This video is just another reminder on how safe we need to be on the road. Even in cases when we are doing everything right like staying on the edge of the lane, staying single file and wearing a helmet…bad things can happen that are out of our control.
Mulholland Drive in Southern California
The wreck happened on Mulholland Drive in southern California. For those of you that don’t live in the area, that might mean nothing to you, but it is a go to spot for road cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers as the road has a lot of twists and turns. In the motorcycle and car industry, it is famous for this and this turn is quite possibly the most recognized in the area…Rock Store (Search for it in YouTube and you will find nothing but motorcycle wrecks). In northern Georgia, we have similar roads that we use for road biking (roads that were used in the Tour de Georgia back in the day) which made this video a strong reminder for me personally as well.
It appears that the motorcyclists just froze. As the old saying goes…”look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to be” and he fixated on the two road cyclists and basically drove right through them. The only good news is that both cyclists appear to be able to walk away from the accident. Judging by the video, the first one my have a concussion or other head related trauma as he was down for awhile and wasn’t completely all there when he got up.
The road cyclists in this case were doing everything they were supposed to do when we “share the road” with other sports. This is just a great reminder to be extra aware while riding in popular spots. Even if you are in the right, things can go really wrong.
I have been riding bikes for over 15 years now and I have never had a professional bike fit until this month.
I thought that would be a great way to start this experience just to give you guys a baseline. I have always done my own fits based off of feel on the bike. Over the years, I have grown to know my body, my riding style and where I am most comfortable. It was not until my recent back issues (not biking related…just hurts while on the bike) that I considered getting a bike fit done to make sure I was not further agitating the condition.
I will say…my “just on feel” theory was wrong after having a real fit done, so here is the story.
The Professional Bike Fit
I called up a friend of mine that owns Reality Bikes in Cumming, GA. We have been talking a lot over the past couple of months about my back issues and what do to on the bike that could help that out. With the help of doctors and his first hand knowledge, I had gotten to the point that I was comfortable on the bike again.
When the Specialized Venge came in for review (first look article coming soon), I knew there was going to be a lot of saddle time involved. It was time to throw away my old way of doing things and make sure that everything was perfect. I told Todd what was going on and he scheduled me in that week to see where the current fit stood and what we could tweak to make sure I was getting everything I could out of the bike with the least amount of body error that might agitate my back or any other parts of my body. I fit the measurements of the Venge directly to what I had been riding on the previous Tarmac. This is also what I had been riding on for the shakedown rides.
Pedal Right Fit Studio with Retul
Todd uses the Pedal Right Fit Studio with the Retul fit system. What is really cool about this whole process is that he essentially traces your bike to find your baseline measurements. Then…once the fit process is complete…we retraces it to give you your measurements. This allows you to have the data to transfer the fit to other bikes. It also satisfies the data geek within me.
Tracing the bike with the Retul system.
Using a scanner and several key points on the bike, Todd was able to draw my current setup virtually. It really reminded me of the Xbox Kinect as he went from point to point. It is really cool how far technology has come over the years.
The Retul Scanner
After all of the baseline measurements were taken, Todd had me get on the bike and warm up a bit. After I had gotten comfortable and into my stride, he started to have me stop the pedals at 6 o’clock and 3 o’clock to check alignments and measurements as I sat on the bike. As many of you already know, bike fit is essentially a science. There are certain geometrical solutions that create the most power at a healthy angle for your body.
So what was the outcome of my “feel fit”?
Well…I ended up having the most common problem in bike fits…my saddle height was too low. Ironically, most of my other measurements were pretty dead on, but that doesn’t mean a thing if the saddle height is not correct as that is probably the biggest factor in a correct bike fit.
Todd got to work on the saddle height and then started tailoring the rest of the measurements around that. As we continued working on the fit, we noticed another glaring problem. I had been telling him how I feel like my heals want to point out on the bike. As it turns out, my pedals were so far inward that the laser was not even showing up on my foot when lined up with my kneecap.
A couple of washers later…and I had a straight line heading from my leg to my foot. As you might have heard before, your leg is like a piston in producing power. You want the straightest line possible to the ground to insure there is no power loss in side to side torquing motion (as a gear head I love that analogy). I was losing power due to not striking the pedal straight on. That can also be a source of knee pain over time as I was essentially torquing it to the side.
We got done with the rest of the measurements and Todd gave me the final data. These sheets aren’t of any real value to you unless you are my exact same proportions and measurements, but I thought they would be cool to post here so you can see how things changed.
The Proof in the Pudding: The Rides After the Fit
It is amazing how much little changes can make a big difference. The bike feels great right now and it is the most comfortable I have ever been on a road bike. Obviously, the biggest changes I can feel is the pedal placement and saddle height. I really don’t feel like I am fighting anything on the bike anymore during my pedal strokes. Fellow riding friends have even said that it looks more comfortable as we are riding in a paceline.
So…long story short…I was wrong.
This is something I should have done a long time ago regardless of the issues with my back. I started thinking about how much power I have left on the trail or the road due to not being lined up correctly on the bike. How many more miles could I have ridden? How much faster could I have been with that extra energy and by getting the energy I did have straight to the ground?
I’ll never really know the answers to those questions…but I do know that I am sold. If you are in the local area, Reality Bikes is a great place to get a fit done and I have always highly recommended their shop for a lot of things…so check them out. Otherwise, get a fit done at your local shop as it will help your riding.
Getting a new mountain or road bike is one of the many exciting parts of the sport of cycling. Let’s face it…there is nothing quite like a shiny new sled. You get to act like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. However, there is a process you need to go through with each new bike purchase to insure that the excitement keeps rolling forward and doesn’t turn into a stoke ending catastrophe.
For many, this process will be aided through your local bike shop, but let’s lay out the top 5 things you need to do on your new bike when you first take it into possession.
Top 5 Things Every Rider Should Do When They Get A New Bike
So here they are…the top 5 things every rider needs to do when they get a new bike…
Swapping parts between the Specialized Tarmac and the Specialized Venge
#1 – Swap Parts
Even if you are buying a complete bike that is ready to go off the shelf, there are probably some parts that you have upgraded on your old ride or parts that have to do with fit (handlebars, stem, seatpost, seat, etc.) that you will need to swap over to your new ride. It is best to go ahead and get this process started right away even if you really just want to tear it out of the box and start getting it dirty. Now is also a good time to look over the frame and add 3M protective film to anywhere on the frame where there might be cable or foot rub. That will keep your bike looking new for the long run and prevent those heart breaking first scratches.
This is also the time to check the torque with a torque wrench (all riders should have one) on all of your bolts to make sure nothing randomly falls off on your first ride. Nothing kills the new bike fever worse than a bad wreck.
Bike Fit Done by Todd at Reality Bikes in Cumming, GA
#2 – Get A Bike Fit
Many riders know exactly how they fit on the bike down to the millimeter, but many do not. A proper bike fit will insure less injury and more power from your legs getting transferred to the ground. This is also a great time to get a new fit done to begin with as your new bike’s geometry is most likely not the same as your old one. There will be tweaks to the fit that need to be made.
I always like to match up the fit from my old bike to the new as close as possible…then go in and get a fit done to fine tune the process. That also gives me an awareness on how the new bike fits differently than the old.
#3 – Shakedown Ride and Attitude
Now this is the tough one. Just when you want to go out and prove the new bike actually does make you faster…you can’t. The first ride on a new bike should always have an adjustment in riding attitude. During this first shakedown ride, you should pick a trail or road that you know very well. Preferably…one that is close by the car or tools so if you need to make adjustments you can.
During this ride, you are riding slower and not as intense as usual. You should be getting used to the new handling characteristics of the bike, watching for any loose bolts or fitment issues and taking it easy while observing all of these things at once. Shakedown rides are also shorter in distance as changes will need to be made and you are trying to just shake everything loose on the bike.
Just take this ride easy and make sure it ends well. Your time to push the bike is coming soon…
Shakedown on the new Specialized Venge
#4 – Recheck Torque Settings
After your shakedown ride, it is time to get your new bike in the garage and recheck all torque settings with a torque wrench on the bike. You are going to be surprised. That first shakedown ride popped a couple of things loose that you are not going to want to fall off on the trail or road. This is also a great time to double check all of the areas that you put 3M film and make sure it is doing its job. In many cases, the first shakedown ride has also pointed out new places that I want to keep components or other factors from hitting the frame.
#5 – Post It All Over The Internet
You know you want to and are going to. Part of the fun of getting a new bike is taking pictures of it out on the trail…in your car…on a couch in the house while your wife is not looking. Have fun with it. We all get excited over new bikes even if they aren’t ours.
For my whole time racing/riding I’ve used a mix of fluid/gel/food to get me by. While it’s worked, and I haven’t had too many nutritional issues, it sure isn’t convenient. Dealing with used and unused gel packets, wrappers, Clif bars, dosing etc is a pain in the butt. I’ve been looking at the possibility of switching to just a single source of energy, and when I heard about Tailwind Nutrition I was excited to try it, as it seemed like a product aimed directly at me. It’s a single endurance drink that gives you everything you need, and nothing you don’t. It is supposed to be easy on your gut, easy to drink (even after 6+ hours on the bike), and hydration bladder friendly (a must for long training rides).
Here at Bike198 we got some samples from Tailwind and we’ll be putting them through the paces during training and racing. The idea of it sounds awesome, and in my opinion, it has a bit of an advantage over it’s main competitor (Infinit Nutrition) as it is very camelback friendly, has easier dosing options for easy/medium/hard rides, and is slightly cheaper. Tailwind also does not have any protein in it’s drink, as according to it’s website, it can cause stomach issues in endurance athletes. Lastly, compared with a similar dose of Infinit (~250 calorie portion) is has more Sodium (750mg vs 380mg), same Carbs, more Magnesium (37mg vs 23mg), and more Calcium (63mg vs 30mg). On paper, it sounds like a winner.
I’ve now tried Tailwind on 2 different training rides and have had great results. The first ride was a quick “trial by fire” as it was a Performance Test I was doing as part of my training routine. It was a short ride (30 minute warm up, 20 minute test, 30 minute cool down) and I did one bottle of 2.5 scoops. Solid energy the whole time, but I wasn’t expecting to have issues. The next test was a bit longer as it was a 4.5 hour training ride this past Saturday. I put in 10 scoops of Tailwind into my 100oz camelback expecting to drink 20oz and 200 calories per hour. I brought some energy gels as backups, but didn’t have to use them. I felt good the whole ride and never ran out of energy. The taste is this mix of sweet/salty that kept me coming back and I never got tired of it the whole time. It comes in 3 different flavors, so we’ll see if Orange and Berry are as good as the Lemon one I’ve had so far.
I’m looking forward to using Tailwind exclusively as fuel for my training and racing. With my weight (170lbs) I plan on consuming around 150-200 calories for my longer training rides, and 250 during racing efforts. If things go well, this will be the end of my having to deal with gels, Clif bars, and other random things I have to hunt down and eat during my riding. I’ll keep you guys up to date with how the longer training rides are going, as I have a couple of 5-6 hour rides planned in the next 2 weeks.
Last but not least, Tailwind Nutrition is so sure of it’s product, it offers the Tailwind Challenge. “It’s simple: if Tailwind Endurance Fuel doesn’t make you stronger, happier, and less stressed while you train and at your next event, we’ll pay your race fee.” That’s a pretty bold statement and I like the fact they put their money where their mouth is and back up their product.
Hey, I’m new here. Wanted to introduce myself, as I’ll be doing some write ups and reviews on Bike198.com during the coming up race season. In 2009, I was 250lbs, and racing cars with the SCCA. I bought a bike for myself for my birthday as I was always interested in mountain biking. I had a few friends that were “recovering car racers” that raced mountain bikes and I thought I’d give it a try. I picked it up pretty damn fast, fell in love, and created my next obsession.
3 years later, I’m 170lbs, been riding better and better and got into racing. I’ve done a handful of 6 hour races, a couple of 50-60 mile races here in the SE, and was ready to take it to the next level last year. I ended up hurting myself with a muscle imbalance in my quads/legs (write up about that and how I fixed it to come) and took a while off racing to get fit and recovered. Just riding for fun has been awesome, but I’m in the best shape of my life, ready to really kill it in 2013 and be more of a serious wanna be racer. I’ve got 4, 100 mile NUE races planned, along with a number of 6/9 hours.
I’ve done a bunch of research on training methodology, programs, and coaches and settled on a series of 12-week training programs structured around my 2013 racing season. Look forward to articles about cross training, racing preparation, how my training is working (or not), and nutrition. Along with racing, I also do plenty of riding for fun, and am a technical nerd and mechanical guy, so I’ll also be do some writing about my equipment: The race bike (Trek SuperFly 100) and also the fun bike (Trek Remedy 9.9). Have fun out there and enjoy the awesome fall riding weather (at least it is that way here in the SE)!
Over the past couple of weeks, my back has been feeling great. I am not getting any pain at home and I am able to hit the road and trail when I have time. Life is good on the road back to the bike during my recovery.
However, I find myself in a place in my riding that I have not been in for a long while (almost since I started riding seriously back in the 90′s) – working back up my mileage endurance to handle multi hour rides on weekends.
Last weekend, we headed up to a southeast US favorite – Raccoon Mountain. This 18 mile or so loop is atop a ridge in the Tennessee canyons outside of Chattanooga and they hold some of the best single track the area has to offer. Additionally, there are built in tech sections that are great for sessioning and tuning in your technical riding ability. About 12 miles in, my legs decided they were done and I bonked. It was almost as if you could hear them go BOOM through the woods and it was the first time I have bonked in 12 miles in longer than I can remember.
Working Up To Longer Miles
New riders and riders coming back from injury run into an interesting predicament. You love riding, you want to more of it, but you do not have the endurance for several hour long hammers in on the road or trail. For riders coming back off of injury, you have memories of those days but no ability to make it happen at this time.
So what do we have to do?
We need to start conditioning our bodies to get to handle longer times in the saddle. It is an incremental change that is fueled by two key ingredients.
The Will To Not Get Frustrated
The only thing that will get you riding longer miles is stretching what you consider normal and doing that consistently. Whether it is hitting shorter rides harder or slowly extending your mileage when you can, you (talking to myself here as well) need to start extending your riding to push your threshold farther. While I wish there was a magic bullet or some super secret underground method for doing it quickly, the reality is that you have to work to get your body to create a new “normal”.
For most riders, this is not an easy thing to accomplish given other life obligations. Some of us have families, jobs and other outside factors that make getting in more longer rides difficult. But – as I mentioned earlier – the key is to stretch yourself. You need to hit that climb harder, bring your average speed up on the road and keep pushing your fitness to be better (within reason…don’t push to explosion). Even shorter distances with higher efforts will help your milage on the weekend.
For me, I have found that weekly rides that are on a certain day greatly help my endurance while being able to balance life’s obligations. If you have one or two rides after work that you can depend on, that will bring the consistency to your riding that is required to push the limit of your time wall.
But most importantly…
You have to remember not to get frustrated through the process…because it is a process. It is almost as if I am going through a mental battle on the trail. My mind remembers being able to push harder but my legs and body can’t get the job done. I want to be able to jump right back on an attack trails and road rides like I did at the injury point, but my endurance and strength is not even close. Somehow, I have to keep reminding myself on the trail that it is ok and it is better to be on the bike or off…this is just another stage in the process.
Some days it is easier said than done, but – for the most part – it is easy to get stoked when I get out of self loathing enough to turn my eyes up and see what is front of me. Single track ready to be ripped and fresh asphalt ready to be carved is the best therapy no matter my riding ability is at the time. When you keep that in focus, the rest comes with time.
I came across this info graphic about cars and bikes this morning that I thought was really valuable.
It is…by far…one of the best illustrations I have seen to date on driver/road biker relations. I can not begin to tell you how many rides I have been on where a road biker will yell, scream, cuss and throw things at drivers that come too close.
Yes…the driver was in the wrong…but so was the reaction.
For some reason, some road bikers believe they are doing some sort of good by flying off the handle at drivers of cars and trucks. In reality, all they are doing is further making the relationship between drivers and road bikers even worse. Do you really think you are making a difference by acting like a lunatic? All you are really doing is proving the wrongful thinking of the driver that road bikers are crazy and wreckless.
Furthermore, the road biker seems to conveniently forget that by acting this way, they are also fueling the stereotype that road bikers are angry assholes on the road and that makes it harder for the rest of us (and more unsafe) that just want to get out and enjoy the open road.
Just like the illustration says, we need to not fight fire with fire. We need to give the reaction that is unexpected. Have you ever tried talking to a driver nicely about what happened?
“Hey man, I know you probably didn’t mean to, but you go really close to us back there. Can you please leave just a little bit more room next time? I would hate to see something go wrong.”
If they still get mad at that point, then it is their own issues but you didn’t make the situation worse by being a jackass which would further justify their anger. Let’s lose the angry roadie attitude once and for all. Let’s finally do our part in driver/road biker relations by leading by example and not through hate.
We can raise awareness and try to get legislation passed, but until we step up and act how we would like to be treated…nothing will change.
With winter firmly here to make life more interesting for cyclists how should you be modifying your bike?
Step 1: Fenders
The first step is also the most obvious one. Fenders. If you’ve never heard of them you must be living in a magical world where whenever you go through a muddy puddle, it doesn’t launch itself towards you. But seriously, fenders are important for two reasons. The first is it keeps mud off your clothes and face. The second is that it keeps mud off sensitive components of your bike. Even the most sealed components can get mud inside them and that causes all sorts of havoc. If I was to add a third reason, it would be to keep mud and water out of the face of the rider behind you. However, some of you may look at that as a reason to not add fenders.
The next step is to choose which fenders you want. There are the road bike style fenders that fit around the wheel and sit close to the tire or the mountain bike style fenders that flap around graciously as you wiz around your favorite trail.
Alternatively, there are also folding fenders. For those with road bikes that refuse to take the typical fenders I can strongly recommend the Crud Roadracer.
Step 2: Winter Tires
Part of your winter bike setup should be to fit winter tires. For city riders that means something with a little more width if your bike will take it. Also, ideally you’ll look for something with puncture protection such as the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. This will save you from stopping to fix a puncture in the rain and cold.
For mountain bikers or for those who predict they’ll be cycling through the snow then studded tires are a good addition.
Step 3: Bike lights
With shorter days this is the time to have a good set of bike lights. Recently, I’ve been a big fan of USB chargeable bike lights as this saves me the hassle of remembering to buy new batteries. Not to mention the cost of buying them and how quickly it adds up. Plus, Iím sure there’s some kind of a eco-friendly angle here that satisfies your inner “eco-warrior”.
Don’t be afraid to back up your standard two lights with a light that attaches to your helmet or bag.
Step 4: Lubrication
Winter is a time of the year when more water will be hitting your sensitive bike components. Therefore, staying on top of your cleaning and lubrication routine is important. Unfortunately, I see far too many riders go wrong here. They’ll either never lubricate or go overboard. They never seem to hit the perfect middle.
You should clean your bike thoroughly and then apply a small layer of bike specific lubricant. As this is winter a wet lube is probably the best option. Leave the lubricant to sink in and then wipe away any excess. This is crucial as mud will stick to the excess lubricant and grind away at your components.
Step 5: Maintenance
With longer stopping distances on the roads, winter is a time to be on top of your bike maintenance. Either take it down to your local shop or do it yourself, but make sure your brakes are ready for anything that unpredictable conditions can throw at them.
This is a guest post by Andreas of London Cyclist Blog where he has also written about a winter bike setup in London.
There is something that happens within the cycling community that no one else understands.
Thanks to modern technology and Facebook, not only can we know with deadly accuracy what you are doing on a daily basis, but we are now made aware of when you are “off the bike” as the news hits the timeline.
“Off The Bike”
A few weeks ago, several of us were sitting back and pondering this phenomenon that happens when a rider has an injury or life changing experience that brings them “off the bike” for a period of time. Telegraph lines start beeping spreading the word like wild fire. Facebook timelines get filled with “are you ok, I heard you are off the bike”. You almost expect the 6 o’clock news to cover the story as the entire local bike scene is rocked by the news.
Innocent bystanders (non-cycling people) don’t seem to get it. What do you mean you are “off the bike”? It is just a bike…so what?
They don’t get it. They aren’t going to get it either. Our entire existence just got changed in one catastrophic event. What am I going to do on the weekends now? What am I going to talk to my friends about? What about all of the inside jokes I’ll be missing?
Side Effects Of “Off the Bike”
Being off the bike also comes with financial burdens. As we all know, one deadly side effect of being “off the bike” is increased exposure to UGI. Upgradeitus is a dangerous virus that once caught can change your entire quiver in one fell swoop. With this extra “off the bike” time, venerable riders are unable to get the fix which allows the virus to come in and take over the mind and body.
At one point in time, I had heard about an underground cure to UGI that was suppressed by the big three in the biking industry. One can imagine why a cure to UGI would effect the profits of online retailers and big box manufacturers, but I do believe you can still find versions on the black market that are not full strength. These diluted grades can at least keep you to a derailleur or set of brakes at the worst.
“Off the Bike” also increases the susceptibility of loved ones to contract “you are annoying me” syndrome. While this is a common occurrence for cyclists and outsiders alike, the presence of “off the bike” has a positive correlation with “you are annoying me” that doctors have not quite figured out. Do not be surprised if your happy wife is now kicking you out of the house. As you already know, this can increase the negative side effects of “off the bike” as you suddenly find yourself with nothing to do outside of your front door. Panic sets in and UGI gets to its highest as you wonder aimlessly from bike shop to bike shop looking for a fix.
Other side effects include insomnia, depression, unexpected weight gain, decrease in stamina and restlessness. If these side effects last for more than 72 hours, you should consult your local bike shop.
“Off the Bike” is very serious and should be handled appropriately. Even if the medical field and other non-cyclists might play down your new illness, you have to make sure to consult experts in the field until you are able to get back “on the bike”. Symptoms and side effects should being to wear off during mile 1 and being completely out of your system by one Saturday afternoon ride.
As mountain and road bikers, we do many things very well. We find excuses why we have to ride this weekend, we find justifications for why that new high end part will improve our skills and we even use riding as an excuse to eat more food.
But…one of the things I have found that bikers typically do not do enough of is stretching and core workouts (I am really guilty of this one). Cycling in general does a great job of working out the lower half of our bodies and keeping our hearts in great shape. It generally does nothing to improve your core strength or overall muscle health in regards to flexibility. These are secondary operations of your body while you are on the bike, so while they are essential to faster, safer riding, they are not worked out appropriately to actually see improvement over time.
James from The Ultimate MTB Workout (a great program if you are looking to get stronger on the bike), put together this video that outlines stretches you should be doing every week to compliment your riding. These stretches will keep your muscles healthy, but it also targets the muscles we use the most in our riding so you will actually see gains on the trail or road when you do these regularly.
What do you need to get started? A simple, cheap foam roller and you are set. I have put these into my regular routine due to some back and hip flexor pain I have been experiencing lately and it helps.
As the saying goes, “the couple that plays together, stays together” and for those of us that are obsessed with all things cycling, we can find that the time to play together can become a scarce commodity as we juggle the balance between work, family and riding. Before we got married, my wife had very little experience riding a bike as a sport or for pleasure. At the time, she wanted to get into mountain biking so we went that route. However, the demands on a woman’s body to start a family can lead to worry of injury while on the trail, so to share my obsession with all things pedal powered…we started getting her ready to try out the road bike.
Riding the road together has become a part of our weekly schedule and I did it in a way that she didn’t hate me by the end of the process. The following tips can really be applied to any beginner on a road bike, but is increasingly important for significant others (yes…if you are trying to get your husband into the sport too) as couples are far more sensitive to advice from each other than they are from outsiders.
How To Get Your Wife To Road Bike Without Divorcing You
So you have decided to jump into it and share road biking with your wife (or friend, girlfriend or anyone else that doesn’t ride currently). Here are some tips to get you rolling with minimal arguments.
First, it all starts with the bike. If you are planning to take a trip to the local Wal-Mart and spend 100 bucks on a 50 pound road bike because you don’t want to spend too much money on something she might not like, be ready for her to be pissed and not enjoy it. Would you like riding a Wal-Mart special? Probably not…so expecting a beginner that has less skills than you do to enjoy it is a stretch.
Especially for women, a proper fitting bike that doesn’t weigh as much as their car is very important. For my wife, we went the used route and made sure it fit her perfectly. Luckily for me, it was also a chance to upgrade my bike and funnel the old parts down to my wife’s ride. This way…I killed two birds with one stone! You can watch eBay, Craigslist and online forum classifieds like the ones on RoadBikeReview.com to find a high quality, used road bike at a great price. You can also watch for sales and deals at your local bike shop or places like Performance Bike.
Ideally, you would want to have something like SRAM Apex or Shimano 105 as the component group on the low end. While these are budget groupos, they still perform incredibly well for the price and will really drive down the price of the bike in the used market.
Special Note For A Woman’s Bike: A quality, woman specific saddle (like the ones from Terry) is almost a must unless you can find one around your house that she absolutely loves. Men and women are created very differently in that area so comfort is a must. If you are going to invest in anything…put the money into a really good saddle as an uncomfortable lower region will be a deal killer for riding.
Next on the list is to get a few items that increase comfort on the road. A comfortable pair of riding shorts, jersey, gloves and a helmet that fits go a long way in overall comfort once the miles start packing on. Be sure to pay close attention to the chamois in the shorts to make sure they are made for more beginner riders and not racers. With a little bit of extra padding in that area, overall comfort should increase as newer riders have to condition their rears to more miles and riding.
The First Couple Of Road Bike Rides
My #1 goal when I took my wife out for her first road rides was to make sure it was fun. If riding wasn’t fun for her…what motivation would she have to do it again? The best way I can explain this process is the exact steps I took with my wife. So here is our story.
Initially, we started out in a field practicing clipping in and out of the clipless pedals to make sure she was comfortable with the bike and the process before we ever hit pavement. The easiest way to get this accomplished is to ride around on a flat field practicing it over and over again. If they fall over…they hit grass instead of asphalt. We also got her a pair of dual sided pedals to make this process much easier and quicker to pick up (mountain bike pedals or dual entry road pedals). Once she was completely comfortable with the clicking in and out process, we were ready to take this show on the road.
For our first break-in ride, we headed down to a local greenway (sidewalk in the woods for recreational purposes) and put in about 10-15 miles worth of spinning. During this time, I watched her as she rode to make sure the fit on the bike was correct and all of the components were functioning properly. With a flat, short mile ride, you are able to iron out the details that you can’t do in the garage without cars and other distractions. After the ride, we made adjustments to a couple of parts (narrower bars, cleat placement, etc.) and the bike was ready for more mileage.
For the second ride, we headed up to a similar section of recreational area, but this one was much longer and more conducive to road biking. With wider lanes and long distances, we were able to get in about 30 miles and practice some road biking techniques before we went to play in traffic. By the end of the ride, grabbing the water bottle and drafting were second nature. We got a chance to see how the saddle and other fit/comfort items would do on the bike over longer mileage. I also watched water and food intake and explained when/where to eat and drink.
For the third ride, it was time to play in traffic. I picked some low traffic areas around our house as a break-in and we headed out on a 18 mile spin. I kept the mileage lower than the second ride on purpose as the hills and traffic add another stress element to the ride. While we were riding, I alternated riding in front and behind her to get her used to drafting on the road, staying as close to the white line as possible and cars passing her. By mixing up the situations, we were able to get comfortable with as many riding scenarios as possible. I also called out everything I saw on the road and explained the why and how of tasks like taking the lane as we did them.
Now…she is the one telling me to pick up the pace and traffic is a worry of the past. We successfully passed the beginning, nervous stage of riding and are now into building up endurance, distance and speed…all of the fun parts of riding the road.
Recap: The Cliff Notes For Breaking In New Riders
So what have we learned through my experience with my wife that you can apply to getting new riders to get on the road?
Equipment Matters – Getting the right equipment from the beginning drastically increases the chances of success. If you are not ready to drop the coin, try to beg and borrow your friends to get a quality rig to get the stoke rolling. If you plan on jumping out with the new rider in gym shorts and a heavy POS…be ready to have them not enjoy it at all.
It Has To Be Fun – We ride bikes because we love it. If you didn’t like riding, would you do it? You have to try not to be too discouraging. The new rider is already going to think you are criticizing their every move (especially if it is your wife), so offer up words of encouragement and throw in little contests here and there to make it interesting and fun.
Get Essential Skills Nailed Down Before You Play In Traffic – You have to get certain skills on the bike nailed down in a non-traffic area before hitting the road with cars. Things like coming to a stop, using clipless pedals, drinking while riding, drafting and other essential skills need to be second nature before you add the element of cars.
Assume Nothing – If you have been riding for a length of time, there are certain things you do while riding that are second nature and happen without thought. When you are riding with new riders, you have to take all assumptions and throw them out the window. Explain everything…
Work Up Over Time – As I did with my wife, work up the riding progression and do not throw a 50 mile ride in traffic on in the first month. By progressively working up the rides on distance and distractions, the comfort level of the rider will move along faster. Would you want to get thrown into a CAT 1 crit tonight? Unless you are a CAT 1 racer…probably not. You have to treat the new rider in the same way. What is easy for you may not be easy for the new rider. Riding is all about progression.
Road biking is a sport that brings people closer together when done correctly. By taking the correct steps in the beginning, you can bring another member of your family or friends into the sport.
As we enter the colder months in the northern hemisphere, the decreased daylight hours can take a heavy toll on our riding fitness as the available time to ride decreases drastically. Gone are the days of regular weekday rides in favor of darkness as you head home on your daily commute.
When the days start getting shorter, we have to get more creative with our ride selections to keep the legs up and moving during the colder months of the year.
Decreased Daylight: 5 Ways To Keep The Cranks Turning
The last thing we want to happen is to lose everything we worked for over the spring, summer and beginning fall months, so here are some ways to keep rolling through the decreased daylight hours.
Turn 1 Weekday Ride Into Multiple Lunch Rides – While you might not have the time available to get in a long lunch ride, several lunch rides through out the week can add up just as easily. Pack your bike and gear to work and get in a 45 minute session with some of the nastiest hills in your office. It will beat the hell out of sitting on a trainer and fill in the gaps that your weekday ride after work left behind.
Night Road Rides – In my area, we have several larger, residential areas that are lit nicely. This gives us the opportunity to ride at night with simple lights in an area that is safer than high traffic roads or roads without street lights. It isn’t ideal as we end up looping sections multiple times but…again…it beats the gym or being on a trainer.
Big Weekend Rides – Since the regular weekday rides are all but gone, your weekends are the time to really get the miles in and enjoy being on the bike. Your grass and plants aren’t growing so the “honey do list” should be decreasing allowing you to get some miles in on the weekend.
The Trainer – When all else fails (or you have a foot of snow on the ground), the trusty trainer is always there to save the day. By staying on the trainer several times a week, you can keep you legs turning over cranks all throughout the colder months regardless of the weather. The trainer can be insanely boring, so adding in music or movies can drastically decrease the looming boredom.
The Gym – Hitting up the gym and spin classes over the colder months is another less ideal way to keep the legs in check no matter what everything looks like outside. While we would rather be on the bike, doing regular workouts and spin classes will keep you in shape and ready for prime spring riding season or your upcoming weekend ride.
Another important note worth considering as you look to keep your fitness up during the decreased daylight hours…as it gets colder…you want to eat like crap more and more. Your diet during the off season is incredibly important in keeping your fitness level up as you will not be getting in the consistent miles you are used to during the warmer, longer days.