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Uphill power test question

I have been doing that uphill time trial thing to determine my power output for at least 10 years now.  (Read about it in an old article, I think Cyclesport.)  But that formula added a constant of 30 - 40 -- based on average speed -- rather than 60.  Has that changed since then, or something?  (If so, that means I'm really doing more like 350 - 370 watts for my 248M climb!?)

Structured Training

Though I've done both, self-coached and coached, and am knowledgeable about the myriad crevasses one can fall into when self-coached my take on the entire question is different from the "answer" and other comments thus far. Basically, the time-independent self-coached mostly solo rider increases duration and decreases intensity tending to not go hard enough on the days he/she should and not easy enough on the days he/she should which generally leads to an overtrained rider. The BS that you won't enjoy riding is just pure BS, my experience is that you enjoy it more, much more, as some of the most memorable rides are the days you "nailed the numbers," which assumes your'e training with power. If you're not interested in training w/ a power meter then don't bother with structured training. 

Sloping top tube

Another rationale for the horizontal top tube constraint of a past era may be the lug-brazed frame building technology prevailing at the time. Horizontal top tubes allowed the use of the same lug set for various frame sizes.

I believe that sloping top tubes do contribute to the stiffness to weight ratio of the frame. True; the seat post becomes more flexible as a result, but that is not a detriment to frame stiffness.  The primary function of frame stiffness is to keep the head tube (i.e., the steering axis) in the plane of the rear wheel. The stiffness of the seat post does not contribute to this stiffness. Furthermore, a seat post that is less stiff than the main triangle may even be beneficial.

Sloping tubes helpful for petite riders too!

Another factor hinted at but not explicitly mentioned in your reply is that shorter riders, including petite females like myself, can have a difficult time standing over a road bike with a flat top tube. This may require using smaller wheels on the bike (like 650c) to allow for safe standover, or going with a different design completely, like older Terry bicycles with 24" wheel in front/700c in back.  I have had bikes with both these wheel configurations, and while they work fine, wheels and tires in these sizes are few and far between.  By using a sloping top tube, a bike for a petite female can be built with industry standard 700c wheels and allow ample standover as well. I have a 47cm Trek Pilot that utilizes this design, and I love it.  So, just one more reason sloping top tubes make good sense for at least some of us!

Ultegra DI2

I had the opportunity to use DI2 on a 6-day trip in France this past June. It was interesting and my first experience with electronic shifting. Shimano users will take to it immediately (I'm a Campy guy), but I still found myself hitting the wrong button occasionally, even at the end of the trip (old dog, new tricks). Functionally it's good, but it can be finicky. I twice had problems with the chain jumping cogs, which required recalibrating the computer. It doesn’t perform single-gear shifts any faster than mechanical systems and it was much slower on multi-gear shifts, since multi-shift was not enabled on our bikes. Multi-gear shifts also caused some gnashing of gear teeth at times. Front shifts were generally good, but not noticeably exceptional. I also found that I had trouble developing a feel for how hard you need to push the buttons, as there is very little feedback (typical Shimano). This would be a real issue with winter gloves on.

Overall, I don't see any compelling reason to choose Ultegra DI2 over mechanical Ultegra or Dura Ace and I definitely prefer mechanical Campy to it. I just didn't find the overall performance to be a significant improvement over mechanical shifting, certainly not enough to justify the cost and added weight. I would like to try Campy EPS and the new SRAM system for comparison, but I don't know when I'll have that opportunity.

Something wrong

Thanks for your feedback on your first experience on Di2, Bnystrom. In part 2, I tell my experience with Di2 shifting. But, in the meantime, regarding just your comments about the shifting glitches, I believe something was setup wrong on that bicycle you used on your trip in France. Di2 has to be installed and adjusted correctly. From your descriptions of the problems you experienced, I think that the derailleur hanger on that bike was bent or loose, or the person who installed the Di2 did not understand how to set it up correctly. It looks like a regular derailleur drivetrain so you could think you just need to set the limit screws and you're good to go. But, it's not that simple to setup. I think one or both of these things caused your shifting problems/glitches because Di2 does not have the shifting glitches you describe in my experience - unless something is quite wrong with the setup.



Something wrong

Thanks for your feedback on your first experience on Di2, Bnystrom. In part 2, I tell my experience with Di2 shifting. But, in the meantime, regarding just your comments about the shifting glitches, I believe something was setup wrong on that bicycle you used on your trip in France. Di2 has to be installed and adjusted correctly. From your descriptions of the problems you experienced, I think that the derailleur hanger on that bike was bent or loose, or the person who installed the Di2 did not understand how to set it up correctly. It looks like a regular derailleur drivetrain so you could think you just need to set the limit screws and you're good to go. But, it's not that simple to setup. I think one or both of these things caused your shifting problems/glitches because Di2 does not have the shifting glitches you describe in my experience - unless something is quite wrong with the setup.



Structured Training

I have done both, and while I certainly improved by just riding a lot and doing hills, it was nothing like what I got out of a structured training program.

As has often been said, most riders (on a non-structured ride) don't ride easily enough or hard enough. Having well defined targets for each phase of a ride avoids that problem.

That being said, having every ride be a structured, planned out training ride isn't everybody's   cup of tea. If that doesn't sound like something you could do and enjoy, then simply riding and pushing yourself is bound to make for stronger riding.

Is Structured Training Necessary?

In my normal life I am a very structured person yet not when I am riding.  For me it would take a lot of the fun out of it.  And that is a probably a big part of what has kept me an avid roadie for nearly 26 seasons now.  I truly enjoy it still.

Ultegra Di2 after 18 Months

One of my concerns with Di2 was durability, especially with the battery mounted underneath the bottom bracket. After 18 months and 5000 miles, I’ve crashed it hard twice, and the only damage that resulted was when an impact twisted my left lever around the bars enough to unplug the front derailleur wire. Love the multi-shifting. Love never having to think about cross-chaining. Love not having to deal with cable stretch. And really love never breaking a derailleur cable halfway through a century. 

poll of week

If you'd like those of us who already use and love e-shifting to answer, how about another option: "Already have it, love it and wouldn't go back."  (Assuming that in this crowd, nobody rides gear they don't like)




Why Whole Grains Are Healthful

Whole grains are indeed healthful, but the fact remains that modern wheat is not as healthful for human consumption as it was fifty years ago. Creating a grain that would end world hunger and maximize calories per acre resulted in a skewed starch/fiber ratio that seems to be making people sick. When I eat wheat, I eat whole wheat, but I still consider it just as bad as refined sugar.

Why Whole Grains are Healthful

I would like to read more information on this topic either from Dr. Mirkin or other reputable sources.  Do you have suggestions?  I'm a relatively healthly eater but will admit my weakness is whole wheat bread.  Obviously I was shocked to read this comment from Dr. Mirkin: "when whole grain is ground into a powder to make flour, it loses its protective capsule that keeps it from being broken down so quickly. You get a high rise in blood sugar that calls out large amounts of insulin".   I may need to make some adjustments to my diet which is why I want additional reading sources or references to give me guidance. Thank you.

Wider Tires

I read some comments about wider tires being more difficult to mount. I just wanted to add my 2 cents to the data. This has been my experience, too. For routine club rides I've had great success wading through the road crud and reducing punctures with Continental's Gator Skins. I've been using them for a few years. About a year ago I switched from 700 x 23 to 700 x 25. I never had a problem mounting the 23s on a rim by hand, but the 25s are nearly impossible for me without a careful assist from a tire lever. Same manufacturer just a different size.

Bike Fit

When I first returned to cycling as an adult, I went through a series of bikes that didn't fit at all, didn't quite fit, and kind of sort of fit.  When I decided it was time to get serious, I spent about a year and a half researching frame geometry and available stock and semi-custom designs.  Finally settled on a Serotta Nova, bought new in 1983 after a couple of conversations directly with Ben Serotta.  A lot of my 6' 0" / 1.83 m height is between my hips and shoulders.  I needed a 58 cm frame with what was considered a very long top tube.  The Nova was perfect. 

30 years later, it has been repainted twice, had the rear triangle spread (to accommodate wider axles), and all components upgraded.  The only three components not changed since the initial build are the Cinelli bars and quill stem and the Brooks B17 saddle.  Have had 2 fittings over the years as I changed out components and the tweaks have been less than a centimeter each time.

Of the six bikes in my collection (1 each mountain, road, cruiser, single speed, tandem, and touring), it is my favorite and most comfortable.  And it still turns heads.

Having said all that, my discomfort on the Serotta, and all of my bikes, has nothing to do with fit.  It has to do with old injuries.  At 60, cycling remains the one form of exercise that I can do without exacerbating some area of my body that was unreasonably beat up over the years.

The single question survey did not take sources of pain/discomfort other than the bike into account. 

Yeah, I ride with discomfort from multiple body parts.  But none of it is due to fit.  And none of it, or even all of it combined, on my worst day, in the worst weather, can offset the joy of riding.

cadence/Old Flame

Improve cadence by building up and riding a fixed gear bike, which can be done by converting that Old Flame, providing that it has horizontal rear dropouts.  Two bangs for one buck.

Old flame

When I read the teaser sentence on the email version I somehow expected to see downtube shifters, Brooks saddle and a quill stem. Am I really showing my age? I've had many old flames but with me are still a few. Okay, so I have a small harem, that is, if one thinks of bicycles as being female gender, which I do simply because of my Latin-root native language. But I digress. Though I have these old beauties I do enjoy the convenience of brifters and light weight frames.

Bike Fit

I would like to see a poll from RBR asking what percentage of those who HAVE had a professional bike fit can report significant improvements in their comfort level on the bike?

Carbs on rides?

So how does all this "avoid simple/refined sugar" advice translate to fueling during a ride?  Does this mean we're not supposed to use sugar, maltrodextrin, etc.?  If so, what should we be fueling with?  (I probably take in more "refined" stuff than I should, but I'm still skin and bones!)

A bike fit in MY future??

NO WAY!!!   I've had 4 of them in my past . . . with 4 completely different positions!  (I'm talking 4 - 5 cm -- yes, CM, not mm! -- differences in both saddle and bar position!)  WTH?!  I mean if the so-called "experts" can't figure it out . . .  (Its after I get the fittings done that I'd go crazy experimenting with positions, because the way they set it up feels all wrong and/or results in a dramatic lose in power/speed.)  Only way I'd consider paying for another fit is if I had the chance to have it done by a world-class expert (Steve Hogg, Andy Pruit, etc.). I think (and hope and pray) that with all the fooling with my position I've done, I may have finally nailed it down.  (Strangely, my current saddle position is similar to one of the fittings, while the bar reach/drop is similar to another fitter's.)  Only area still not quite comfortable is the rear.  (Tried several DOZEN saddles so far . . . may try a few more.)

Simplified Testing for Wattage and VO2 Max

Coach Fred - I swear, I'm really not trying to be snarky - but what do folks like me in the flat Midwest do, with Step 1 - "Find a tough hill that takes at least 10 minutes to climb."  A hill of that length doesn't exist anywhere close to where I live! I  understand completely why a long hill is needed for this calculation; would there be a way to replicate this, say, on a trainer? Thanks!


I understand your frustration, Bradleyt85, because I grew up in Ohio. Fortunately I moved to Colorado before I started riding because without some hills, riding wouldn't be as enjoyable at least for me.

There's really no good way to duplicate the measurement without a suitable climb. The best way to determine your various wattage parameters is to get a power meter. That's expensive, of course, so the hill climb is a good approximation without the expense, assuming you have hills.

Maybe keep the equation in mind and the next time you're riding in a hillier area, you could go all-out and give it a try.

There's really no way to duplicate this on a trainer that I'm aware of but if any readers have a suggestion, I'd love to hear from them.

Fred Matheny

Old Flame

I never gave up riding my old flame although there is a "Saturday" bike.  My flame is a 1999 Trek 2500 with Shimano 600, 8 speed.  There's something about that first "nice bike" that I can't give up.  If I'm riding on a week day, it's on the old aluminum, except this week when the old girl is getting some needed replacement parts at the LBS.

Old flame

Great story John!  I'm sure we all have an old flame but you're lucky that yours was still hanging around waiting for you.  I made the mistake of selling mine mant years ago (48?) and in another country too, so I'll never see her again.  She was special as well - a custom Harry Quinn (I rode to Liverpool to get measured for it when I was 15) and also, like yours, in bright red.  She was all Campagnolo and I remember her crankset cost me 12 GBP!!  That's about $22.  But that was back in 1962.  We'll never meet again but I do have a photo of me riding her!  

Couple things

Wider tires, yes. 23 to 25 Conti 4000S and 92-93/97-98 for 160 pounds and a fourteen pound bike.  Smooth SoCal roads.  On a very stiff bike the downhill corners are so very much better.  Never going back.  And:


want to smooth your pedal stroke?  Make that old bike you still have and like into a fixed.  The White ENO eccentric is the easiest solution.  I converted a Ritchey P22 MTB into a fixed 700C bike, just drilled the steel fork crown for an Ultegra bake.  Rides like velvet, the added head angle makes it stable like you can't believe, the added bottoom bracket height makes corners a no problem event.  my overall stroke and power have risen dramatically.  actually, you can buy a crappy one from Performance or what not, to try it.   sell it on and then spend if you think its a good idea for you.

rekindling an old flame....

Aw.. the sirens song of those now vintage bikes that consumed every last cent so that we could ride further, faster and to the front of every race we watched!

Perhaps if we had a Want To Buy page here more of us could find our first love and give her the kind love we wish could have given all those years ago.  Anyone have a Red Flandria vintage 1974? (smaller the better?)

Re. Rekindling an Old Flame

After I betrayed my old flame by replacing her with a new and flashy model, I made it up to her by taking her out whenever I rode with my wife, which, you might think, would make all concerned feel a little self-conscious and awkward, but neither lady seems to mind.


I would have to let HER ride it - she's already too hard to catch.

Yes, 2-Wheeled Girlfriends

I've often referred to my bike as my "girlfriend" to my wife. So getting them together in a way makes perfect sense! ;-)

-- John

rekindling old flame/lady in red

No need to make woman parenthetical in your otherwise sensitive piece.

old flame

 Every October I ride my 1983 Masi Gran Criterium in L' Eroica in Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Italy. No bikes made after 1984 are allowed. Check out this famous historic Gran Fondo at:

old flame

Wouldn't she be perfect for recovery rides?

Bar height

Agree with your advice and suggest many riders are on frames that are too small for them, for a variety of reasons. Getting a comfortable fit on a too small frame is going to be more than challenging. Two additional points: 1. With quill stems, many brands don't allow much of an increase in height unless they've already been slammed down all the way into the steer tube. If additional height is needed, exchanging the original stem for one with a longer quill, as made by the very respected brand NItto, can allow a substantial bar height increase. 2. If you're swapping stems, in addition to an up-angled model, also consider reducing the length (or reach) a bit so you're not reaching quite so far. Many bikes, either true racing models or ones mimicking a race bike have 120 and 130mm stems. Dialing the length back 10 or 15cm can help improve comfort so the rider isn't reaching out so far. This would be especially true for someone with a shorter torso. The generally optimal fit for normal, recreational riders (as opposed to racer-wannbees) is with the seat at the same or even slightly below bar height. If you look at many cycletourists' bikes, they are most often set up this way. Tourists spend lots of time on the bike and have figured out how to be comfortable. Seat position is also well worth tinkering with. We certainly see some strange things in that area, including people riding totally beat/broken (not broken in) saddles or ones that were never comfortable even when they were new 20+ years ago.

Wider tires


It's my understanding that virtually all manufacturers are selling their high-end bikes with 25mm tires. I also believe almost all the elite pros are running on 25's.  My LBS guy -- who is a lousy salesman and never pushes anything on me -- told me 2 years ago of a study that measured aerodynamics and rolling resistance of various width tires.  25's were slippier than 23's.  Counterintuitive, I know.  I'm on 25's and see no reason to go back.

Last point, why would you compare the number of pump cycles it takes to inflate a 23 and a 25 tire to the SAME pressure, i.e. 95 psi, when you'll be running the wider tire at a RELATIVELY lower pressure?  BTW, even if the tires weigh the same the inside volume is logically greater with the 25, thus more pump cycles.

Wider Tires

I am a heavier rider and had heard through the grapevine that the larger tires might be a good option, so I got a set.  They were much more difficult to mount on my rims, but there is a noticeable difference in how they ride.  I was using 23cc before and now have 25cc on both the front and back of my road bike. There is definately a "softer" feel to the road with these larger tires and no noticeable difference in the handling.  I can imagine that this is more what the bike feels like for my buddies who are smaller than me.  I also like the way the tires go through "junk" on the road and on especially rough segments.  I'm sold on the larger size.


Wasn't around last week, but mine saved me big time 2 summers ago. 20 to 22mph highside crash. landed on my back and whiplashed my head into the pavement. Cracked the helmet but I never even had a head ache!  Saved that helmet as a reminder!

Dave Hicks

South Bend, In



WIder Tires

Several years ago I went from the original 23c to 32c. Luckily, my road bike (Airborne "Carpe Diem") has enough frame clearance for these as it's a "touring/cyclocross" frame.

I don't detect (admittedly subjective) any increased rolling resistance, but the ride is very smooth. I've done centuries on these tires.

Another good thing, though it may be due to the tire's construction (Schwalbe "Marathon Supreme") and not its size, is that I haven't had a flat in several years and several thousands of miles. FWIW.


Easy Way to Prevent Stem Flats

Greg is correct about this being a problem and in additon to the sharp edge of the rim cutting at the tube, every time you pull many floor pumps loose from the stem it yanks at the tube/stem juncture too.

Those minimalist who don't believe in stem nuts REALLY won't like this idea, but here goes anyway:

Years ago I read about screwing one nut all the way to the tube, mount it as usual with the nut on the inside of the rim (be SURE and push is in and seat the tire), and mount a second nut on the out side as normal.  The stem in now locked in place on the rim so you can't pull it and compromise the stem/tube juncture and you also can't pull the stem sideways with mini pumps, etc.  I've been doing this on my wife's and my and my bikes for well over ten years and haven't had a stem/tire failure since I started dual nutting (thats probably 100,000 miles for both of us), And, no, so far the tube seems quite happy just pushing against the inside nut and has never caused a failure.  

This probably wouldn't work on some super narrow rims, but you might want to give it a try, as it is less trouble than cutting up old intertubes and making washers.  We all have plenty of presta nuts around.

Tire Sizes

I ride my 25 year old indestructible Trek 520 steel touring gem occasionally as a break from my newer carbon fiber 5200.  Took it to Florida for a four day tour in April. The other day I noticed that I had both 23 and 25 cc tires on it.  Can't remember how that happened, but it rode just fine, as always. It made me realize that a lot of the bike tweeking I do affects me mostly in the head. I doubt that I could tell the difference between the two sizes over a day's riding. Would I really be more comfortable with 25cc's on  an extended tour?

Wider tires

I tried both 23 and 25's on my Colnago a few years back.  And just to be complete, I am about 5'11" 175 lbs.  I found that on this particular bike, which is greared towards climbing, that while the 25's had a slight edge on comfort, the 23's seemed more responsive and gave a better steering experience (so I went with the 23's).  On my Trek, which is a race frame with a completely different geometry, there didn't seem to be much difference. Both bikes are carbon.  

Are Wider Tires Right for You? is a pretty good tool!  It has a couple of nominal choices for front-to-rear weight distribution, and a good variety of tire widths.  One may extrapolate values if the choices are not enough, as it is a linear function.  has a tire pressure calculator that is not as versitile; but, has a link for article on tire pressure, discussing tire compression variation.

Riding a Straight line

I agree with most of this article, what I don't agree with is looking ahead 30 to 100 feet, I think you should be looking as far ahead as you can and use constant eye scanning to take in the whole picture of everything to the left, right, close and far front...well you get the picture, pun intended; but not only to take in the whole picture but studies have shown that fixing your eyes in one area for more than just 5 seconds begins the tunneling down process of your peripheral vision which by the time 30 seconds have gone by you have full tunnel effect going on and you miss all sorts of things going on.  This is true for driving a car too of course.

looking ahead

Good point, froze. I like to think of my linebacker coach who was always admonishing us to "keep your head on a swivel!" The idea was that by constantly scanning right, left and forward, we'd avoid getting clobbered by some behemoth blocker. In the same way, being constantly aware of what's up the road as well as on both sides can help you avoid similar problems while riding--or driving as you point out.

Fred Matheny

Tire size

Different companies make their tires different sizes than is marked on the tire!  I have a set of Hutchinsons that are marked 25 but when I measured them they were 23.1, which can only make you wonder if I had bought 23's instead would they have been 20's or 21's?  I've measured all my tires and only the Vittorias I have are measured and marked correctly, the others are either slightly larger or slightly smaller except the Hutchinson have the largest difference of the brands I have.  I like the wider tires due to a bit more comfort due to less PSI required and a bit more stability when hitting larger road imperfections or crossing over larger imperfections, but as far as saying their faster...I can't tell the difference.

Wider Tires

Hey Jim - I'd like your thoughts on the wider rims that are being offered.  I still ride 23mm tires but when I needed new wheels, I bought a set with 23.5mm wide rims.  Now I'm running 80psi front and 90psi rear.  Completely changed the ride:  more compliant, but also more grip.  I changed from Vittoria CX to Michelin Service Course 3 and now the ride quality is very similar.

I realize that wheels are more expensive than tires, but I would be interested in your test results of 23s and 25s with wider rims, especially the strokes to fill the tire.

Good question

Thanks for asking Waterford22 - a few years back I reviewed Shimano's Dura-Ace tubeless wheelset and talked about the rims being wider, which, along with the tubeless tires, made for a significant ride quality improvement. So, yes, the wider-rim wheels used in conjunction with wider tires will make the ride even nicer than just going to wider tires. With the wider-rim wheels there is usually a recommended tire size to use. If you mistakenly mount too-narrow tires, it can increase the chance of pinch flats. Some of these wider-rim wheels are designed as aero wheels to increase efficiency, too. In choosing, look for models that are close to the same weight as the wheels you're upgrading from because if your new wheels are substantially heavier, you may not feel as much improvement in overall ride quality than you were looking for. Don't forget that when it comes to wheels, weight is very important to ride quality, too.

Thanks for the great question!


Wider tires

Yes wider tires. At 250lbs and a lot of rough roads and narrow shoulders I don't even want to see a 23mm tire. I run 28, 32,or 35 often bigger in back. The down side is that most lbs don't carry larger road tires. 

Accident on TdW


I recognize that the rider badly injured on the TdW tour must (If the accident happened as you say it did with no exetenuating circumstances.) accept full responsibility for the accident, but I must also question why what I understood to be a fully sponsored and supported TdW rest stop was not on the right hand side of the the road.  I've been on a bunch of cross-state tours and other rides and find that almost always the rest/food stop is on the right side of the road.  

If there was a reason it had to go on the left, there should have been bunches of signs/warnings about the danger of crossing over for the stop, and maybe even a human out there adding to the warnings and helping to assure that something like this didn't happen.  And, maybe there was.  But, rest stops that require a rider to turn left to get to them is not a good idea.  Obviously.  This is sadly and undoubtably a cautionary tale that we, as riders, should remember, and one that sponsors of rides such as the TdW should also take into consideration.

Leave the computer at home

I like the stats the computer provides over the phone app and do not like a dead phone. So what I'll do sometimes is place a peice of blue tape over the screen. When I do place the tape over my computer I focus more on me and my surroundings and not the computer.

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