annual membership -- or a specific event put on by some other organization? -- Mark P.
Daniel Glass, Attorney-at-Law, Responds: Mark, I’m very sorry to hear about the fatality on your club ride. It’s always a blow to the cycling community -- no matter where we live -- to hear about a death under such circumstances.
As I address your question, first I have to say that if you follow this column in the future, you will learn that almost all questions, when answered by a lawyer, will have at least two answers. This is not to suggest that we lawyers cannot give you a direct answer. It is to point out that there are at least two sides to most legal issues.
Relating this maxim to the waiver issue, there is the approach of the person who created the waiver (the club, event organizer, etc.) and the approach of the person who signed the waiver. The club or event organizer that wrote the waiver took time to write it, maybe even had a lawyer write it or review it, and expects it to be valid, legal and binding.
Conversely, and as a practical matter, the person who signed it took no time to create it, and most likely never even read it before signing. In fact, the signing person could not care less about the waiver, unless and until something goes terribly wrong on the ride.
The bottom line, definitely in California -- and most likely in other states as well -- is that waivers are valid, enforceable and legal. Every rider should read the waiver before signing it and, if you’re not willing to sign, do the organizer/club a favor and don’t do the ride.
It’s that simple. Or is it?
Once you read and sign a waiver, you should think about what you signed and whom you are releasing. Yes, the club or organizer who asked you to sign the document may be immune from being sued if you are injured. But what if “speed racer” is coming down that hill with the 20 mph curve at 45 mph, because he/she has a new $6,000 bike and wants to see how it handles, and sideswipes you as they go screaming past? Did your waiver relieve this person of their liability for not being careful? Probably not.
Primary Assumption of the Risk
I say probably because some states, like California, recognize a legal theory known as the “primary assumption of the risk.” Under this theory, if you are engaged in a sporting event with others, and are injured by another participant engaging in your activity, you may have no right to blame them for your injuries.
How about, on the same ride, if you are riding at a prudent speed down that hill and a dog, or cow, or something other than a car gets onto the roadway and causes you to crash? Again, the club or organizer is probably immune. But, there are rules about loose dogs, livestock, etc. The owner of those animals can probably be held responsible for your injuries, and for any bicycle damage.
Two final thoughts: First, no one can be relieved of liability for a future “intentional act.” The organizer or club president cannot come over to you, knock you off your bike on purpose, and escape liability on the grounds that you signed a waiver. In fact, no "waiver" is legal or enforceable if it attempts to give any person immunity from intentional acts or "gross" negligence (so wrong that no person could ever think it was accidental).
In almost all cases, this type of conduct rises to some level of crime. For instance, there was the California case where a physician in Los Angeles didn't like the bicyclists on his mountain road, so one day he pulled around the group of cyclists, got in front of them and jammed on his brakes, causing some of them to rear-end his car -- and causing serious injury to at least one of the cyclists. I believe the physician ended up with some actual jail time in addition to fines. He probably also got sued for money damages, but that was not publicized.
Finally, the club/organizer cannot put you in peril by selecting a course that is treacherous, or has unsafe roads, or no roads, and send you out there without warning you of the potential hazards you will face.
In closing, always be as safe as you can. I have handled enough cycling cases to recognize that bike accidents tend to share similar characteristics. Someone is usually riding too fast for conditions. Or some rider tries to make an unsafe pass. Or someone is drafting in an unsafe manner. And the list goes on.
No matter the circumstances or outcome of a cycling-related legal matter, always remember that it is far better never to have had that accident in the first place. Focus on the purpose of your ride, and on riding safely. Doing so will help protect yourself and your fellow riders. If cycling were your profession, your goals would be different from the other 99% of us who ride. Keep in mind that, when it comes to cycling, we recreational roadies are the 99%. We need to help protect each other.
Daniel S. Glass is a civil litigation attorney and avid cyclist living in Sacramento, California. He has been an attorney and cyclist for more than 20 years. He has handled numerous cycling-related cases, raced as a Cat 4 racer for 7 years and has cycled more than 140,000 miles on the roads and bicycle trails of Northern California
RIDE OBSERVATIONS FROM JIM
by JIM PAPPE
1. Aggressive riding, much like aggressive driving, begets itself. One person starts it, tempers flare, everyone sharpens their elbows and starts taking chances. This behavior has no place on these rides. If you want to do this, find a race to expend that energy.
2. It's time we grow up and eliminate sloppy/unskillful/dangerous riding. Witnessed most days: crossed wheels, sudden lateral movements, slowing/stopping for unknown reasons, standing up suddenly in the paceline and causing kick-back, putting wheels where they don't belong, riding in the wrong gears for the paceline, surging, taking the right of way instead of giving it, not pointing out hazards.
3. Earphones. Wearing these during "our" rides shows complete contempt for the other riders around you. Want to be in your own little world? Do it by yourself on your own ride.
4. Finally, it's a group ride, not follow the leader. Are you planning to time-trial during the group ride? Great--let us know so you can put in your earphones and ride off the front. This gives us the choice to socialize or to chase and a chance for everyone else to put their nose in the wind. Otherwise, see #4.
Chain Lube: Synthetic ATF
(the stuff is kind of a red color)
as some of you may know, a number of us local riders have ridden PacTour Bicycling Camps. At the conclusion of one day's ride, while cleaning/lubing my drivetrain, I picked up an unmarked bottle of chainlube. I continued to use this lube through the rest of the week; At the conclusion of Camp, I asked PacTour director Lon Haldeman what type of lubricant it was. He pulled out a quart bottle of Mobil 1 Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid and proceeded to explain that it possesses all of the qualities of an ideal chain lubricant! All I know is that the stuff works!! I have personally used Mobil 1 or Valvoline Fully Synthetic ATF on my chains for years now, and it works great!
If you're going to use it, just make sure you wipe it off well after applying to keep it from slinging lube onto your rig.
It does work best, as do most all chain lubricants, when applied to a CLEAN chain.
fine-tuning derailleur and brake cables
You can tune your bike without touching a tool by using cable-adjusting barrels. Most modern road bikes have them. Look at the derailleur cable stops on the down tube and where the cable enters the rear derailleur. You'll probably see a round fitting ("barrel") that you can turn with your fingers. Same goes for each brake caliper where the cable enters.
When braking becomes less responsive or shifts to larger cassette cogs are balky, it usually means cables have stretched. Simply screw the barrels counterclockwise to take up slack. Go half a turn at a time on the rear derailleur, then check shifting response. The chain should climb smartly to each larger cog. If it does but also tinkles against the cog's bigger neighbor, you're taken up a bit too much cable. Turn the barrel clockwise just enough to make it quiet.
When done, you'll have tuned your shifting and braking as well as a pro mechanic -- and you may not even need to clean your hands.
Of course, if you don't want to bother (and keep your hands clean)...go see a pro mechanic! We've got several fine bicycle mechanics at the local bike shops here in Bakersfield.
Specialized Bike Recall
Specialized has announced a recall of more than 12,000 bikes sold over the past two years. The recalled models include all of the 2012 Tarmac SL4, 2013 Tarmac SL4, 2013 Crux and 2013 Secteur Disc bicycles and framesets.
The recall is taking place because of a defective steerer tube that could fail and lead to crashes. The problem came to light after several riders reported the carbon fiber steerer tube cracking or breaking while riding.
"We are proactively recalling these bikes as a precaution and out of safety for our riders, which is our highest priority," said Mike Sinyard, Specialized's founder and president, in a release. "We take quality very seriously and are working with our dealers to inspect these bikes and get our riders back on their bikes quickly and safely."
If you own one of the recalled bikes, Specialized and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advise you to stop riding it immediately and take it to a Specialized dealer. The dealer will coordinate repair or replacement of the fork, which entails shipping the fork to Specialized's facility in Salt Lake City. The repair is estimated to take two weeks.
Specialized is offering all owners of the affected bikes a $100 store credit for Specialized merchandise in part to compensate for the inconvenience.
Click http://www.specialized.com/OA_MEDIA/pdf/1213TarmacCruxSecteur.pdf to read the CPSC press release, which includes photos of affected bikes and framesets.
Specialized Bicycle Forks
Specialized has issued a recall of 14,200 bicycles spec’d with carbon forks manufactured by the Advanced Group of Taiwan. The issue, shown above, is that the brake’s post-mounts may crack and disengage from the fork, rendering them useless at best or get into the spokes and send someone flying at worst. Full CSPC details after the break, or hit their website for pics of the bikes affected. This recall involves the following nine, 2011 model year bicycles with Advanced Group carbon forks: Sirrus Expert, Sirrus Comp, Sirrus Elite, Vita Expert, Vita Comp, Vita Elite, Vita Elite Step Thru, Tricross Sport, Tricross, and Tricross Comp. All bicycles have the brand name “Specialized” on the lower front frame tube. The model name is on the top tube. Sold at: Authorized Specialized Retailers nationwide from June 2010 through August 2011 for between $700 and $2,000.
Salsa Cycles has announced a voluntary recall of about 6,500 chromoly stems. The company says the stems can crack or break. There has been one report of a stem breaking that resulted in minor injuries. The recall involves all CroMoto S.U.L. 25.4 and 26.0 threadless handlebar stems and all CroMoto S.U.L. 26.0 quill handlebar stems sold after
Felt model B12, B16 and S32 road bikes
Easton EA 30 Stems
Thousands of these Chinese-made handlebar stems are being recalled because they can break and cause the rider to lose control. EA30 stems are black with white-and-gray graphics. They have a 4-bolt face cap. They were stock equipment on $500-$1,200 Raleigh and Diamondback bikes, among other brands, sold between August 2007 and August 2009. They also were sold in the aftermarket for about $30. For ID info and photos, click the link on the Easton home page at www.eastonbike.com. Riders should stop using a recalled stem and contact Easton or an Easton Sports dealer for a free replacement.
Clif Bar is recalling 14 products sold in the U.S. and 4 in Canada because they contain peanut butter from the Peanut Corporation of America. PCA is being investigated as the source of a recent salmonella outbreak. Affected products include various Clif Bars, Clif Builder's Bars, Clif MOJO bars, Clif Kid Organic ZBaRs and Luna Bars. Specific info is on the company's website at www.clifbar.com/voluntary-recall
Giant TCR Advanced SL
Giant wants back about a thousand 2009 TCR Advanced SL road bikes and frames because the forks can break. One report of cracking has been received, according to the company. The affected bikes and frames were manufactured in Taiwan and sold at Giant dealers in the U.S. (only) from August through December 2008 for between $3,300 and $7,500. If you have a bike that might be affected, see the Giant website at http://tinyurl.com/9yn6t4 for detailed ID info and instructions.
Mavic R-Sys Wheel
About 400 Deda Forza black carbon handlebar stems (2008 model) have been recalled because 4 have cracked. The stems were manufactured for Deda Elementi in Taiwan and Italy and have a gloss finish. Deda Forza stems with a black matte finish are not being recalled. The suspect stems are found on high-end Bianchi road bikes and were sold separately (primarily in the U.S.) for about $400. The company will replace them with Deda Zero 100 forged aluminum stems. Photos and return info are at www.tinyurl.com/6c5w37
Cervelo has recalled about 5,800 Wolf SL carbon forks manufactured by True Temper in China. The steerer tube can break during normal use, causing the rider to lose control and crash. Cervelo has received 12 reports of these forks failing, resulting in one rider suffering a broken wrist and another receiving abrasions. The recalled forks have the words "Wolf Superlite" and a related logo just below the crown on each leg, and the letters "SL" above each dropout. The recalled forks may be on Cervelo bicycle models R3, R3 SL, Soloist Carbon, Soloist Carbon SL and some P3 Carbon framesets and bikes. Also, some shops sold these forks for about $475 from November 2005 through July 2007. If your bike has a Wolf SL fork, stop riding it and contact a Cervelo dealer to have a replacement fork installed without charge. More info and ID photos are on the Cervelo website at www.tinyurl.com/63h5j4
Look Cycle USA has recalled 40,000 pairs of Keo pedals following reports of breaking axles. Fourteen incidents have come to light, resulting in various injuries to riders. All recalled pedals are black and include the Keo Classic, Keo Sprint, Keo HM and Keo Carbon. The model name is printed in white on the side of the pedal. Date codes between January 2004 and December 2005 are included in this recall. These French-made pedals were sold at U.S. bike shops from January 2004 through July 2007 for between $100 and $500. If you have recalled pedals, stop riding them and return them to the place of purchase, or contact Look Cycle USA at www.lookcycle-usa.com/keoupgrade/index.html to arrange for free repair or replacement. The website shows where to find date codes to determine if pedals are part of the recall.
Camelbak's insulated Podium Ice bottle
These bottles are said to keep drinks cold (or hot) about twice as long as other insulated bottles and 4 times longer than plain plastic ones. Generally, I am somewhat slow to adopt new products, being a bit of a skeptic and not wanting to pay for the privilege of doing the manufacturers' R &D. But in an unusual display of impulse, I purchased some of these water bottles. They aren't cheap at around $20 a bottle, but let me tell you, they DO work!! On a hot summer ride of over 3 hours, the water was still cold at the end of the ride. And the performance benefits, although probably negligible for me, are supposedly significant. Cycling physician Gabe Mirkin, explains: "Drinking cold fluids lowers body temperature. More than 70% of the calories used to convert food to energy are lost as heat. So the more intensely you exercise, the more heat you produce. A rise in body temperature slows you down because the heart has to work harder to pump extra blood from your hot muscles to your skin to dissipate the heat. Seven studies show that cold beverages lower body temperature and improve performance by an average of 10%."
I highly recommend these bottles; head down to one of our local bike shops and get yourself a pair of them!
To Stretch or not to Stretch?
(what a weird word...look at it..."stretch"...weird!)
That's always been the question among cyclists. A new study has come up with an answer, sort of: Yes! Stretch if you like to stretch and want a small amount of defense against soreness and injury. No! Don't bother if you don't have the time or interest. The study found that stretching does not reduce the overall risk of injury, although it can reduce the likelihood of certain injuries to muscles, ligaments and tendons. In addition, people who stretch have only about an 8% less chance of experiencing soreness than people who do not stretch. A summary of the study with links to greater detail is at http://tinyurl.com/mbk3ds
Why Can I Exceed My Max Heart Rate?
Q: According to the "220 minus age" formula, my maximum heart rate is 170 beats per minutes. I can reach this number whenever doing hard intervals. Not long ago, I got up to 173 bpm while being chasing up a hill. How come I'm able to ride at my maximum and even exceed it?
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Max heart rate is the greatest number of beats per minute you can attain during an all-out top-end effort -- like a sprint up a hill.
You can't hold max very long -- just a few seconds -- because your muscles and energy delivery system quickly tire.
And, of course, it's logically and physiologically impossible to exceed your max. By definition, your heart can't beat any faster.
You're exceeding your calculated max heart rate because the "220 minus age" formula produces a number that is almost always wrong. It's accurate only by chance because it's a statistical average.
There's only one way to find your max with certainty and safety: By having a medically supervised stress test.
In a lab setting, the technician will gradually increase the resistance on a stationary bike until you simply can't continue pedaling at the specified rate (usually 80-90 rpm) no matter how hard you try. The resulting heart rate will be close to your true max if not right on it. It depends on your motivation to push yourself 100%.
It's possible -- although not recommended -- to do your own test if you have a heart monitor. Ride faster and faster up a gradual hill. When you feel you absolutely can't go any harder, sprint! The highest pulse rate displayed will be close to your lab-determined max.
Even riders in good health should have medical supervision during such a test, and they certainly should never do it alone. Realize too that sprinting all-out while trying to read the numbers on a heart monitor can be dangerous.
In the end, max heart rate isn't even essential for training purposes. It's much more important to know the highest heart rate you can sustain for 30-60 minutes. That's your lactate threshold (LT) heart rate. Generally, the closer you ride to it in a given workout, the more productive that day's training will be.
Make Roadside Repairs Without Tools!
Ideally, you'll have everything necessary to remedy breakdowns. But when you get stuck without the item you need, heed the example of ultracycling legend Lon Haldeman. He claims he can fix any bike problem with materials commonly found on a short roadside walk. The fact that there is so much junk out there is as much a blessing (in this one instance) as it is disgusting.
At one of his PAC Tour cycling camps, Haldeman proved his assertion by hoofing a quarter mile out and back on an Arizona highway with a big plastic bag. Here's a list of what he collected -- and how to use such items for emergency repairs.
On a personal note, in March of 2010, I was riding with Lon when the seat tube of his decade-old Specialized (steel frame) Road Bike broke just above the bottom bracket. Lon "just so happened" to have a hose clamp in his seat bag....he took said hose clamp and strapped it around the seat tube to hold the separated segments together. Although he couldn't ride out of the saddle too well, it this on-the-road fix did get him through the day's ride!!!
---Motor oil bottles. Need some lube in a hurry for a squeaky chain or cleat that's driving you nuts? There's always a little oil left in the bottom of discarded containers. If you're caught in a hard rain that washes away your chain lube, this trick will return the sound of silence.
---Aluminum cans. If your seatpost is slipping or your handlebar is rotating down, cut or tear a piece of soda or beer can to shore up the loose part.
---String. If you've blown out a tube so a patch won't repair it, you can tie off the bad section with string and stuff it back into the tire. This tourniquet won't be airtight, but the tube should stay firm enough for you to make progress between each pump-up.
---Wire. Use it to snug a rattling fender or accessory that's coming loose.
---Grass and paper. If you've flatted and have no spare tubes or patch kit -- or your pump is broken -- pack the tire tightly with grass and anything else you can stuff in there. The biomass will provide enough thickness in the tire to protect the rim as you ride, slowly, to your destination.
---Plastic bags. Emergency rainwear or frigid air blocker.
---Chunk of broken glass. A suitably sized piece with sharp edges makes an emergency knife.
---Plastic cup or foil. Use it to boot a slashed tire.
Keep your eyes wide as you search for the piece of junk you need. It's amazing what items of value you can find by the roadside. Wrenches, screwdrivers and other perfectly good tools bounce out of pickup trucks all the time.
So, my helmet is several years old, but not completely uncool by helmet style standards. It appears to be in good condition. However, even though it hasn’t been damaged it in a crash or with rough treatment, I’ve heard that helmets lose some of their protective ability as they age. Should I junk this brain bucket and buy a new one?
The reason that some recommend that helmets be replaced every 3 years or so is that the foam degrades due to sun, heat, salty sweat and other environmental factors, added to the usual knocks of regular cycling activity. These things make the foam unable to provide full protection in the event of a head impact. Of course, it also is very much in the best interests of bicycle retailers and the helmet industry!
Without question, a helmet should be replaced after it's smacked in a crash or even dented by a hard drop. However, some experts (presumably those not working for helmet companies) maintain that a helmet will do the job no matter what its age as long as it's undamaged. In their view, there is no age limit. No question, a new helmet every 3 years will keep you current with comfort and safety features as well as style. Helmet lightness, ventilation and fit have definitely improved through the years; almost every new model has a "cradle" for the lower rear of the head. This makes a helmet more stable on bumps and rough roads, meaning that it'll stay in place better when the reason for wearing a helmet is happening.
Key point: whatever helmet you have….if you’re on the bike, wear it!
Eat, Drink and Be Wary in a Paceline
There can be a serious problem in a fast group on a long ride: You get so focused on sticking with the paceline that you're too busy, or too stressed, to eat and drink. Suddenly you're bonked, dehydrated and struggling to maintain the pace. This can even be dangerous because a tired rider is a squirrelly rider.
Here's how to keep the calories going down, even in close quarters with fast company:
---Do your dining at the back. When you're last in the rotation you can relax a bit and take on food and fluids without disturbing anyone. There's no one behind to get crashed by your movements or a dropped bottle.
---Use your bottle without looking down. Keep your eyes on the riders and road ahead. Grip the bar on top near the stem for stability, then use your other hand to grasp the bottle in the fat part just below the top. Put it to the corner of your mouth and raise it to the side so it doesn't obscure forward vision.
---If you think about the path your hand travels as you take out the bottle, it's relatively easy to reverse it without looking down. If necessary, use your thumb (grasping the bottle) to feel for the side of the cage. Then center the bottle and slide it in. Practice will make this automatic.
---Prepare your food for easy access. If you're comfortable riding no-hands, simply sit up when you're at the back, reach into a jersey pocket for your energy bar, open the wrapper and start eating. Hold it in one hand and put the other on the bar top near the stem.
---If you don't like to ride no-hands, open the wrapper before the ride. Then use one hand and your teeth to do the rest on the move.
Bite Size On-Bike Food
Wrappers can be astoundingly difficult to open on the bike, particularly when the wind is gusting, the road is bumpy, other riders are nearby, you're wearing long-finger gloves or you're just not comfortable with both hands off the bar.
As a result, you don't eat regularly or eat enough to keep your "tank topped off" in the words of TDF race commentator Paul Sherwin. You slow down and struggle to finish.
The solution: First, decide how much you should eat on the ride. In normal conditions, one 250-calorie bar per hour is about right if you're also sipping sports drink. Then open the wrappers before mounting up.
If your brand of bar doesn't stick to its wrapper you can simply open one end. Then when you want to eat, work some of the bar out and chomp it off. It's easy to do with one hand.
Even better, especially for stickier bars, cut them into bite-size pieces at home and transfer them to a baggie. It may be helpful to first turn the baggie inside-out, so it tends to keep the “mouth” of the bag open.
Don't seal the baggie. Just fold it over and put it in a jersey pocket. Then you can pull it out with one hand, work a piece of bar to the opening and grab it with your teeth. This technique also works great for fig bars and other bite-size foods.
Quick Tip: TIP
Here's a little-known fact: Most bike tires can withstand 2 times the maximum pressure inscribed on the sidewall. (Don't be stupid enough to try it!) Companies make them that way for a large safety margin. While that's interesting to know, it's not something that will benefit your riding. In fact, even inflating road tires to maximum recommended pressure will make them wear faster, cut more, corner worse and rattle your teeth. For the most commonly used size, 700x23C, an inflation of 95 psi front and 100 rear will give you excellent performance, no matter how much pressure the sidewall says could be used. Heavy riders can go up 5 psi
or so in each tire to prevent pinch flats.
With cooler weather, your piggies might be whining that they're chilly. Wool socks, neoprene liners, booties are all options, but how about this low cost (cheap!) idea....use a sandwich baggie (non-ziploc) over your stocking'd foot inside the shoe. Works great to insulate against heat loss and if the going gets wet, will even keep your foot somewhat dry. If the day warms up, just take 'em off and put in your jersey pocket.
Quiet those rattling CO2 Cartidges
So, I was following behind a riding buddy the other day and I heard his CO2 Cartridges clanging against each other in his seat bag...the racket they made brought to mind a simple fix that I stumbled upon some time back....cut a finger off of a disposable latex glove, pull it over the CO2 Cartridge (yeah, you know, kind of like THAT) and presto! it acts to cushion and keep the cartridges from making noise if they contact each other. If some wiseguy asks, you can tell him that your cartridge is wearing a raincoat or hat!
The Skin Game
I have been a routine user of sunblock, but long-term exposure inevitably has led to what is termed “actinic keratoses”. These are areas of the skin, which due to ultraviolet sunlight exposure, have undergone changes which can ultimately lead to skin cancer. Having previously dealt with a melanoma scare, I am trying to limit the damage I’m self-inflicting.
At my annual “mole patrol” visit with my Dermatologist, he explained that sunblock is essential to protect exposed areas from UV damage. Areas which have already been damaged might, over time, develop into skin cancer. Treatment options include doing nothing (watching and waiting), local excision (removal) of skin lesions, and fluorouracil therapy.
Efudex® (fluorouracil) is a prescription cream or topical solution which is used for the treatment of multiple actinic or solar keratoses. It is placed on the affected skin areas daily for 2 to 4 weeks. Typically, the initial manifestations of its action are reddening of the areas which have suffered the most sun damage. This progresses to a rash-like effect that proceeds to erosion and peeling off of the damaged skin layer. Ultimately, re-epithelialization (growth of a new skin layer) occurs, to replace the “bad” layer.
Adverse reactions are related to the pharmacologic (how the stuff works) activity of the drug: they may include, but are not limited to, burning, crusting, irritation, sun hypersensitivity, itching, soreness and ulceration. Sounds pretty nasty, doesn’t it!!
The advantage of this treatment approach is that it avoids the potential scarring associated with surgical removal of pre-cancerous skin areas. It also does not depend on the diagnostic ability of the dermatologist to determine which areas to treat. The medication “seeks and destroys” pre-cancerous tissues, even if they look normal to the eye. The disadvantages are that it is uncomfortable, and you can expect that casual observers may wonder what happened to your face! You’ll probably want to limit your non-essential social contacts for a week or two (it wouldn’t be the ideal time to get fixed up on a blind date…..actually if your date is blind, it wouldn’t really matter!). You’ll likely want to limit your sun exposure. Generally, things get pretty much back to normal within 4 to 6 weeks from the beginning of treatment. I wasn’t a real happy camper for about one week during the most sensitive phase of treatment, but now that my skin is healed, I’m pleased with the outcome.
Most of us have no lack of sun exposure. Especially if you are fair-skinned, do your skin a favor and use an effective UV sunblock regularily on exposed areas. And do yourself a favor...a yearly check-up with your physician or a dermatologist is a great idea!
Should bike tires be rotated like car tires to extend their life?
Not really, but kinda…..
Smart rotation is to have your best rubber on the front end of the bike, which is the end that has the most to say about your staying upright…...When you install a single new tire, always put it on the front and rotate the older front tire to the rear.
What's not smart is rotating a half-worn rear tire to the front in an attempt to keep both tires on the bike until they simultaneously wear out. Don't make it easier to lose control because of a front-tire flat or blowout.
Perhaps more to the point is when to “retire” a tire?
1. If you can see cord or casing because of excessive rubber wear.
2. If you’ve had a succession of flats, get the message and replace the tire.
3. If there is a cut that needed to be booted to effect an “on the road” repair…..You can boot a cut from the inside with various things. A tube patch,strapping (filament) tape, duct tape are all handy to have in your seat bag. A paper bill works well (a $20 is much better than a $1). A boot is good to get home, but you really need new rubber!
4. Riding on a dry, cracked tire, no matter how little tread wear there is, is a bad idea. Check for dryness when the tire isn't inflated. Pinch the tread and look for telltale cracks. Scrape your fingernail along the sidewall and watch for powdery residue. Tires dry out from too much sun exposure or a dry climate, like I'm starting to do. And from ozone exposure or Bakersfield smog or extended storage near an electric motor. Armor All will prevent drying, but I'd be wary of putting anything that slippery near rims and brake pads. Remember, these are just bike tires, not works of art. Replace them if they're questionable.
NEWS FLASH!! For you gals and guys who ride in a fast group or race, never do it on a compromised tire. A blowout in race conditions could put your life on the line (and the lives of riders around you).
If you can't race on good tires, stay home and earn enough dough till you can afford them.
What's up with glueless patches?
Is there a limit to the number of patches (glueless or conventional) you can put on a tube?
Glueless patches have been around for several years and they seem to work just fine. The hard part is peeling the backing away.
Use the sandpaper provided or just wipe the punctured area with a clean rag to remove any tire talc. Remember to clean an area bigger than the patch.
Traditional patches, such as Rema, are a little messy because of the glue.
Use the sandpaper to gently rough up an area slightly bigger than the patch. Put on glue sparingly in an area slightly bigger than the patch (is there an echo in here?). Wait for the glue to dry! Peel off the foil and apply the patch.
The cellophane should then be removed, although some leave it on, claiming it keeps the patch from ever sticking to the inside of the tire.
Replace a tube once it has three or four patches. Otherwise, you're playing with house odds. Is the next flat a leaky patch, a new hole, or all of the above?
Carry a couple of new tubes in your seat bag. If you puncture, find the culprit in the tire, remove it and put in a fresh tube. Patch the bad one when you get home (don't forget) and put it in your bag.
I'll patch a flat during a ride only if I've used all of my spare tubes and my buddies' tubes as well.
Wheels of Misfortune
(reprinted in part from www.roadbikerider.com)
At RoadBikeRider.com we've stated our opinion of low-spoke-count wheels a few times. We consider them "event wheels" and believe they should be used that way -- for special rides or races, not for everyday cycling or training. In our view there are two main problems with event wheels (three if you count high price):
---Spoke replacement. Spokes are almost never the same among different wheel brands or even among different models from the same company. This means shops can't stock a complete selection and may not even have the required spoke tool. If a spoke breaks, the wheel may be out of commission for a few days while parts are on order -- or a few weeks if the wheel needs to be returned to the manufacturer for repair (it happens).
---Spoke catastrophe. If a spoke breaks, you may be out of commission too. The reason? With so few spokes supporting the rim, loss of tension in just one can make the wheel go wildly out of true. The rim might jam against a brake caliper or a chainstay or your fork, causing an instant loss of control and a crash.
Spoke tension is important. Low-spoke-count wheels can be trued, but it needs to be done by an expert, not a ham-fisted home mechanic. Many amateur racers on limited budgets seem to think, 'I ride, therefore I am a great mechanic.' They ride on used stuff or buy some bargain basement crap online. Just cause it looks like a good wheel, doesn't make it a good wheel.
When a customer brings in a wheel that won't stay true, the first thing a mechanic may look for is cracks in the rim at the spoke holes. We just replaced a high-zoot Bontrager rear wheel with that problem, ridden by a woman who's a strong recreational rider. The wheel had paired spokes with very high tension.
One other aspect in this sea of wheel insanity is travel. I guarantee you that a little shop in Tuscany cannot fix your Zipp carbon wonder wheel, nor can they ever get parts. Many riders go to Europe or elsewhere for personal or commercial tours. It's better to take no-frills 'normal' wheels that Uncle Guido can fix, than to turn a cycling vacation into a component-driven disaster.
I wish bike companies would put normal wheels on stock machines instead of event wheels. If someone wants the cool stuff, they can buy it in the aftermarket. Unfortunately marketing drives the industry more than practicality does. Every manufacturer is putting 'silly' wheels on their offerings."
We know some of you 24/7 event-wheel users can tell us tales of great reliability. That's how it should be for any wheel. But we don't like to gamble.
For all-round durability coupled with good rolling performance, we recommend well-made 32-spoke wheels with a 3-cross spoking pattern. They were the standard for years and are still the best choice for recreational road cycling despite the proliferation of so many wheels with 12, 16 or 24 spokes. Save wear-and-tear on such wheels to preserve their reliability in events.
Interestingly, Trek has introduced a wheel called Bontrager Classics.32 hole, three cross, with a sensible hub and rim. They'll cost about $600 per pair and are touted as the wheel the Team Discovery boys used for the spring classics (sew-up version).
Bike Care: the Danger Zones
Danger Zone, pt. 1: Bike Parts
Several tips that can keep you out of the Danger Zone when it comes to part failures. Use this checklist to inspect your bicicletta:
---Handlebar. If you've crashed it and it's carbon, replace it. Now! You cannot see the damage a fall has caused because it's inside the bar. You'll notice many pros don't use carbon bars because they can't rely on them to stay in one piece after a fall. An alloy bar will generally bend before it breaks, and you can usually finish a ride safely.
---Rims. Look for small cracks around the holes where the spokes enter the rim. They won't usually result in a catastrophic failure, but they'll grow over time and your wheels will not stay true or round.
---Hubs. If a hub develops looseness for no apparent reason, the axle may be broken. It's rare for a front hub but not uncommon for a rear, due to the offset for the cassette. The quick-release skewer will hold the whole shebang together, so don't pull it out during a ride to investigate why the hub is wobbling, unless you have a lift home. Realize, though, that riding on a broken axle will ruin the hub's innards.
---Saddle. If your seat has titanium or aluminum rails and they are bent at all, they will fail sooner rather than later. Damaged carbon rails simply break without warning. Some failures are no big deal; others are gonna hurt like hell and it may be impossible to ride home (or have kids). Also check the underside of the saddle's shell. I've seen many a fractured saddle held together only by its cover and padding. A seat in this condition will be swayback, it might creak, and it should feel awful.
---Seatpost. Inspect the clamp at the top of the post. This is the most likely place for a failure. In most cases this top section is welded or bonded to the post. It's subject to heavy stress, especially if there is lots of setback and you're a big rider. Failure means the top of the post, with your seat, falls off. I can't paint a pretty picture of what comes next. "Wrecked him? Nearly killed him!"
If you have a carbon seatpost and have distorted/crimped it by using too much clamp force where it enters the frame, replace the post ASAP. A break here is about as nasty as the clamp breaking off.
---Crankarms. If your shoe rubs either arm to the point where it's removing material from the crankarm, whether aluminum or carbon, replace the arm(s) without delay. Crankarms don't break in the garage, they break when you're putting lots of watts into them, as when climbing or sprinting. It happens without warning and usually results in a spectacular tumble when your foot, wearing the pedal and a piece of the crankarm, slams into the pavement.
Look at it this way: You live to ride (and I hope you love your bike as well). If you pay attention to the condition of each part on your machine and replace anything that's questionable, you minimize some of cycling's risk. It's a small price to pay for having the confidence that your bike is in tip-top shape.
Danger Zone, pt. 2: Fork Failure
As cyclists we're responsible for knowing the state of our equipment. Periodic bike inspection is an absolute must. A crash demands an immediate exam -- especially when there's been an impact involving the front end.
The fork is probably the strongest single element of a bike. It takes a lot to damage one, but you must be absolutely sure all is well. After all, not much in life is scarier than a fork failure, and you don't want that on your mind -- like at descending speed.
Let's look at two main ways forks get broken.
---Front Wheel Impacts. This includes riding into a curb, into a nasty pothole, or into any other immovable object. You don't need to be going fast or even crash to ruin a fork. If you suspect it was damaged by a hard hit, get on the cell phone and call for a ride. Yours is over.
With a carbon fork, the damage may be internal and unseen. The fork must be pulled from the frame to check for injury to the steerer tube, the fork legs or the crown. A simple look while it's still in the frame is not enough. Take it out and put it under a bright light.
You're looking for cracks, dents, dings and bent or loose dropouts. Gouges, discoloration, peeling, delamination -- all spell impending disaster. So do buzzing sounds from inside the legs during riding. And then there's the tell-tale sensation that the bike doesn't steer or behave like it used to. If you lack the experience to do this kind of inspection, take your bike to the most experienced mechanic at your LBS. He/she might just save your life.
With a steel fork, a big frontal impact will generally bend the fork (or more likely the frame). I have seen steel forks bent to ridiculous angles, but I've never seen one fail catastrophically under a rider. That's a testimony to steel's ultimate strength and forgiveness.
If you're riding on an aluminum fork you should have replaced it eons ago. Aluminum forks become mushy and flexible over time. I've never thought aluminum is a good choice for a fork. The only time I had a bike with one, I worried so much that I got rid of that rig after only two months. The fork was way light and it was good on rough pavement, but it seemed like an accident waiting to happen.
---Garage Calamities. I hope this has never happened to you, but it's happened to plenty of tired riders driving home with the bike on top. One push of the garage door's remote button and in a nano-second . . . disaster! After calming down, you need to take the bike (and what remains of the roof rack) to the LBS. It's going to take time to check everything that could be damaged. If it's only the fork you were lucky in the extreme. Make your next stop at the auto body shop, then drop by the local construction contractor to arrange for a repair estimate. Don't forget to mention that the garage door no longer works.
Never, ever take a chance on fork failure. Sure, a good bike's fork is expensive to replace. But that pales in comparison to the pain of a crash and cost of an ER visit.
With our bikes it's the same. We must maintain our equipment and spend what it takes to replace anything that's questionable. Especially the fork.
Danger Zone, pt. 3: Frame Fractures
Don't kid yourself. Your frame can break. Every frame can break. Doesn't matter whether it's made of "gonna last forever" titanium, ornately lugged steel, exotic carbon or ultra-light aluminum.
But take heart -- very few frames do break, considering how many are on the road and being ridden hard. And even fewer come apart when you're JRA ("just riding along").
That's because bicycle frames are an amazingly strong conglomeration of small tubes joined by the mastery of the builder. The fact that so few break is testimony to the strength of a design that has been around since the late 1800s. We may be building bike frames out of different materials these days, but the tried-and-true basics remain unchanged.
That said, you don't want to be part of even a small sad statistic. It's important to know how to check your frame for fractures that could lead to tube separation and possible injury on the road. Let's see how.
---The first step is to have a clean bike and keep it that way. Most frame failures begin as a hairline crack. How would you expect to find one under a layer of crud?
---Remove the rear wheel to examine the dropouts and the tubes ("stays") they're joined to. This is one of the most likely places a crack will occur. Look closely at both sides of each dropout. Use a bright light so you can really see if that scratch is only a scratch.
---Follow the chainstays forward to where they join the bottom bracket shell. Check the chainstay bridge, the small tube that joins the chainstays behind the BB. Some frames may not have this reinforcing tube; on others it's a place cracks can develop.
---Follow the seatstays up to the bridge for the rear brake. This is a very high stress area, but is also over-built for that reason. Go up to the seat cluster. The top tube, seat tube and seatstays all join here. It's a complicated joint and requires extra care in building. Check it carefully. Other than an accident, the main reason for damage here is using a seatpost that doesn't extend far enough below the cluster.
---Move to the front of the bike and examine the joints around the head tube. This is another area subjected to a variety of forces. If the bike has had a frontal impact (curb, dog, garage on a roof rack), look closely under the head tube end of the down tube. If it's bulged, cracked or discolored, go bike shopping.
Now, most of this so far pertains to metal frames. It can be harder to spot a problem in a carbon frame. Carbon is unique in its amazing strength, but its natural color can mask signs of damage that do occur.
---One sign of carbon tube failure is a rag getting snagged when you're wiping down the frame. Gouges, deep scratches or displaced paint need a serious look.
---As with any frame material, if your bike starts handling strangely or develops mysterious creaking, cracking or popping noises, stop riding it and run the above checks for tube failure.
Don't be paranoid about your bike. The point is simple: Be diligent. Keep your bike clean. Inspect the frame, fork and other parts once a month or after any kind if mishap. By doing so you'll be safe, sound and out of the Danger Zone of hassles and injuries related to equipment failure.
No, not a “smooth sale” marketing technique. That’s the soft peddle….. what I’m talking about is the soft pedal! Drafting is the essence of group cycling, but many cyclists don't do it as well as they could. When riding in a paceline, and the gap between your front wheel and the wheel you’re following closes, the rookie/instinctive reaction is to grab the brakes. But that should be avoided. Braking should be the last resort in a paceline or anytime another rider is close behind. It slows you too abruptly and might cause following riders to do what you're trying to avoid -- hit a rear wheel. If wheels touch, the front rider will maybe feel a slight bump, but the following rider could be in a heap. Perhaps you’ve had the opportunity to experience this phenomenon! It takes better bike-handling skills than even many pros possess to stay up after front-wheel contact. Instead, soft pedal.
Here's how: Soft pedaling is the art of continuing to turn the cranks without applying power. You're coasting but it doesn't look like it. This should temper your speed just enough. As you drift back a bit, smoothly resume pedal pressure to maintain the gap.
Soft pedaling makes you much smoother than alternating coasting and pedaling. Not to mention how maddening that can be to the riders behind you. Suddenly stopping and starting your legs is a sure way to annoy your riding partners. It’s also less efficient to be doing the “stop/start pedal dance” than to be spinning more fluidly by soft pedaling. When everyone in a paceline is always turning their cranks -- with power or without -- it's a thing of beauty. Take a look at a pro peloton, and you’ll see what I mean.
Some other non-braking tips:
---Sit up. As you soft pedal, this helps your body catch more air to reduce speed. In effect, your upper body is acting as a speed brake.
---Move slightly left or right. Two benefits: It slows you quicker by putting you slightly out of the slipstream, and it makes sure wheels won't touch. Do it smoothly and minimally for the safety of riders behind. Then flow back in line and resume normal pedaling.
---Always ride at the very back of the group. Since no one is behind you, your technique can be terrible and there won’t be any following riders to be bothered by it!
You've probably seen photos and videos of pros careening down European passes. Their butts are
on the top tube in front of the saddle. Their hands are grasping the bar next to the stem. Their chins are nearly touching the front wheel.
Don't try it! This position may be aero but it's also extremely unstable. Pros can get away with it, but they can do lots of things we can't.
You'll go almost as fast -- assuming you want to go fast -- and be much steadier if you use a sensible
---Hold the crankarms horizontal. Some riders like the right foot forward, others the left. It doesn't matter, so do what feels natural.
---Scoot back. Slide to the rear of the saddle and rise slightly so your weight is supported mainly by your feet and hands. But don't get totally off the saddle. Keep it between your thighs for control and stability.
---Grip the drops. Have your hands far enough forward so it's easy to reach the brake levers.
---Alternate the brakes. To keep speed under control, apply the front brake for a moment, then the rear.
Don't risk a blowout from overheated rims by dragging the pads down the hill. Still too fast? Sit higher so your body catches more air.
---Squeeze your knees. If your bike has a tendency to wobble on fast descents, let one knee (or shin, in the case of compact frames) rest against the top tube. If shimmy does start, clamp the tube between your legs.
---Keep your head up. If speed is your thing, you will need to be low to reduce wind resistance but, again, be sensible and don't overdo it. Comfort and safety are more important than another mph or two.
---Think fast. Look up the road and anticipate dangers. Is there gravel on that corner? A blind driveway? An intersection?
Enjoy the thrill, but always remember: The faster you descend, the more margin you need for the unexpected.
You Light Up My Life
Over the past several years, I have repeatedly danced around the issue of purchasing a front bike light for riding in pre-dawn or after sundown hours.
A rear blinky light is fine to be seen from behind, but riding with a pathetic front light is not only stupid, it can be terrifying to feel as if one is riding blind. Although frugality was a part of my lack of motivation to spring for a light, my main reluctance stemmed from an unwillingness to purchase a light which was unwieldy and used a heavy, proprietary, wired battery pack. Well, I discovered, thanks to peloton buddy Tom Morgan, the miracle of light! I had noticed that he was riding with what appeared to be a mini-mag-type light mounted on his handlebars as well as on his helmet. I was impressed how unbelievably bright each was and either alone would be totally satisfactory to illuminate the road ahead. Tom explained that he uses both lights because he bike-commutes to work, and the helmet light is useful to “see” around corners, as well as to catch the attention of inattentive motorists. A company called 4sevens makes a full range of flashlights, many of which are ideal for bike handlebar and/or helmet mounting. They operate on standard batteries, either AA or 123 (photo battery), disposable or rechargeable. They are compact, lightweight, built like a quality tool, and they are amazingly bright!! You can check out their product line at www.4sevens.com. I opted for the Quark 123² model which fits handily on my handlebars with a rubber and velcro mounting block. It is totally adequate for my morning ride-to-the-ride commute and can be conveniently removed and placed in the pocket for camping, car use, or interrogating a suspect! Max power (190 lumens) run time is approximately 1½ hours, and on lower settings, run time is significantly longer.
Whereas I used to tip-toe down the bike path at maybe 14mph in the pre-dawn dark, now I can ride at speed with plenty of light in front of me.
And those riders coming in your direction with what look like aircraft landing lights; now I am one of them!
Be a better cyclist!
SURVIVE BAD ROAD SURFACES
---Seams and cracks. When these run parallel to your direction of travel they can catch your front wheel. So be vigilant, particularly when entering a shaded section that makes cracks and seams hard to see. If your wheels become trapped, don't try to turn to the right or left. That's likely to make you crash. Stop pedaling and either continue in the rut until it ends, or jump the bike up and to the side to untrap the wheels -- a skill worth practicing because you don't want to be trying it for the first time in emergency conditions.
---Rough or broken pavement. When approaching long sections with a gnarly surface, sit back, shift to the next higher gear, grip the bar top or brake lever hoods, and steadily pedal through. The slightly bigger gear adds resistance and slows your cadence so you can pedal smoother with less bike chatter.
---Painted lines. They can be as slippery as ice when they're wet. Be wary entering any corner in urban areas where there may be painted crosswalks or other road markings. Slow down and do your best to cross them at a right angle with your bike perpendicular.
---Wet metal. Anything metal and wet is ultra slippery. This includes manhole covers, plates, grates, metal bridge surfaces, railroad tracks and so on. Again, slow down and do your best to cross wet metal at a right angle with your bike perpendicular.
---Fallen leaves. Leaves usually aren't a problem when you're riding straight through them (although they may cover potholes or other dangers). But in a corner, watch out. If there is wetness between the leaves, they can be slippery and cause you to slide down. In the off season when there are freezing temperatures overnight, what appear to be dry leaves can actually have frost between them or even an ice slick underneath.
---Gravel and sand. When the loose stuff is on a flat section, use the same technique described for rough or broken pavement. When sand or gravel is in a turn, initiate your turn before reaching it. Then straighten the bike just before you cross. If your bike is upright on a slippery patch, it's less likely to slide out from under you. Once safely across, lean the bike again to complete the turn.
Tip! Never hit the brakes while the bike is leaned over on any slippery surface. A braked wheel tends to go straight, so if you clamp on the stoppers while you're cornering, you'll almost certainly go down.
Cycling in Books
I recently read Floyd's 2007 book "Positively False", written after his 2006 Tour de France victory (which was later vacated). In the book, Floyd details the "real" story of how he won the TdF. Actually, the book was interesting reading (at least the first half) where he tells of his early years and development into a Pro Road Racer. It was odd reading later in the book when he writes: "I did not use performance-enhancing drugs in the 2006 Tour de France or any other time in my career." His strenuous denials of any impropriety in his conduct and defense of his "clean" status are tough to get through in light of his recent acknowledgement of doping, after all. Especially disturbing is how Floyd enlisted the support of notable, (previously) reputable cycling authorities such as Arnie Baker, MD to "prove" his innocence. In the book, he does reference Lance Armstrong numerous times, having ridden as a teammate on US Postal Team with Lance. Although there is no mention of any drug usage re: Lance or any of Floyd's teammates, it is not difficult to understand why, now, 4 years later, Floyd is gunning for Armstrong. Lance and Floyd didn't necessarily see eye-to-eye as fellow Pro Cyclists, and now, Floyd apparently wants some pay-back.
It's just difficult to figure...is Floyd telling the truth now, or was he then, or what?
By the way, I picked up the retail $24.95 hardcover book at one of Bakersfield's 99cent stores!....that detail should be some indication of it's true value. But it IS worth reading for a dollar.
"The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance"
Written by David Herlihy, it's the story of a young American named Frank Lenz, a national hero in the 1890s as he set out to ride his bicycle 20,000 miles (32,200 km) around the world. Somewhere in Turkey, Lenz disappeared without a trace. This 336-page book describes his journey and the efforts to find him. The Associate Press says, "Herlihy's gripping, fast-paced tale of larger-than-life cyclists and the era in which the bicycle came into its own . . .combines elements of a mystery thriller with those of a fascinating travel tale set in the historical context of a fast-changing world on the brink of the 20th century. The book has numerous photos Lenz mailed from his trek. $15.60 at Amazon.com.
The Continuing Misadventures of Bob Roll
This collection from cyclist Bob Roll reflects his unique perspective on the professional racing circuit and his own brand of dry humor. Straightforward yet sly, funny and a little crazy, Roll calls it like he sees it. Here are anecdotes about the Tour de France, international mountain-bike tournaments, training struggles, heart-stopping crashes, and personal vendettas, all of which provide a fascinating inside look at the world of championship cycling. This is some VERY funny stuff!!!
A memoir by Bill Strickland
In "Ten Points", Bill Strickland takes you further into the bodies, the heads, and hearts of serious cyclists than you’ve ever been before…but he does something far more important. You learn about nightmare encounters with fathers and drugs, the tenderness of fatherhood, and why, in the end, the devil drives.
A lifelong but decidedly average bicyclist, Strickland was challenged by his young daughter to score ten points in a series of weekly races dominated by pro racers, national champions, and legends of the sport. He hoped that if he could achieve this impossible feat, he might similarly triumph over the indestructible demon that haunted his life. This book is brutally honest and beautifully written.....Well worth reading!!