1. From the Top: The Wheel Builder: Equalizing Spoke Tension
2. News & Reviews: Your Best Season Ever!
3. Question of the Week: What’s Your Everyday Cassette?
4. Ask Coach Fred: How Can I Survive Spring Headwinds?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Fixing Stiff Chain Links (the other cause of skipping)
7. No Problem: Improving Your Seated Power
8. Quick Tips: Two Mounting Tips for Rear Lights
9. Cadence: Bicycling Can Help Prevent Dementia
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
By Mike Tierney
In Part 2 of this “basics” series, I touched on the topics of spoke twist and stress relief. Today, I’ll talk about the need for equalized spoke tensions and which way to turn nipples – with a big tip that you won’t forget!
When we tension all the spokes of a wheel, massive compressive forces are placed on the rim by the spokes, which is what gives the wheel its great strength and stability. In fact, a bicycle wheel is one of the world's strongest structures relative to the weight of its parts.
But we must be careful to place equal tension on all the spokes in the wheel so that they're all doing an equal share of the work. When some spokes do less work than others, metal fatigue is the result – and usually the reason why spokes break (almost always at the spoke's elbow).
Actually, too little tension is worse than too much, as low tension creates greater tension fluctuation between the spoke's loaded and unloaded state each time the wheel rotates. This constant fluctuation leads to metal fatigue.
It's almost impossible to get all the tensions dead equal because no rim is produced that is dead flat or perfectly round, and there are also very slight variations in spoke wire gauges.
But the aim is to come as close to equal tensions as possible -- and we eventually end up with a compromise between wheel trueness and equalized tensions. Going back and forth twice between equalizing and truing is usually sufficient.
There are two methods of judging equalized spoke tensions. My favorite is by plucking a spoke and listening to its tone, and attempting to get all the spokes on the same side of the wheel to the same tone (and therefore the same tension). Important: Don't compare spoke tones on opposite sides of the wheel, though, because different spoke lengths and tensions are needed for correct wheel dishing (to accommodate cassettes or brake discs).
We can use the pluck-and-tone method to help equalize tensions when we're truing the wheel, too -- if we have, say, three spokes to tighten to remove a wobble, give the ones with the lower tone (looser tension) more of a turn than the ones with a higher tone. This way, we do two jobs simultaneously: truing and equalizing.
It's just the same with loosening; loosen the higher tone spokes more of a turn that the lower tone ones.
Plucking spokes with the fleshy pad of the index finger mid-span on the spoke is just fine. We don't need to use fancy guitar picks or have a classical guitarist’s manicured picking-hand fingernails.
The other way of checking relative tensions is with a spoke tension meter. To use one, we check all the tensions (on one side!) and adjust the spokes to even out the readings on the gauge. I find the pluck-and-tone method much faster and just as accurate as using a tension meter, but your ear might not be as tone-sensitive as mine. Practice will improve this skill tremendously, and being within about 10% is just fine.
Many novice wheel builders have issues with which way to turn the spoke wrench. They get a bit distracted and occasionally turn the wrench the wrong way. Do this two or three times in a wheel build, or when you’re trying to true a wheel, and you'll become completely disoriented, spoke tensions will be all over the map, and frustration will set in.
The best cure for this is to loosen all the spokes in the wheel and start over again. This is why, on my wheel building website, I suggest removing all forms of distraction when building a wheel in order to concentrate fully on the job at hand.
A nipple on the end of a spoke works no differently than a bolt on the end of a nut -- turn the nut clockwise (looking from the threaded end of the bolt) and the bolt goes "shorter."
So, to tighten a spoke, we turn the nipple clockwise, which shortens the effective length of the spoke by pulling more of the spoke into the nipple, and this pulls the rim sideways (toward the side of the wheel of the spoke you’re working on). But this is easy to forget if we're not concentrating totally.
To help you remember which way to turn the wrench, drill a small countersunk hole in the wrench or at very least mark it with a Sharpie. Do it on the right side of the wrench and then rotate the wrench 180 degrees and do it again on the other side. Take a look at my wrenches.
If you mark your wrenches, all you have to remember to do is to push on the dot when tightening a spoke! And turn the wrench the other way to loosen a spoke.
You might recall that in a previous column I answered a reader’s question about fixing a badly twisted Sapim CX-ray spoke. I advised him to replace the spoke, as it was twisted a full turn. I also provided some additional instruction off-line. Here’s his reply:
“Mike, just wanted to let you know that I ended up replacing 3 spokes on the wheel. A couple of others were twisted, too. Just not as badly. I followed your instructions, and I invested in a Sapim ‘spoke holder’ to keep the spokes from twisting while tightening them. I also bought the spoke wrench you recommended. After replacing the spokes, I trued the wheel on the bike using the ‘brake pad’ method, since I don’t own a truing stand.
“Everything worked out great, and it really was as easy as you said it would be! I’m a testament to the fact that anybody with a good spoke wrench, a Q-tip and some lube has what it takes to maintain their own wheels.
“I don’t think I’ll be building my own wheels just yet (not enough time in the day), but I surely feel comfortable enough now to maintain my wheels. Thanks again to you for sharing your knowledge with RBR readers, and I’m here to tell any of them still apprehensive about working on their own wheels: You can do it! Like Mike says, it’s not rocket science!”
Mike Tierney writes The Wheel Builder column for RBR. He is a life-long cyclist from the UK who has spent most of his adult life in Canada. Mike has been a passionate home wheel builder for the past 52 years and specializes in taking the mystery out of wheels and wheel-building for Newbies. Hundreds of cyclists have built their first wheels with online help from his wheel building website, MikeTechInfo.com. Send your questions about wheel building and wheel maintenance to Mike at email@example.com.
Spring is finally here, and if you’re like me you’re thinking about everything you’d like to do on your bike this year.
In the winter, we surveyed readers about your goals for the upcoming season, which is now upon us. Here are the top three goals you mentioned for 2015:
• 27% - complete a specific event or events
• 24% - improve some aspect of riding, e.g., endurance, power, climbing, etc.
• 36% - maintain health and fitness
When asked what factor is most important in helping you to reach your goal(s), your top responses were:
• 59% - riding more (distance, days a week or intensity)
• 17% - a smart training plan instead of just miles / kilometers
• 5% - working on a specific weakness (pedaling economy, cornering, climbing, descending, etc.)
• 12% - other
A clear majority of you (59%) agrees with Eddy Merckx. When asked how to get better, he famously said, “Ride more!” Racing in the 1960s and 70s, Merckx dominated the sport. The French magazine Vélo described Merckx as "the most accomplished rider that cycling has ever known," while VeloNews of the United States declared him to be the greatest and most successful cyclist of all time.
It’s hard to argue with Merckx and his success, but I’m going to do it anyway. It’s important to keep some things in mind about Merckx and his favored method of improvement:
1. He was in his prime in his 20s and retired in 1978 at age 33. You’re probably older.
2. He was paid to train and race full-time. You have a family, a job, and a life outside of cycling.
3. Coaching science and training methods have advanced dramatically in the decades since Merckx dominated the sport.
Let me offer up one more quote to add to this conversation. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (who wasn’t a cyclist, but was a noted writer and pioneering aviator) once wrote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
So my goal for you, drawing on my 20 years of coaching experience, is to provide the plan for you to use to help meet your 2015 goals. I’m writing two new eArticles on how to use current training science to plan for and reach your goals for the year so that you can achieve Your Best Season Ever! The eArticles are tentatively titled:
• Your Best Season Ever, Part 1: How to plan and get the most out of your training
• Your Best Ride Ever, Part 2: How to use your training and skills for your best performance
Part 1 will flow naturally into Part 2, which will take what you’ve learned in the first article and build on it to help you achieve your ultimate goal(s) for the season.
Part 1, set to be published next week, will teach you how to develop a personal training plan to meet your specific goal(s) and then how to use the plan to train effectively. Look for full details in next week’s RBR Newsletter. And I sure hope that spring has sprung for you, and that you’re eager to ride (or already enjoying your time on the road again).
Roadies are taking advantage of Coach Fred Matheny’s bedrock-solid advice on how to improve through the power of “marginal gains.”
His newest eArticle, launched last week, focuses on “the idea that if you can identify dozens of very small improvements, each insignificant by itself, the combination of those miniscule gains would translate into a major overall improvement in performance.
“It’s an idea that has potent consequences for recreational riders,” Coach Fred continues. “If we can pinpoint a few small changes in our bike fits, diets, training plans, event-day organization and many other areas of possible improvement, the resulting performance gains can be large. Look at it this way: a dozen changes, each yielding improvements of less than 1%, can result in total gains of 10% or more.”
Let that sink in for a minute: Instead of slavishly working on one big improvement at a time (the normal m.o. of roadies), we could instead – and without a whole lot of effort – tick off a dozen or so smaller improvements that, taken together, can make a sizable overall impact on our cycling.
Marginal Gains for Overall Performance Improvement: How to Identify Dozens of Micro-Improvements in Your Cycling is on sale now in the RBR eBookstore – for only $4.99; Premium Members pay only $4.24 after their standard 15% discount. (Don't forget: One of the perks of a Premium Membership is one free eArticle, so if you sign up or renew now, you can choose Marginal Gains as your freebie!)
Editor’s Note: From time to time, we feature personal stories from readers willing to share information that may benefit their fellow readers. What follows is a recounting by North Carolinian Peter Leousis of the first seven weeks of recovery from hip replacement surgery.
An accomplished rider, Peter agreed to share info on his choice of hip technology, steps in his recovery to date, his short- and long-term goals, and more, in hopes that his story might help any other RBR readers facing a similar procedure. Peter has also agreed to update us every two or three months during the course of his recovery. – John Marsh
By Peter Leousis
I broke my right hip socket 2 1/2 years ago, had it surgically repaired and returned to training and racing. But then after two years I developed avascular necrosis in the femoral head. The ball collapsed -- my right leg was over an inch shorter than my left -- and I had total hip replacement surgery on February 25, 2015.
I imagine I'm like a lot of RBR readers. I train and race seriously but I really just love to ride a bike. And I love to go fast. It makes me feel like a kid again, and that's why I've always been determined to overcome whatever injuries get in the way. (In 2006, I had three ablations for atrial fibrillation, and the third one was successful.)
I started my trainer workouts two weeks after the surgery. That first one was short -- 15 minutes at 101 watts! But it felt good to get my legs spinning and clear out a little rust. I'd been doing a daily 30 minutes on the trainer before the surgery.
I had to stop riding on the road December 17 but I wanted to do something to keep from going crazy. For the last 12 years I'd averaged over 15,000 miles a year (including the 13K I rode in 2012, the year I broke my hip). So to go from that to nothing wasn't easy.
The trainer workouts were a nice way to ease back to the bike. (Since it takes seven to eight weeks for bone in-growth to occur, I don't want to risk falling before the implants are firmly in place.) In fact, my bike fit felt better than it has in a long time -- it's amazing what a difference it makes to have two legs of equal length! I couldn't have been more pleased. I had almost all range of motion back, was off crutches for more than two weeks, off drugs almost that long, and was walking without pain or a limp.
Gradually over the next 2 1/2 weeks I increased the time on the bike from 30 minutes to 50 minutes, which is about all I could take. I've never liked the trainer, but it's been good to pay attention to my numbers and start thinking about sustained efforts. At about 4 1/2 weeks after surgery, I rode 50 minutes, with the last 20 at around 220 watts.
To make things interesting I would do tempo intervals. I'd ride two or three minutes at around 270 watts, then recover for a couple of minutes by spinning easy. Or I'd do 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, with the on segment at threshold.
My initial goal is to be back on the road seven weeks after surgery and riding well by the end of summer. Then, starting in October I'll begin building base for the ITT at Masters Nationals in 2016 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. I was 4th in 2008 in the 55+ ITT in Louisville, and my ultimate goal is to podium again. I consider myself a good athlete but not particularly gifted. If I do have a gift, it's knowing how to suffer.
Before the hip surgery I did a lot of research online. I must've read hundreds of abstracts and dozens of articles about surgical approaches and hip prosthetic technology.
I found a surgeon at Duke University who uses an anterolateral muscle-sparing approach, and he uses the latest, state-of-the-art titanium, ceramic and vitamin E-infused polyethylene implants that are available in the U.S. I wanted a ceramic on ceramic ball and liner, but that's still awaiting FDA approval, and I couldn't wait.
My racing age is 62 but I feel about 50. The hip is feeling much better -- almost normal. But my surgeon said to give my body time to heal, and I think he's right. I could do more than I'm doing now, but there's no need to rush things. The difference between this recovery and my recovery 2 1/2 years ago is night and day.
After my initial surgery, I was on strict hip precautions for two months because the surgeon had to cut most of my hip rotators and abductors. I had what's called a both column fracture of the acetabulum -- my hip socket broke into four pieces (front and back) and I had two plates and nine screws to pull those pieces back together. (I broke it when I hit a pot hole on my bike at the bottom of a hill.)
My first race back after that initial surgery was the following April in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I did the Master's 50+ road race, and finished second. (The winner of that race got busted at Master's National for amphetamines, testosterone, and EPO.) It wasn't easy to race that hard -- my hip ached like crazy during the race -- but it was important to my morale and to show myself that I could get back to where I was before my accident.
(The week before I broke my hip I won both the North Carolina State Championship Time Trial (a hilly 40K in 56:20) and the Road Race for master's 50+, as well as the Charlotte Motor Speedway Time Trial master's 55+ category, which was 10 miles in 21:07.58 or 28.4 mph. For an old guy, racing age 59, I was flying.)
The lifespan of my new hip is unknown. Artificial hips wear out based on how much they're used, but new materials are lasting longer and longer. I wanted a ceramic head for the ball and ceramic cup for the socket, but I got the next best thing, which was a ceramic head paired with a vitamin E infused, highly cross-linked polyethylene liner for the socket.
The vitamin E cuts down on free radicals and greatly extends the life of the hip, and ceramic has a much lower coefficient of friction than metallic heads. So I'm hoping to get 10 to 15 years before the liner would need to be replaced. It's possible I could get a ceramic liner sooner, which would last even longer. With the new materials, hips should last 20 to 30 years under "normal" active use, but riding 320 miles a week year-round isn't normal. It'll be important to get annual x-rays to make sure the implants are not working loose.
The stem (which is imbedded in my femur) is titanium, the ball is ceramic, the cup (which is imbedded in my old hip socket) is titanium and the liner that slides into the cup is vitamin E infused polyethylene. The stem and cup are uncemented, but they're sprayed with a special kind of porous titanium that will allow the bone to grow into them. In the long run, this provides a much stronger joint, but it means the bone needs time to grow into the prosthetics (it's called osseo-integration).
(You can see in the photo the handiwork from both my hip surgeries. The screws and attachments were used to repair my hip in the initial surgery after my crash. The rest is from the total hip replacement.)
Weight-bearing after the surgery is important to stimulate bone growth and protect against deep vein thrombosis, but too much activity too soon can lead to subsidence, in which the stem sinks too far into the femur and it doesn't form a strong bond with the bone.
As I mentioned, my “big goal” is to podium again at Master's Nationals in the time trial next year. I figure it's better to take it easy now and build a strong foundation physically and structurally for the hard training I'll need to do to achieve that goal.
I saw my surgeon for my 6-week follow-up April 13. They took x-rays to see how the new hip is doing, and I got (as hoped!) the green light to start riding on the road. I did my first ride on the road six weeks and five days after my surgery -- 27 miles at 18.2 mph average speed. It's a hilly route, so that's not as slow as it sounds.
My average power was 173 watts (193 watts normalized), with a max of 420 watts. Not great but a good start after four months away from the road. It feels great to be outside. The key, I think, will be taking it easy and building on little successes. My surgeon liked my plan to aim for the end of summer to be back to my normal training and riding.
I understand that full osseo-integration will take more like 12 to 16 weeks (and longer) but seven weeks should be enough that if I fell I wouldn't be putting my new hip at risk. I'll let you know how that goes.
As I progress, I’ll look forward to providing an update every two or three months to my fellow RBR readers. Meanwhile, I’m totally focused (as I bet many fellow readers in the snowbelt are) on getting outside and back on the road on a regular basis. Be safe out there!
For any doubters of the information Jan Heine provided us recently on the benefits of wider tires and lower pressures, just take a look at what the pros were running in the recent Tour of Flanders. Oh, yeah, it might also make you feel good to know what cassettes they used in the race.
As for tires, Cyclingnews reported that most teams rode on at least 25mm rubber, while many opted for even wider tires, up to 28mm.
The Bora-Argon 18 team ran 28mm Vittorias pumped to 80-87psi, depending on the size of the rider, according to Cyclingnews.
“We have had one guy [Andreas Schillinger] on the 28s for two weeks, including at Gent-Wevelegem,” said Rob Geyse, the team’s lead mechanic. “He said they feel almost the same as 25s.”
It seems the trend toward broader-range cassettes is also not simply relegated to recreational riders like us. At the Tour of Flanders, the article reported, most bikes featured at least 11-28 cassettes, while the Bora-Argon team opted for 11-32s.
So if you’ve ever held back, thinking a 28 or 32 is embarrassingly big – tell it to the pros! They’re not too proud to tap the big gears when needed. So why should you be?
I’ve long used an 11-28 for mountain rides, and while I have a bunch of 11-25s floating around, I’ve lately been keeping the 11-28 on my everyday wheels all the time. I pretty much never shift into the 28 unless I’m in the mountains, but I don’t feel like I’m missing any “important” gear combinations, and it’s easier to have the full range already on the wheel for whatever riding I’m going to be doing – rather than swapping out cassettes only when I’ve headed for the big hills.
I also did a ride not too long ago that told me pretty clearly that moving up to an 11-32 would be a terrific idea for the next time I do a ride that hard! I’m certainly not too proud for it!
By the way, What’s Your Everyday Cassette? Cast your vote in this week’s Question of the Week to let us know.
Just in time for riding season, we’ve got our next Premium Member Prize lined up. Any new or renewing Premium Members between February 12 (when we gave away our last great prize) and April 30 are eligible for the drawing. We’ll announce the winner in the May 7 RBR Newsletter.
The contest winner gets their choice of any one (1) in-stock ISM saddle. ISM has offered to help the winner pick the best saddle for their needs, based on body dimensions, riding style, and other factors.
In case you missed it, Jim Langley reviewed the ISM Adamo Breakawy Saddle (pictured) recently and awarded it a full 5-star rating. Click the link to read his review.
As always, we want to thank our Premium Members for their support and urge all readers to consider becoming a Premium Member. In addition to the number of great cost-saving benefits and our regular give-aways of great cycling swag, Premium Members are our main source of financial support in keeping RBR alive and kicking.
So, if you enjoy RBR Newsletter each week, please join as a Premium Member today! We need your support to keep our little operation going -- and we thank you!
ISM Adamo Breakaway Saddle
Cyckit Aeroclam Underseat Bike Storage
Compass Barlow Pass Extralight 700 x 38 Tires
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Magellan Cyclo 505 Computer
Selle Anatomica X Series Saddle
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HubBub Helmet Mirror
Giro Attack Shield Helmet
Rotor QXL Rings
Truvelo 24 and 33 Wheelsets
Please Send Us Your Questions!
Coming up with a new poll every week is – believe it or not – one of the harder things I have to do. I would love to hear from you with any suggestions you have for a Question of the Week. To contact me, just hit the reply button on any email from us, or use the Contact Us form on the website: http://www.roadbikerider.com/contact. -- John Marsh
Spring has finally come to my area after a cold and snowy winter. I should be happy because it's warmer, but the wind is worse than I can remember. It seems like 40-mph gales kick up just when I get off work for a ride. How can I keep my enthusiasm in these hurricanes? -- Jeffrey S.
I agree that wind is tough. Here in western Colorado, the great spring wind machine is revving up right now, too. I especially hate how strong it gets just when I want to train for a particular tour or event. Wind makes me crawl when I want to feel fast.
It helps to remember that headwinds actually help your fitness. They make you work harder for every inch you cover -- terrific for power building. Then when you get a tailwind, you can improve your leg speed.
Also, a headwind gives you the chance to tune your position. It's almost like being in a wind tunnel. You can feel small changes in upper-body posture make a big difference in speed and pedaling ease.
Experiment with aerodynamics by putting your hands in different locations on the bar, moving your elbows in or out, and altering the angle of your back.
For rides when all you'd like to do is enjoy the bike, head for roads that offer windbreaks. These may be low in the valley or sheltered by trees, buildings or walls. Tall corn works well, but where the heck is it in the spring when you need it?
If it's really howling, ride a circuit a couple of miles around so the wind alternates from the front, side and rear at frequent intervals. Without this option, ride into the headwind to start the ride, then let the tailwind blow you home after the hard work is done.
For more specific and detailed ways to Win Against Win, take a look at my eArticle on the subject.
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Drivetrain and shifting issues are always favorite topics here. So there was some excellent feedback to last issue’s Tech Talk on our Comments page, and via email. As you may recall, the subject was the myth that when a new chain is installed, a new cassette is required as well (not!).
Instead, what determines whether or not a cassette should be replaced is how worn it is. And I recommended testing cassettes by riding with the new chain and checking for skipping, which is a telltale sign of worn-out cassettes.
This triggered a question from Ken Meehan that is the perfect segue to another common cause of skipping. Ken wrote,
“I read your Tech Talk with the cassette test and have a question: An older Giant hybrid I have was skipping as you describe in the article, quite unexpected, dangerous and getting worse. This bike was a freebie fixer-upper, but I like the tall ride sometimes around Cape Cod's beaches here. So, it's definitely worth fixing to me. It has a 7X3 GripShift drivetrain.
“I replaced both the rear derailleur and the chain to try to address the skipping. I put on a Shimano derailleur, but a no-name chain. The pedaling and shifting became smooth. However, under pressure, it still skips on both the middle and large chainrings. It's not as bad as before, but still isn't good when you stand and try to get out of the way of a car quickly. I'm afraid to try and look down to observe what is happening when I test it.
“I should probably just get a Shimano chain and see what happens. What would you recommend?”
The fact that it skipped before and still skips with the new chain means that it might be a worn-out cassette, Ken. But, before spending the money for a replacement cassette, I would rule out chain installation issues first. The reason for this is that a very common skip-causer is a stiff link in the chain. And stiff links are usually the result of chain installation gone slightly awry.
Note that while we refer to it as a stiff “link,” it actually looks like 2 links because the tightness occurs at the pin and it binds the outer and inner links on either side of the pin (the outer and inner link comprise a single full link).
Tip: To help tell whether skipping is caused by the chain or cassette, keep in mind that a chain glitch, like a stiff link, will usually cause a skip on all the cassette cogs, whereas a worn cassette will only skip on the few worn-out cogs.
Also, especially with no-name chains, you can do everything right putting the chain on and getting the pin pressed in just right, and you can still end up with a tight/stiff link in the chain where you joined it. That will cause an intermittent, somewhat mysterious skip on any gear at any time almost. It can be regular or inconsistent depending on the nature of the link hiccup.
To find a stiff link, kneel next to your bike’s drivetrain and pedal backwards slowly by hand. As you pedal, watch the chain passing over and between the derailleur pulleys. A stiff link will show up as it goes around the pulleys.
You have to keep watching. You're trying to see it when it's stiff and tight, not when it's working. Also, it can hide and then show itself. What you're looking for is the pulleys to suddenly move when the stiff link tightens and goes through. You'll see it if it happens and the offending link will be easy to find.
The thing that causes most stiff links is compressing the sideplates too tightly together, a natural result of using a chain tool that presses in the chain pin under great force to install the chain.
Tip: Stiff links is one of the reasons some chain companies, such as SRAM and Wipperman, provide master connecting links to join their chains. With a special link to join the chain, stiff links can be things of the past. In fact, I like to carry a Wipperman Connex linkin my seatbag just in case I break a chain or run into a stranded roadie who did.
The safe way to free a stiff link is to use a chain tool and push on both ends of the pin causing the stiff link. This will have the effect of moving the sideplates away from each other ending the tightness (some chain tools have a built-in link loosener feature (like Park Tool’s Mini Chain Brute Chain Tool, so look for this when shopping. Just be sure that you don’t push the pin off-center, because a protruding pin can cause skipping and even chain failure.
If you don’t have a chain tool handy (maybe the stiff link didn’t show up until you hit the road), another way to fix it, is to grip the chain with one hand on either side of the offending link and gently flex the link sideways in both directions to bow and force the sideplates apart to create the clearance to fix the stiffness. Do this gently, a little at a time, testing the stiff link in your fingers to see if it’s free yet. Do not actually bend your chain!
Trick: Some riders have told me they’ve been able to free stiff links without stopping by shifting onto the most extreme gear, the largest chainring/largest cassette cog combination. They say the angle and tension on the chain frees the link. While I haven’t used this trick, it makes sense that it might work.
Usually you can free stiff links with the aforementioned techniques. However, there are stiff links that aren’t so easy. Moisture can get in between the chain parts, causing rust that essentially locks the links together. Usually this doesn’t happen on regularly lubed chains. But, I’ve seen it happen a few days after a rainy ride when a bike was left to dry and no chain lube was applied.
Unfortunately, this resulted in several rusted-together stiff links. In this case, you can try lubricating the links to free them; however, the small clearances between chain components can make it difficult to get enough lube in to free the parts. Warming the chain with a hair dryer or heat gun, followed by liberal lubing, could also work. You could also try Finish Line’s rust-busting Chill Zone freezing penetrant.
But in a worst-case scenario you might have to remove and replace the bad links, being sure to use the same size (i.e. 9-, 10- or 11-speed) chain links, or replace the chain with a new one. And then be sure to keep it lubed.
Tip: I mentioned the master link I carry in my seat bag. I also bring along a Crank Brothers m17 all-in-one tool that includes a chain tool so that I can take apart a bent or even a broken chain if needed to fix it. I haven’t tried it, but Specialized has a Top Cap Chain Tool that hides inside your fork so that you’ll always have one on hand. Pretty cool idea.
Jim Langley has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He's the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check his "cycling aficionado" website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim's streak of consecutive cycling days has reached 7,773.
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I sometimes ride with a relatively small, light climber who flies up long hills but doesn’t time trial well. He stands on climbs, but when forced to exert power while seated -- as in flatland riding or even on short hills where he’s trying to conserve energy by staying in the saddle -- he just can’t make the bike go. What can he do to improve?
Small climbers often like to ascend out of the saddle while larger riders often climb seated. The reason is that when you stand, you not only need to exert enough energy to get up the hill, you need to support your body weight. Light riders pay less of a penalty for standing, so they can take advantage of the benefits of climbing out of the saddle: butt comfort, more leverage and using their weight to push the pedals down.
But it’s important to learn to climb short and long hills while seated to conserve energy. And the power you develop carries over to seated efforts on the flat, like time trialing. Here are some tips.
Emphasize the downstroke. A smooth, round pedal stroke is important. But there’s increasing evidence that top riders go fast because they stomp powerfully during the downstroke.
A study by famed exercise physiologist Eddie Coyle at the University of Texas highlights this point. A group of “good state-class” racers had about the same oxygen uptake (VO2 max) as a more accomplished group of “elite national-class” cyclists. However, the elite riders were able to ride a 40-km time trial (indoors on ergometers) 10% faster than the less accomplished riders.
Analysis with force-measuring pedals revealed that while the elite riders’ VO2 max wasn’t higher, they were able to push down on the pedals harder and thus generate 11% more power. The study concludes: “Elite national-class riders have the ability to generate ‘higher downstroke power,’ possibly as a result of muscular adaptations stimulated by more years of endurance training.”
A smooth pedal stroke is still important. Don’t penalize yourself by pedaling in a rough and jerky fashion. But if you concentrate on giving the pedal a little “kick” as it goes over the top and begins its downward travel, you may increase your seated power.
Do specialized training. Do intervals up short hills while seated. Find a hill that’s moderately steep and takes about 30 seconds to climb. Use a fairly large gear and hit it hard at the bottom. Don’t let your cadence slow too markedly by the top -- your gear should enable you to maintain at least 90 rpm for the whole climb. Remember to apply power forcefully on the downstroke while retaining a smooth pedal stroke.
Second workout: Do longer (10- to 15-minute) time trial-like intervals, seated, at a heart rate of about 85% of your maximum at a cadence of about 90 rpm. Kicking the pedal over at the top of the stroke is important in this drill, too, but it’s more subtle.
Premium Member Russ Starke sent us today’s QT, which could likewise be used for a variety of other products. Here’s what he wrote:
Two quick tips for Fly6 mounting:
1) The Garmin rubber band mounts work better (and cleaner) than the bulky straps that come with the FLy6.
2) My saddle height causes problems with Fly6 and seatbags. I mounted one of these Topeak Bar Extenders (see photo) to the seatpost and mount the Fly6 to it. No more problems.
We’d like to hear from our readers with any Quick Tips you might have. To contact me, just hit the reply button on any email from us, or use the Contact Us form on the website: http://www.roadbikerider.com/contact.
By Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
The risk of developing dementia doubles every five years after age 65, until by age 85 almost 50 percent of North Americans suffer some degree of dementia. Finnish researchers showed that they were able to slow the onset of dementia in people at high risk with a program that included:
Everything that helps to prevent heart attacks also helps protect you from losing your mind. Three other studies show that:
2) eating a healthful diet
3) avoiding becoming overweight
4) avoiding smoking, and
5) avoiding alcohol are all associated with lowered risk for dementia.
Of these five healthful lifestyle components, exercise had the greatest effect on preserving memory and thinking. For those who have already lost their ability to think and remember, exercise improves memory and helps them stay independent longer (The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2014;22(1):63–74). Lifestyle changes do not cure dementia, but they improve symptoms and delay progression.
Researchers followed 2,235 Welsh men, 40 to 60 years old, for 25 years and found that men who followed four out of five of the healthful behaviors listed above were 60 percent less likely to suffer dementia and Alzheimer’s than those who followed none (The Caerphilly Cohort Study. PLoS One, Dec. 9, 2013).
These five lifestyle factors are also known to both prevent and treat diabetes, heart disease and stroke, which all increase your chances of losing mental function. No drugs or other medical treatments available today are as effective in preventing dementia as following these five lifestyle habits.
A Healthful Lifestyle Treats Dementia
Researchers analyzed 14 studies on people with dementia, living both at home and in nursing homes, and found that exercise improves both memory and reasoning as well as improving function in walking and getting up from a chair. It did not improve depression (Cochrane, Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group, Dec. 4, 2013).
Recommendations for Everyone
Dementia affects 3.4 million North Americans, or 14 percent of the population aged 71 and older. The rate of dementia increases from five percent of people 71–79 years old to 37.4 percent of those aged 90 and older (Neuroepidemiology, Nov 2007; 29(1-2): 125–132).
Gabe Mirkin, M.D., is a sports medicine doctor and fitness guru. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin has run more than 40 marathons and is now a serious tandem bike rider with his wife, Diana, often doing 30-60 miles in an outing. His website is http://drmirkin.com/.