The Thinking CyclistTM
Every cyclist from the novice to the pro can benefit from both improving the knowledge base and reinforcing good cycling practices.
Coach Darryl’s Tips for the Thinking Cyclist are updated periodically. Check back often to read the new entries.
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Thinking CyclistTM Tips
Coach, it seems that I am always buying gloves yet soon they start to look terrible. What is the best way to care for gloves?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are 2 easy practices that will keep the gloves looking great much longer.
- A big ‘at risk’ time for gloves is when taking the gloves off. Most people pull the gloves off by pulling on the fingers. Gloves should be pushed off not pulled off. When pulling on the fingers of the gloves, it is easy to stretch or tear the sensitive material on the back of the gloves. To take off cycling gloves, insert the fingers of the opposite hand into the palm of the glove being taken off and push it off. The gloves will last much longer.
- Washing is also a critical time for gloves. It is imperative to prep them properly before placing them into the washing machine. Make sure that the velcro straps are entirely engaged with no visible velcro. The exposed velcro can cause damage to the backs of other gloves. Wash gloves using the gentle setting. When washing is done, do not use the dryer. Hang the gloves to dry by the attaching strap not the fingers. When the gloves are dry, join them in pairs by using the velcro strap of the glove of one hand to attach to its mate for the other hand. This will make finding the gloves easier in your cycling bag.
Coach, others seem to climb hills faster than I do. Some stand frequently when climbing, others very rarely. What should I do, stand frequently or rarely to climb faster?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the best answer to this is…it depends.
This is a harder question than it first appears since there are many variables like the size and experience of the cyclist, the steepness of the hill and whether the ride is in race mode or tourist mode.
All riders should climb seated at least some of the time. While most riders stand when climbing approaching the top a long steep hill, or after seated pedaling for many minutes, the frequency of standing throughout long hills varies.
In general, the steeper the hill, the more frequent the cyclist should stand. Also, the faster the pace that must be maintained and the more experienced the cyclist is (first year cyclists rarely stand,) the more the rider should stand. But this is where similarities end
Some cyclists climb better seated, others while standing. In general, heavier cyclists climb better seated and tend to spend more time seated, using their large leg muscles. Lighter cyclists frequently tend to have smaller leg muscles and spend more time standing while climbing to take advantage of their cardio vascular system that has fewer feet of veins and arteries to pump blood through than larger riders.
Cyclists tend to have a higher heart rate when standing since when sitting the legs supporting the weight of the body not the frame of the bike. I once read that the average increase in heart rate is 8 beats per minute when standing, I do not know if this is backed by sufficient testing.
One tip that all cyclists can benefit from when breathing heavily whether on hills or on the flats and whether standing or sitting is that it is best to concentrate on pushing more air out of the lungs, not pulling more air in. Push each breath of air out of the mouth hard and quickly. If say 5% more stale carbon dioxide laden air can be forced out of the lungs, then the next breath of air into the lungs will contain a corresponding 5% more oxygen rich air resulting in more oxygen getting to the working muscles. After suggesting this to a rider on a climb a few days ago, her breathing was deeper with noticeably fewer breaths per minute in a matter of 15-20 seconds.
Coach, some places I go there is not a good place to rest my bike. I know not to allow the paint to touch any resting place, but there is not always a spot high enough to touch my saddle or bars.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when necessary it is possible to connect the bike to a resting spot at a lower place than the more desirable saddle and bars. This is typically the problem at Pt Loma National Monument where the cement walls are only knee high. Use your pedal. Connect the side of your pedal to a wall. If available, connect the pedal to the top of a bench. Secure the bike by attaching the helmet to the rear wheel and the seat tubes, this will prevent the bike from rolling more than an inch or so forward and backwards.
Coach, I am afraid that someone will steal my bike while I am on a ride break or from my home or car. If they do so, how can I prove that the bike is mine?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that a simple but very effective way to prove your bike is yours is to take a dozen or more pictures and create a separate folder on your smart phone for each one of your bikes. Try to get a picture of the serial number too. You can then quickly show the pictures to anyone to prove ownership.
Coach, I am pedaling some longer miles these days. My saddle contact area is starting to get sensitive. I would hate to risk missing rides, but discomfort while riding is not fun. What should I do?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are 3 things to consider to keep comfortable over long hours pedaling:
- Not all shorts are created equally. I have a pair that are comfortable for about 30 miles, another pair for 70 or so, but my favorite shorts keep me comfortable for 200 miles. The Trek Bicycle Superstore sells Canari Evolution bib shorts for both men and women, they are so good I have 7 of them. Tell them I sent you.
- Most bikes have saddles that look fast and sleek, but they are not that comfortable after a few dozen miles. This is a long story, call to chat so I can confirm your cycling preferences before we talk the best saddle solution for you, click here.
- There are many products sold to apply to the skin or shorts’s shammy. I once asked my friend Pete Penseyres, the holder of the Race Across America’s fastest time for around 25 years, what he used for 20+ hours in the saddle daily for over a week. He is a firm believer in Bag Balm. I have been using Bag Balm for 20+ years, 35 Double Centuries and hundreds of centuries. For a double, I apply it around 3am and it is still working at 9pm or later. Not much is needed, around the amount of toothpaste that is applied on an electric toothbrush. I have 3 areas that have proven needs application. A 10 ounce container will last years.
Coach, I would like to know when do you know it's time to purchase new shoes and / or new cleats?
The Thinking Cyclists knows that cyclists often replace shoes too often and cleats not often enough.
Many people replace their shoes when they get faded looking. However, a quick wipe with a damp cloth takes care of that dull look and removes years from the look of the shoes. The most common reason for replacing shoes is the wearing of the material at the heel. With frequent walking, the pavement will wear a hole in the heel of the shoe. I have seen holes so deep that the socks were visible. Consider Bontrager and SIDI shoes which have a replaceable heel counter, when the heel starts to wear, simply replace the heel counter and you have a few more years for $25 or so. A loss of shoe functionality is rarely the cause for replacement, degraded appearance is usually the cause.
Cleat replacement is entirely different than shoes, people tend to keep them much longer than they should. What could possibly go wrong? Several decades ago when I was beginning cycling, the Look style pedals that I used at the time were worn in the plastic nose area. As I pedaled standing hard up a small hill, the plastic nose piece broke and my foot violently came off the pedal. I almost fell as the bike wobbled wildly by the unexpected change in body and bike rhythm and my groin came crashing down on the top tube of the bike.
Cleats are only $40 or so, why risk a crash?
For SpeedPlay cleats, look for 2 areas of wear, the metal bottom plate and the screws. When the plate starts to get thinner, usually at the back, than the other sides, replace. When the screws get worn, simply replace them, they are very inexpensive at the bike store or do what I do and buy them by the hundred for about $7.00. The newer variety of SpeedPlay cleats with the plastic covers greatly extends the life.
For Look style pedals (all that have large triangular cleats) look for wear of the plastic and the rubber floor contact area. When the plastic wears, usually in the front, it reduces the thickness of the plastic, look at it from the side to confirm. When the rubber walking area wears, often by breaking on one side raising that side from the plastic body of the cleat, then slipping on smooth floors of cycling break areas like 7-Eleven and a threat of falling results. Replace either problem quickly.
The Shimano SPD ‘football shaped’ cleats last a long time since they are metal. Watch for metal wear, usually on the side of the front portion. Often one side or the other will wear first.
Imagine how you would feel if you caused your own fall with bike and or body damage simply due to not replacing relatively inexpensive components. Be smart, examine your equipment at least monthly and replace when needed!
Coach, I am not climbing as strong as I would like. I am trying to drop some pounds and I know that I should be targeting around 2,000 calories per day. But, what is 2,000 calories, or rather, what does 2,000 calories look like?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the amount of calories in some food is very deceptive with regard to the amount of food on a plate, While some foods fill up a plate but have relatively few calories, others look like a small amount but have a full day’s target of calories in one ‘meal.’ At one of my favorite restaurants, when I discovered that my two most popular menu items have either 185 or 1,200 calories, I started saving 1,000 calories per meal on most trips.
This creative article gives an excellent view of what 2,000 calories looks like. Again, the 2,000 calories is the recommended intake target per day not per meal. Click here to read.
Coach, I know most cyclists wear cycling gloves, but I simply do not like them. Is it just a habit or style that people use cycling gloves?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that cycling gloves are much more than habit and style. They absorb sweat that rolls down the arms when working hard and provide a better grip onto the bars. But those are not the most important reason for wearing gloves.
An avid San Diego cyclist was connected well enough to be invited to ride with a Pro Cycling team when they trained in San Diego. When one European pro noticed he was not wearing cycling gloves, he said in broken English “No Gloves. You stupid.”
The pro knew that the most important reason that experienced riders wear cycling gloves is to protect the hands in a fall.
Most cyclists have fallen and have received road rash on the legs or arms. It is very sore and hard to heal. When we fall, it is natural to hold out the hand to protect against the pavement. Imagine how sore road rash would be on the palms of the hands and inside of the fingers. Every time the hand moved, the road rash on the broken skin would hurt and possibly reopen.
Gloves absorb the sliding contact with the pavement and if necessary allow the hand to slide inside the gloves and even tear the gloves if needed,
Don’t be stupid, wear cycling gloves.
Coach, you rode your red bike on the weekend not your blue bike. What are the advantages of each bike?
I love both of these bikes! They are assembled for different purposes, so I ride them for different road terrain and intended speed. Each bike has its advantages. We all should consider each of the below when looking for a new bike.
- A major difference between the two bikes is in the gearing. The red bike, a 2015 Trek Madone that I bought as a frame and fork only at the Trek Bicycle Superstore in La Mesa and supplied my own components has fast 53-39 front chain rings with 11-29 cassette cogs. On the flats, the red bike’s faster gearing always makes me feel like I am in the exact the right gear. The blue bike, a 2016 Trek Madone 9.9 also from the Trek La Mesa store has a great climbing compact 50-34 chainring combination with 11-32 cogs also designed for climbing. The red bike’s fast gearing makes it ideal for flat terrain like the Silver Strand that I rode on my most recent ride, while the blue bike has great gears for climbing any hill. The blue bike’s 34 front 32 back combination gives an almost 1 to 1 gear climbing advantage.
- The blue bike has a much more aerodynamic handlebar position, about 3” lower that the red bike. So, the blue bike’s position is much more aero like the bike itself, one of the most aero bikes ever made. The red bike has a much more upright position which I find more comfortable on longer rides.
- The blue bike has Shimano Ultegra DI-2 electronic shifting. It is so easy to shift with a slight touch of a finger. I have never dropped a chain when using DI-2 and it will always shift chainrings without regard to the terrain or pressure against the pedals. The red bike has Campy shifters and the thumb just naturally reaches for the shift knob.
- The blue bike came with 700x25 tires, for the red bike I chose 700x23. While this does not seem like much, the 25s are almost 10% wider and thus have a wider road contact. Whenever I switch from riding the 25 to the 23 mm wide tires, I immediately notice that the 23s are faster. Yes, some recent articles that say that the 25s can be as fast as the 23s, but note that these articles always say that the 25s must pumped up to the same tire pressure to approximate the speed of the 23s. Tires of different widths are designed to have different pressures, a mountain bike tire or an auto tire is never pumped up to 100+ pounds per square inch pressure since both are wider and require lower pressure like the 25s.
With all these great individual advantages, there is one thing that both bikes have in common - their bold and noticeable color. I always get great comments on both bikes!
Coach, many ride descriptions come with both the length of the ride in miles and the number of feet of climbing. What is the formula for determining how difficult the ride is going to be?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the biggest determining factor for difficulty for rides is the average number of feet climbed per mile. Rides with very little climbing per mile are easy, those with many feet per mile are hard.
Use this table as a cheat sheet.
Easy Ride < 35 feet of climbing per mile
Very Hard 70-100
Hard Core 100+ feet
Coach, whenever I am climbing, I get very out of breath. I know my legs are strong enough to climb faster, but being out of breath, I can’t take advantage of the strength that I have in my legs. I try to get as much air as possible into my lungs, how can I get more oxygen into the lungs?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the limiting factor for high intensity riding is different for pro cyclists than that for the rest of us. For pro cyclists, it is usually the strength in the legs that prevents the rider from pedaling faster or continuing a fast pace, for the rest of us, it is lung capacity. When the cyclist reaches lung capacity limits and breathing is extremely hard, not enough oxygen can be gotten to our working muscles, the anaerobic threshold is exceeded and the cyclist must slow down.
However, there is a way to get more oxygen into the lungs. When breathing heavily, the cyclist should concentrate on pushing more air out of the lungs, not pulling more air in. If say 5% more stale carbon dioxide laden air can be forced out of the lungs, then the next breath of air into the lungs will contain a corresponding 5% more oxygen rich air resulting in more oxygen for the working muscles.
Coach, I love climbing steep hills! I have successfully climbed the steepest hills that I can find. What is the most challenging hill in our area?
The Thinking Cyclist knows the steepest hill around is only 1/10 of a mile long, but it is 30-33%. (Torrey Pines is 6%). There is an annual hillclimb going back to the 1970’s, this year it will be on Sunday March 26. A friend claims to be the first female to reach the top. For more information, click here.
Coach, I am thinking of getting an Apple Watch. I like the ability to start its outdoor bike ride option then examine the ride stats at the end of the ride. How accurate is the Apple Watch for numbers like ride distance?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that technology has improved significantly with regard to the accuracy of bike ride measurements. Also, the first generation of the Apple Watch required the iPhone to be near it to use the iPhone’s GPS capabilities, the second generation does not since it has its own GPS functions. However, few cyclists would do a ride without a phone since it allows calling if a problem or emergency occurs.
I completed 3 consecutive rides with both a Garmin 1000 and an Apple Watch, I started each at the same time while stationary before the ride and stopped each at the same time at the end.
The ride distances are extremely close.
- The Garmin’s 20.08 mile ride was 19.98 miles on the Apple Watch, a 0.5% difference.
- The Garmin’s 25.48 mile ride was 25.50 miles on the Apple Watch, a minuscule 0.08% difference
- The Garmin’s 30.02 mile ride was 29.96 miles on the Apple Watch, a minuscule 0.2% difference
The largest difference is only 1/2 of one percent. I would feel comfortable with the accuracy of either of the devices.
Coach, I have a new bike that is much lighter than my old bike. But, when I am pushing hard on the flats like the Silver Strand, I can go faster on the old heavy bike than on the light bike! On the heavier bike I can keep up with the speed of my cycling friend but on the lighter bike I cannot. That just does not make sense! What do I have to do to become faster on my new bike?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are a lot of questions to be asked to conform the situation. After she provided more information, the situation became much more clear.
She confirmed that when she was pedaling fast, she would be in the hardest gear (most teeth in the front and fewest in the back) on each bike. But, while both bikes had an 11 tooth gear in the back for speed, the old bike had a racing appropriate 53 tooth chainring in the front while the new bike had a ‘compact gear’ 50 tooth front chainring that is commonly sold on new bikes these days. That means that at a typical leg speed of 80 RPM on each bike, the new bike is traveling at 28.48 miles per hour while the old bike is at 30.17 MPH.
So, how does she get faster?
One would think that the new bike would go faster if it had a 10 tooth cog in the back, however that is too small to physically fit onto most bikes.
She could also go faster with a larger front chainring on the front of the new bike. But while this is possible, not many people want to go through the expense of making changes to the typical gears of a bike produced these days.
But, if she could increase both her leg strength and her leg speed so that she could push 10 more RPM for the legs from 80 RPM to 90 RPM on the easier to push newer bike’s gears, her speed would now be 32.04 MPH which is faster than the 30.17 MPH on the older bike pedaled at 80 RPM for the legs.
How does she get stronger and faster legs to pedal harder? She could simply try to push harder. The quickest way is at Coach Darryl’s stationary training class! Click here to make your legs stronger. The one leg strength building routines create stronger legs in only 4 classes for most cyclists. Nothing the cyclist can do generates improvement quicker.
Coach, I have missed cycling for a few weekends due to the rain. When should I worry about losing my conditioning due to a long period of time off the bike?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the cyclist’s conditioning starts going downhill when off the bike for 11 days. Coach Darryl read this around 20 years ago. In many vacation trips over that period, the rule has been almost perfect. When off the bike for 9 or 10 days, the legs and lungs do not feel as bad on returning to the bike as they do when absent for 11+ days. So, try to complete a ride or a stationary trainer session before 11 days elapse. Coach Darryl’s Tuesday and Thursday trainer sessions are ideal to keep the cyclist on the bike every week no matter what the weather throws at us.
Coach, the weather is cold these days. I know I should dress in layers, but it is tough to know what clothing should be put on first and which piece of clothing goes on top of which. Help!
The Thinking Cyclist knows that putting clothing on in the wrong order can mean much more than simply making yourself look like a rookie, it can make taking layers off impossible and going to the bathroom a real challenge.
Only enough, the first item the cyclist should put on is:
- The heart rate monitor strap. Of course this has to go directly on the skin, and you certainly do not want to take off many layers of clothing in a cold parking lot to put on a cold heart rate monitor strap.
- Next, put on the undershirt, for colder weather, wear a long sleeve under shirt.
- The bib shorts are next, the stirrups go over the undershirt.
- Socks are next, if they are long, place them next to the skin under the tights.
- The cycling jersey is next, the jersey arms go on top of the arm warmers.
- If starting the ride with long finger gloves, place your short finger gloves into your rear jersey pocket next for when the temperature warms up. Soft gloves are ideal for the center pocket to protect the spine in a fall, not threaten it like hard objects do.
- Finally, put on your cycling jacket.
On a recent day when the early morning temperature was in the mid 40’s, Coach Darryl was wearing all of the above. Remember, a later ride start time could allow the ride starting temperature to be much warmer, that could remove a few of these layers.
Coach, my bike is getting old. Are that any parts that I should consider for replacing?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that very few bike parts need to be replaced simply due to age but one that should be considered is a stem with a 2 bolt face plate. Almost all stems these days are made with 4 bolt face plates (the part that is in the center of the handlebars holding the bars onto the stem.) The stress of riding over years can make one of the two bolts break. I know two cyclists to whom this has happened. They were not able to brake since the brakes require the brake cables to be held tight and the broken bolt allowed the bars to move from their proper position thus loosening the cables. In one case the cyclist fell into a pile of prickly pear cactus. Ouch!
Get and install a stem that has a 4 bolt face plate for safety.
Coach, I have been working really hard to take off pounds by pedaling more and eating less. My cycling has certainly improved, and my clothes feel less tight, but I am not dropping as much weight as I think I should. What am I doing wrong?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that as we pedal more and get stronger, we increase the amount of muscle in the body, primarily in our legs. So, yes you are in better shape by being more lean, pedaling stronger, and dropping fat, but there may not be a corresponding drop in weight as some of that fat is converted to muscle.
Having more muscle is not bad. Muscle is by far the primary burner of calories in the body. Some calories are burned by the digestive tract and the brain, but muscles burn much more. The more muscle in the body, the more calories are being burned both when exercising and when resting. It is like the engine size in an automobile, when driving or idling, a large V8 burns more energy than a small 4 cylinder car, having more muscle means we are burning more energy whether cycling or resting.
So, your additional muscle is good, and it will certainly make you a faster cyclist.
Coach, It was a lovely day and I decided that I will add a few miles onto the 24 mile ride that is my once per week route. Towards the end of now 40 mile ride I felt terrible. I had very low energy and certainly did not feel alert. I still had some water left so I drank as much as possible but the feeling did not go away. What happened and how can I avoid this in the future?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are two problems that combined to make your once per week ride very different:
1When a cyclist trains to do the exact same ride repeatedly with no variation in distance, speed, hills, etc., then he is only training himself to do that one route. The body is not trained to receive these unexpected variations in these ride characteristics. It is best to do two not one ride per week, the weekend ride being longer and slower, the weekday ride being shorter and faster. Also, mix up the route, distance and terrain to allow the body to be accustomed to different conditions. 2Remember Coach Darryl’s Rule of 90. The rule of 90 is in 2 sections. First, if the time cycling is 90 minutes or less, there is no reason to eat to replenish energy consumed while pedaling, water works well for rides under 90 minutes. Second, at any time while pedaling rides longer than 90 minutes, the cyclist is using the energy that was consumed around 90 minutes earlier. So for your customary 24 mile ride, water works well since at the 16 MPH speed you normally pedal, you can complete this route in around 90 minutes. But the 40 mile extended route took more like two and a half hours, and sports drink or food containing carbohydrates is necessary to prevent running out of energy.
Coach, I used to love training for and pedaling the Tour de Palm Springs. It was held the second weekend in February, I would join your 5 week training series starting early January to prepare and it was just the right amount of weekends time to get ready for the event. Now the ride is held in mid January and there is not enough time to get in shape to do it. Are they going to go back to February?
The Tour de Palm Springs date change is the biggest complaint that I get from cyclists regarding cycling events. A promoter from another event told me this morning that the Tour de Palm Springs attendance has gone down from 8,000 to around 4,000 with a January date. A few lucky cyclists can do a century any month of the year, most cyclists pedal less in November and December. Very few cyclists want to train in December. Most enter the new year at a yearly low with regard to conditioning and realize they do not have the time to get into shape for a century in 2 weekends.
I wrote the promoter of this event on December 24:
“Loved this event in 1999 and from 2001 to 2014.
We will never attend it so early in the year. There is not enough time to train after the season starts on January 1. No one wants to train during the holidays.
I and my cyclists are hoping it goes back to mid February, allowing 5 weeks for training in the new year.“
The promoter of the Tour de Palm Springs got back to me quickly on December 26:
You are amongst a group of riders that want to see the ride in February. We are currently in talks to move it back to February with the City of Palm Springs. Hope to have good some good news soon. Thank you for your support throughout the years.
A wish for a prosperous new year for you and your riders.
All the best,
So there is hope for a return to training for and riding the Tour de Palm Springs!
Coach, I had a very frightening experience on my last ride. Both my wheels went down into a long narrow crack in the pavement. Someone had dug a trench parallel to my direction of travel. The patched area sunk down below the surface of the road making the pavement higher on both sides. The trench was 1-2 inches deep, 3-4 inches wide and 10 feet long or more. I almost fell at 18MPH trying to get out of the trench. What is the best way to get out of such a trench?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the best time to think about such situations and identify what to do is before the situation arises. That is, know what to do before such a situation is an emergency.
The fear is that in attempting to climb up onto the higher surface, the side of the tire or worse the side of the rim will strike a glancing blow against the side lip of the crack resulting in the tire slipping off the side of the rise causing the rider to quickly fall to the side.
The Thinking Cyclist knows what to do when your bike is in a crack:
- Can you safely get to the end of the crack? If the crack is more than 3-4 feet long or it is narrow, it is best not to assume that you can safely get to the end.
- Shout ‘Crack’ several times so the other riders will know that you are in difficulty and will give you more space.
- Do not panic brake. A braking bike is more likely to wonder to one side or the other to strike the lip of the crack.
- Decide whether you are going to steer out to the left or the right. Normally the left is safer since a curb or ditch to the right will give you less space to maneuver.
- Rise slightly off the saddle to put more weight onto the pedals and handlebars and less onto the saddle to lower the center of gravity for the bike.
- Steer sharply to the side to which you are exiting. This sharp turn will get the front portion of the front tire, not the side of the tire, to contact the lip of the crack. Before contact is made with the lip, lift up on the handlebars to reduce the weight on the front tire.
- When the front tire is out of the hole, do not begin turning the handlebars forward until the rear wheel is out of the crack as well. The rear tire also needs to make contact with the lip of the crack at the front of the tire not the side to prevent the rear wheel from sliding off the lip.
- When both wheels are out of the crack, turn the handlebars back to the front and be prepared to graciously accept the congratulations from your cycling friends on your great bike handling skills!
Coach, I have been off the bike for an injury. It is time to resume cycling, but I do not want to risk re-injuring myself. What is the best way to resume cycling without having a set back?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the return to cycling must be thought out and planned.
There are many cyclists who have attempted to immediately resume cycling at 100% of pre-injury levels with disastrous results.
There are 2 things that a cyclist returning to the bike can do on each and every ride to overuse the affected area and that is cycle too long or cycle too hard. Keeping below the unknown too long and too hard levels is the challenge.
The best approach is to gradually build distance first. Apply very little pressure on the pedals, the average speed should be at least 5 MPH slower than before the injury. All rides must be done on completely flat roads like Mission Valley, Mission Bay and the Silver Strand. Start with under 10 miles. Allow 3-7 days between rides. Increase mileage by 3-5 miles per ride until 20-25 miles can be successfully pedaled.
Then gradually increase speed until approaching the pre injury pace. Then slowly add hills, starting with shallow hills with greatly reduced speed.
If pain is ever felt, back off pedaling immediately, and resume pedaling on future rides with both decreased distance and intensity.
Coach, it seems that every day I have a chance to get a ride in, there is a threat of rain. I just KNOW that if I do decide to ride, as soon as I get a dozen miles or so away, the sky will open up and the rain will soak me for an hour or more. How can I minimize my exposure?
It used to be that riding in the rain was just not fun. Now we know how destructive the sand and grit splashing up in the dirty water on the road is on the inner components of the bike like the bottom bracket and the headset.
The worst 'keep dry' strategy is an ‘out and back’ route. It places the cyclist far from the shelter of home or auto for the maximum amount of time. ‘Big Loop’ rides are almost as bad, especially if there is no way to use direct side streets to get back to the starting point.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the best approach is to use a Coach Darryl Bow Tie shaped route. Select a route that is about 7-8 miles long. With a recent threat of rain, I pedaled a fast route from Via de La Valle to La Costa on the Pacific Coast Highway. It is about 7.5 miles from one end to the other, which is 15 miles round trip. I parked around Encinitas, the center of the route. I first pedaled to the north for 3-4 miles and turned around at La Costa to pedal back to my car. I was never more than 3-4 miles from the car. Since the weather was still good, I pedaled south 3-4 miles to Via de La Valle and returned to the car. At this time I had completed 15 miles and was never more than 3-4 miles from the car. I repeated the same north and south route and finished with 30 miles with little risk of a long wet uncomfortable ride.
Coach, it is cold these days, how do I get motivated for a cold winter morning ride?
On cold mornings common this time of the year, adjust your riding schedule to take advantage of riding at the warmest time of the day. Don't get into a rut of starting your ride at the same early morning time. Winter mornings are often ideal for a 10am or 11am ride start.
Coach, I want to encourage my spouse to ride more, said a cyclist who had accompanied his new cyclist wife to my bike fit studio as she was getting a bike fit from me. But I am afraid that when we ride together, our average speeds will be too far apart. What should I do to insure that she enjoys the ride but I also feel like I get a workout?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that many faster cyclists in this situation like to ride off the front when riding with a newer rider to show how fast they are and to sprint up hills to show how strong they are. However, if the stronger cyclist does this, it may be the only ride they have together.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are 2 important practices that the stronger cyclist can do to make rides much more successful for both the faster and the slower cyclist:
- The faster rider must never have his front wheel ahead of the slower rider’s wheel. The rider whose front tire is farther in front controls the speed of the two cyclists. The faster rider must ride at the comfort speed of the slower rider, never attempt force a faster pace on the slower rider. Riding side by side is ok, but, keep the leading edge of the front wheel behind that of the slower rider.
- The faster rider can vary the cadence or number of leg revaluations of the feet per minute to get a tiring workout completed. While riding with the slower rider, reduce the leg cadence to 50-60 while pushing hard on the pedals. This will quickly and greatly increase the muscle strength of the legs making them stronger for future rides. It will also make the faster cyclist feel like he is getting a hard workout pedaling. When tired of hard pedaling, shift to a much easier gear to get the legs at a cadence of 100 to 115. This high speed pedaling will improve the cyclist's leg speed for future rides, and will also tire the legs after 10 minutes or so. Alternate pedaling very slow and very fast to get a good workout at the slower miles per hour that is comfortable for the slower rider.
These tips will allow both cyclists to not only have a good ride but will give a much high probability of having future enjoyable rides together.
Coach, I have pedaled a lot of miles this year, now I feel less energetic about my cycling. Should I worry or is this natural this time of the year?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that we can’t be at peak cycling form all 12 months of the year, it is too difficult both physically and mentally. The pros discovered this many years ago and they modify their yearly calendar for peaks at their most appropriate time and a low cycling activity time in the fall. Attempting to keep the body at top form all year physically, especially for cyclists over 40, is physically too difficult on the body. Mentally, we will not enjoy rides like we should and tend to avoid the bike and not start rides due to mental fatigue.
For most cyclists in the November and December months the concentration is on slower more social rides and often rides with cyclists who do not enjoy a harder pace in other seasons. By the time the new year arrives, the cyclist is ready both mentally and physically to begin more intensive training again.
In future Thinking Cyclist tips, I will elaborate on the typical San Diego cyclists pedaling phases for other times of the year.
Coach, I had a great time at the cycling event! But now I have a sticker on my helmet. I tried various ways to get rid of it but they all made it look worse! How do I remove it?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there is a simple way to remove a sticker from a helmet. Soak a cloth or paper towel in water. Place the helmet such that the entire sticker is in contact with the wet area. Let it soak for 15-20 minutes and the sticker will easily peel off.
Coach, my bike goes into a full bike wobble at high speeds. It vibrates like it is going to buck me off the bike. This is a terrifying experience, especially at speed. What can cause full bike wobbles and how can I prevent them from happening.
Coach Darryl knows that full bike wobbles are one of the worst things that can happen while on the bike. Several years ago, I won a bike, it was not a bike or manufacturer with which I was familiar. After a few years, it would go into a full bike wobble several times each ride, It could happen as slow at 20 MPH.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when investigating a full bike wobble, the following should be checked. The most common problems are listed first, start with them:
- The headset could be loose or worn, see a mechanic. This is one of the most common causes.
- The front wheel could be unbalanced. First, make sure that the magnet is on the opposite side of the wheel than the filling stem. The magnet should counteract the extra weight of the stem, not compound it. To check for unbalance, take the front wheel off the bike and twirl it in your hands as quickly as you can. Is it wobbling? It it is, take off the tire, tube, magnet and repeat. You can try the same with the back wheel but this is much less a threat.
- The frame may not be lined up properly. The check is to confirm that the back wheel is traveling exactly in the same line as the front. The mechanic had a jig to test for this.
- There may be a front fork problem, see your mechanic to check.
- The frame could be bent, connect with manufacturer.
- The tires could be bad, change them.
- The problem could be the cyclist not the bike. When going down a hill without turns, the feet must be at the 3 and 9 position on the clock face. If one foot is at 6 o’clock, the cyclist is creating the unbalanced situation with too much weight on the foot on the down side of the bike.
- The other cyclist caused problem has to do with knee position. When going down a hill that has no turns, the knees should be touching the top tube. This has 2 advantages, first, it prevents air from going between the bike and your knees turning your torso into a parachute to create wind turbulence. The wind turbulence could be a contributing factor to a wobble on the bike. Second and more importantly, the knees against the top tube reduces any vibrations along the top tube of the bike and thus reduces the probability of starting a wobble caused by vibrations in the frame.
To stop a bike wobble, the first thing to do is clamp the knees against the top tube of the frame. Lower the body to lower the center of gravity. Brake slowly, in most cases the wobble will get worse as the bike slows until under 10 MPH. If the braking does cause an increased wobble, alternate braking with the front and rear side to search for an improvement.
Coach, I usually have lots of energy on shorter rides, but on longer rides I run out of energy. What am I doing wrong?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that examining the cyclist’s habits in the 24 hours before the long ride often gives the answer.
For this cyclist, on non-cycling days, a large breakfast, a snack mid morning and a lunch at noon was typical to fuel the body with 400-600 calories for sitting behind a desk burning very little energy. In contrast, on a cycling day, the same cyclist rides 4-6 hours, expending 350-700 calories PER HOUR, but eats little or nothing after breakfast.
At any point in time while riding, an endurance cyclist burns energy that was eaten 90 minutes earlier, and must continue to eat while riding.
Are you feeling sluggish towards the end of your rides? Maybe you are not eating enough during rides.
Coach, on flat windy rides, I find it very hard to get in the right position behind the rider in front. I feel I am expending more energy than other riders. How do I take better advantage of the draft of the rider in front?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that being a little smarter is sometimes better than being a little stronger. When riding with a group in the wind, it is extremely important to know the direction from which the wind is blowing. To maximize the draft available from the rider in front, when the wind is coming from the front left, be a little to the back right of the front rider, when the wind is from the front right, be to the back left.
The Thinking Cyclist uses the nose to identify exactly from where the wind is blowing. When the wind is coming from the front left, the wind can be felt more on the left side of the nose, when from the front right, more pressure will be on the right. First get the face so that it is perpendicular to the road by raising the forehead, this maximizes the frontal nose area. Now identify whether the wind is more from the left or the right of the nose by feeling which side of the nose has more wind pressure.
If the wind is more on the left side, turn the head slowly into the wind to the left until more pressure is now felt on the right. Then slowly turn the head back to the right until the pressure equalizes. The direction of the wind is where the face is now pointing.
For safety, always keep looking in the direction of travel while confirming the direction the wind.
To position the bike in the proper spot in the draft of the cyclist to the front, if the wind is only a little to the left of the direction travel, get just a little to the right behind the front rider. The more the wind comes from the side and the stronger the wind is, the more to the back opposite side the cyclist must position to optimize the effect of the draft of the front cyclist.
Coach, what do you think of the new helmets that are inflated when needed?
This is a solution that might work for many cyclists. The current helmet is decades old technology and is uncomfortable for many people.
The Thinking Cyclist says there are 3 things to take into consideration before buying such protection:
- The cyclist’s current technology helmet has an estimated lifespan of 2-3 years. But even if it is past its best protection period, it still provides some protection. With this inflatable technology, you have no idea if it is going to work when it comes out of the box, and less confidence in 2-3 years as it ages, and of course for some people, this could be a ridiculous 7 years with the same helmet.
- A helmet of this variety needs a gas or some other method to quickly inflate. As many of you know, the automobile company Takata has to recall many thousands of defective automobile air bags due to lethal objects flying out of the air bag at expansion time hitting people. Remember, when not inflated, this helmet surrounds the sensitive neck, not a good part of the body for lethal parts to be exploding.
- All cyclists are aware of the ‘cyclist tan’ on the arms and legs. When not inflated, this protection covers almost all of the neck front to back. Do cyclists really want to have a neck the color of other areas on the body where the sun does not shine? This is a 12 month long situation each year in San Diego.
Maybe it is better to wait and see what others tell us about using this product.
Coach, I had a dangerous situation develop on my last ride. My glasses fogged up. I could not see through them. How do I prevent this from happening?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that to remove the condensation or ‘fog’ that develops on your eye protection sunglasses, all the cyclist needs to do is slide them down the nose. The condensation is caused by the difference in temperature between the cooler outside of the lens and the warmer inside that is near the warm face. Leave the glasses farther down the nose until the glasses are clear again.
The Thinking Cyclist usually can quickly determine whether another cyclist met on the road is a seasoned experienced rider or a rookie. One of these occasions is when the cyclist approaches from the rear.
When a fellow Thinking Cyclist approaches from the rear and starts riding on the rear wheel of a rider to the front, he quickly demonstrates that he is an experienced cyclist by announcing his arrival with a cheery greeting or other comment. The front rider then knows that there is a rider behind so that he is not startled by discovering the rider to the rear unexpectedly. He also either offers to move to the front and take turn pulling, or explains that he cannot do so because he is not strong enough today or some other reason.
In contrast, the rookie arriving at the rear, does not say anything to his fellow cyclist to the front. There is no cheery greeting or notification of arrival. The rider in front is forced to discover the rider behind, quite possible by being startled. There is no offer to help share the work at the front.
Don’t make rookie mistakes.
Coach, a friend of mine crashed and will be off the bike for weeks. He can’t even remember how the accident happened. What should I tell him to expect regarding the healing process and what to expect when returning to riding the bike?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are many issues to be discussed with a cyclist who has had a bad crash. But, there are two that are very important but are not intuitive to expect, they are experience by a very large percentage of cyclists.
- It is very common that the cyclist can't remember much about the crash. Do not worry about this loss of memory. Researchers think that this is due to the mind placing all its energizes into trying to avoid and minimize the damage resulting in the mind stopping concentrating on recording the details of the situation. Tell the cyclist that in the days to come, be prepared for flashbacks of memory of what happened, strive to piece these together as memory of the event. The more the details are understand, the more the cyclist can learn what happened and how to avoid a similar situation in the future.
- It is important to heal fully before going back on the bike. A second crash in the near future could be much worse. When it is time to return to the bike, be aware that the first ride, or the first few rides after a crash, will not be just another ride. The body and the brain have been through a traumatic event, it is extremely likely that both will protest against getting back on the bike and the experience will be seem very uncomfortable and foreign. It is extremely advised to do this first return ride solo, the fallen cyclist must control the speed and the distance of the ride and not feel pressured by the ‘norms’ of other riders. Go to an area with little or no traffic like Lake Murray, Lake Miramar, or San Luis Rey bike path. Be aware that the mind and body may feel very uncomfortable getting onto the bike so do so slowly and start pedaling very slowly. Ride only a few miles and make sure that a comfortable feeling is returned before increasing speed.
Coach, when I finished my evening ride this week, it seemed much darker than it was just a week or so earlier in the first half of August. On our rides since late June, we have not noticed much difference in the reduction of the time before sunset. Is this only me, or has a change taken place?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the amount of pedaling time lost on summer evenings due to darkness is not the same each week. In the 60 days between mid June and mid August, we only lose a total of about 15 minutes, which is just around 2 minutes per week. But the sun sets quicker beginning early August. We lose around 30 minutes in August or around 7 minutes per week and another 30 minutes in September. The last Taco Tuesday ride for the year is normally around September 20, at that time there is only about an hour after the 5:30 time for safe riding. The lack of evening light for riding outdoors is the reason we start stationary training mid October.
The Thinking Cyclist also knows that we always plan our evening rides to be completed 30 minutes before sunset for safety reasons. Visibility for the bicyclist and motorists is greatly reduced as darkness approaches. We have also had numerous mechanicals in the last few miles of the ride, we do not want one of these to last until after sunset. One Coach Darryl Taco Tuesday rider was within sight of his vehicle the last riding day of the series in September and because of darkness did not see a pothole and fell. He injured his shoulder so badly he was not able to get back onto the bike until January, 16 months later.
Coach, my hands hurt when riding. My gloves have good padding, but it seems like the bars keep applying pressure to the hands. What should I do to fix this problem?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that good padding on gloves does not necessarily equate to appropriately located padding for the spots where the cyclist’s hands touch the bars. Put your bike on a trainer or simply stand over it. Place your hands on that bars at your normal holding position. Now, using chalk or a pen, mark where the bars touch the gloves both on the thumb side and the palm side. When you turn the hand and the glove over, you can see exactly where the bars are touching the hands. For many gloves, the padding is not in the location needed for protection of the hands.
When buying gloves, bring your bike into the bike store and place it near the glove rack and confirm that the candidate gloves have padding in the spots needed for you and your hand grip location.
Coach, if I am riding shorter rides, it seems like I have plenty of energy, but when the mileage increases, why do I run out of energy and what can I do to prevent this problem?
The Thinking Cyclist knows Coach Darryl’s Rule of 90TM to maintain energy throughout all rides. Coach Darryl’s Rule of 90 is in 2 parts:
- A cyclist usually has about 90 minutes worth of energy stored in the muscles. So, during rides under 90 minutes, it is usually not necessary to consume energy.
- When pedaling rides over 90 minutes, the cyclist is using the energy that was consumed around 90 minutes earlier.
So on rides longer that 90 minutes, keep eating and drinking carbs.
There will be more Coach Darryl info on the consumption of energy foods in future Thinking Cyclist tips.
Coach, the summer Olympics are in Brazil in August, but it is winter there at that time of year, why are they having the summer Olympics in the Southern Hemisphere when it is winter?
The Thinking Cyclist does not know exactly what motivated the Olympic organizers to grant the games to an area where it is winter, but does know that as far as the northern hemisphere athletes are concerned, most do not want it any other time. Gone are the days when athletes try to be at full conditioning all 12 months of the year. These days, athletes train using the Periodic Process, where they train for 10-11 months or so to peak at a specific time of the year, like the week of their competition at the Olympics or some other high priority summer competition. Endurance athletics like cyclists work first on building strength, then on endurance and finally on high heart rate anaerobic conditioning. This is the way Coach Darryl designs his stationary trainer class for cyclists, and created a training program beginning early in January this year for a mountain cyclist to start on June 10th to compete in a 2752 mile race from Banff in the Canadian Rockies to the Mexican border. While it is impossible for a coach to design a training schedule to peak several different times per year, peaking for a southern hemisphere summer time Olympics and northern hemisphere summertime competition 6 months later for other cycling races would be difficult to impossible.
Coach, I have a lot of money invested in my cycling shorts. What is the best way to keep them looking and feeling great in the future? (When I receive the same question more than once in a week, I know there is enough interest to the post the information for everyone.)
The Thinking Cyclist knows that gel shorts should be machine washed in cold water on the gentle cycle. I wash multiple pairs of shorts in the same machine load and do not put other items in with the shorts. Use a little less detergent than other loads to prevent white spots. Hang the shorts to dry, do not put them in the dryer to preserve the elastic in the shorts.
In colder weather, shorts should never be exposed to temperatures below 50F or the gel may never be the same. When the outside temperature is low enough to cool the wash water below 50F, shorts should be washed and rinsed in the warm water setting. If your washer is in an unheated area like a garage, remove the shorts from the washer promptly after the wash cycle ends and hang indoors.
When cleaned, do not store gel shorts in the cold.
When they are on your body the body heat will keep them well above 50F even in very cold weather.
Coach, after recently arriving at my ride start meeting location, I discovered that I had left my cycling shoes at home. I was bummed that I could not ride. How do I confirm that I do not leave an important piece of equipment at home in the future?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the best way to prevent leaving home without an important piece of equipment is to keep all your cycling equipment in a cycling bag. Then all required cycling items will be together. Cycling bags typically have 2 end pockets one for your shoes and another for your helmet. I keep all items that go into my pockets in the helmet area like my cycling wallet, zip lock bag to store phone and car keys and cliff bars. The large central area is great for gloves, arm and leg warmers, and maybe jackets and vests. You can also store post ride clothing here.
Good cycling bags are available for under $100. Once you have your bag with you, then only 3 items must be added, water bottles, phone, and….your bike.
Coach, everyone is familiar with the rule that the maximum heart rate should be 220 minus your age. But, my maximum heart rate is dozens of beats higher. Should I be worried?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that this 'rule' has little science justifying it. I heard on a USA Cycling coach’s webinar the origin of that theory. A cardiologist looked at the numbers for only 30-40 people They were all males. None were athletes. All were 20-40 years of age. Many were smokers. The study was done in the 1930’s and no followup study has been completed. This is not very scientific.
It is amazing how these theories gain traction.
Coach, I got a severe leg cramp on my last ride. What causes leg cramps and what should I do when I get a cramp?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are 3 general causes of cyclist leg cramps, in the order of most frequent occurrence:
- Lack of conditioning - the rider is attempting to ride too far or too fast or both given the recent training they have been doing.
- Dehydration – not drinking enough fluids.
- A lack of electrolytes, primarily sodium but for some people, potassium as well.
Knowing the cause, the Thinking Cyclist can fix the situation:
- Lack of conditioning – Ride slower or with a slower group. Take a shortcut back to the start area, or have someone drive you home. The distance into the ride and the distance from the start area must be taken into consideration. Do not ride back alone.
- Dehydration: Drink more fluids, preferably cold fluids with electrolytes. In this case, most likely the cyclist’s riding day is over. A shortcut back or a pickup is appropriate.
- Electrolytes: Consume electrolyte pills or fluids, again preferably cold for fluids. Food with electrolytes is slower to get into the bloodstream than liquids but is also an option. In most cases, the cyclist will be able to continue at a slower pace.
When leg cramps are in progress, quickly stretch (lengthen) the muscle. That is, if the cramp is in the calf then straighten the knee and raise the toes, in the hamstrings then straighten the knee and stretch the back of the leg. Experienced cyclist can do this on the bike while coasting but many prefer to stop. When stopping, clip out using the leg that is not affected to prevent risking falling over. Tums are also very effective for cramps currently in progress, chew (do not swallow whole) one or two and the cramp disappears surprisingly quickly. Tums must not be used to attempt to prevent a future cramp.
Coach, why do you turn your Garmin slightly to the side when we are stopped for a break on our rides?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that one of the most frequent frustrations experienced by cyclists on rides is forgetting to turn their Garmin back on after stopping. Simply turn the Garmin slightly to the side and when you resume pedaling the first time you glance at the Garmin and see it not straight you will remember to turn it back on again.
Coach, What should I look for when buying a new helmet and how frequently should I replace my helmet?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that cycling helmets deteriorate each day. Exposure to air is a large cause of the degradation, but sunlight also causes the helmet’s efficiency to degrade. Therefore, the more you ride, the more a change of helmet is needed.
Bring your worn helmet into your bike store. Turn the helmet over and compare yours with a new helmet. Look at the outside of the foam type cover of the helmet where it forms the ring around you head and compare it to that of a new helmet. Note that the new helmet is flat and shiny in this area but an older helmet has many nicks and small holes, it is also dull not shiny. This demonstrates that some of the material of your helmet has actually disintegrated. The protection that your helmet provided you when new has now been reduced.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that a helmet should be replaced every 2-3 years. If you ride 5,000 miles or more per year, replacement every 2 years is needed. There is no minimum amount of miles to ride to increase your replacement time over 3 years, exposure to just air over that time is enough to warrant replacement every 3 years for every cyclist.
Comfort is imperative for a helmet. I always try on all helmets available, ignoring the price, and buy the one that is the most comfortable.
Every helmet has a manufactured date on the inside. Don’t buy a helmet that is more than 6 months old.
Newer helmets have Multi-Directional Impact Protection System or MIPS. Soon, all helmets will have MIPS, so lean towards getting a MIPS helmet. MIPS allows the inner portion of the helmet in a crash to rotate with the head while the outer shell of the helmet can be suddenly stopped or stuck on the ground or other object struck. Google this technology for more information.
I am often asked what should cars and bikes do to prevent crashes.
Knowing the problem situation often creates awareness which can prevent the dangerous situation.
The car versus bike crash that most drivers think is the most often occurring is not even in the top 3, so I will start with it as this 4th most frequent occurrence.
4The forth most common occurrence of a bike and a car contacting each other is the car hitting the cyclist from the rear. Yes, contrary to popular belief, this one does not get into the top 3.
This one seems easy when cars and bikes have their own lane, but driver distractions and cyclists riding side by side makes this happen more often than anyone would like.
A high percentage of these is the car’s far right front hitting the cyclist. This often occurs when the lane is not wide enough for both the cyclist and the car. This is why cyclists often “Take the lane” and ride in the center when there is not enough space for both vehicles. This forces the auto to go into the passing lane as it would have to do when passing any other vehicle.
3The third most common occurrence of a bike and a car contacting each other can possible create the most damage since it is a head on collision.
The cyclist is pedaling north with the right of way approaching an intersection. A car is driving south approaching the cyclist from the front. The car turns left in front of the moving cyclist.
This situation is particularly common around sunrise or sunset when visibility is difficult. If the cyclist is riding too fast to stop quickly enough, often a quick turn to the left is needed to avoid the car.
Drivers, when turning left across traffic, is important to look for more than just large autos in the approaching lane, but smaller cyclists as well.
Cyclists, keep the hands near the brakes at all times, having to move the palms of the hands to begin engaging the brakes could be fatal.
2 The second most common occurrence is best described with a real life story.
I was pedaling west on Palomar Airport Road. My friend Kent was pedaling about 20 feet in front of me. There was a small shopping center to our right.
A panel truck, about the size of a U-Haul rental, passed me on the left, passed Kent then quickly turned right in front of Kent into the shopping center. Kent did not have enough time to brake to a stop. His options were to hit the side of the truck and possibly go under it or execute a panic turn to the right to follow the truck in parallel into the shopping center. Luckily, he was able to turn right and keep his bike upright to avert disaster
Cars, before turning right, check for bicycles behind on your right. When you slow down to turn, they may now be traveling faster than you are and will soon be passing you.
1The most frequent occurrence of a crash between a motor vehicle and a bicycle is one that very few motorists, and many cyclists, have simply not even thought about.
It was the first auto and bike crash I have ever seen. It was the last day of my high school year one spring, I was on the main street in my home town, a 10-12 year old boy was coasting downhill fast between automobile traffic passing him to the left and parked cars to the right. The driver of one of the parked cars open his door and the child struck the inside of the door at a high speed with a sickening and abrupt thud.
A few years ago a woman was pedaling a few miles from her Solana Beach home, the driver of a parked car opened the door and the cyclist struck the door, the cyclist received 11 broken bones.
A cyclist was pedaling in Miramar preparing for cycling's National Championships when the back passenger door of a car that was stopped in traffic opened, his injuries prevented him from traveling to the national a week later.
I came across such a crash in Mission Bay years ago, I overheard one police officer comment that the dooring of the cyclist was a freak accident. When I informed him that it was the most common occurrence of auto and bicycle crashes, he simply looked at me in disbelief.
Savvy cyclists pedal far enough from cars parked to the right and those stopped in traffic on the left so they are not pedaling in ‘the door zone’ of suddenly opening doors.
Drivers can easily prevent such crashes by simply looking into the door’s rear view mirror before they or a their passenger opens a door.
Most crashes between autos and cyclists can be eliminated if all followed the simply rule that our parents taught us…share.
Coach, why do other cyclists brake faster than I can?
Whether a pro in the peloton or a new rider, there is a very important rule that all cyclists should follow for their own safety when riding with others. All cyclists should keep the hands positioned so the palms of the hands do not have to move to start operating the brakes, even if this movement is only an inch or less. The cyclist who is slower beginning braking when all must stop like when a traffic signal changes from green to red will still be moving when the other riders have stopped. In one of my Double Century training series for a 200 mile event, 3 cyclist liked to position the hands too far back from the brakes to touch them with the fingers, over the 450 miles of training all 3 had a slow speed contact with a quicker stopping rider to the front.
For safety, always position the hands so that the palms do not have to move to reach the brakes.
Coach, why does that cyclist do that to his bike before every ride?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that experienced cyclists always perform a quick and simple test on their bike before every ride. Be considered an experienced cyclist, you perform this test too. Always check to confirm that the rims of both wheels are not touching a brake pad. Lift a wheel off the ground and slowly rotate it. It is best not to rotate the wheel too fast, just enough to make two rotations of the wheel is enough, it is easier to see problems with the wheel rotating slowly. Look between the rim of the wheel and the two brake pads checking carefully for spots where the brake pads touches the rim. If there is contact, squeeze hard several times on the brake handle of the affected wheel. Many brakes are self adjusting and will resolve the problem. If the problem continues to exist, open the skewer of the wheel, adjust the wheel so that it is centered and replace the skewer.
Brakes that are dragging can quickly drain your energy. Be considered an experienced cyclist by checking both your wheels before every ride.
Where is the exact route for the Tour of California Stage 1 in San Diego? And where does Coach Darryl recommend as the best places to watch the Tour?
The Tour of California organizers have a great app for the event. It is available for both Apple and Android. To download it, click here. The app has a great map for the route, it is so well done that it is possible to know on roads that are split with a boulevard which side of the road they will be using.
The Tour starts at 11:30am. Count on the riders averaging about 25 MPH for the entire 106 mile route (yes, really!) My choices for the Thinking Cyclist to pick for watching it are:
- No, not the start! Go to the top of Laurel Street climb. Remember this hill is around 20%. You will see them working hard climbing the hill. There will most likely be a break away started by this time as well.
- If you want to see the riders and spend a day at the beach too, watch the sprint in downtown Imperial Beach. The sprint is in front of the pier.
- For the pure climbers watching the race, the only place to do it is at the top of Honey Springs Road. There is little or no parking at the top (see the red 1 on the map) so park at the bottom and climb the 7+ miles and 2,000 feet to the top. You are a cyclist, right? :)
- The second sprint point on Navajo Road should be more interesting than the first sprint since it is just past the top of the climb out of El Cajon on Fletcher Parkway. See the Green S on the map.
- One of the most thrilling spots on the ride is the left hand turn at the end of Jackson Drive turning onto Mission Gorge Road near Coach Darryl's home. Jackson has the same stats as Torrey Pines with 400 feet of descent over 1.3 miles, but it is steeper not more gradual at the bottom. The turn is more than 90 degrees. Stand on the north side of Mission Gorge to watch the cyclists coming towards you at the end of Jackson.
- The end, of course. Those of you who are frequent Coach Darryl Taco Tuesday riders will know to park at the end of old Sea World Drive along our Taco Tuesday route and then walk under the 2 bridges to the end of the route.
Coach, I am thinking about buying new pedals. The pedals that I have are very difficult to unclip my foot from.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that unclipping from the pedals should always be done at the bottom of the pedal stroke not at the top. Try this quick experiment: Stand with the foot you normally clip out at a traffic signal an inch or so off the floor. Twist the foot as far toward the inside as possible as if you were unclipping from your pedals. Now, raise the leg up bending at the knee as far as it normally is at the top of the pedal stroke. Note that the foot straightens pointing more towards the front as the leg comes up. When the knee is bent, only the part of the leg below the knee can twist but when the knee is straight, the entire leg can twist. The foot can twist out much farther at the bottom of the stroke making unclipping much easier.
Coach, during my rides, how can I tell when I am hydrated or dehydrated?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when urinating, if the color is like apple juice, you are dehydrated however if the color is like lemonade, you are hydrated.
Coach, when climbing, I am always breathing much too heavily. It is like I can never get enough air into my lungs. How can I get more air into my lungs?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that to get more air into the lungs, the cyclist must concentrate on blowing more air OUT of the lungs. When blowing only say 80% of the oxygen used stale air out of the lungs, the next breath can only insert enough air to fill up that 80% of the lungs. But, if the cyclist can blow out say 90% of the air in the lungs, then in the next breath there is space for 90% fresh oxygen laden air. That extra 10% can make a noticeable difference.
Coach, after years of cycling, I am very proud of my low resting heart rate. While most people have a resting heart rate of around 72, mine is in the low 50's!
The Thinking Cyclist knows that while a resting heart rate is one of the best indications of a fit cyclist, that low number can cause problems. If a cyclist with a low heart rate is brought unconscious into an Emergency Room, the medical staff are very likely to give the cyclist medication to get the heart rate higher, and that medication may interfere with other needed treatments. Using your home computer, type and print "Resting Heart Rate = 50-55" or whatever numbers are appropriate, and use transparent tape to add this information to the front of your medical insurance card. Also, before any minor surgery make sure all in the room know what number is expected to be observed for your resting heart rate.
Coach, I am getting a new bike on Friday! Can I come over for a bike fit later that day?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that this is a bad idea because the cyclist had no time to ride the new bike to identify any aches, pains and discomforts due to the geometry and position of the new bike. A cyclist came to me for a bike fit yesterday, he had been riding his new bike for 2 weeks. His 2 week old bike was a replacement bike for another new bike that he had a bike fit on just 6 weeks earlier. The 2 bikes were the same manufacturer and model, but the aches and pains that he had with the new bike were significantly different from those that I had resolved with the previous bike. Pedal a new bike for 2-5 rides, then come to see me with your new list of discomforts you want me to resolve.
Coach, what gear should I be in when cycling?
This is an extremely frequent question from newer cyclists. The Thinking Cyclist knows that the cyclist should not be thinking about the gear but the speed of the legs. When pedaling on the flats, pedal at 80-85 RPM. When pedaling on hills, target 60-65 RPM. Simply shift to the gear that allows pedaling in this range.
Coach, what is the most common dangerous habit for cyclists?
This Thinking Cyclist knows that the single most common dangerous habit of cyclists is riding with the hands too far from the brakes. The palms of the hands should not have to move to operate the brakes. The hands should be positioned so that the fingers only need to be moved to start braking. I can remember at least 3 occasions when our group of riders had to stop quickly and the rider behind hit the rider in front since the rider in front had his hands near the brakes and began braking earlier.
Coach, that cyclist looks hilarious! What a rookie!
The cyclists were gathering for their ride one cool morning and one rider put a smile on the faces of the others. It is often easy to identify the rookie cyclists.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that tights that are worn on cooler rides are not worn inside the bike shorts, they are placed outside. For your shammy to work properly, nothing is placed between you and your shorts. Also, if the tights are placed inside the shorts, when the temperature rises mid ride, how do you take the tights off?
I once saw a cyclist with her cycling shorts on inside out
Coach, there are many bike thefts these days. How do I confirm the ownership of my bike in case it gets stolen?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are two locations where bike identification should be kept, on you and at your insurance company.
If there is a dispute on the road with regard to the ownership of your bike, that is, someone tried to steal it but is caught with it in their possession or if the police find it later, pictures on your smart phone are extremely useful. Make sure at least one of the pictures has you in them and they show the serial number as well.
The second place for storing your pictures are at your insurance company. Bikes are typically covered by your house or renters insurance policy as long as the bike has not been away from your covered residence for 30 days. Email the pictures to your insurance agent or your insurance company's customer service phone line department and confirm their acknowledgement of receipt.
Also, such identification can be useful in the case of bike damage. A cyclist recently had his bicycle destroyed when it was on his roof rack and he drove into an overhang. The insurance paid for a new bike.
Coach, if it was not for bad luck, I would not have any luck at all! After a period of rain, I pedaled through a muddy stretch of pavement on my road bike being very careful to follow your instructions for riding on slippery surfaces. I was very happy to safely get through the almost inch deep mud! Then on my first turn a quarter mile later, my wheels slipped out from under me and I fell. Why am I always so unlucky?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that cyclists often make their own luck! When riding through deep mud, the mud gets deposited on not only the bottom of the tires, but the sides as well. When pedaling on flat ground after the muddy section, the mud is scrapped off the bottoms of the tires, but not the sides because the sides are not in contact with the road. When a cyclist goes around a corner and leans the bike into the turn, the right side of the tire is touching the pavement for right turns and the left side for left turns. If there is still mud on the sides of the tires, that slippery mud could cause a fall.
A cyclist should not lean the bike into a turn when there is mud on the sides of the tire.
Coach, I would like to get a ride in today, and the rain looks like it has stopped. It should not be a problem if a little rain falls on me and my jersey, right?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that getting wet from falling rain is one of the least things for the cyclist to consider when deciding whether to ride on day when it has rained recently or may rain before the ride is over.
- When the pavement is wet, the roads are slippery. Falls are much more common. The fall will no doubt be into a puddle of water. Cars also take much more distance to stop risking getting hit while on the pavement. It could result in weeks off the bike or much worse.
- Drivers have much more difficult seeing through rain and a wet windshield. Cyclists are much more likely to get hit.
- When riding through a puddle, it is impossible to know how deep it is. One cyclist told me the week I am writing this that he decided to pedal through one that was less than the length of a car, he knew he was in trouble when the water got over the top of his legs. Water at depth is difficult to ride through, it will probably stop your forward progress before you reach the other side resulting in a walk through deep water.
- Bikes are not waterproof. Riding through water splashes water up from the ground onto the bike. Two critical places, the head tube and the seat post, can allow water to get inside the tubes of your bike. The water that splashes up contains sand and grit. When doing a Bike Fit and I adjust the saddle on a bike that has been ridden in the rain, the sand between the seat post and the seat tube makes a very audible grinding noise and must be cleaned out. One coach I recently talked with needed a new bottom bracket and headset after only one wet ride, over $400, due to water getting inside his bike at these two critical spots.
- The dirty water splashed onto the cyclist’s legs usually results in socks that are destroyed, and often shoes that are no longer usable as well.
San Diego averages only 41 days per year with ANY measurable rain, surely you can miss one of those days?
Coach, I got a flat tire and looked carefully all around the tire for the sharp object but could not find it. I inserted a new tube and a few miles later had another flat. What is the best way to find the sharp object in the tire?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the best way to find the source of the flat is to look at the tube not the tire.
Take the wheel off the bike and remove one side of the tire only. Remove most of the tube from underneath the tire leaving 1 to 2 inches of tube on both sides of the filling stem still under the tire. Use your small hand pump to insert air into the tube. Listen carefully for the sound of the air escaping from the hole somewhere in the tube. Some cyclists bring the tube close to their face to feel the air escaping from the tube on their cheek. When the hole in the tube is located, trace the location of the hole in the tube to its corresponding location in the tire.
Coach, I was pushing my bike out the garage to start a ride and noticed that a spoke was broken. Should I ride the bike with a broken spoke?
The Thinking Cyclist knows 3 important things about broken spokes:
- It is dangerous to ride a bike with a broken spoke. When a wheel collapses, the spokes fold and the wheel's hub comes crashing to the pavement. If you have not started your ride, don't do so. If the broken spoke is identified while pedaling, end your ride as soon as possible. Either gently ride back to your start location under 12 MPH, even when descending, or call for a ride. Wheels with under 24 spokes or riders over 200 pounds are especially at risk.
- If your wheel has not had a broken spoke recently, simply replace the spoke. If another spoke had broken in the past 5-6 weeks, replace all spokes in the wheel.
- There are dozens of different varieties of spokes, far too many for a typical bike store to inventory so most spokes must be ordered. Order one additional spoke for both the front and rear wheel, a third one if the rear wheel has different spokes on the drive side than the non drive side. Spokes are typically a dollar or less, it is well worth the investment, it may get you pedaling again the same day as your next broken spoke as opposed to being off the bike for many days.
Coach, how many calories do I burn per hour on my rides?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the amount of calories burned largely depends upon how much the cyclist weights and how fast the cyclist is pedaling.
The following estimates the amount of calories burned per hour for cyclists who weight 125, 155, 185 and 215 pounds.
Stationary training, vigorous: 630-800-930-1025 Cycling at 12-14 MPH 480-600-710-810 Cycling at 14-16 MPH 600-750-890-1020 Cycling > 20 MPH 1000-1230-1465-1735
So, how many calories can YOU burn during a 90 minute Coach Darryl stationary trainer class?
For information on Coach Darryl’s stationary training series, click here.
Two cyclists are coasting down a long hill. They are rolling at the same speed, handlebar to handlebar, without pedaling or braking. One cyclist notices a car approaching from behind and tells the other cyclist he will be pulling ahead.
When they get back together again, the other cyclist asks “How did you increase speed to pass me, you did not move your feet, hands or head?”
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the speed the cyclist can travel on a downhill is largely due to the amount of drag that the bike and body are creating as it slices through the air. When coasting down hill, keeping the legs apart allows the air to flow between the legs and the bike turning the cyclist’s torso area into a small parachute thus slowing him. But, when the legs are moved together to touch the top tube of the bike, the air flows around the legs and the bike thus reducing the drag and the bike’s speed increases.
When coasting downhill, to go faster, move the legs together, to slow the speed, open the legs.
It is the most dangerous spot to stop in an intersection when waiting for a red light to change green. Yet, cyclists continue to put themselves in grave danger of being hit by cars.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that a very dangerous spot to stop in an intersection is near the curb on the far right where vehicles can turn right. When the signal is red, it is dangerous to be stopped here since vehicles turning right on red may come too close or hit the cyclist. When stopped near the curb in the right turn lane and the light turns green it is more dangerous since to resume pedaling straight forward the cyclist must cross the path of a right turning vehicle who now has a green light.
When stopped for a red light, the cyclist who is pedaling straight forward in the intersection should position the bicycle so it is in the lane heading where the bicyclist is going, straight forward. This allows the right turning traffic to pass the cyclist to the right, making the cyclist much safer.
Coach, I was stopped by the police the evening after a ride. My driver's license was unfortunately at home with my cycling gear. I like to have identification with me when I am riding, how do I make sure that I have the right information with me when cycling and also when driving?
Cyclists need personal information and emergency funds with them while cycling. Their regular wallet is too large to carry while cycling and the cyclist does not want to get that wallet dirty and sweaty from road riding. Trying to remember to transfer things from your regular wallet before you ride and return them to the regular wallet after the ride is much too error prone.
The Thinking Cyclist carries a cycling wallet on every ride. The contents in the cyclist wallet should be permanent, it is the only way to guarantee the cyclist wallet and the regular wallet are always properly stocked.
The Thinking Cyclist always has the following in the cyclist wallet:
- Picture Identification - This is needed for emergencies and to get into restricted areas like Camp Pendleton. A driver's license works great, but the DMV will not provide a duplicate driver's license. Store the most recently expired license together with a photocopy of the current driver's license.
- Health Insurance Card - Your provider will supply a second one for you.
- Cash - Don't just think about the cash amount needed for mid ride and post ride food. I have had to use cash for on road emergencies like a taxi. I keep $50 in my cyclist wallet.
- Credit Card - Your provider will supply a duplicate.
- ICE, In Case of Emergency - Many of us substitute a wrist Road ID bracelet for ICE contact number.
The above are the critical items.
I also include other items for convenience,
the items below are for your consideration
- Phone Password - Your critical phone numbers, information and many contact numbers are useless in your phone without this access code
- AAA Card, or similar Auto Road Emergency card - I drive to over 90% of my rides, auto breakdowns happen when least convenient.
- Costco Card for post trip shopping, they will supply duplicate.
Coach, I had 2 flat tires at the same time on a recent ride, I found it very difficult to get the two wheels back on the bike since tightening a skewer requires 2 hands and there was no way to hold up the bike!
The Thinking Cyclist knows that re-installing both wheels is a balancing act, and since you are a cyclist, you can balance!
Begin by picking up the bike's frame and standing on the left side of the frame. Get both wheels within reaching distance. Hold the bike's frame with the right hand balancing it by holding it using the top tube (the one connecting the handlebar area with the saddle area.) Pick up the front wheel with the left hand and place the fork's drop outs in its riding position onto the front wheel's skewer. Leave the front wheel just touching the skewer but not tightened onto the bike. Apply more weight onto the front wheel to keep it in place resting on the skewer by readjusting your holding position on the top tube so that your hand is near the saddle on the top tube. Hold the top tube now with the left hand. Pick up the rear wheel with the right hand. Place the rear wheel in its proper position with the drop outs onto the skewer. Now the bike is standing on both wheels. Secure the rear skewer first, then secure the front skewer.
Coach, when is the sun weak enough to allow riding without sunscreen?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the time to ride without sunscreen is never! Ask my cycling friend who has had over 6 operations on his face due to sun exposure. While the sun is not as direct in the fall, winter and spring months, pedaling for hours in any sunlight is not good for the skin. For cyclists, sunscreen is a 12 month practice.
Coach, I keep forgetting to take my driver’s license with me on my rides or forget to put it back in my wallet after rides. It seems I am without it half the time. What should I do?
The Thinking Cyclist knows what to do to make this problem disappear. Get a small wallet for use only when cycling. Carry in your cycling wallet your old expired license and a photocopy of you current license. This will be more than enough to get into Camp Pendleton or other areas that require an ID.
Check back to learn other things that the Thinking Cyclist always keeps in the cycling wallet.
No cyclist plans to crash, but every cyclist should plan to minimize the damage if a fall occurs.
Ready to start a ride and the cyclist has numerous items to put into the cycling jersey’s three rear pockets. Does it matter which item goes into which pocket?
The Thinking Cyclist knows not to put hard items next to the spine in case of a fall landing on the back. Place soft items only in the middle pocket, like your cycling wallet or energy bars. Put hard items like your phone and keys in the side pocket.
Falls can happen to anyone, it is best to minimize the damage after falling on something in your pocket. I cringe whenever I see someone with a pump in the middle pocket, a very hard object like a portable pump should be carried on the bike not the cyclist.
Coach, condensation often appears on my glasses on cooler damp days. It can hamper my vision and be very dangerous. How do I get rid of this problem?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that condensation is caused by a difference in temperature between the outside of the glasses lens that is cool and damp and the inside that is closer to the cyclist’s skin and is thus warmer. Simply slide the glasses down the nose a little and the inside of the glasses will quickly become cooler and the condensation will disappear.
A broken spoke immediately changes your ride. It is best to know what to do when one occurs.
A broken spoke normally is announced with a loud ping, often your cycling friends will yell “Broken Spoke” and everyone then attempts to identify who the unlikely cyclist is. Occasionally there is no snapping sound, the first indication is the wheel is slowed every revolution as the now out-of-round wheel rubs against the brake every time the affected part of the rim goes past the brake.
The cyclist should immediately stop to assess the situation. It may not be immediately apparent which spoke is broken. By far the majority of the time it is the back wheel since it is under more pressure from acceleration and on the drive chain side of the back wheel for the same reason so check there first.
The Thinking Cycling knows that when a spoke is broken, if no other spoke has been broken recently on the same wheel, simply replace the spoke. However, if a spoke has been broken in that wheel over the past 500 miles or so, it is best and safer to replace all spokes on the wheel.
Coach, I have been off the bike for weeks. When I return to cycling, what should I notice with regard to a reduction in my cycling capabilities?
There are three separate aspects to a cyclist’s fitness capabilities, strength, endurance and anaerobic conditioning.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that of these three, the one that shows the most noticeable reduction is endurance. While the strength in the legs does go down, and the anaerobic conditioning (i.e., speed when sprinting to the top of a hill) also is reduced, the cyclist’s endurance is most noticeable. For instance, if in the past you could pedal 40 miles at a typical speed for you, after around 25 miles or so at that speed, your speed and strength will be reduced since you will not have the endurance to maintain that effort for the entire 40 miles
Coach, I have been off the bike for long time. After how many days should I notice a degradation in my cycling abilities?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the cyclist’s body starts to show signs of a lower cycling conditioning after 11 days. I read this information about 20 years ago. Since that time, I have been traveling without cycling many times in the 7-14 day range. The rule works very well for me.
Coach, I felt terrible on last weekend’s ride. I had much less energy than normal. How do I make sure I have my normal energy levels for my next weekend’s ride?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when energy levels are unexpectedly lower than normal, the problem is usually nutrition. Or rather a lack thereof.
You would not expect to get far on a long trip in your auto without fuel, the same applies to your digestive system.
In conversations that I have had with cyclists who have contacted me due to not having energy for their Saturday ride, after asking the cyclist numbers questions, I normally discover something like:
- Friday I ate a big lunch and passed on dinner
- I was busy Friday evening and just grabbed a quick hot dog and coke
- I got up too late and just ate a banana for breakfast the way to my bike ride.
If your Saturday ride is only 20 miles or so, nutrition in the previous 24 hours or so is less important. But if you are riding more miles or plan to do so faster, you must prep your digestive track with food the 24 hours or so before the ride. In that 24 hours, the cyclist should eat more carbs and drink more fluids. Do not skip a meal, that is a recipe for disaster for your ride. If you do not have time for breakfast, you do not have time to prep for you ride. A good breakfast on ride day is essential.
One of the most common questions that I get is “Coach, why does my back hurt when I am climbing?”
I normally respond by asking how the back knows that you are climbing?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that obviously the cyclist is doing something different when climbing. This is normally tensing or tightening the muscles of the back and possibly the torso as well. Wasting energy tensing the back muscles to improve climbing speed is no more effective in making the bike's chain move faster than clinching the teeth.
During normal daily activities most people do not tense back muscles when standing, sitting or walking, therefore when tensing them over the duration of a climb the muscles are not accustomed to the increased use and discomfort results.
Don't waste energy tensing the back when climbing. Save your energy for leg muscles that do improve climbing speed.
If you do find yourself tensing the back muscles, relax the muscles by twisting the body to the left and the right as Coach Carol demonstrates above. Stretch as far as you can in each direction. The back will soon stop hurting and the pedaling will be much more enjoyable.
Coach, why does my knee hurt when I am cycling?
John had been to Coach Darryl for a bike fit a few years before. When his knee started hurting, he came back for a check. The saddle was exactly the same height and other measurements as when he left the last time. Why does his knee hurt?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that a change of weight can cause a change to saddle position. John lost only 10 pounds, but it was enough to change the proper saddle positioning for him. When your weight changes, you need an adjustment to your bike.
Don't Act like a Rookie
When a mechanical like a flat tire occurs on the road, there are several options for resting your bike while fixing the problem.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when the bike is placed upside down, the weight of the bike is on expensive brake shifters and the saddle. Both of which are can sustain unsightly damage like scratches.
But when the bike is placed on its side the bike touches the ground on the side of the pedal and the side of the handlebar tape. These components are much less susceptible to damage than the expensive shifters and the saddle. Lay the bike down on its side, chain side up, and it is less likely to sustain damage and the owner does not look like a rookie cyclist.
Coach, I was recently riding with a very strong wind from my left. On my right was a very steep cliff dropping down to the Pacific Ocean at least a hundred feet below. There was little or no bike lane and many cars. It was terrifying. How do I safely ride in a strong wind?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that riding in the wind is a learned skill, and knows to:
- Treat riding in a front or side wind like climbing a hill. Shift to a lower gear to slow down foot cadence like when climbing. This will allow the feet to provide the wheels with more constant pressure, avoiding the dead spots when pedaling, thus keeping a more straight and steady constant direction heading.
- Move the lighter cyclists when riding in a group away from the direction of the wind and the heavier rider towards the direction of the wind since lighter riders are affected by the wind more than the heavier riders, the lighter riders will therefore be protected from much of the wind’s force by the larger riders.
- Move the knees closer together to allow the windward knee to protect the leeward knee from the force of the wind.
- Slide back a little on the saddle to lower the center of gravity making the rider more aero with less body area to be pushed by the wind.
- Get into the drops to further lower and streamline the body.
- Keep the head low, look out of the top of the glasses to prevent the head from providing a large area for the wind to push.
- Lean the bike slightly in the direction the wind in extreme circumstances to keep the balance.
- And of course, take the entire traffic lane when necessary, do not feel like you have to crowd yourself to the side when experiencing any dangerous situation.
The Thinking Cyclist Quiz:
How frequently should a cyclist pump air into the bicycle’s tires?
A Each Ride B Weekly C When needed
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the Answer to this question is….C When Needed.
The tires should be checked before every ride, but air should only be inserted when needed.
Every cyclist should learn the thumb test. Know what the tire feels like when it is at the pressure you prefer when riding. Only when the tire pressure is below this amount is more air required. After pumping up a tire to the desired pressure, squeeze the tire between your thumb and first finger to know how hard this pressure feels, you can now do the thumb test before each ride.
Extending out from the valve of each presta tube is a slim metal ball extending from a weak metal wire. Pumping air into the tire can cause this metal wire to bend and break, I typically breaking of these off several times per year resulting in the tube needing replacement. Pump air only when more air is needed.
If you are a serious cyclist or aspire to be a serious cyclist, then you must be serious about learning about your equipment.
Check out the glasses in the above picture. Enlarge them if you can. These glasses were worn by an avid cyclist in a crash. He did not know that he had a low tire and when he went around a sharp turn the rim hit the pavement and bike fell to the side. I have ridden with this cyclist many times, if he fell under these circumstances, at least 90% of us would have fallen too.
The Thinking Cyclist observes the long and multiple scratches on the right lens, most likely from the pavement. Note that the right nose piece is missing. Note the deep gouges on the top of the black frame.
From examining these glasses it is obvious that this cyclist’s face hit the pavement with great force. He did not return to work for weeks.
Observe also that
1The lens did not break, chip or split causing loose fragments to threaten the eye. 2The lens did not distort or bend inward towards the eye far enough to push the lens out of its frame. 3The frame did not break causing multiple pieces of long frame material to threaten the eye.
These are obviously extremely well deigned and manufactured sport glasses, quite possible intended specifically for cyclists. They did exactly what they were intended to do, protect the wearer.
Glasses that are not made for sport would most likely have failed in one or more of the above list of 3 observations. A cyclist not wearing such protective glasses would quite possible have suffered eye damage that could result in long and expensive treatment.
Always wear sport glasses when riding to protect your eyes.
Talk with Larry Critser at the Trek Bicycle Superstore in La Mesa regrading cyclist glasses. Tell him Coach Darryl sent you and ask for a discount.
We all want to see you cycling of many years in the future!
Coach, I am thinking about doing a century on consecutive weekends. Would that be a good idea?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that it depends upon the cycling experience of the individual cyclist, some can do it, most can't.
Most cyclists will not be recovered from the first century when it is ready to attempt the second one.
In May of 2014, I was riding with a cyclist who was attempting a second century when there was too little time since his previous one, he could not do the last few dozen miles. A shortcut route had to be devised and everyone in our group missed out on their 100 miles that day.
A general guideline is Coach Darryl's Rule of 7. Only consider doing back to back weekend centuries if you have at least 7 centuries completed in your lifetime and have pedaled at least 70 miles at least 7 times in the previous 3 months.
What happened to my new bike?
It happens frequently while I am doing a bike fit. While adjusting the saddle height, as soon as the seat post moves, everyone in the room is aware of the symptoms.
The Thinking Cycling knows that whenever a bike is ridden on wet streets, changes and problems can start.
Rain water on the street is very dirty. It picks up dust, sand and grit from the road. The legs of a cyclist who has been riding in the rain are typically very dirt. That dirty water of course is splashed onto the bike as well. The water that is deposited on the saddle’s seat post or above typically drips down onto the area where the seat post attaches to the bike. The dirty water seeps between the seat post and the seat tube inside your bicycle. Some of the dirt is left stuck between the seat post and the seat tube. The sound that is heard when the seat post is moved is a gritty noise that is made by the dirt and sand that is lodged between the seat post and the seat tube.
Of course, water seeps into other similar joins on the bicycle like around your headset.
But the sound is not the entire problem. The water that is now flowing inside your bike can cause damage. I have heard the noise made by a cup or more of water sloshing around inside a bike’s frame. Most newer bottom brackets are sealed and waterproof…or at least they are supposed to be, right? And a gritty head set can cause a noise whenever the handlebars are turned.
If you have ridden your bike in the rain, it needs a good cleaning inside as well as outside.
It is really worth riding your bike on wet streets, especially when in San Diego we have well over 300 days a year with no rain?
Coach, it is very difficult to get my tires onto my rims. I get the tire on about 90% around the rim, then it is extremely hard to get the final 10% on. What can I do?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there is a great trick to make the tire go onto the wheel. Look at the rim of your wheel. When fully inflated, the tire mounts to the rim in the far outer part of the rim, in this position the tire is stretched so that it is very far from the center of the hub of the wheel. Now note that the inner part of the rim looks like a ‘gully’ that is much closer to the center part of the wheel or the hub. If the tire were in that groove or gully, the tire would be much less stretched from the center of the wheel and it would be much easier for the tire to get over the lip of the rim to be properly positioned for receiving air.
So, to temporarily put the tire into that gully, begin at the area of the tire opposite where the 10% of the remaining tire needs to be inserted, and with your thumb and fingers squeeze the tire towards the middle until it is in the middle of the rim. Then work your way around the wheel squeezing the tire in the same manner until the entire tire is in the middle. Now, starting again at the opposite side of the tire from the 10% not inserted, stretch the tire on both sides at the same time so that you are pulling all the slack of the tire from the opposite side to the side with the 10% tight tire area.
Now it will be much easier to get the final 10% into the rim.
Look for another Thinking Cyclist tip below pertaining to how to make your hands seem stronger for forcing the tire onto the rim.
Coach, I am thinking about getting an advertised noseless saddle to correct what the vendor calls nerve problems in the perineum area. Is this something that I should get to prevent?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there have been several versions of a 'noseless' saddle developed. This one looks typical.
There are several problems with this type of saddle. With no nose, the bike is very hard to steer at speed. When cornering we apply pressure on the nose of the saddle with the inner thighs, this saddle makes that impossible making the bike very difficult to steer. Another problem is that this saddle will make the rider feel he is constantly 'falling forward,' there will always be too much weight moving towards the front of the bike causing too much pressure on the hands. The biggest problem with this design is that this saddle is marketed using a fear that rarely if ever exists, the injury to the perineum area of the saddle area. One Boston area urologist campaigned vigorously about 2 dozen years against such a 'problem' but the experience of cyclists over time showed that his fears were groundless. Many cyclists find more comfort in saddles that had a cut-out in the center of the saddle area, but few if any required such relief due to nerve problems. Of the hundreds of bike fits that I do each year, I can't remember anyone telling me they had nerve problems in that area.
So in general, this saddle can cause comfort problems, make the bike dangerous at higher speed and attempts to address a situation that does not exist.
Coach, I want to remove the sticker placed on my helmet at a past event. I tried various ways to get rid of it but none worked. How do I remove it?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there is a simple way to remove a sticker from your helmet. Soak a towel or paper towel in water, place the helmet such that the entire sticker is in contact with the wet towel. Let it soak for 15-20 minutes and the sticker will easily peel off.
Does it Matter What is Placed into Which Jersey Pocket?
Starting a ride the cyclist has numerous items to put into the cycling jersey’s three rear pockets. Does it matter which item goes into which pocket? Yes!
The Thinking Cyclist knows not to put hard items next to the spine in case of a fall landing on the back. Place soft items only in the middle pocket, like your cycling wallet or energy bars. Put hard items like your phone and keys in the side pocket.
Falls can happen to anyone, it is best to minimize the damage after falling on something in your pocket. I cringe whenever I see someone with a pump in the middle pocket, a very hard object like a portable pump should be carried on the bike not the cyclist.
Why do I keep moving in the saddle?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there is a good reason and a bad reason to move in the saddle. If you move frequently on your saddle, it is a sign that either the saddle or the saddle positioning is not appropriate for you. Cyclists with a saddle that is appropriate and positioned properly tend to only move on the saddle when they want a change in the position of their leg muscles like when climbing. That is, they change for efficiency not a lack of comfort. Cyclists who squirm often have a saddle that is not level, not at the proper height or is not appropriate for them. Cyclist whose saddle and its positioning is appropriate for them, tend to ride more miles and enjoy their cycling much more. Don’t let the wrong saddle or bad saddle positioning rob you of enjoying your rides! Get a good bike fit and the right saddle for you.
Is Your Saddle Suddenly Too High?
Feel like your saddle is a little too high during colder weather, but there have been no changes to your bike?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when we start wearing more cold weather clothing the distance between the sit bones and the saddle increases. That increase can make the saddle feel like it is too high because it really is higher now. Also people tend to put on fat in colder weather for insulation and that adds to the increase space between the sit bones and the saddle.
A winter time saddle adjustment may be necessary, contact Coach Darryl for a quick adjustment.
Why make the same Mistake each Year?
In the fall of the year, the temperatures start to drop on our rides. The chill in the air, especially in the mornings, cools cyclists quickly since they are creating their own wind chill factor when moving thru the air at 15+ MPH, especially when descending. What should the cyclist do to make sure they have the best cold weather clothing?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that in the fall, the cycling store stocks their shelves with the best cycling cool weather clothing, and it sits on the shelves until the first really cool ride day. After the first cool ride, cyclists quickly flock to the store and purchase the best warm weather clothing in the best colors and the most popular sizes. But the Thinking Cyclist purchases clothing before the first cool ride day and has the right clothing for that first cool ride.
It’s a Pain in the Butt
His saddle caused discomfort during and after rides so he bought a second saddle. It was not much better so he bought a third. The fifth saddle was an improvement, but there was still discomfort. He had a substantial amount of money invested in saddles before he contacted Coach Darryl for input.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are two very important components to comfort in the saddle area other than the saddle itself.
First, guys, before getting onto the saddle, it is important to rearrange the equipment, your equipment not the bike’s equipment. Make sure no part of your anatomy is down between the legs, raise all so that it is above the groin area. This adjustment must be repeated as necessary, typically every 2-3 hours on the bike. Make sure the shorts are always pulled high and tight into the groin area at all times or more frequent adjustments will be necessary.
Second, the choice of shorts is important to prevent discomfort on longer rides. Bib shorts stay in place longer and thus require fewer adjustments. Shorts with a gel pad provide better comfort. I have a pair of short that cause discomfort after 25 miles or so, another after 75 miles or so, I love my 200 mile Canari shorts. That extra few dollars spent on the right shorts could result in enjoying your weekend, both during and after your ride, as opposed to discomfort throughout your weekend.
I received a call from an out-of-state cyclist. Lately he has had knee pain on the bike. The location of the pain described is often associated with a bad saddle height. I asked numerous questions of him, until I touched on the key problem.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that a change in weight often causes a change in the extremely important knee angle. Even though the saddle position has not moved, a change is body weight increases or decreases the distance between the rider’s sit bones and the saddle. This change can cause the knee angle between the hips and the pedal to be now incorrect.
The change in weight can be as little as 10 pounds, but a change of 18 pounds or more will most likely require a saddle adjustment to keep comfortable and pain free without a loss of power.
When you have a change in weight, contact Coach Darryl for a quick saddle height check.
Have you been using Tums to stop your leg cramps?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that here is a right and wrong way to use Tums to control your leg cramps. Tums are to be used for a cramp that is currently hurting you. They are not to be used in an attempt to prevent cramps, it would be like placing patches on an air tight tube in an attempt to prevent a future flat. A good cycling friend of mine blamed the frequent use of Tums for the cancer of the esophagus that took his life. Look for the “A Magic Pill for leg cramps” below for more information on Tums for leg cramps currently in progress.
Coach, I find it difficult to get my rear wheel back onto the bike. What is the best way to put the rear wheel onto the bike?
Sometimes it is the right approach that makes a task like this easier to do.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that it is much easier to get the rear wheel onto the bike when standing on the left side (not the chain side) of the bike. When standing on the left side and holding the bike up with the left hand on the saddle, the cyclist head is positioned directly above the chain and cassette giving an ideal view of the wheel insertion spot. Raise the rear of the bike above the hub of the rear wheel, then roll the wheel under the bike until the top length of the chain is above the smallest cog on the cassette. Lower the bike to place the top length of the chain onto the smallest cog. Gently push the bike down farther and the rear dropout will properly position themselves onto the skewer and hub.
Practice at home several times and this skill will be easier on the road.
Have a cycling event in the near future? Thinking about installing new tires?
The Thinking Cycling knows that with new tires, the bike not only seems to be faster but is faster. The Thinking Cycling also knows that with an event approaching, the best time to put on new tires is around 10 days before the event.
Problems often occur with new equipment like tires. Installing the tires 10 days before allows a weekend ride before the event to greatly reduce the probability of a problem on event day. The new tires will be faster due to less rolling resistance of the narrower contact patch of the new tires. There will also be a lower possibility of a flat on your event due to the smaller contact patch and the thicker rubber on the new tire. Lots of good reasons to put new tires on for your event.
Still have good rubber on the existing tires? After your event, return them to your bike to get the full wear from them.
A cyclist asks why do I seem to get more flats than others? I always fill my tires before every ride but seem to have more than my fair share of flats.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that tire pressure should be checked before every ride but that does not mean each tire needs air inserted before each ride. There is a difference.
Use the Thumb Test to check tire hardness before each ride. If the tire is low, add air, if it is not, why bother? The tube’s metal valve used to insert air will not last as long when opening and closing it and removing it from the pump nozzle before each ride. Over time, the metal of the valve stem will soften and either bend sideways or break requiring a new tube.
Why does the pump’s tire pressure valve show a low number each time the pump nozzle is placed onto the tube? When the pump’s nozzle is placed onto the tire, air escapes from the tube into the filler hose of the pump. If a newly fully-filled tube is attached to the pump’s filler valve again it will read low due to the air escaping from the tire to fill the pump’s hose.
Perfect the Thumb Test by squeezing the tire after filling it to its proper capacity. Know the amount of hardness associated with a full tire.
Check your tires before every ride, fill them when needed.
Where did my energy go?
Half way through a 40 mile ride, she had no energy. She was sitting on a curb, feeling terrible and wondering where her energy went. She had just finished a week long cross-state tour pedaling and eating across hundreds of miles so she knew that her conditioning was not a problem. What happened?
A few questions from a Thinking Cyclist who happened by confirmed her problem…she had skipped dinner the evening before the ride.
Energy levels while pedaling are closely tied to food consumption and the resulting sugar placed into the bloodstream. An interruption in food flowing through her digestive tract cut blood stream sugar levels and thus energy levels.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that a cyclist must fill the tank before rides with a carbohydrate filled dinner and breakfast. Ride day is not the time for dieting!
Caught in a rain storm? What is the best way to keep safe when it is raining or when pedaling on wet roads?
Living in San Diego where it can be many months between measurable rainfall, we tend to simply not ride when there is any chance of rain. But recently many cyclists were caught in a downpour on Mt. Palomar. There were many falls and at least one broken bone.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that riding safely through deep water on the road requires skill to get safely to your destination without a trip to the emergency room.
Starting from the bottom:
- Let some air out of your tires. Riding at over 100+ PSI provides a narrow contact patch with the pavement for faster speed on dry roads but with water on the pavement, a wider contact is needed for safety. Reduce pressure to 80-90 PSI.
- Keep off the white and yellow paint on the road, they are much more slippery.
- Downhill sections are more dangerous than flat sections. Keep the feet and pedals flat (one foot back the other forward) to prevent an imbalance due more weight on the down foot side.
- When the pavement is very wet or slippery, unclip your cleats and pedal with the feet touching the pedals but not locked into them. If the bike tends to slide to one side it is easier to extend a foot or both feet to restore balance. If needed, place a foot on the ground to prevent falling.
- Wet corners are very dangerous, especially when descending. Do not lean the bicycle into the corner as appropriate for dry pavement. Keeping the bike straight upright at all times helps to prevent the bike from sliding out from under you towards the outside of the turn. If necessary, lean the body into the corner but never lean the bike.
- On slippery straight sections of road, coast as much as possible do not pedal.
- Keeping the hands in the drops lowers the center of gravity and increases your stability.
- If the lens of your eye glasses gets wet from rain, then pull them down enough on your nose to be able to look over the top of the glasses frame. If they get foggy due to condensation, pulling them down will move them away from your warmer face, the lower the temperature of the lens will dispose of the condensation.
- And slow down! I do not have to explain this one, right?
It can get lonely sitting by the side of the road with your bike.
I received a phone call from a cyclist who was sitting by the side of the road waiting for a family member to come and pick him up. He had gotten a flat tire, he installed his replacement tube and it developed a hole as well. It is lucky that he had someone to drive to get him.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there are 3 lessons to be learned here:
1.Always have a charged cell phone with you when you ride 2.Before replacing a tube with a known hole in it with a good tube, find the sharp object in the tire that caused the first hole so the second tube will not receive the same fate 3.One spare tube is never enough. See Thinking Cyclist tip with the title “Coach, how many spare tubes should I take with me on my rides?" below.
Avoiding the extremely sickening and expensive sound.
It is a most sickening sound for any cyclist.
A cyclist returning from Coach Darryl’s after a Bike Fit drove into her garage door with her bike on the roof rack of her new Mercedes. For many cyclists, such an accident can cause a broken frame, a fork that is no longer reliable, a broken bike rack and for many a twisted automobile roof. It can be a very expensive day for sure.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that a great way to avoid hitting your own garage door is to put the garage door clicker out of reach of the driver’s seat by placing it into the trunk whenever a bike is on the roof. Most accidents of this nature are at the cyclist’s residence, keeping the clicker away from the driver when the bike rack is in use with one of more bikes prevents the hand from becoming quicker than the brain.
A cyclist with a roof rack should never program the car’s pre-wired garage door opener to risk such an expensive accident.
Your Significant Other says “What? You want to ride your bike AGAIN? You just rode it a few days ago!”
The Thinking Cyclist puts things into perspective by kindly replying “Yes, it is how I relax and also keep in shape. I notice that you were recently reading a book (or watching TV) and you did that only a few days ago too.”
Don’t risk a steep decline in conditioning by being off the bike too long.
Reading the Facebook postings of a cycling friend on the Interest List for the 2015 Double Team who is driving from Florida to San Diego and those of 2 others from the 2014 Double Team driving the same route in the opposite direction, I am reminded of a popular cyclist question, Coach, how many days do I have to be off the bike before my body starts to show significant signs of conditioning degradation? Placed in another manner, if I have to be off the bike for days, when should I make sure I get a good ride in before I notice a significant slowing? For most people, a continent wide driving adventure is not the reason for being off their bike for a long time, it is simply other life interruptions, but the reason is immaterial.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that in general the number of days off before a significant loss of cycling conditioning occurs is 11 days. I read this number around 20 years ago in a long forgotten source. I have had many trips away from San Diego and my bike since and I have discovered on my return that that number certainly is appropriate for me.
Can you balance a bike?
Recently I was riding down a hill behind 2 cyclists. The hill was not steep, the riders were coasting down the hill at about 25-30 miles per hour and there were no turns. One cyclist’s bike was descending very straight with little or no side to side motion. The other bike was constantly going to one side or the other and the rider repeatedly had to make corrections to keep the bike going in a straight line. Wind was not a factor.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that balance is important to safe cycling. The rider whose bike was going in a straight line down the road had his feet on the pedals so that the pedals were at the 3 and 9 position on the clock thus they were the same distance from the ground. When the feet are together like this, each foot has the same amount of pressure on the pedals and the bike is evenly balanced from side to side. A properly balanced bike is much easier to steer and keep in a constant direction, it is also much safer.
The rider whose bike was constantly going to one side or the other requiring handlebar adjustments to keep the bike going straight down the road had one foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke and the other at the top. The foot at the bottom was applying much more weight on that side of the bike creating an imbalance on the bicycle. The imbalance caused the bike to constantly go from side to side. The amount of weigh on the lower leg was constantly changing as the bike went over bumps and while the bike was moving from one side to the other thus changing the amount of imbalance of the bike. The constant changes in the bicycle’s balance made the bike more ‘squirrely’ and thus more dangerous for the cyclist.
Keeping the feet together while coasting on downhills with no turns keeps the bike balanced, going in a straight direction and safer.
Are you risking a flat tire or a accident by the way you are braking on steep descents?
On a recent Taco Tuesday ride, a dozen or so cyclists descended Mission Village Road into Mission Valley at Qualcomm Stadium, a steep 200-300 foot descent over less than half a mile. At a traffic signal at the bottom of the hill, one cyclist discovered that his rear tire was low and when he attempted to squeeze the tire with his hand to see how much air was in the tube, he was shocked to discover how hot both the tire and rims had gotten while descending. Excessive heat could cause a leak in the tube or the tire to fail and roll off the rim, either could be the reason for a dangerous fall.
It is very likely that the manner in which the cyclist was braking while descended this short steep hill heated up the rim so much that the tire and tube became excessively hot creating a leak in the tube. If the air had not leaked from the tube enough to notice the low tire, he would not have tested the tire air pressure with his fingers and would not have learned that his braking habits were making his rim and tire dangerously hot. In addition, if the descent was longer, say Palomar Mountain, the heat creating braking would have had many miles to get the rim and tires to a dangerously hot temperature and a crash could have occurred.
The Thinking Cyclist knows how to brake on hills to prevent the rims and tires from overheating.
Friction is created between the brakes and the rim whenever braking, and this friction creates heat. The amount of heat generated is increased by steeper descents, longer descents and heavier bikes and or riders.
To keep the brakes from overheating the rims, the Thinking Cyclist also knows that it is important not to brake continuously when descending. Keeping the hands squeezing the brakes generates heat on the rim. Releasing the brakes allows the heating rims to cool. The brakes should be allowed to cool down on the descent by releasing the brakes allowing the heat to be dissipated. If appropriate for the situation and the terrain, alternate braking with the back brake then with the front brake. Or brake hard for a few seconds to greatly reduce speed, then release both brakes to allow both brakes to cool as the bike speeds up then repeat braking hard again.
Do you know if your breaking habits are such that you are putting yourself in danger for heating the rims causing a blown tube or a rolled tire? Stop at the end of a steep descent and carefully bring the hands near the rims to check the temperature. Change your braking practices if excessive heat is generated.
It has happened 3 times in the past 2 weeks.
A cyclist purchases a new variety of pedals and comes to Coach Darryl to have them installed to retain their ideal bike positioning established in the past at their bike fit. But the new pedals purchased are not the right ones for the cyclist’s circumstances. Often the new variety of pedals would be too hard to get into for that specific cyclist and risk a dangerous situation constantly on the road.
The Thinking Cyclist knows to contact Coach Darryl before purchasing pedals. I can easily identify the pedals that would be inappropriate for them, and only 1 trip to me for pedal install will be needed.
A lower a
mount of energy than usual can happen to any of us, but it need not spoil our ride.
We start a ride with cycling friends and discover that we are not as strong that day as we usually are. We appear to have to work harder than normal or simply not have the usual amount of energy.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that to keep up with the others when not 100% physical, it is best to be a Thinking Cyclist! The first thing to do is to examine the bicycle. Is there a dragging brake? Is there a broken spoke? Low tire pressure? On a recent ride, a cyclist realized that she had a broken spoke causing a brake to rub, unfortunately this realization occurred after 70 miles of working too hard and she was already too exhausted to complete the ride.
When bike problems have been eliminated, then become a Thinking Cyclist in the ride group. Don’t pull on the front or take a very short pull, get 3-4 riders back, the cyclists at the front work harder than others. Also, don’t stay at the back of the peloton to avoid the yo yo effect at every start, those in the back work second hardest due to the necessity to be constantly slowing whenever any cyclist in the group brakes and then sprinting to catch up to the group.
Pick a larger rider to pedal directly behind and get as close to that rider’s rear wheel as possible. When the wind is coming from the front left, get on the right side of the peloton to get wind protection from the riders on the side from which the wind is blowing, likewise, position yourself a few inches to the leeward side of the rider in front. Get into the drops and keep low to further reduce wind resistance.
Just because you are not feeling physically 100% does not mean that you cannot keep up with the other riders by being a Thinking Cyclist.
Riding in the heat?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when the temperature is very hot, it is imperative to significantly slow down the exertion level. On a very hot noon time 23 mile ride, a cyclist observed a maximum temperature of 112.3F (yes that was in the sunshine, but so was the cyclist.) On that ride, the cyclist kept a very low heart rate, the maximum observed was only 108 beats per minute.
80% of the energy generated by the muscles escapes as heat. Slowing down the exertion level slows down the amount of heat generated by the body and keeps the cyclist from getting overheated.
Can’t ride at a heart rate under 120? For most cyclists, if you have been riding for 3-4 years, then you have not been training properly. This can be a topic for a future Thinking Cyclist tip.
Unfortunately there are many bikes being stolen these days. If your bike is stolen, and it has been recovered or found in the hands of the thief or someone who bought the stolen bike, how can you show evidence at any point in time that you are the rightful owner?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that every bike has a serial number and knows how to associate that serial number with him or her. Take a picture of the serial number together with your id or something that associates you and the serial number sticker. Then you always have ‘on the road’ proof that you can be associated with your bike.
"I was simply pedaling alongside a row of parked cars when a car door opened and I could not stop in time and hit the inside of the door!"
Most automobile drivers do not even think of opening the door of their parked car as a threat. But it is the most common cause of visits to the emergency room for contact between a car and a bicycle. A woman about my age received 11 broken bones when doored. Yes, the driver should look in the mirror before opening the door into the traffic lane. But few drivers know the danger and thus do not look first. Insurance companies know the scenario. They know that the driver is responsible for their vehicle and its equipment, it does not matter if their door is hit by an 18-wheeler, a bicycle or a pedestrian.
The Thinking Cyclist knows there are two actions that should always be taken.
First, do not drive in the door zone. Stay far enough away from parked cars to avoid any suddenly opened doors.
Second, on your automobile insurance policy, get a high amount of coverage for uninsured and under-insured drivers. The protection covers damage to you and your vehicle, whether your vehicle is involved or not.
Coach, I often shift my Shimano real derailleur in the wrong direction. I intend to shift to a harder gear and my finger hits the shifter for an easier gear or the other way around. How can I more naturally determine the right button to push?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that this problem rarely happens in the Campy system when one finger is associated with a harder shift and another finger with an easier shift. So do the same thing with Shimano. Position your two fingers closest to the right thumb so the index/pointer finger lingers over the larger front shifter and the middle/longer finger is positioned over the inner smaller lever. Push each lever with its associated finger.
Why do I find it more difficult to ride in the heat than others?
It is widely accepted by cyclists that if you find climbing hills difficult then you should climb more hills.
The same advice applies to cycling in warmer weather. If you find it difficult to ride in heat then you are probably not spending enough time riding in the heat.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when it is hot you should get your bike out there and pedal! It will make you more tolerant of heat both when exercising and when not exercising.
This is especially important for older cyclists since the ability to tolerate heat often diminishes with age.
Coach, how many spare tubes should I take with me on my rides?
You do not need any if you do not get a flat!
Unfortunately, we do not know when or how many flats we will get on any ride.
My personal record is 6 flats on a very frustrating Christmas Eve 40 mile PCH ride.
And a cyclist can’t rely upon using the tubes of others, on a 7-cyclist ride, we once rode over a short area of goat head thorns, we simultaneously flatted 10 of our 14 tires.
The Thinking Cyclists knows that we should carry 2 tubes with us at all times. When riding over 60 miles, add a third spare, for a century or more, take a fourth.
Many of us ride using the mantra of “On Saturdays I cycle, on Sundays I recycle!”
The Thinking Cyclist knows however that when one weekend ride gets over 60 miles or so, it is often better to skip riding on the other weekend day to recharge the mind and the body.
Why do my pumps break in the summertime?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when temperatures are hot, there are two places to never store a floor pump, a hot car and a hot garage. The heat dries out the essential gaskets causing air leaks making the pump useless.
Got a Garmin computer, like many other cyclists? How can the cyclist protect the Garmin investment by marking it so that it can be identified as his or hers?
The Thinking Cyclist places the owner’s name, telephone number and any other message on the Garmin’s splash screen that is shown each time the Garmin is turned on by plugging the Garmin into a desktop computer, navigating to the Garmin device listed as one of the computer’s devices, opening the file called startup.txt using a text editor and typing the owner’s message below the last line on the file. Do not use ‘enter’ to create a line feed as this will terminate the text message.
If you have questions regarding the steps required on your specific computer, contact your IT support.
Rain in the forecast? Will the rain stop in time to make your planned ride start time?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the decision to ride is made on the wetness of the roads more than whether it is currently raining. The roads can be wet for hours after the rain stops falling. It is the wet roads that make cycling dangerous not whether there is water falling.
Why does my Garmin randomly change fields?
After a ride, a cyclist notices that several of the fields on his Garmin screen have different information displayed than before the ride. Is someone playing a trick on him, or is his Garmin not working properly?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the Garmin can ‘change fields’ simply by being left on while in the pocket of the cyclist at a ride break or after the ride. The Thinking Cyclist also knows that the Garmin screen can be locked to prevent this from happening. To lock the screen, briefly push on the power button. A screen will appear with a red ‘Lock’ button, click on that button to lock. To remove the lock, again quickly press the power button and select the green ‘Unlock’ button. Your Garmin will not play tricks on you again.
Does stationary training wear the bicycle’s rear tire prematurely?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that it is best to check the ride log to see if the miles per tire are less with more miles of stationary training.
A rear tire normally lasts about 1,500 miles.
- Tire 1 had about 300 miles of stationary trainer; it was used for 1423 miles.
- Tire 2 also had around 300 miles of trainer use, it lasted 2,220 miles.
- Tire 3 had around 200 miles of trainer use, it lasted 1,585 miles.
- Tire 4 had about 170 miles of trainer use, it lasted 1,926 miles.
There does not seem to be a pattern of lower overall mileage with trainer use.
Possibly tires that are very soft ‘race’ tires may wear more. But few of us ride with such very expensive tires since their expected mileage is so low.
Want to drink more on your cycling rides?
The Thinking Cyclist knows it is best to start rides with a different flavor of sports drink in each bottle. Drink from the front bottle while pedaling and from the back one when stopped. You may want to reverse bottles at a traffic signal. You will
drink more when using different flavors.
What do you think is one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment that can be added to a bicycle?
One of the perks of doing Bike Fits is that Coach Darryl has 3 hours to spend getting to know the cyclist with whom I am working. A recent Bike Fit cyclist is frequently asked to testify as an expert witness in bicycle accident legal cases.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that placing a bento box on their top tube near their handlebars for storage of food, tools, tubes, and other items can be very dangerous. All is well if the cyclist only opens the bento box when stopped. But while moving, if objects being placed in or taken out of the bento box drop, they can easily fall into the bike’s front spokes causing the front wheel to lock up sending the cyclist over the handlebars to a catastrophic fall. Only open your bento box when stopped!
Why do I always have to urinate more than others?
A male cyclist commented that he very frequently had the urge to urinate while riding.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that often the remedy to his problem is to get a saddle that had a large cut-out or ‘hole’ in the middle. The hole prevents the saddle from applying pressure to the prostate area and the urge disappears.
Better safe at home that sorry in bad weather.
You have been looking forward to riding on a specific day, maybe a cycling event with the entry fee paid, and feel strong enough to do the route. But rain is in the forecast or the roads will be wet from a previous heavy rain. Should you ride it anyway?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that riding in the rain or on rain soaked roads is too dangerous to risk your safety and life. The rain or the water splashing up from the road by you or passing cars makes a very dangerous situation. Water on your eye protection glasses makes it difficult and dangerous to see safely, and riding without them means the dirty water is going directly into your eyes. On roads with a layer of water on top it is impossible to see potholes that may be several inches farther below the surface of the film of water on top. The roads become much more slippery for bikes and autos, especially the white lines on the road. Stopping distance is greatly increased for bikes and autos due to water on the brakes and braking surfaces. Motorists have more difficulty in driving and may not see you. The water falling and that spraying up from the tires of your bike soak the body, it runs down your legs to your shoes pudding in the feet area forever ruining the shoes and socks. And the dirty water constantly spraying onto your bike will seep inside the bicycle’s frame area into expensive components like the bottom bracket and headset. Adjusting the saddle height in the future will result in a gritty noise due to the sand and dirt accumulated inside your bike.
Don’t risk riding in the rain. In San Diego we have an abundance of great dry days for riding, do not risk so much by cycling on a rare wet day.
What Happened to My friend?
Ride enough and it is likely to happen to you. Your cycling friend should be back at the start location but is not. What happened? Maybe there was an accident? There is no answer when the missing cyclist’s phone is called.
What is the best method to locate your friend and confirm your friend’s safety?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the best approach requires teamwork between 2 cyclists. First, confirm that both searching cyclists have the telephone number of the other. Searching cyclist A remains at the intended ride end location, say at the vehicle of the missing cyclist. Searching cyclist B retraces the route of the cycling group in reverse. The retrace is best done in an automobile but when dedicated bike paths are involved, retracing by bicycle is necessary. There is no need to retrace the lost cyclist farther back than the last known location of the lost cyclist. The searching cyclists agree that when the lost cyclist is located, the other searching cyclist will be immediately called.
This approach normally locates the missing cyclist the quickest.
There are phone apps available to periodically post a cyclist’s location throughout a ride. These are often thought of only after the cyclist is lost! However, most of these apps either record the location so infrequently that they are of little use in pinpointing a current location or they post so frequently that they reduce phone battery life so much that they are appropriate for only rides of a few dozen miles.
Many of you have heard about the cyclist who was hit by a vehicle and killed while riding the Tour de Palm Springs.
The Thinking Cyclist is always interested in knowing the circumstances of such a situation and how the incident could possibly be avoided in the future.
Again in 2014 I lead a Century Team of 20+ to train for and complete this event. It was reported that there were 8,000-10,000 cyclists riding that day. Per chance, we arrived on the scene soon after the incident, just after the police but before the ambulance.
The incident occurred at a right angled intersection in a very rural area, there were no buildings in the area and the terrain was flat. All roads were one lane in each direction.
Cyclists approaching the intersection had a stop sign, traffic approaching from the left or the right did not have a stop sign. There were trees on the near right side as the cyclists were approaching the intersection obscuring traffic approaching from the right until the riders were very close to the intersection. The trees also obscured the view of the cyclists by automobile traffic.
On the road to the right of the cyclists, automobile “A” had stopped to motion the cyclists to go forward through the intersection. As the cyclist who was hit was going through the intersection, automobile “B” passed automobile A in the intersection using the lane intended for vehicles going in the opposite direction and struck the cyclist.
As a cyclist it is easy to simply follow others through an intersection thinking that it must be safe for you if it is safe for them. It is also easy to just look at the first automobile in the only traffic lane approaching the cyclist, not the cars behind. Vehicles in ‘the wrong lane’ on a 2 lane bidirectional road, that is, a vehicle approaching from the north in a lane intended for traffic going to the north are rare but must be looked for.
For a cyclist approaching this intersection, it would be very difficult to see and properly interpret this situation unless the cyclist came to a full stop at the stop sign and took the time to assess the circumstances in both directions.
Many cyclists are tempted to follow other cyclists and glide through an intersection without stopping. The rider who was hit most likely glided through the intersection, and paid the ultimate price.
The lesson here is to stop, look and live.
Trying to decide whether to get a haircut before or after a big event coming soon?
The Thinking Cyclist leans towards getting the haircut before a summer event but after a winter event.
Why would cyclists get up early to start a winter morning ride at 6:30am instead of a warmer 8 or 9am rolling time?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when preparing for an event that starts early, only an early morning training ride start will provide conditions that emulate event day. On such a ride various Thinking Cyclists were heard commenting :
•Preparing a bicycle for riding while in a dark parking lot can be much harder than doing so in daylight •Sunglasses were too dark for an early start •Short finger gloves were not warm enough as they were for 7:30am starts •Tights were thought needed for another rider although not needed for later starts •An undershirt would have provided a better upper body temperature •After the temperature warmed, all removed warmer clothing just barely fit into the pack thought appropriate for the event
An extra hour earlier start can make a significant different to cycling conditions. It is much better to learn these problems before the morning of the event.
Take your bike computer with you wherever you go.
A cyclist was looking at the Garmin on the handlebars when he caught a glimpse of a road hazard much too late to prevent a nasty fall.
The Thinking Cyclist knows 2 important rules for safely using a handlebar computer:
1.Glance at only one data item at a time. That is, do not try to see and remember each and every data item available on the handlebar computer. If another field of information is wanted, glance down again for subsequent data item, but only look for one number at a time. 2.Before looking down at the computer, think about and predict the number you are going to see. That is, before looking at the computer’s readout for speed, heart rate, power, cadence or whatever, mentally predict the number you will see. Over time, you will become quite adept at using your own body’s ‘sensors’ to identify the number you are seeking. Thus you will have to look at your computer much less frequently because you will become comfortable knowing the number you would see. Then, you will not only know your own body and cycling metrics much better, but you will truly be carrying your bike computer with you wherever you go!
Hate going to the bathroom when wearing bib shorts?
Having to take off your jersey to go is especially bad on cold cycling days, and no one wants to drop the contents of their jersey pockets on a bathroom floor when removing the jersey over the head.
The Thinking Cyclist knows how to go without taking off the jersey. Use one hand to pull the jersey far enough from the body on the other arm to slip the arm out of the sleeve of the jersey towards the chest, then move the hand and arm outside the upper loop of the jersey, then restore the arm back into the sleeve. Repeat for the second arm. The jersey remains on and but the bib shorts can slide down.
Do you wear gel shorts?
The Thinking Cyclists knows that the gel can deteriorate irreversibly when exposed to temperatures below 50F. When the weather is cold, wash gel shorts in warm water. If your washer is in a colder area like a garage, remove the shorts immediately after the wash cycle is complete. Hang the shorts in a warm environment to dry.
The Thinking Cyclist commented that today’s ride had 2 significant lessons learned by all:
1.It is crucial to look far enough down the road to be able to safely ride around road hazards such as glass. 2.After riding over a large piece of glass and blowing a hole in a tire (as well as the tube) large enough to get a thumb through, it is great to have a tire boot that can be inserted between the tire and a new tube to slowly pedal back to the cars.
No doubt the relationship between these two lessons can be figured out
For Longer Use, Take Care of the Old Equipment
When early morning rides are cooler, it is important to cover your knees to protect them. Whenever the temperature is going to be 55F or below at any time during a ride, then exposing bare knees to the wind can cause damage.
The knees are at the leading or ‘coldest’ edge of forward motion while pedaling. Therefore when pedaling at say 15MPH, the cyclist is creating a wind chill factor of 15 MPH as the body cuts through the air.
Also, knees do not have much protection from the wind since there is very little fat between the knees and the skin covering them from the front. The Thinking Cyclists who wants to be pedaling for many decades in the future always protects the knees on cold rides.
The Cyclist Stands Corrected
Two cyclists are riding one behind the other. Shortly after the front cyclist stands to pedal, the back cyclist hits the rear wheel of the front cyclist and almost falls.
The front cyclist tells the back cyclist that crossing wheels is dangerous. The back cyclist says that the front wheel was not crossed in front of the rear wheel of the front rider.
The Thinking Cyclist is watching and listening and tells the other two cyclists that the real mistake here is with the technique and skills of the front rider.
When a rider stands, there is often a second or so of less power to the pedals. This reduced power momentarily slows the cyclist’s bike. This slowing often brings the standing rider’s bike 4-12 inches closer to a bike behind. So it was the front rider’s poor technique in standing that crossed the wheels not any action by the back rider.
The Thinking Cyclist explained to the two riders that each time a rider stands, the standing should be accompanied by:
1.Yelling “Standing” first to announce to nearby riders that the standing rider’s bike could be “moving backwards,” and 2.Standing beginning with the more dominant leg at the top of the pedal stroke and pushing harder on that first pedal stroke to keep the bike momentum going at the same speed.
While not in a familiar part of the county or state, a medical incident occurs. The location of a medical center for the specific situation is needed.
The Thinking Cyclist is prepared for this situation by having the app iTriage installed on their iPhone or Android phone. iTriage can display the location of all emergency facilities with the closest ones presented first. For participating facilities the current expected wait time is also available. Download it now so you have it available and with you when you need it. iTriage is accessible via browser as well.
Need Sunscreen on Winter Rides?
A cyclist asks when it is appropriate to stop using sunscreen on rides when the winter sun is low in the sky.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the time when it is safe to use no sunscreen is in your indoor stationary trainer classes. The skin always needs protection from the sun when outside, even in the winter time or when overcast.
Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it, said Edmund Burke.
It is entertaining to watch some cyclists attempt to change a flat. After removing the tube with the hole in it some cyclists simply do not look for the sharp object causing the hole, they simply put the new tube into the tire. The new tube usually quickly suffers the same fate as the old one.
Others waste an enormous amount of time looking at the entire tire for the sharp object, like searching for a needle in a haystack, looking for the sharp object in many feet of tire.
The Thinking Cyclist knows how to quickly and effectively locate the position of the sharp object in the tire by examining the tube with the hole just taken out of the tire. Remove around 90% of the bad tube from the tire leaving 2-4 inches of tube on both sides of the valve. Blow up the tube using a hand pump until the tube is about twice the diameter of an inflated bicycle tire. Position the bad tube near your ear and the air escaping from the hole in the tube can either be heard by the ear or felt on the side of the face. Since the valve of the old tube is still positioned in its original place in the tire, it is very easy to locate with a few inches the exact spot on the tire containing the sharp object.
Don’t carry a small portable pump with you? You should for this purpose and for when you have used all your CO2 cartridges.
Is it a Good Day to Shut Your Mouth?
On hot dry days, evaporation of moisture is rapid. We do not feel like we are sweating since the moisture is evaporating off the skin very quickly.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that if the mouth is open while pedaling, the moisture there evaporates quickly as well. The loss of moisture causes a dry feeling in the mouth and contributes to dehydration. On hot dry days, keep your mouth closed whenever possible.
Can your Water Bottle Hurt Your Teeth?
The Thinking Cyclist knows how to open a water bottle nozzle on the bike without hurting the teeth. Do not pull the water bottle forward with the front teeth to open the nozzle opener. Move the bottle to the side of the mouth and use the stronger wider side teeth to open the nozzle. This Thinking Cyclist Tip is courtesy of Dr. Kent Reed, DDS, avid cyclist.
Timing is Everything
Two cyclists donate blood. On their next Saturday ride, one rider feels listless and has very little energy the other rider feels much less different.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that timing is important and donates blood on a Monday not a Friday. The human body contains only about 5 liters of blood, removing one unit (about a half liter) takes away much of the oxygen carrying red blood cells that are needed for cycling. Performance is much lower the day after the donation, but gradually returns to normal over around 3 weeks.
The same principal applies to other medical procedures that the cyclist may have, including the digestive tract interrupting colonoscopy that many cyclists have been avoiding for much too long.
So schedule performance affecting medical appointments for after your big cycling event not before.
Lots of flats lately?
Stickers, goat heads, thorns. They go by various names, but all mean trouble for the cyclist.
Thorn season is the fall in San Diego. Once the first big rainfall occurs, they are generally washed away.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that to avoid thorns:
- Keep to the beaten path. Don’t ride too close to the side of the road.
- Use only well ridden bike paths.
- Many cyclists pick up thorns by walking their bike in thorn infested areas, when getting off the bike by the side of the road in thorn areas, keep the wheels off the ground by carrying the bike to a good resting spot and laying the bike down on its left side. Carry it back to the road again.
Don’t run out
of supplies on the road.
Cyclists should carry enough flat fixing supplies to be self-sufficient on the road. When on a group ride, one or two cyclists with a rash of flats and bad flat fixing can deplete the supplies of the entire group.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that
- It is imperative to find the spot with the hole in the leaky tube to thus find the source of the sharp object; inserting a new tube onto a tire with the sharp object will result in a flat in the new tube as well.
- A minimum of two spare tubes are needed for each ride. For rides over 50 miles, carry at least three.
- Four CO2 cartridges should be carried. Secure them with an elastic band to keep them from rattling in your saddle bag.
- A pump is required on each ride. Many times it is the only way to find the location of the hole in the flatted tire so the new tube will not suffer the same fate. It is also used as backup when the CO2 cartridges have been used.
- When on a solo ride, use either your CO2 or your pump to refill a changed tube. But when riding with a group, respect the time of your riding companions by always using CO2.
- Having CO2 cartridges and a regulator without being able to use them is like having a car with no car key. Take the time to learn how to use them when at home not when on the road.
Watch for a future comprehensive Thinking Cyclist publication on what to carry on yourself and your bike when riding.
Also, for training on fixing flats and using CO2 cartridges, talk with Coach Darryl about his I Love My Bike individual training sessions.
Create Your Own On-the-Road Refueling Spot
Got a long distance to pedal before arriving at a carb refueling location?
The Thinking Cyclist brings along a disposable third bottle full of sports drink in addition to the two cycling bottles on the bike. Store the disposable bottle in your cycling jersey. Drink sports drink out of the traditional 2 on-the-bike bottles, then at a convenient stopping place, pour the contents from the third bottle into your cycling bottles and throw the disposable bottle away. Create your own refueling location!
A Magic Pill for leg cramps
You are riding a route that is harder or longer than normal and the leg cramps begin. Or you are relaxing at home after a ride and the cramps suddenly attack you. Don’t you wish that there was a magic pill to quickly get rid of leg cramps?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that there is a magic pill for many people, it is called Tums. Chew (not swallow) one or two after the cramp starts and the cramps often go away. Tums contain Calcium Carbonate which is thought to be the key ingredient.
Check with your doctor to confirm that this solution is appropriate for you.
What size Tire should I buy?
The various sizes of bike tires can lead to confusion for cyclists. Wider tires can have fewer flats but narrower tires can make us faster.
The Thinking Cyclists knows the optimal tire size and why it is right for him or her.
Tire measurements are expressed using two numbers, for example 700x23. The first number, 700, identifies the diameter of the wheel that the tire will be placed onto. That is, the wheel is 700 mm or 7/10 of a meter from the lowest point of the rim when the bike is standing to the highest. Virtually all road bikes use 700 wheels so your first number for tire size should be 700.
The second number is the width of the tire, that is, when looking at the tire from above while you are riding, the width is the distance from the far left of the tire to the far right.
Wider and narrower tires each have their advantages
- A narrow tire provides a contact patch with the road that is more aero since it is not as wide. A narrow tire tends to make the bike slightly faster due to less wind resistance when going through the air.
- A wider tire is less prone to ‘snake bite’ flats when the tire hits a bump and the rim compresses down onto the tire creating a pinch hole on either side of the tube.
For most cyclists, the ideal tire size is 700x23. It provides a good compromise between speed and lack of flats.
Cyclists over 210 pounds often find 700x25 are better since they get more frequent flats with 700x23 tires.
Cyclists under 130 pounds, often use 700x21 tires since pinch flatting is less of an issue. 700x21 tires are not as easy to get as they were in the past, maybe that is due to fewer people being less than 130 pounds these days!
Once September arrives, the hot days should be over in San Diego right?
Not really, the top ten hottest days in San Diego weather history since 1850 have all been in September with 8 and October with 2. So what is a cyclist to do, hide inside when it is warm?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that we should train for riding in the heat just like we train for riding in the hills. Allow the body to adapt to the heat. Ride with your heart rate 10-20 degrees lower than normal to reduce internal heat generated by the muscles. Shorten your rides. Drink more fluids and replace electrolytes. Don’t let the heat scare you. Being able to cope with the heat will help your body as well as make you a better cyclist.
If the Rider is OK, All is well Right?
A cyclist has a fall. He is able to continue his 2-3 mile ride back to his vehicle. On the next ride, he hits a bump, hears a creaking sound, and his carbon fiber handlebar breaks into two pieces.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that after a crash, a mechanic should look at the bike to confirm that it is safe to ride.
Kover Your Bottom
Cyclists who use SpeedPlay Zero pedals have for years had the ability to get Keep on Kovers for them. The covers are great, they grip better on slippery surfaces when walking, are always on the cleats so there is no need to carry and attach coffee shop covers and most importantly, they protect the screws and metal cleats from damage while walking so they do not have to be replaced every few thousand miles. Months ago, I called the owner of the company, Scott, and asked him to consider creating them for SpeedPlay X series cleats as well.
Now the Thinking Cyclist has the ability to get this wonderful product for both their SpeedPlay Zero and X series shoes. I wanted to use these covers for 6 weeks to confirm they would not come off and that they had no problems. I am completely satisfied with them. Get your Keep on Kovers by clicking here. Tell Scott I sent you.
Why am I not improving?
“Coach, I ride hard 7 days per week. Why am I not getting stronger?”
Because you are riding 7 days per week.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that we get stronger on the days when we do not ride. As the body is resting, it increases its strength. Riding too many days diverts energy into pedaling not into getting stronger. Rest days become more important as we age.
Why pay more for bike repairs?
Two cyclists each buy a new bike. After 2,200 miles, Cyclist A has a badly worn chain and damage to most of the 10 rear cogs.
But after 3,300 miles, Cyclist B has a chain with only 25% wear and no cog damage. Both chains are measured using the same chain measuring tool.
What is the difference, other than a $400 repair expense that is?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that regular chain cleaning is important for chain and drive train life expectancy. Clean your chain every 100 miles. A dirty chain collects dirt on the chain rollers, the dirt effectively increases the distance between the links, causing the stronger steel chain to wear the teeth of the weaker aluminum rear and front cogs. The 5-10 minutes that a chain cleaning takes is time well spent.
Use Your Head to Avoid a Head-On Collision.
You are riding along a Class 1 or bicycle only bike path like Rose Canyon, Silver Strand or San Luis Rey. While talking with the cyclist to your right, you are careful to make sure that your tires are entirely to the right on your side of the white line separating you from the cyclists passing in the other direction to the left. What could go wrong?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that it is important to have all of your body to the right of the center line not just your tires. That is, your hands and handlebar, elbows and hips must be on your side of the road. A hand-to-hand or knee-to-knee collision could make a nasty end to an otherwise enjoyable bike ride.
How Tight should the Cyclist Shoes be?
Shoes that are too tight can cause foot discomfort and numbness. But when too loose, pedaling efficiency is reduced.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that shoes should be tight enough so that the bottoms of the feet do not lift off the sole of the shoe on the up stroke when pedaling hard.
Also, there is no need to have all straps on each shoe equally tight. Many cyclists like to have the lower straps looser than the upper strap to allow more toe wiggle room.
Not enough juice to start your ride?
The Thinking Cyclist checks the power remaining for the bike’s shifters after each ride. Not checking until just before the next ride can create a situation where there is not enough time to recharge the battery before your ride is scheduled to start.
Ride Event Sticker Stuck on You?
Got a ride event sticker or its remnants stuck to your helmet or bike?
The Thinking Cyclist knows how to remove it. Soak a towel or paper towel in water, place the helmet or bike such that the entire sticker is in touch with the wet towel. Let it soak for 15-20 minutes and the sticker will easily peel off
What is that Smell?
It was a GREAT ride. You worked up quite a sweat. But unfortunately, much of that sweat is now still keeping wet several of your reusable cycling pieces of equipment like your shoes, heart rate monitor strap, helmet, etc.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that it is best not to put those damp pieces of equipment immediately back into the cycling bag. Allow them to dry before placing them into the confined space of your cycling bag. They will be much fresher for the next ride.
The time to think about how to deal with a loose pedal cleat is when it is not an emergency.
Occasionally the bolts attaching the cyclist’s cleat onto the cycling shoe will loosen. Often when this happens, the cleat can rotate from side to side on the bottom of the shoe making it impossible to get that foot out of the pedal. Cyclists who do not know what is happening frequently fall while attempting to stop or when attempting to unclip the problem shoe after stopping. The fall is often into traffic.
The Thinking Cyclist knows how to deal with both of these risks. When one foot cannot come out of the pedal, the first challenge is to safely stop without falling. If riding with others yell mechanical and tell the other cyclists what is happening. It is the foot without the problem that must be removed from the pedal to allow the rider to stop. Unclip that foot, and apply the brakes slowly enough to keep the bike under control. Just before stopping, turn the handlebars sharply in the direction opposite to the foot that is unclipped. Turning in the opposite direction will force the rider’s weight to fall to the side with the unclipped foot.
When the unclipped foot now safely on the ground, getting the foot out of the pedal without falling over is much more of a challenge than one would think. The key move is to slide the foot on the ground sideways away from the bike about 18 inches. Then reach down and unfasten the straps holding the problem shoe onto the foot. Pull the foot out of the shoe with the shoe still attached to the pedal. Moving the foot on the ground away from the bike places the bike on an angle leaning towards the foot on the ground to prevent the rider from falling over to the wrong side when reaching down to remove the foot from the shoe.
How should a cyclist resume riding after being off the bike?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that number of days off the bike is key to determining how much conditioning you will lose and what you should do upon returning.
For most cyclists, 11 days is the pivotal time of absence. If you are off the bike for less than 11 days, you can usually resume your cycling with little or no changes to conditioning. When 11 days or more off the bike, it is your endurance that is affected the most and should be your primary focus.
Do not increase volume too quickly. Volume = Intensity + distance. It is better to increase distance then add hills. When you have resumed riding at least 65% of typical previous ride distance, then add hills and harder efforts on the flats. It is better to resume riding alone or with a friend who will not push you to go farther and faster than appropriate to your return to the bike.
Do not be surprised if your breathing is unusually heavier than normal for the first hour or so back on the bike. Many people experience a heart rate increase of about 10-15 beats per minute when returning to the bike. This is natural as your body gets accustomed again to the workload.
Be a user not a pusher.
Several riders are stopped at a red light on a slight up hill. When the light changes to green, one rider starts forward motion by pushing hard on the foot that it on the ground while the other foot is stationary and clipped in at the bottom (6 o’clock) position of the pedal stroke. Several pushes are needed before enough speed can be gained to try to clip in with the second foot. Pushing is hard and unnecessary work. It is also very difficult to do when the incline is steeper.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that it is better to use the weight of the cyclist’s body on the pedals to start forward motion. Start by moving the clipped in foot almost to the top of the pedal stroke at the 1 o’clock position by pedaling backwards. To start forward motion, simply push down on the clipped in foot while taking the other foot off the ground. If the hill is steep, push harder on the clipped in foot. When the clipped in foot is towards the bottom of the pedal circle, clip in the foot that was on the ground and begin pedaling with both feet.
It is much easier to be a user than a pusher.
Why do you say that it is too hot?
Why do some cyclists find it more difficult to ride in warmer weather than others?
Often cyclists who live in the cooler areas around the coast have more difficulty dealing with warmer rides than those who live farther from the ocean. This should be expected, those living in an Arizona type summer climate will be more comfortable riding in the heat than those who live in a climate like San Francisco.
To be more comfortable riding in hotter weather, do not have your AC as high in your car and your home and wear warmer clothing while off the bike.
The new Saddle was placed in the Same Spot as the Old, Why does the Saddle Height Position feel wrong?
The cyclist contacted me to check the positioning of his new saddle that was recently installed at his local bike store. It seemed right, but he just wanted to check it.
The saddle was installed 1.4 cm (.55 inch) too high. His ideal 33 degree knee angle (should be 30-35 degrees) was now 19 degrees. Pain had not started in his knee, not yet, but it would soon be present after most rides.
Since the installer did not move the seat post when he installed the saddle, what could go wrong?
He failed to take into consideration that the distance between the bottom and the top of the saddle varies depending on the model of the saddle. That is, the distance between the rails attaching the saddle to the bike at the bottom of the saddle and the top of the saddle was different on the new saddle. To keep the cyclist at the most comfortable and efficient position, the seat post had to be lowered around the width (not the thickness) of a dime. This is a huge difference for an adjustment.
Whenever a change is needed to the saddle, shoes, cleats or handlebar, the bike fit position can be greatly affected and the positioning should be rechecked. It is 30 minutes well spent.
Get Used to it!
Driving to your ride start on a hot summer day? Or on a cold winter day?
To accumulate the body to the ride temperature, do not use the heat or AC in your vehicle. Allow the body to get accustomed to ride temperature.
Is it Time to Shift Gears in your Cycling?
Riding the same old routes in the same old way trains the cyclist for only riding the same old way. Neither distance nor speed is improved, and cycling can get boring, resulting in a lack of interest in riding.
It is best to vary distance and speed at different times throughout the year
For instance, after training for and completing a longer ride, use the new conditioning to ride shorter rides much faster to increase anaerobic capacity. Varying your workout routines allows the cyclist to increase both speed and distances and also keeps the riding from getting stale throughout the cycling year.
Don't Like Sunscreen?
Don't like the feel of sunscreen on your skin? You will like the feel of cancer much less.
Use sunscreen generously when outdoors riding or otherwise especially this time of the year. Use the right product and it will last all day.
Is Beet Juice right for your Engine?
There is evidence that beet juice can make the cyclist faster. It is advantageous for some cyclists, but counterproductive for others.
Beet juice can increase cyclist speed. One study showed a 2.8% improvement in speed on a 20km (12 mile) timetrial. If speed is the cyclist’s prime objective, then beet juice may be right for that cyclist.
But to become quicker, the beet juice reduces the cyclist’s amount of glycogen or energy stores quicker. The amount of glycogen stored in the body at any point in time is fixed, beet juice depletes it faster. So for an endurance athlete, more attention must be paid to eating or the energy stores will be depleted quicker, possibly before the completion of the intended 50 miler or century.
To use an automobile analogy, beet juice will help get from zero to 60 MPH faster, and it will also help maintain an 80 MPH speed easier, but both of these are at the expense of emptying the gas tank quicker. Continuing the automobile analogy, for divers whose objective is to finish the 4-8 hour drive and it is less important if it is finished a few minutes earlier, or if fuel economy is important, then beet juice may not be for them.
Clearing Garmin Multiple Sensor Error
Many Garmin using cyclists have received the dreaded “Multiple Cadence/Speed Sensors Detected” filling up their screen on rides. It often occurs after installing a new battery in a Trek DuoTrap speed and cadence sensor or similar transmitter. The error message occupies the entire screen and requires touching the screen to restore the Garmin’s normal information screen. Each mile, 15-30 such error messages can occur, with a long ride scheduled, you can imaging the frustration.
The Thinking Cyclist knows how to fix the problem. The below is specific for the Garmin 800, other models should have a similar path to the appropriate area.
- Position the bicycle so that it is at least 200 feet from any other bicycle.
- Select Tools, Bike Settings, then Bike Profiles, then pick the specific Bike having the problem. Then select ANT+ Speed/Cadence.
While on this screen:
- First select Bike Sensors and for the question Bike Sensors Present, choose NO. This will clear the duplicate information from the device.
- Then select Bike Sensors again and for the question Bike Sensors Present, choose YES. Then select the Search option and make sure the bike’s wheel and cranks are moving their respective magnets past the sensors. This will define a single cadence and a single speed sensor for the Garmin.
The Long and Short of Training
When training for a specific event, tailor the training to match the characteristics of that event.
That is, if training for a multiple day event like a tour, then spend multiple days on the bike so the body will adapt to pedaling and recovering on many days in a row.
But if training for a single long day event like a century or a double century, train fewer days with more miles each day. While training for the Grand Tour double century June 22 2013, in the 7 weeks after stationary training classes ended in mid April, all my rides have been two days per week. Each week has had one longer weekend ride and a shorter faster ride every Tuesday. Although riding only two days per week, over 1,000 miles were pedaled in 7 weeks.
Whether training for an event or not, the Thinking Cyclist knows that cycling conditioning will improve when pedaling at least one ride per week that is longer and slower and at least one ride that is shorter and faster. In this case, the cyclist is training both speed and distance. The longer rides will contribute to the faster rides being longer and the faster rides will contribute to longer rides being faster.
Why Sweat it?
You were anticipating a long warm summer ride over many hours but it is cool and chilly. Since you must stop frequently for bathroom breaks, maybe you have a bladder infection?
On warmer days cyclists sweat more. On cooler days, there is less need for the body to sweat so the frequent consumption of sports drink cannot escape the body as much via sweat. Expect to have to urinate more frequently on cooler days.
Carry Cyclist Items on the Cyclist and Store Bike Items on the Bike
While riding, store things that pertain to the bike on the bike, store those that pertain to you on you. Then if the two of you get separated or there is an accident, problems are not created.
Your car keys, phone, money, identification, and in case of emergency information belong on you not your bike. After an accident, a husband was unable to call his wife to see how she was or get into her car since her keys and phone are on the bike which was not taken to the hospital.
However, your bike’s tubes, tools, pump, CO2 canisters etc. should not be taking up valuable space on the cyclist. Many of these items are also very dangerous to the cyclist if landed on in a crash. A 240 pound cyclist with whom I was riding had an accident and was thrown over the handlebars landing flat on his back. If he had had a pump or CO2 cartridges in his back pocket, the landing could have been disastrous.
Ranking Bike Shifters
A frequent question is which company makes the best bicycle shifters.
An evaluation for manual Campy, Shimano and SRAM shifters was recently posted where each were rated on a 10 point scale. Now with sufficient time riding with Shimano DI2 electronic shifting, a new evaluation is appropriate.
The Shimano electronic DI2 shifters work so reliably and well they now are the ‘gold standard’ for shifters. Each shift is 100% reliable. There is also no longer a need to “trim” the front shifter to prevent it from rubbing on the outside or inside of the front cage, DI2 does it automatically. It will shift from the small front chainring to the large one quickly and smoothly no matter how much pressure is being applied to the pedals and chain or how steep the climb is. They are also the best for hands that are smaller or weaker. They would rank higher if they could shift more than one gear at a time in the back.
Campy shifters last a long time and problems are normally fixed with a $10 spring not an expensive full replacement. And the ability to shift from any gear in the back to the smallest gear in one movement of the thumb is extremely useful especially when standing.
Shimano manual shifters have the best front shifter and are very easy to find in the marketplace.
SRAM shifters work very well but the incidence of shifting in the wrong direction is much higher than the others.
So the revised scores are now Shimano electronic DI2 the highest at 9 of 10. This bumps Campy to 8, Shimano to 6 and SRAM to 5.
False Alarm for a Tube Flat Again
Preparing for your mid week ride you notice that the tire that had a flat on the weekend was low again. Does it have another hole in the tube? Possibly not.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that a tube filled with a CO2 cartridge holds air for only a few days.
When preparing for a ride after having recently filled a tube using a CO2 cartridge, empty as much air as possible from the tube. Fill the tube half full of air from a floor pump, then empty all air again. Finally, fill the tube using the floor pump. Very little CO2 air will remain after emptying the tube the second time.
Keep Sunscreen Out of the Eyes
Have you felt like you got something in your eye shortly after starting a bike ride? The Thinking Cyclist knows that it is important to wash the hands after applying sunscreen so rubbing an eye will not get sunscreen into it. Also, there is no need to put sunscreen on the forehead. The helmet covers the forehead preventing the sun from shining onto it. Sweat can carry sunscreen down the forehead into the eyes
Turn Weak Hands into Strong Hands When Inserting a Tire onto the Wheel's Rim
It is often very difficult to get a new tire onto the rim. Or worse, after changing a flat tube on the road, the tire seems to have magically shrunk since it was removed from the rim just a few minutes ago.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that the best way to get the tire back on is not with the thumbs or the fingers, and certainly not with the tire irons risking a pinch flat to the new tube. Tire irons are used for removing a tire, not inserting it. The best method is with the palms of the gloved hands.
1.Get the tire onto the rim as far as possible with thumbs and fingers. Consider the last 6 inches or so that is not yet inside the rim to be in the 12 o’clock position of the rim. 2.Secure the opposite side of the rim at the 6 o’clock position against the cyclist’s shorts in the lower stomach or crotch area for leverage (another reason to wear black shorts.) A sitting position often helps. 3.Position both hands with the palms facing the rim so that the beginning of the area not inserted into the tube on each side is about half way between the thumb and the side of the palm of the hand away from the thumb. 4.Roll the hands outward away from the body until at least part of the tire rolls behind the rim. The palm of the gloves may slide towards the wrists, just keep applying pressure until some of the tire is rolled into place. 5.If more of the tire still needs to be inserted into the rim, reposition the hands towards each other for another roll of the hands. Repeat unit all the tire is entirely inserted.
The gloves allow even weak hands to apply enough pressure to get the tire inserted.
Cyclist Solution to Insomnia
Can’t sleep at night? Unable to shut down your brain? Imagine in your mind your favorite bike ride. Trace it slowly from the beginning thinking about every scene and turn. Your mind will stop thinking of other matters and you will fall asleep with pleasant thoughts.
Some cyclists also use this technique to keep the mind occupied when doing stressful activities like CT or MRI scans.
Different Riding Rules in a Group
Another sad cycling story.
A cyclist leading a group of riders is not looking far enough down the road and fails to see gravel on the pavement until the hazard is much too close. She swerves to the side so violently that she fishtails causing another cyclist to lose control, crash, and spend several days in the hospital. A third cyclist with great bike handling skills avoids the crash but ends up in a knee brace.
In this case, the first cyclist's line "I did not see it" is not an excuse, it is the problem.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that when riding in a group of riders, there must be no quick maneuvers. If the cyclist is not alert enough to see road hazards far enough ahead to safely steer around it, then he or she must ‘suck-it-up’ and roll over it. It is the inattentive cyclist’s fault for not concentrating enough to see the hazard, as the common phrase goes, “A lack of planning by you should not create an emergency by me.”
Swerving when riding alone is the solo cyclist’s option since only one cyclist can get hurt. But in a group, quick dangerous moves are not acceptable. They can lead to the offending cyclist being forever called ‘squirrelly ‘ resulting in a lack of friends with which to ride.
How to Increase Your Chain Life
A typical life expectancy of a chain is about 2,000 to 3,000 miles. But the Thinking Cyclist knows that a regularly cleaned chain can last much longer. A chain cleaned weekly or every 100 miles can last much longer, 6,000 to 8,000 miles or more is not uncommon.
It is Cheaper to Replace a Worn Chain Quickly
Have your bike store measure your chain periodically for wear, reflected by stretching. A replacement for a stretched chain costs only $50 or so. But a worn chain can cause damage over time to your 10 cassette gears and 2 or 3 chainrings for damage that is 10 times that amount
Drinking While Riding is a "Must Learn" Skill
I was talking with a cyclist whose performance was affected on a long hilly ride since he was not able to drink and ride at the same time.
The Thinking Cyclist has learned to pick up a water bottle from its bottle cage and replace it again without looking down at the bottle and cage. When driving, you do not have to look down at the brake when you want to slow down, likewise there is no need to look at the water bottle when either retrieving or replacing.
Practice alone not in a group. Your home’s street could work for this one if it is flat enough. Get comfortable using these progressive steps 5-10 times or more practicing until you can master each lift and return easily before going to the next step.
1.Lift the bottle to the top of the gage but do not lose contact with the cage. 2.Lift the bottle to touch the top of the bottle onto the bottom of the bike’s top tube between your legs. 3.Lift the bottle to touch the bottom of the bottle onto the bike’s top tube. 4.Lift the bottle to touch the top of the bottle onto your chin. 5.Lift the bottle to touch the top of the bottle to your lips. 6.Lift the bottle to drink.
Do not move hand position on the bottle when raising it. Most water bottle drops occur when adjusting hand position so pick up the bottle in the position that you intend to drink and return.
Keep the eyes focused down the road, do not look at the bottle. Most cyclists use the front caged bottle only for drinking on the road. When the front bottle is empty or near empty, exchange bottles between the front and rear gages when stopped.
This skill is surprising easy after some practice.
Why an I not Losing Weight?
You have been working hard for weeks to take off weight. You know that you are removing fat. But why is the scale not telling you that your weight is coming down as much as you think it should?
The Thinking Cyclist knows that while working out, the cyclist is dropping fat but also gaining muscle while getting stronger. Muscle is by far the body’s biggest burner of fuel/calories. The more muscle the body has, the more calories can be burned.
Muscle is like the cubic centimeters in a car engine, the more muscle, the more fuel can be burn, even while ‘idling.’ So be happy that when creating more calorie burning muscle while dropping the fat and getting in shape.
Don't Rest your Bike like a Rookie
When a mechanical like a flat tire occurs on the road, there are several options for resting your bike while fixing the problem.
If the bike is placed upside down, the weight of the bike is on expensive brake shifters and the saddle.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that if the bike is placed on its side the bike touches the ground on the side of the pedal and the side of the handlebar tape. These components are much less susceptible to damage than the expensive shifters and the saddle. Lay the bike down on its side, chain side up, and it is less likely to sustain damage and the owner does not look like a rookie cyclist.
Only Need a Screwdriver for Removing N-1 Cleat Screws
Trying to remove the worn cleat screws on the bottom of cycling shoes can be very difficult, especially when the head of the screws are well worn down preventing the screwdriver from getting into the screw.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that it is not necessary to remove all screws with the screwdriver. Remove the easier screws first, then the last screw with the most worn screw head can be removed by rotating the entire cleat counter clockwise.
Don’t add Steps to Changing a Tube on the Road
When changing a tube, there is no need to take the tire off the rim on both sides, especially when others are waiting for you on a ride. With only one side of the tire off the rim, the old tube can be removed and the new tube can be inserted.
The Thinking Cyclist knows not to increase steps and time when changing a flat tube.
Be the Cyclist You Want to Ride Behind
When riding in a group, every rider wants to ride behind the cyclist in the pack who is steady and safe. This includes expecting these cyclists to point out problems in the road ahead so those behind are not surprised or injured.
Cyclists riding behind you expect no less from you.
When riding to the front of a group, you are the eyes and ears of the group. If you cannot or will not accept that responsibility, then it is best to keep off the front. If you cannot see road hazards, consider keeping off the road entirely to protect yourself and others.
The Thinking Cyclist knows that it is much better to be the cyclist who everyone wants to ride behind than the one who no one want to ride behind.
Out of Sight, Out of Luck
Recently a riding companion got a flat tire on a ride. When he looked for a CO2 cartridge, all into his saddle bag had previously been used and were empty.
The Thinking Cyclist does not return the spent cartridges out of sight back into the hidden saddle bag area to be forgotten at the end of the ride. Instead, they are placed in the jersey pocket where they must be removed at the end of the ride. This creates a reminder that a fresh cartridge must be restored to the saddle bag.