1. From the Top: The Wheel Builder – Equal Spoke Tension is King
2. News & Reviews: Bike Products from the Sublime to the Ridiculous
3. Question of the Week: Do You Wrap Your Own Bar Tape?
4. Ask Coach Fred: Why Should a Fitness Rider Do Training Time Trials?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Wrap With Me
7. No Problem: Improving Your Climbing Through Attitude and Desire
8. Quick Tips: On Disc Wheels, Move Quick Releases to the Non-Rotor Side
9. Cadence: Why You Need Sleep for Recovery
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
Editor’s Notes: No Newsletter next week. Monday, the 25th, is Memorial Day in the U.S., and the unofficial start of summer. It’s also a super-busy time in the Marsh household, with my son’s high school graduation and a houseful of guests during the week. So we won’t be publishing an issue next Thursday, the 28th.
We will see you again June 4, and on June 11th, we’ll launch Coach John Hughes’ Your Best Season Ever, Part 2: Peaking for your event. More to come on that. - John Marsh
By Mike Tierney
In my last column I talked about the benefits of equalized spoke tensions. I've been building wheels for many years and writing about the process for a few of those, and the same question pops up occasionally: "What's the most important thing in wheel building?"
After I pull the leg of the questioner with answers like "a spoke wrench" or "the hub," I have to get serious and think about what is really important.
Once we get past the unquantifiable things like "passion" and "patience,” one thing stands out above all others -- equal spoke tension.
As I stated in the last column, getting all the spokes to do an equal amount of work is paramount to the longevity of the wheel. This evens out the strain on all of the spokes and reduces metal fatigue and, therefore, breakage.
I also mentioned two ways of checking relative tension in spokes -- the method of plucking, listening to the tone of the spoke and attempting to adjust all the tones (and therefore tensions) to be as equal as possible.
The other method is using a spoke tension meter (commonly called a "tensiometer"). This tool measures individual spoke tension, which allows us to compare and equalize the readings. Of course, tensiometers are a relatively recent invention and most of us old-timer wheel builders started long before they became available.
So people like me were a little skeptical when they came on the market. For overall tension I've always used the "perceived tension" method for decades -- the gut feeling for when "tight" is tight enough. Since I started paying particular attention to the single most important thing in wheel building -- equalized tensions -- perceived tension has worked perfectly.
In my long cycling life, I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the modern cycling world a few times by well-meaning friends. The first time was with Lycra clothing. My wool shorts, with real leather chamois and wool jerseys were no good anymore? The next time was with clincher tires. What was I supposed to do with my big can of Tubasti tubular rim cement? Then there was Shimano indexed shifting (this list goes on).
More recently, along came the well-meaning BikeHubStore.com proprietor Brandon Hunziker. He took pity on me and talked WheelFanatyk.com’s Ric Hjertberg into donating one of his digital tensiometers, finely crafted in his area of the Pacific Northwest. I could see through their game -- they're probably both tone-deaf, they didn't want me to embarrass them any further.
Santa Hjertberg's gift arrived two days before Christmas and, after watching the included video and reading the complete instruction book, all included in the padded clamshell case, I set about checking all the wheels in my workshop.
From using the Wheelfanatyk's tensiometer on all my wheels, I found an interesting trend -- all my wheels were slightly on the "soft" side, or, low in tension relative to the suggested norm.
Low spoke tensions can lead to nipples that unscrew and spokes that fatigue and break due to greater tension swings as the wheel rotates and each spoke experiences large load-unload cycles. High spoke tensions lessen these tension fluctuations. My wheels have never suffered from these problems so as suppose I was close enough with my perceived tensions.
The rim is the weak point of any wheel, and rim makers usually specify a maximum spoke tension. Most of them specify around 100kgf to 125kgf. The term "kgf" is short for "kilograms-force". Excess spoke tension leads to cracked nipple holes in the rim, so it's crucial that we don't over-tension our spokes.
I found this use for the tensiometer to be its best feature. Ric's digital gauge reads to 0.01mm deflection of the spoke being tested. All tension meters work by using the same basic principle: they apply a calibrated sideways force to a 4-inch (10cm) span of spoke and measure the spoke's deflection, or bending.
Then we use a supplied cross-reference chart to give us a kgf reading. All tension meters are calibrated at the factory and most can be returned for re-calibration (some geniuses even make their own calibration testers for home use).
The other use for the tensiometer is for comparing tensions so that we can adjust and equalize them. The "pluck-ping-listen-adjust" system works perfectly well for me, and the more experience one has with this method, the easier it is to use.
For the purpose of comparison, though, I used both methods during my next three wheel builds and found exactly what I expected -- the plucking method is faster than using the tensiometer and, for me, just as accurate.
When I'm adjusting a wobble, I pluck-test five spokes around the wobble's high spot -- three on the high side of the wobble, and two on the other side. The higher-tone spokes get more of a loosening than the lower tone ones. Using this method we're doing two jobs at once -- removing wobble and equalizing tensions.
The Hjertberg digital tensiometer is a very sensitive instrument with its direct digital readout and its ball-bearing pivots for the spoke posts. I had to be very sure that its plunger handle wasn't touching my hand while I was taking a reading so as not to affect the reading.
The tool can be zeroed to account for any slight bend in the spoke being tested. It's a precision instrument both in use and appearance. For the true techno-freak, an accessory SPC cable for direct output to a PC is available. I remain in the pencil & paper era for that step.
The tool is a great addition to my wheel building table as it removes all ambiguity and guesswork from overall tension. And the fewer spokes we have in a wheel, the more important equal tension becomes (re-read that bit at the top about spokes “sharing the workload”).
The Wheelfanatyk Digital Tensiometer is a well-crafted precision tool, made to a high standard, apparently with little regard to final cost -- but it's not the most expensive tensiomenter on the market.
In my hands, as a home wheel builder with many years of experience, its best use will be to verify that my wheel spokes are at the intended tension, with all guesswork removed -- and that alone will provide some peace of mind.
The plucking method will still be my main method of judging equal tension, as I find it very accurate (as verified by the Wheelfanatyk tensiometer!) and quick to use.
Newer wheel builders, and others not experienced with spoke plucking, will find it an invaluable and accurate tool to help them achieve equalized tensions as well as final tension. If this tensiometer prevents just one cracked rim or one poor wheel build with all their associated inconveniences and costs, then the $295 price of this tool will have been a fine investment.
I'm a craftily converted curmudgeon.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
What follows is the equivalent of a beach book: a light diversion for your almost-summer enjoyment. We’ll provide a snapshot of three products we’ve seen lately, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
First up is perhaps the coolest bike we’ve ever seen – at least the coolest bike made to carry kids. OK, it’s the coolest bike, period.
Made by a British company and selling for a smidge under 5,000 pounds (a little over $7,800), it’s the bike you might have dreamed of having when you were 5. It looks like its name: the Boxer Rocket, with seating for 4 young-uns who can buckle up with 5-point belts in the namesake front portion of the bike while the parental “engine” does the hard work (or at least part of the work) in back.
It’s hard to beat the company’s own description of the ride: “An ‘Art Deco’ Rocket design paired with a heavy duty unique 1930s airliner inspired girder frame. Its other unique features include a central headlight with high and low beam, turn signal indicators on its ‘wings’ and a beautiful rear tail/brake light. To alert traffic to your presence there is a very loud vehicle horn fitted to the underside of the chassis. All of these features are controlled from one single easy to use instrument ‘cluster’ on the handlebars.”
Of course, even that doesn’t come close to actually eyeballing this piece of rolling art. If you want more, check out: http://boxercycles.com/product/rocket/.
If you like to camp while touring by bike, but you prefer something a little more lux than a sleeping bag and a tent, you’ve got to check out the Wide Path Camper, the brainchild of Dane Karsten Justesen.
It’s a 45kg (100 pounds) mini-camper that can be towed by bike. It folds out to sleep 2 and includes a small foldaway table inside that can be configured for dining, among other cool touches. The basic unit – sadly, only available for preorder in select European countries – sells for Euro 2,000 (about $2,230).
The camper measures 99 x 130cm (39 x 51 inches) when being towed, or 99 x 260cm (39 x 102 inches) when folded into position for camping, which takes about three minutes. The interior height of the camper is 130cm (51 inches), and the bed measures 97 x 200cm (38 x 78 inches).
You can get more info on this pretty cool solution at the company website: http://www.widepathcamper.com/concept.html
It’s safe to say that not every new bike product is as inspired as the Boxer Rocket and Wide Path Camper. We give you: Pedi-Scope - The periscope for your Bicycle.
Yes, if your neck kills you while you ride, and you’d prefer to just hammer out the miles while looking down instead of possibly sitting up to give your neck a rest, here’s a product designed for you.
If you check out the product’s Kickstarter page, you can see a video of the product in action. You can also see that it didn’t come close to meeting its modest fundraising goal.
Last Saturday Premium Member Jack McCombs (pictured), age 75, raced the Virginia state Senior Games championships and won two gold medals.
When Coach John Hughes got the text with the results he responded, “2 Golds! Awesome power numbers!”
On Jack’s way to a fast time in the 5K time trial he backed off slightly to save some power for the road race. Even riding the time trial conservatively, his power was only three watts lower than in the county games on April 21. His smart riding paid off.
In the road race he dropped his two age-group competitors within the first half mile as he took off with two riders in their 50s. One guy dropped from that group after nine miles. Jack and the second 50-something rider traded pulls for the next two miles, at which point Jack knew that if he pulled equally he wouldn’t have anything left for the sprint.
He didn’t pull through to take another turn on front, so the other rider slowed down, and they rode together. In the last 500 meters, as the other racer started to pull ahead, Jack powered up to 495 watts and caught him at the line to win by 1/4 of a wheel – while stille cranking out 347 watts at the finish. Way to go, Jack!
How did Jack achieve his remarkable results? Coach John Hughes has him ride the right kind of miles in a progression of phases, rather than just more miles.
Even without a personal coach, you can get the benefits of this periodized approach to training with Coach Hughes’ new eArticle, Your Best Season Ever, Part 1: How to plan and get the most out of your training.The eArticle walks you through each step to develop your own specific, personalized plan that includes:
A plan is only a piece of paper or a spreadsheet, though. As Coach Hughes points out, to have your best season ever you need to implement your plan by training effectively. In his eArticle he shows you how to:
Your Best Season Ever, Part 1 is available today for only $4.99 ($4.24 for Premium Members after their 15% discount).
Jack’s workouts between the county games and the Virginia state championships were carefully designed rides to simulate the state races. Then he took the week before the races off with only one very short hard ride on Friday so that he was fresh for the big day.
Part 1 of Coach Hughes’ 2-article Your Best Season Ever series 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.
Your Best Season Ever, Part 2: Peaking for your event, will be published June 11. Stay tuned for more info leading up to that date.
3T has agreed to provide a great combo prize of its ARX II Pro Stem and the new 3T Eye (pictured), the rugged miniature display that puts real-time data from smartphone training apps and ANT+™ power/ heart-rate cadence devices on handlebars, in the rider’s line of sight. (The winner can choose the appropriate stem size, of course.)
Any new or renewing Premium Members between May 1 (when we gave away our last great prize) and June 30 are eligible for the drawing. We’ll announce the winner in the July 2 RBR Newsletter.
Many of our regular correspondents have heard me talking about this for a year now, because it’s been a very (excruciating so!) deliberate, extremely labor-intensive process. But I’m finally comfortable enough with the progress to let you know that we’ll be launching a new RBR website in the next couple of months.
I’ve been working (every spare moment for months now) directly with a trusted, long-time associate who’s a terrific designer and web developer on a very open, airy, user-friendly design that I’m confident you’ll find imminently more easily navigable, better organized, far easier to search and find specific info, and, in short, simply a much more useful tool to help you as a road cyclist.
It will also feature “responsive” design that adapts the layout and functionality of the site to whatever mobile device you’re using.
We will, of course, continue to deliver RBR Newsletter each week. It will come in a slightly different package, but the goods inside will be the same quality content across the spectrum of useful how-to road cycling intel and info. (And we’ll feature even more of that “good stuff” regularly on the pages of the site throughout each week when the new site is live.)
In the weeks to come, I’ll be sharing more about the new site, including screen shots, to highlight some of the features.
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
In the past, I’ve heard you recommend short time trials to improve racing ability and as a way to gauge improvement. But I'm a fitness rider and don't race. Is there any reason I should do these time trials? -- Nando R.
Time trialing isn't just for racers. In fact, it's the racing skill most often used in non-competitive situations.
Here's why you should consider including a 5- to 10-mile effort at time trial intensity every week or two:
For new, and renewing, Premium Members, we’ll kick in One Free eArticle of Your Choice. That’s a rebate, in effect, of $4.99 off the annual $24.99 membership. You can choose from among any of our 70 individual eArticles (bundles are excluded). Click to see the entire array: http://www.roadbikerider.com/all-earticles.
Of course, you’ll also get all the other great benefits we’ve pulled together for you, including discounts on all our eArticles and eBooks, great cycling product discounts, access to our full treasure trove of searchable content and, when you can’t find what you’re looking for, the Ask RBR a Question feature – which allows Premium Members to ask our experts directly; we’ll tap our network to find your answer.
Here’s how it works: Your receipt (emailed to you after purchasing your Premium Membership) is your coupon. Just hit Reply on that email and write in the title of the eArticle you’d like. I’ll drop it in your Downloads folder in your RBR account. (If you can’t find your receipt, just let me know. I’m happy to help you out.)
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As I write this, an exciting Tour of California has concluded, and the Giro d’Italia is into its second week. As much as I enjoy the race action (bravo Peter Sagan for hanging on to win the TOC!), I feel for the overworked mechanics.
One of their most important jobs is making sure all the bicycles remain showroom-clean throughout the race. This keeps the team sponsors and racers happy. And, for this to happen, arguably, the most important job is rewrapping handlebars with new tape as often as needed.
Think about it. Every race comes down to a huge finish. And, after the rider, the most visible thing in all the videos and photos is the handlebar tape. Plus, besides looking great, nice, new tape feels great, too.
Luckily, unlike those poor team wrenches, you don’t have to rewrap a whole team’s worth of handlebars after a race (and before you can eat your dinner!). You only have to deal with yours. And, you can choose when to do it, too.
Here are some tips and tricks to make the job go smoothly and result in a pro look for your finish-line photos.
Depending on how long the tape’s been on the bars, if it’s a tape with adhesive (the most common type today), you might end up with a mess of small pieces still stuck to the bar when you peel off the old stuff. This will cause a lot of extra cleaning that takes time. Try to avoid this by peeling the tape off more slowly so that the adhesive doesn’t separate from the tape and you can unwrap both together as one.
If it refuses to come off in one piece, a trick is to drip some isopropyl alcohol (“rubbing alcohol”) underneath the tape as you unwrap it. It’s cheap and won’t hurt anything it drips on, and it will loosen the adhesive and help you get the tape off in one piece. Plus, unlike other solvents, it leaves the bars residue-free so the new tape adheres well.
New tape usually comes with new handlebar plugs. But don’t just toss your old plugs until you’re sure you like the news ones. For example, they might not fit into the handlebars as tightly as your old ones. Or, they might not match your bike finish as well as the old ones. For plugs that don’t fit tightly enough, try wrapping electrical tape around the plug to make it a tighter fit.
Tip: In a crash, the bar plugs may slam into you or vice versa. So it’s always a good idea to inspect them for any sharp edges and sand them smooth.
For a nice custom job, the handlebars should be clean so that the new tape sticks, and any cables/housing that will be beneath the tape should run in smooth paths and where they won’t be able to cause any hand pain or numbness.
Some mechanics like to secure cables running beneath the handlebar tape with electrical tape, so you may find that on your bars when you remove the bar tape. It’s also possible to simply hold the cables in place as you wrap the bar tape, which is what I prefer. It saves a gram or two and seems cleaner to me.
Be sure to check the new tape package for 2 finishing strips of wrap that go behind the brake levers to hide the handlebar clamps. If they’re not included as separate pieces, you’ll need to cut your own.
Note: If your kit comes with 2 rolls of tape, you must cut 1 finishing piece from each roll. Because if you cut both from the same roll, you will likely shorten that roll too much for it to fully wrap the bar. Don’t make that mistake.
Now, take those two pieces and put them on the brake lever clamps and tuck them into the rubber brake hoods for now. That will help stick them in place and ‘train’ them to stay bent. If the strips are so long then extend into and bulge the hoods on the sides, cut the strips shorter to fit.
Start at the bottom of the handlebars and wrap to the top. That shingles the wraps so that the normal downward pressure of your hands won’t be able to grip the edges of the tape and roll it over on itself.
It’s your choice how you wrap. I like to start the tape on the inside of the handlebars and pull it toward the outside (away from the bike). But, it’s not any more difficult to do it the other way. I also like to wrap the same way on both sides so that when I look down at the tape, the diagonal lines are symmetrical on both sides. But, you might like them the other way, and that’s fine.
Be sure to overlap the tape 1/3 of the thickness of the tape all the way up the bars. Look beneath to check your work so that you don’t leave any handlebar exposed. (This won’t cause any problems but it’ll bug you if you’re a perfectionist and see it later.)
Also, pull the tape snug with each wrap to remove wrinkles and get it to lay flat and stay in place. Some tape is more stretchy than other. It usually takes a pretty good pull to break the tape, but be careful. If you break the tape, you won’t have enough to finish that side and you’ll have to buy more tape. Or, you can tape the broken seam together and do your best to hide the repair.
When you get to the brake levers, gently fold back the rubber hoods on themselves to make wrapping around the levers easier. The tape strips you put there earlier should stay on now and be easy to wrap around. Once you’ve wrapped past the brake hoods, you can gently roll the rubber hoods back in place to prevent any damage to the hoods (this is a concern if they’re old).
Tricks: It takes a little experimentation, but you can have a lot of fun and get dazzling (dizzying?) results with advanced handlebar taping, such as wrapping 2 different colored or patterned tapes and crisscrossing them. Or tape the top of the bars with one pattern/color and the bottom with another by hiding the ends at the brake levers. Search Google images and you can find some trick wrap jobs to inspire you.
It’s not tricky to finish the tape if you simply end your wrap job the same distance from the stem on both sides and wind electrical tape around the final wraps to hold things in place. That works and looks okay.
But, you may have received two logoed pieces of finishing tape in your new tape kit. They look so professional that you might want to try to use them to finish your tape. You might have even seen a bike in a catalog with the tape finished that way.
Or, even if you don’t have those logoed tape pieces in your kit, you might want the tape to finish perfectly at the top, as if the handlebar was dipped in handlebar wrap the way the pros do it.
For that super-clean finish, you need to: 1. Ensure that the ends of the tape finish flush with where the handlebar bulges (the larger diameter part of the bar where the stem mounts), and 2. Ensure that the ends only wrap once at that point, just like it is around the rest of the bar. These two details keep the tape flat and square so that the finishing tape goes down like that, too.
Top trick: Here’s the secret that makes a pro finish relatively easy. Instead of guessing where to cut the tape, wind it tight past and over that point where the handlebar gets thicker, and right up to the stem, or as close as you can get with however long your tape is. Now, just temporarily tape the tape there with electrical tape. If your tape is so long you can wrap past the stem, just cut it since you have more than enough.
Do this to both sides. Then, take something firm, like a wooden spoon and rub the tape all the way around the bar at the transition point between the smaller and larger handlebar diameters. If there’s an actual step-down between the diameters, the rubbing will make a perfect cutline on the bottom of the tape. If the handlebar diameters transition more smoothly, go head and rub but also make a line with a pencil at that point on the tape - or use chalk if the tape is a dark color.
Now, all you have to do is to unwrap the tape, cut on your cutlines and rewrap the ends and you’ll have a perfect, flat spot to finish with either the supplied stickers or your electrical tape. Be sure to cut the finishing pieces so that the seams hide beneath the handlebars.
It’s only fair to mention that I haven’t had good luck with the supplied finishing tape pieces. They stick at first, but seem to always come loose and I end up removing them and going back to electrical tape. Electrical tape can come loose, too, but it usually lasts a long time if it’s quality tape and you avoid touching the adhesive with your fingers and spoiling it.
If you have a great tip or trick for wrapping bars, please share it in Comments.
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 7,808.
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(Over the next three issues, we’re going to focus on climbing. We’ll start today with a look at the psychological side of hauling yourself uphill. Then we’ll talk in more detail about how to climb short, steep hills. And, finally, we’ll provide climbing tips for the Clydesdales among us.)
You’re riding with a friend who’s killing you on the hills. You know you’re equally fit because you’ve accumulated about the same number of miles this season, and on flat time trials you can hold your own against him. You weigh about the same, too, so the power-to-weight ratio isn’t a reason for your suffering. Why is your friend so much better when the road tilts up?
Climbing is a highly specific form of cycling. Notice the difference in how your pedal stroke feels when you’re riding hard on the flat compared to climbing. Flat riding depends on pedaling speed (and aerodynamics if you’re alone). There’s only a moderate amount of pressure on the pedals if you’re in the correct gear.
But when you encounter a hill, pedal speed drops and the effort becomes more muscular than cardiovascular. That’s why in a 3-week tour, pros hate the first day in the mountains. After a week of riding flat stages, tucked in the pack and waiting for the sprint, their legs complain loudly when they have to generate significantly more force per pedal stroke. Just like yours do when you hit the climbs.
What, in addition to talent and fitness, separates good climbers from mediocre ones? It’s got a lot to do with attitude, desire and mental focus.
It's possible to have a lot of fun on the bike without being a very good climber. That's why compact cranksets and, to a lesser degree, triple chainrings are so popular. If you want to climb better, you'll have the motivation to work at it. If not, there's nothing wrong with you. Just go a bit slower and enjoy the scenery. Also, motivation can vary from day to day. I've found that some days I like to climb hard and other days I want to cruise. Listen to your body.
Climbing is hard work. Being able to ride right on the edge of blowing up means you can get the most out of your ability. This isn't fun, but it builds character (or so I'm told). You can work on your suffering quotient whenever you climb. When it gets tough, push a bit harder, but only for a minute or so. You have to be careful about training to suffer. A little goes a long way. Suffer like a dog on every hilly ride and you’ll soon overtrain and learn to hate the bike.
Enthusiastic climbers have learned to love climbing. Some of them don’t go uphill very fast, but they love the challenge nonetheless. Use whatever psychological gimmick works for you to develop a love for ascending. Maybe it’s the scenery, or the satisfaction of getting to the top, or even a feeling of superiority to your cycling friends who cower in the lowlands instead of seeking out climbs. Maybe it's knowing that every hill ridden fast makes you fitter.
And of course there’s the poor climber’s best reason for climbing -- the reward of a screaming descent!
(Note that Coach John Hughes’ eArticle, Gaining a Mental Edge: Using Sports Psychology to Improve Your Cycling, covers the mental side of cycling in detail. And my eBook, Climbing for Roadies, is a good overall resource for improving your climbing ability.)
Today’s QT is from our own tech guru Jim Langley. Here’s what he writes:
If your local bike shops are like ours, they’re probably displaying beautiful disc-brake road bikes about now, like Specialized’s S-Works Tarmac Di2 Disc down at the Spokesman here in Santa Cruz, a mere $9,500 stunner.
I don’t own a road bike like this, that can crush the climbs with its incredible stiffness and lightness and then destroy descents in all conditions with its awesome Shimano hydraulic discs. But, I do have one of their S-Works mountain bikes with these stoppers, and since disc brakes are new to many roadies, I wanted to share a cool mountain biker’s disc tip with you.
This tip helps prevent an issue with disc brakes most roadies won’t expect, because it can’t happen with regular side-pull rim brakes. The issue is that the disc brake rotors can get almost red hot on long descents should you need to ride or pump the brakes much of the way down.
That in itself isn’t the problem. But, if you were to suffer a flat tire during or right after descending, you might touch an iron-hot disc while operating the wheel’s quick release to remove the wheel -- and end up burning yourself.
The mountain biker’s tip that greatly reduces the risk of that happening is to flip the quick releases in the wheels so that the business ends, the levers, are on the opposite side of the disc brake rotors. Yes, this means that the rear lever is on the same side as the derailleur, but you can still use it just fine and it won’t affect the derailleur.
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.
Every athlete who trains for competition in sports that require endurance learns sooner or later that after exercising long and hard, you fell sleepy and have to go to sleep to recover, and older people may need even more sleep (JAMA. 1997; 227: 32-37). If you don’t get lots of extra sleep when you do prolonged intense exercise, you don’t recover and are at high risk for injuring yourself.
Nobody really knows why prolonged intense exercise makes a person sleep longer and deeper. In fact, we don’t even know whether sleep is necessary primarily for healing of your brain or muscles or both (Front Physiol. 2014 Feb 3;5:24). It is most likely that you sleep longer and deeper to help damaged muscles heal from exercise.
The soreness and burning you feel during prolonged intense exercise is a sign that muscles are damaged. Scientists know exactly where a muscle is damaged. Each muscle is made up of thousands of muscle fibers like a rope is made of many threads. Each muscle fiber is made up of a series of blocks called sarcomeres that fit up against each other end-to-end, at a junction called the Z-line. The soreness that you feel with prolonged endurance exercise is caused by damage directly to the Z-line. When this happens, the muscle contracts with less force.
Damaged muscles start healing by a process called inflammation that turns on your immunity, and muscles heal faster by resting. The best way to rest your muscles is to sleep. During sleep, your brain produces large amounts of growth hormone that stimulates muscle and bone growth and repair.
We know that prolonged and intense exercise damages muscles. That’s why your muscles always feel sore 8 to 24 hours after you exercise intensely. Damaged muscles seem to know that you have to rest them for healing to occur. They release two cytokines, called interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, that make you feel sleepy and prolong the time that you normally sleep.
No athlete with a job that requires manual labor has ever been able to compete at his best in endurance sports. Today all top endurance athletes either have no other job or work in jobs that require them to sit all day long. Just walking can delay muscle recovery from hard training
Tour de France bicycle racers have to race for many hours day after day. They all know that the first thing they do after finishing each days’ stage is eat and drink copious amounts of foods and fluids to supply them with the nutrients necessary to help their muscles heal from the tremendous abuse they have had racing that day. Then they lie down and try to sleep as much as they can before their next race on the next day.
When I was training for marathons, I was always injured, primarily because I had to walk from room to room to treat patients when I should have allowed my muscles to recover by lying in bed.
The average, college athlete gets 6.5–7.2 h sleep each night (J. Sci. Med. Sport. 2014;18). Increasing a college athletes sleep duration to 8 or more hours per night improves performance in many different sports (Sleep. 2011 Jul 1; 34(7): 943–950).
Several studies show that 4 to 24 weeks of regular prolonged exercise helps insomniacs fall asleep more quickly (Sleep Med. 2011;12(10):1018-27 and Sleep Med. 2010;11(9):934-40).
However nobody really knows how or why prolonged exercise makes you so tired. The most likely explanation is that damaged muscles heal faster with rest and you move your muscles less when you are asleep.
You cannot reach your full potential in endurance sports unless you are able to sleep long hours and do not have a job that requires you to move about much of the day. Endurance training requires spending lots of time sleeping and resting your muscles.
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/.