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What This Means for Training

I always enjoy Dr. Mirkin's articles, his advice and information just seems logical to me. But in the article this week he says:

"Depending on how sore your muscles feel, take the next day off or go at a very slow pace. Do not attempt to train for muscle burning again until the soreness has gone away completely".

But in the article you published last week he said:

"I am 80 years old and plan to continue to do my intense weekly bicycling program:

•very fast intervals three days a week,

•race as fast as I can over 25 to 30 miles three days, and

•take one day off. I do not do slow, junk miles."

I'm having a little trouble reconciling these 2 statements. Could we possibly get an explaination?


I'd just like to make a couple of comments:

1 - Weighting the outside pedal does not lower one's center of gravity, as it does not lower your weight close to the ground. That's just basic physics. It's not like the "spare tire" around one's waist is suddenly wrapped around one's ankle when the pedal is weighted. OTOH, lowering your torso closer to the top tube does lower your center of gravity, since your body is actually getting closer to the ground.

Weighting the outside pedal does change the center of pressure on the frame, but it's difficult to say if that actually affects cornering. What weighting does do it take weight off the saddle and permit one to move around on the bike.

2 - A simpler and more intuitive method of countersteering (in my opinion) is to press downward gently on the inside of the bar. It accomplishes the same thing as pulling upward on the outside of the bar, but it also pushes the bike downward without having to think about thigh pressure.

In reality, what both methods are doing is just changing the amount of pressure on one end of the bar relative to the other. In this process, the bar is turned away from the direction of the the turn, which causes the bike to fall toward the turn. It's just a deliberate version of what one does unconciously everytime a turn is initiated.

Really? It's Been One of the Warmest U.S. Winters?

That's been my question to because where I live in north east Indiana we had the 5th coldest winter on record, and last year we had the largest amount of snow on record for a winter.  Warm?  I only wish!

Wood frame - Rolling art

Lovely workmanship and certainly amazingly artistic. Utility value? Hmmm.

How about covering some of the numerous hand-made bike buiders we're blessed with around the country or the rest of the world. The level of craftsmanship and artistry is equally high among those making bikes out of less unusual materials. And they're likely far more affordable to many more cyclists.

The Bike Builder Column


We actually run an occasional column called The Bike Builder, written by hand builder Jim Kish. Jim is happy to address questions about any aspect of hand-building. So please feel free to forward any to me, and I'll pass them along. Jim works in titanium, by the way.

-- John

Rolling Art

Is it more rolling or more art?  I would be worried that the mounts for the dropouts would cause the ends of the stays to fracture.  Anyone ride one of these bikes?  You guys should review.  How is wood at absorbing bumps and such--I bet it would be good, but is there a reason no one uses it?  Such as the aforementioned damage?

Also, what about water, sand, the inevitable crud that coats the underside of a bicycle.  How does this bike stand up to such sandblasting?

Which gets back to my opening question.  Rolling or art?  Clearly very beautiful, but what utility?

40 Years' Wood Working Experience

Sure wish I had the money to splurge on one of these bicycles!  I'd jump at it in a heart-beat!
Absolutely beautiful and probably worth having.

Tom D.

Powder on Tubes

A differing opinion:

In 25 years of riding and serving as mechanic on a number of tours I have never used talc and never seen a problem I thought it would prevent. With quality tires and tubes I flat maybe once every 5000 miles and it is usually wire or glass. I reuse tubes when changing tires without any problem. I will stick with the KISS principle on this one.

Another consideration with talc... that some "baby powders" contain lanolin and scents that can damage tubes. What you want is pure, unscented talc. There is actually a product called "tire talc" which is apparently used with truck tires or something. It's inexpensive and safe for all types of rubber. I originally bought some for another purpose (lubricating latex seals on kayaking dry suits and tops), but use it on tubes, too. That said, more often than not, I don't bother with powdering tubes and I've never experienced any issues, either.

A Cautionary Tale: How Cycling Saved My Life

Congratulations on getting your heart back to fully functional. The difference must be amazing.

I do want to comment on your dietary advice. I think it's important to make a distinction between starches that are derived from whole plant foods and those that are derived from processed foods. Processed foods which comprise most of the standard American diet (SAD),  like bread, pasta, baked goods and anything that comes in a package, tend to be low in fiber and high on the glycemic scale causing an immediate insulin response which of course leads to diabetes and heart disease. However, starches that are derived from whole plants like whole grains, root vegetables (carrots) tubers (potatoes), beans and legumes have the opposite effect because of their high fiber content.  I have been following a plant based whole foods diet for over a year now. I eat as much as I want of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. I have maintained a healthy weight of 125 pounds (Female 5 ft 5 inches) and I was pleasantly surprised to see all my cholesterol numbers drop since last year, with a drop in my LDL of 40 points. Cholesterol can be lowered through diet alone if you eliminate animal products. There is a significant amount of research to support this point, two good sources are and

I did not have any heart disease risk facters when I adopted the lifestyle, my motivation was to mitigate my risk of a cancer recurrance. If it keeps me off statins and away from the cardiologist, all the better.


Good point, ohsheila, I was referring to high glycemic starches.  This includes processed starches but a few whole food sources such as potatoes are pretty high in starch and glycemic index.

Jackets in Wind

Was wondering about the comment that jackets slow you down in the wind and will falp around.  You have to be talking about a loose fitting windbreaker type of jacket?  There are plenty of jackets, whtether wind or thermal, that are close fitting and will not slow you down.

If it is cold out and high winds, the temps will require extra layers.

I have to admit seeing the green/yellow biff the michelin man look of a windbreaker blown up to full volume, but that does not have to be the default for a jacket.

The Wheel Builder: Basic Concepts

Mike I have a question in regards to touring and spare spokes.  I noted that you mention that you carry 2 spare ridgid spokes, I instead carry FiberFix emergency spokes, is there a reason I should not use these that I don't know about?  The bike I tour on uses 40 spoke wheels and I have yet to break a spoke on a tour but felt it was good to carry a couple of those FiberFix spokes just in case.


Hi Froze.  I'm aware of FiberFix spokes but I have no experience with them at all.  In fact, when I wrote that amswer, I never even considered them.  I just watched a vid about them and it seems like a fine idea and a worthy $14 investment.  (the vid suggested buying two of them though).
Thanks Froze; this is how we learn.  I'll consider putting the 
FiberFix info on my Wheelbuilding web page.

FiberFix spokes

I have used FiberFix spokes more than once.  The are easy to use and work great.  After installation while on the road, the wheel comes back into true with minimal effort.  I actually just left my FiberFix spoke in place once for several rides and a few hundred miles after installing it before I got around to installing a regular replacement spoke.  No problem.  No difference.  Oh, and many years ago when FiberFix spokes first came out, I remember reading about some wild guy lacing up a whole wheel with only FiberFix spokes to prove a point.  I can't remember for sure, but I assume it was a front wheel.  Still, pretty impressive. 


A good reoprt Mack.  Thanks.


A good reoprt Mack.  Thanks.

LAD blockage

Thanks, Coach, for disclosing your personal story.  I know that you and your family are very relieved.  I'm thankful that you are OK.  LAD blockage is "the widowmaker."  Wow.

You have been such an example for us over the years.  The lessons that you taught from your experience apply to each of us.  Personal safety and permission from those whom we love are two of the most important considerations that we can bring to cycling.  Thank you for encouraging us.

LAD Blockage

On August 23rd, 2014, a Saturday, 65 miles into a routine 80 mile ride, I had a heart attack at the Seal Beach Pier in Southern California. I was 54, 160 lbs., 18 % body fat, and felt in great shape. (On May 29th, just 3 months prior to the attack, I had finished the San Diego Century, a hilly 110 mile ride in a flat 7 hours). I do 6000 miles minimum of cycling per year. I was taken to the Los Alamitos Health Center that afternoon, and an angioplasty was done the following morning. I was told I had a 90% blockage of my Left Anterior Descending Artery. A stent was placed in the artery, and I was released the next day. ( I was told I was probably living with the blockage for a number of years). The doctor told me to stay off the bike for 4 weeks, and then start training at an easy pace. 

One month after the heart attack, I was back on the bike and feeling fine. Within 3 months after the attack, I was already pushing my body harder, and feeling better, than any time prior to the attack. My three month check-up with my heart doctor showed my choleterol, (plaque from cholesterol being the reason for the attack), at a perfect 139. The body is now healthier, and stronger due to the cleared artery. I was fortunate to have good people at the location of the attack, who helped me live thru it. I've reduced my consumption of cholesterol, salt, and sugar, which has brought me down to a weight of 152, and body fat of 15%. I've greatly increased my consumption of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, as antioxidants from these foods help manage the cholesterol produced by the body. 

Thanks for sharing your story, allowing me to share mine. You were fortunate to have avoided the heart attack, and I wish you the best. Though I went thru an experience I NEVER thought I would, I came out stronger, and a lot more informed about heart health and nutrition. And, like you, most of my friends couldn't believe someone in as good a shape as I was, could suffer a heart attack. I just suggest everyone, no matter how healthy they believe themselves to be, have their cholesterol checked. 

As a side note, I had been trying for a few years to drop a few pounds from my 160 pound frame, but my body stayed steady at that number. In the four weeks following the heart attack,( reducing salt, sugar, and cholesterol consumption), with no exercize allowed, my weight dropped 12 lbs., to 148. Today I'm steady at 152, and feel stronger and quicker up climbs. So, with morbid humor, I can say my heart attack brought me to better cycling. Thanks again for your article, and enjoy all the miles ahead of you!



Thanks for your story and comment.  Hopefully cycling helped us both survive both before and after our exposode.  Glad to hear you feel stronger than ever, that's encouraging!

Slow Runners (and Cyclists) Don't Come Out Ahead

In Dr. Mirkin's piece regarding intense vs. slow exercise, he mentioned that his weekly training regimen includes "very fast intervals three days a week" and "race as fast as I can over 25 to 30 miles three days" with one day of rest.  This surprises me.  When I do a hard ride, whether a longer hard course or intervals, I need at least one and often two days of rest before I can go hard again and enjoy it/go very hard. Am I missing something?  Or am I just the wimp I always feared I was?

cautionary tale, blocked LAD

Hey David,

Congratulations on a pretty good outcome.  My Doc gets an ECG every physical, does yours?  I wonder if that could have caught it.  Watching your carbohydrates is a great idea and I think it acually makes the rest of a nutritous diet easier.  Lots of controversy on the effect of fat in the diet though.  Good Luck



My EKG was absolutely normal.  My stress test went well too. I was up to a 184 heart rate (and yet no symtopms) when they stopped me (I could have gone further) but it was the echocardiogram that indicated the problem, confirmed by the angiogram.  Too bad there isn't an easier, less invasive way to check for blockage.

How Cycling Saved my life

I also discovered a heart issue, atrial flutter, and only had symptoms when cycling.  I agree that diet and exercise are the keys to a healthy life stye, however, there are many different ideas as to what is a healthy diet.  The one that I follow is based on  Dr. John MeDougall's website (  Based on his recommendations, the problem isn't straches in your diet but dairy and meat.  You might what to check out his website.

How Cycling Saved My Life

I had a similar experience as Coach Ertl. My angina was of the traditional type, pressure in the middle of my chest when exercising, so I had a stress test, and nuclear stress test, and then an angiogram. I ended up with two stents to clear 70% blockages in two arteries, but one, the right coronary artery was totally blocked. However, I had not had a heart attack because the many years of cycling resulted in colateral arteries supplying that part of the heart. When I asked the cardiologist who did the procedure if I needed a bypass, he said that in effect I had already done one myself!

While anyone reading this is almost certainly already a serious cyclist, Coach Ertl's guidance is spot on and should be taken to heart. Particularly the part about not ignoring any health issue that does not seem right.


Question for David Ertl


Glad you're on the path to recovery. 

Irrespective of the affects of the stent, has the statin impacted your cycling performance -- perceived or otherwise -- or is it too early to tell?  If the latter, please consider a follow-up report in a few months.

Thanks and congratulations on staving off the Grim Reaper.

Effect on performance

After the stent, as soon as I was able to exercise again at a moderate rate I immediately noticed that I was not working as hard as I had been before. My breathing is much slower.  I have noticed over the past couple of years that my power numbers were down - I just assumed that was aging.  Once I work my way back into shape it will be interesting to see if I have higher power than before the stent.  I should.

The statins shouldn't affect performance unless they cause muscle or joint pain as they do in some people. So far so good on that.  I am on a blood pressure medication but that doesn't seem to be affecting my heart rate much.   I am on a lower dose of both that and the statin.

My Own Experience with Statins

Rusted Root,

I hope Coach Ertl (and others) weighs in, too, but I thought it might be helpful to share my own experience with taking a statin. My experience was very much like David's: I had a family history of heart disease yet managed (mostly) to control my cholesterol through diet and exercise. All the while, my "bad cholesterol" number kept creeping up, and my doctor's mantra was "you can't outrun your genes." 

He finally convinced me to have a coronary calcium scan, which showed mild atherosclerosis (plaque build-up) in one artery. That's when he put me on Simvistatin. That's been 3 years ago. The statin almost immediately brought down my LDL to below 70 (same target as David's).

Now, to answer your question: No, the statin has in no way affected my cycling performance. My doctor told me at the time he prescribed it -- and told me I "officially" had heart disease -- that I had no restrictions on max HR, or on the intensity of my riding. In fact, since then, I've been stronger than ever on the bike and have done several tours, set PRs in some events, etc.

When I started taking the statin, Dr. Alan Bragman, one of RBR's contributors and authors, advised me to take CoQ10 along with the statin, to help avoid the muscle cell mitochondrial degeneration that, in some statin-takers, can lead to muscle pain. I have taken CoQ10 the entire time I've been on a statin, and I've had no muscle pain whatsoever (other than typical soreness that anyone over 50 might feel after a particularly hard effort, etc.).

-- John

life saving advice

My Dad is a lifelong athlete.  Swimming was his thing (I'm a bike rider).  One day following an endoscopy, I found him at the medical center where I worked yelling at his gastroenterologist claiming that he had been injured.  Listening to what he was saying I forced him into the ED, where he was, in turn, whisked into the coronary cath lab.  Sure enough he was about to have an MI and getting him to the cath lab right there saved him.  Three lessons were learned:

1.  Physical fitness is no guarantee of coronary artery health

2.  My Dad is doing great, now at 84, because he suffered no ill effects - I think primarily because he was in such good base line shape.  So, even if you have an bad time, if you are fit, you will probably recover better, faster, and more completely.

3.  Since this was long ago, his conservative cardiologist took him off statins and re-occluded within months and had to get stented again - not with that cardiologist any more and no more incidents since.

A Cautionary Tale

I turn 73 on Sunday, I had a stress test at 61 and 71. The first led to a heart cath and the cardiologist said go out and do whatever you want on the bike, If you feel you are riding too hard, you probably are (several years later I was in a group and my HR was up to 173 and I pulled out of the group). At 71 he said I had an extraordinary cardiovascular system. I try to eat right, currently am recovering from shoulder surgery (both shoulders) and shoulder inflamations and cannot ride for a while yet. I also have high LDL but everything else looks good. One problem with statins is they are trying to push maximum doses which can tear down muscle tissue. If I had to take them, I would want to start with the minimum and check the results and if necessary increase the dose. I also have had prostate cancer (remove that got the cancer while still inside the prostate). A nurse asked if I used recreational drugs and I replied in the affirmative. She asked which ones and I replied Cialis, Levitra and Viagra. She said they were not recreational drugs, I said it depends on your definition of recreational.

Recreational drugs?

I don't consider statins to be a recreational drug, but I can tell you that a stent is the best blood doping you can get!  There's nothing like having blood, period!  If the statins keep my coronary arteries open and that lets me keep riding, then maybe I will consider that a recreational drug.  (a little tongue in cheek here)


One element that helps me, and I'm sure many other cyclists, is the mental aspect. As I battle into the wind, I always keep in mind that I will be be sheltered in a few miles and/or, in a few more miles of pushing, I'll be making the turn to home. That, and the "bite-sized"mind set (1/2 mile done; 1/2 mile more done; etc.), keeps the legs turning.  Then comes the turn and it's time to fly! 

yelling "clear"

I am totally against this practice.  It's "clear" (pun intented) no one seems to have a "clear" idea of what "clear" means from situation to situation.  I dropped out of a local bike club because I got totally frustrated & angry with people yelling "clear" (ride leaders included) & blowing through stop signs and red lights.  I don't give a rip if you're in the middle of nowhere, stop means stop.  I usually ride alone & don't always put a foot on the ground, but I can do a short track stand & do so at ALL stop signs.  I've had it with bike riders who seem to think they can make their own traffic rules for their own convenience. This is a lot of the reason auto drivers get mad at bikers.  I think warnings should be given if you see a car coming etc.  But yelling clear only creates a false sense of safety, the "yeller" may not see a danger etc.  As another said, many bike lemmings follow, groupthink takes over, and sooner or later someone gets hurt.  Even the lawer's discussion pointed out this is a minefield.  I've been on rides where courteous motorists stopped to let us cross an intersection when they didn't have to, but you should always rely on your own judgement, & don't tell others to follow you when you think its safe, when maybe it isn't.  What would you think if motorist yelled "clear" out their windows to each other at intersections, regardless of stop signs & lights?

Calling "Clear"

The call is expected in  the Brisbane (Australia) pack I ride with. The call then rolls back through the pack, as it's not a given the intersection will still be clear when the tail of the pack arrives. Likewise we call any possible danger or impediments like holes, glass, car left/right/back, and slowing, stopping, as appropriate. All bike-riders are playing for the same team and we should be looking out for one another. 

The pack also never runs red lights. We may be pussies for stopping at the red, but we've had no valid reports of peletons in heaven.

Prostate cancer

FWIW, following a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise didn't prevent me from a diagnosis of PC at age 62.   Maybe if I hadn't eaten right and exercised, I'd have gotten it 5 or 10 years earlier, but obviously there are no guarantees in life.

Prostate cancer

Been there, done that.  PC is easily curable if caught early enough.  Mine is so far, thank God, gone along with my prostate.  Some cancer was found outside the prostate also.  PSC undetectable after 2 years.  If you have yours removed or even if not, I have found the Nashbar FR-1 saddle pretty comfortable.  Huge cutout, light and not at all squishy so no pressure and inexpensive.  Good luck on your treatment to beat this. 

Replacing Rear Shifter Cable

Great article, and I especially liked the tip about using a scrap section of cable inside the housing to prevent the housing from collapsing when cutting.  Beats spending time with an awl straightening this out after a cut!  I'll share one tip a former shop owner passed on to me when installing a new cable.  Secure the cable to the derailleur bolt, then about mid-section in the cable, pull it firmly a couple of times.  This stretches the cable some, and eliminates a lot of the eventual cable stretch.  Of course, loosen and resecure the cable to the derailleur bolt after this slack is created.

"Clear" and "Stopping"

After riding the roads in East Tennessee with groups for many years, I have stopped calling “Clear” and “Stopping” at intersections. I have been caught out more than once calling “Clear” at intersections and a second later a car appears out of nowhere from around a curve or over the crest of a hill. East Tennessee roads are rarely straight and flat and it doesn’t take too many situations like this for you to become be known as a “sketchy rider”. Most of the time, riders do not want to stop and unclip so they can roll through an intersection and keep their momentum. Sometimes riders don’t want to stop because they fear they will get gapped by the group. Calling “Stopping” at intersections can also cause some riders to unclip when maybe they don’t have to. I have stopped calling “Stopping” and started calling “Slowing” at intersections so riders can judge for themselves whether to unclip and if the intersection is clear.

Jack Piepenbring

Maryville, TN


According to many of the comments a call of "clear" means that the way is clear at that moment for that rider who will then move out. It does not mean that the road is still clear for subsequent riders who must check for themselves.

I would contend that the call is irrelevant since the fact that the rider has moved on shows that the way is clear at that moment. Again subsequent riders must check for themselves and therefore again the original call is irrelevant.

Let's not confuse tradition with common sense - they are rarely the same thing!


I'm disappointed that in all the post-mortem of this subject, you presente not one reader comment which references the League's position.  You do acknowledge it in your preface, but it would have been nice to see some readers' comments on the issue.

I referred readers back to the Comments section...


In the text of the article, I referred readers back to the Comments section for that very purpose. It was already a long article, so there seemed no sense in repeating what already existed on the Comments page.

-- John


I was taught to yell clear as I started group riding until I attended a local clubs ride leader training.  They said not to yell clear because everyone needs to look for themselves.  As a test, they said to yell squirrel at an intersection and see how many people yell squirrell without ever seeing an actual squirrel.

What I have noticed is that the call for "clear" gets farther and farther from the intersection, such that people yelling clear are in no position to see that it is clear.  Why does this happen?  I think it happens because riders are worried about being dropped from the group.

If a group is of an appropriate size 8-12 riders, then this would not happen.  When the group grows to 20+, then behavior like this starts to happen.  I still yell clear but not very loudly.


Susan Notorangelo of PAC Tour recommends, in fact stresses, use CORNSTARCH BASED BABY POWDER, not talc based baby powder.  She recommends application of fresh powder "every time the shorts come down."  My experience on a PAC Tour transcontinental tour: it works.

Trust but Verify

Long time reader. Thank you for everything you do for roadies everywhere!


Not long ago I was in a fast pace line when the leader of our sub-group didn't call squat when there were some pretty hefty rocks in our path about(2"x3"x2") so it was a harsh shock when I smacked them and of course flatted both tires. I was the last of the sub-group and got dropped right away. I had what I needed to repair and replace so I could continue. That was not the problem. But, I believe it needs to be reiterated here that if you're going to lead, lead strong. Don't miss a call for caution when you could have said something. If I remember correctly these were some new to the sport folks that tagged along to our main group and we were trying to bridge the gap back to the main group. Call that wire, rock or whatever and save your friend 5-7bucks! John M. you're doing a great job thanks for taking up the challenge! Be safe out there y'all! SouthTexas Roadie! 

Trust but verify

When I lead a ride I explain that I will call out cars or hazards that I see. At intersections I ask that people not call "all clear" rather that they call "car left and or right" and let the next person decide if the car that was seen is safe for them to proceed or not and so on through the line. 

I will typically drop off rides that go crazy through intersections as it is not worth it.


self conscious in gym

Years ago I was in the gym 5 to 6 days a week.  Pretty much a "gym rat".  I lifted heavy weights because I was into body building.  At that time I didn't care who else was working out.  If I saw that you were serious about what you were doing I would respect that.  But I'll also add that I was very focussed on myself and what I was doing.  Sometimes this can be misread.  My advice is focus on your training not on your surroundings. Follow good gym ediquite too.  With freeweights, always put dumbells back on rack where they belong.  Never leave weights on a bar after you are done.  If you sweat on a bench wipe it off. With machines or circut training, when you are done put the pin in the top plate. And if you are working on one particular machine for a while and you notice someone waiting to use that machine, ask them if they'd like to "work in".  If they say yes,then alternate turns using the machine.  Best of luck with your work outs!


Self conscious in Gym

Congratulations on getting yourself to the gym. The benefits are large. As with biking, your going to start slow but learn and grow as you do it. The one additional comment I might make beyond the great ones already submitted is that you might try more body weight exercises. They will not only help build to greater strength/weights, but might give you some confidence. Your strength to body weight is likely to be better than just pure strength.

Trust but verify

Yell "Clear?" You just accepted liability for anyone following...Not a good idea. Every rider is responsible for his/her own safety. End of story.

Trust by Verify

I have shared this everyone on my group rides listing.  We have had a few instances where "clear" was indeed spoken, but as you mention, not everyone heard it, and the person saying it really wasn't paying attention for stragglers.

Clear but verify is so important, and as a newbie triker, it has become more important for me and others on trikes as well!

Tom Dorigatti

Trust but Verify

Trust but Verify?  What the heck does that mean? Do you trust your partner but check their cellphone anyway?  And I would NEVER trust anyone who yelled "Clear!".  Just like I never trust anyone who tries to wave me through an intersection (when I'm in car or on bike).  I always refuse to go.  If something happens, and you go when you legally shouldn't, there is only one person who will be held accountable; and it ain't the other person.

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