1. From the Top: New eArticle: Keeping Off The Pounds
2. News & Reviews: Reader Feedback on Gearing: “Weenie? No way!”
3. Question of the Week: What’s Your Score on the Coach Hughes’ Athletic Maturity Scale?
4. Ask Coach Fred: How Can I Remedy a Weak Leg?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Finding and Fixing Drivetrain Drag
7. No Problem: Three Terrific Trainer Workouts
8. Quick Tips: Do the Chamois Double Up
9. Cadence: Best of Scott's Spin: Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me!
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
RBR – Serving Road Cyclists with Helpful How-to Info Since 2001!
New eArticle: Keeping Off The Pounds
Raise your hand if you ate too much or exercised too little over Thanksgiving. Raise two hands if you did both! If so, don’t worry, you’re not alone. And help arrives today.
Coach David Ertl has written an eArticle to complement his best-selling eBook, Pedal Off The Pounds, to help you get through the off-season without gaining too much weight that has to be burned off again next spring. Keeping Off The Pounds – a Strategy for Maintaining Body Weight in the Cycling Off-Season offers an array tips for avoiding excessive eating during this time of year, as well as numerous suggestions for continuing to get exercise and burn calories when riding isn’t as easy to make happen.
Just as losing weight during the cycling season is hard, maintaining your weight during the off-season is equally tough. Cold weather and winter riding conditions, combined with fewer hours of daylight, means less riding and fewer calories burned. Add to that all the holiday eating opportunities, football-watching parties, the body’s desire for hearty, savory “comfort” food during colder weather -- and it’s no wonder that most cyclists tend to gain often a substantial amount of weight during the off-season.
In fact, you might be surprised by just how much weight. We put the question to readers a couple of weeks ago. Here are the results:
-- 7% said: “I usually gain 10 or more pounds (4.5+ kilos) in the off-season.”
-- 29% said: “I usually gain 5-10 pounds (2.25-4.5 kilos) in the off-season.”
-- 31% said: “I usually gain up to 5 pounds (2.25 kilos) in the off-season.”
-- 32% said: “I usually manage to maintain my weight in the off-season.”
-- 1% said: “I actually manage to lose some weight in the off-season.”
Fully 2/3 of us gain weight in the off-season! And 36% of us gain 5 pounds (2.25 kg) or more! It seems like a road cycling ritual, doesn’t it?
But it doesn’t have to be. Coach Ertl holds that a worthy goal for the off-season is just to maintain your weight. The 19-page Keeping Off The Pounds shows you how. Here’s a preview from the eArticle:
“… even if all you want to do is maintain weight, it can and should require that you give just as much attention to your diet and exercise as when you’re aiming to lose weight. You will need to cut back your calories commensurate with your reduced activity. This can be a challenge, because with less food intake, you will not be as full and be tempted to eat more calories than you are burning. Therefore, it is just as important to eat mindfully and eat foods that are filling and nutritious but not very calorie-dense to maintain weight in the off-season.
“If you already own Pedal Off The Pounds, it would be good to review that book again to remind yourself of the suggested foods to eat and the numerous tips on how to minimize calories. This article can work well as a companion piece to that book and will review some important eating habits to consider to help keep off the pounds. What you eat -- or don’t eat, I should say -- will go a long way toward being successful at keeping the pounds off this off-season. But don’t slack off on exercise just because it is cold out and gets dark before you get home from work.
“It is the combination of smart eating and consistent exercise that is most effective in maintaining weight in the off-season. Thus, the article is structured in a very straightforward manner. Section 1 provides detailed Dietary Tips for Keeping off the Pounds. Section 2 provides detailed Exercise Tips for Keeping off the Pounds.”
As Coach Ertl points out, Keeping Off the Pounds is a complement to Pedal Off the Pounds– our best-selling eBook this year. Pedal Off the Pounds provides detailed nutritional and dietary knowledge, and a proven approach to weight loss for cyclists – whether weight loss alone is your goal, or whether losing weight and simultaneously training to improve cycling performance is your goal.
So if you’re not able to maintain your weight through the off-season – or if losing some weight is one of your goals – it’s a terrific resource as well.
Good luck, either way!
Editor & Publisher
Holiday Cycling Gift Ideas from RBR
All Caps on Sale!
That’s the headline RBR Premium Member and product reviewer Brian Nystrom wrote for his Comment on last issue’s Ask Coach Fred, which was titled “Are Triples or Compacts for Weenies?” Brian was not alone in his opinion. Here’s what he said:
“My personal experience mirrors Coach Fred's almost exactly. You have to do whatever it takes to keep riding and ENJOYING it. Worrying about whether some "gearing snob" will think you're a weenie is just plain silly. Anyone who cares about that or the color of your socks or whatever other "fashion statement" you may make is a loser with much bigger problems, who is not worthy of your time.
I regard "riding" the same way I do "reading". I could force myself to read without the reading glasses that my age has forced on me, but I wouldn't get much of it done and wouldn't enjoy it at all, so what's the point? The same would be true if I forced myself to ride the gearing I once raced with; it would restrict the roads I could ride and the distances I could travel, and I'd be struggling and not having any fun. I ride for enjoyment and fitness, and long ago resigned myself to the fact that I'm not going to impress anyone with my prowess on the bike.
For what it’s worth, I currently use a compact with a 13-26 cassette, as I don't need the high-end gearing either, but I do still appreciate the feel of close ratios.
Do what you need to do, dismiss anyone who gives you crap and have FUN on your rides!”
Reader Chris Nelson added this:
“I agree. Why be hung up on it? … I ride Colorado mountains all the time. I reconfigured my 80s-vintage Bianchi from a 39/53 front to a 30-39-50 triple, and it cost less than $100. I also put a 28 on the back. I did that about 5 years ago and now that bike is my commuter bike.
My carbon bike was purchased as a compact, 34/50. I changed out the rear cassette to a SRAM PG1070 11-32 configuration, which matches the ratios on my Bianchi. No regrets. No changes needed to any other running gear, and that also cost less than $100.”
And reader Lew Hershey emailed me his two cents’ worth:
“I bought a new 2007, 6.5 Madone a few years back and it came out of the box with a standard triple and a 12-28 cassette. I was tickled because I didn't have to install a triple (have never had anything else). I have since installed a 32 cassette and then "upgraded??" to a 36. I am 70 years old and still do some funky rides -- Assault on Mt. Mitchell, Mountains of Misery, Mountain Mama Challenge, etc., and I NEED those gears.
I get a lot of kidding about my Pie Plate, but my ego allows it. I now have some much younger biking friends who are making a change to a compact or triple, and larger cassettes. Other than ego, why would anyone want to push those high gears when there is everything to gain and nothing to lose, because the option of 53 x 11 is still there? Probably because they can, but the time will come when they can't.”
We also had a couple of good – and quite interesting! – tips riffing on last issue’s No Problem, about whether chamois cream is necessary anymore in an age dominated by synthetic chamois.
Brian Nystrom weighed in again, with a regal suggestion:
“I typically don't find any need for chamois cream on rides under 40 miles. For longer rides, I use Bag Balm (my standby since the ’70s) or Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Creme (I kid you not) that I bought on a whim at Walmart. If you don't like the thick texture of Bag Balm, give the Queen a try!
I've tried several others over the years. Products like Udderly Smooth and many bike-specific chamois creams are water-based, which means they wash off as soon as you start to sweat, making them a waste of money. In my own experience, for durability, chamois cream needs to be petrolatum- or oil-based. Of the bike-specific products, Chamois Butt'r is the only one that I've tried that works decently, though there are probably others. Frankly, most are too expensive to take a chance on, especially when I have two inexpensive, proven alternatives.
The standard disclaimer applies: Your mileage may vary.”
And a reader with the handle xavidefyp added this:
“I read your article and wanted to comment. I suffered for years with saddle sores and used every cream, ointment and unguent available. Until my dermatologist recommended I stop using all those things and use powder. She recommended Zeasorb extra absorbent with the yellow stripe on the package. My happiness in the saddle has increased exponentially!
The creams were clogging my pores and causing the problems....something to think about.”
Thanks – as always! – to our great readers for sharing their tips and opinions with fellow roadies.
Coach John Hughes uses the concept of Athletic Maturity to assess how relatively fit a client is and in what areas the client needs to improve. Although he turns 65 in April 2014, Coach Hughes has been working out for 39 years. His regimen includes endurance and intensity riding, weight-bearing activity, full-body strength training, flexibility and balance exercises. Because of his athletic maturity, he can handle a harder workout program than someone a decade or more younger.
His new eArticle Cycling Past 60, Part 1: For Health includes his diagnostic test of Athletic Maturity to help you assess your overall fitness. The test asks about riding: how many years you have been riding, how much you ride a year and your longest ride of the year. The test also evaluates your muscles in four critical areas: lower body, core, upper body and even small muscles for balance! Finally, it evaluates body weight and flexibility as important components of overall health.
The more athletically mature you are, the healthier you are now and the greater volume and intensity you can handle -- despite your chronological age. Your score on the Athletic Maturity test helps to determine which of the exercise programs detailed in Cycling Past 60 is most appropriate for you.
Coach Hughes scores 24 points on the Athletic Maturity test out of a possible 27 points. Our Question of the Week this week asks how many points you score if you are 60 or older. Take the test in Cycling Past 60, Part 1: For Health and answer the Question of the Week. (The responses will be used to help tailor the workout programs for Part 2 of Cycling Past 60.)
Damon Rinard is a Senior Advanced Research and Design Engineer at Cervélo. He’s helped us out before on engineering/technical issues that require, well, more of the specific technical knowledge – and brainpower! – than we can bring to bear on some topics.
One of those topics that Jim Langley addressed in a recent Tech Talk column dealt with whether harm could come to a carbon bike by using it on a trainer.
We put the issue to Damon for his take. Following is his reply:
Yes, riding on a trainer puts different loads on a bike compared to riding on the road, especially riding out of the saddle. Nevertheless, in practice, most bikes are fine anyway. Obviously, don’t tilt the bike violently.
All Cervélos are okay to use on trainers, and trainer use does not void the Cervélo warranty.
In 2006, Tom Demerly polled his shop’s bike brands, and at the time, all of them told him trainers are okay.
Recently, though, some bike makers have begun specifically warning against using their bikes on trainers. (Felt, for one.)
Bottom line: Ask your bike’s maker.
Tips: Make sure you engage the bike in the trainer properly: the trainer must contact the bike only on the skewer, and not touch the frame, dropouts, derailleur, cables, etc. To prevent contact, consider changing to a Tacx skewer (cylindrical nut, rather than conical), or a smaller diameter trainer cup (optional with some trainers), or both.
Cycling only stresses and keeps relatively young the cardiopulmonary system. If all you do is ride, you lose muscle mass, bone density, flexibility and balance in activities of daily living. Coach Hughes describes how your whole body ages and gives you six different health maintenance objectives for different components of your physiology, including comprehensive fitness programs that address these objectives.
Coach Hughes shows you how to measure your “athletic maturity” to assess your relative fitness in terms of each of these aspects of good health. This eArticle includes three balanced, full-body exercise programs for different cyclists of different athletic maturities. The article also provides nutrition tips for healthy aging as well as advice on the importance of rest, recovery and sleep.
In this 24-page eArticle Coach Hughes incorporates the latest scientific research and clearly explains the implications for readers.
(NOTE: the responses will be used to help tailor the workout programs for Part 2 of Cycling Past 60.)
Highlights of your responses to last issue’s Question:
While riding, I sometimes feel my left leg drop off significantly in its contribution to powering the bike. Is there a training technique for dealing with this? -- Don B.
Yes, and you don't have to use a leg-press machine or any other special equipment. Try one-leg pedaling on your indoor trainer to increase the strength of your weaker leg.
Warm up for 15-20 minutes while pedaling with both legs. Then unclip your strong leg's foot and hook it over the trainer back where it connects to the rear wheel. Or, you can place it on a chair or stool just to the side.
Pedal at about 90 rpm with your weak leg. Use an easy gear at first until you get accustomed to the unusual feeling. You'll probably find it difficult to pedal for more than 2 or 3 minutes.
The muscles that lift your thigh and push the pedal over the top of the stroke will fatigue quickly. Don't worry. You'll improve rapidly. And as you do, increase the gearing and the amount of time you pedal. Aim for 3 sets of 5 minutes.
Do this drill 3 times a week. If it doesn't help in about a month, you might want to check with your physician to see if there is a medical reason one leg is significantly weaker than the other.
Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.
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Perhaps nothing’s more frustrating than finishing tuning up your pride and joy, lovingly pedaling it by hand in your repair stand one last time and realizing with disgust that something’s dragging. Instead of an effortless-to-turn crankset and silky smoothness, you feel resistance in the drivetrain -- and despite your best efforts to the contrary.
This very thing happened to a Houston, Texas, reader named Phil who wrote me for tips. His letter and my answer follow.
Trivia: Drivetrain drag can drive you batty in a repair stand, but on the road it’s amazing what you won’t notice. The legs are so powerful and unfeeling that I’ve replaced nearly frozen bottom brackets that barely turn by hand on semi-pro racers’ bikes and had them tell me they didn’t even notice a difference. Of course, you want to fix it; however, if you have drag it’s unlikely it’ll stop you from riding.
Before I get to Phil’s letter, there are 2 basic things that make a road bike hard to pedal that deserve attention even before checking for drivetrain drag. And they’re things that lots of roadies forget about, so they’re worth going over, even though they’re simple.
Top off the tires
Number one is ensuring that your tires are inflated to the proper pressure before every ride. With a good floor pump with a gauge, like my SKS Airworx 10.0 (available in shops) it only takes a few quick pumps and you’re off.
Yet, if you ignore this basic maintenance, road tires quickly lose air and become so soft you’re wasting precious energy with every turn of the pedals. And worse, should you hit a pothole or rock, you’ll bottom out the tire and likely damage it -- and even worse still, the rim.
Lube the chain
The second most forgotten or ignored easy performance-enhancer is keeping a light layer of lube on your chain links. Keep in mind that those 108 links (or so), are the only things driving your rocket down the road.
Let them become dry and instead of easy, quiet pedaling, you can pretty quickly suffer a squeaking, grinding and binding drivetrain that’s no fun at all to pedal and that will wear your chainrings and cogs speedily to boot.
Attending to your links is almost as easy as topping off your tires, but it takes a bit more work and should be timed right. Do it the night before a ride so that the lube has time to penetrate and dry.
All that’s required is applying one drip of your favorite chain lube to each link, waiting for it to take hold and then wiping off any excess before your ride.
Tip: Too much pressure or too much lube is almost as bad as too little. Be sure to read the recommended pressure range on the tire sidewall to get it right. For lubing, if the drivetrain becomes grimy, you’re either applying too much or using a too-heavy chain lube (such as one made for wet conditions versus dry roads).
Getting back to Phil’s issue, he explained:
“I have two bikes, more or less equipped the same. One has a Campy EPS Record 11-speed group circa 2011. The other has a Record 11-speed mechanical group circa 2012. Both have compact cranksets, both have 11-29 Record cassettes. The EPS is on a M/L size Lynskey 230, the mechanical on a 56cm Masi steel cyclocross frame. The EPS is on Hutchinson Fusion 3 tubeless clincher wheels, the mechanical is on Hutchinson Secteur tubeless wheels.
Both drivetrains have been thoroughly cleaned, chains are three or four months old on both, and both have been tuned. There is no obvious wear on the cassettes or the chainrings.
Question: In the same gears and on pavement, the EPS seems “tighter” than the mechanical. In other words, the mechanical seems to take less effort to pedal than the EPS takes, everything being equal. This is not my imagination. I had a friend try both bikes and he agreed the EPS-equipped bike takes more effort to pedal.
Before I start pulling cranks or hubs off the EPS to replace or grease bearings, could you save me some time and tell me where you would start? If I am lucky, perhaps the first item I fix/rebuild/replace will be the culprit.”
Phil’s question is kind of a fun one, because while drag is always incredibly annoying, it’s also super satisfying when you find out what’s causing it and fix it. I told him that I’d check the bottom bracket bearings and/or derailleur pulleys.
Checking the bottom bracket
The BB bearings are pretty easy to check by just lifting the chain off the small ring and resting it on the frame so it cannot rub anything. Then just turn the crank with your finger lightly and feel/compare resistance on both bikes. They should feel the same -- nice and effortless, just a little resistance from the grease inside the bearings.
If not, that might be the drag-causing issue. Typically, drag comes from too much grease, bad seals, dirt/grit/grime inside, some assembly issue like crooked cups (very rare), or too tight cups/bearing (sometimes from being installed too tight). Or, it could be a seal that is just binding and shouldn’t really be in there.
It takes a little figuring out but you can usually get any BB to run smoothly one way or another. Or replace it if it’s just bad or faulty – though fixing is cheaper and better if it’s still a useful BB.
Checking the pulleys
On the pulleys, it’s a similar investigation. But usually easier. In most cases you can simply lift the chain to get it off the pulley and turn the pulley lightly with your finger and feel if it’s easy and smooth or tight and sticking. Check both pulleys for this.
Tight pulleys can be caused by sticky lube, no lube, rust/corrosion inside, bad bearings -- if they have bearing -- bent derailleur cages, too tight a pulley bolt, somebody getting locktite on the pulley instead of just on the bolt, and so on.
Usually, you can just remove the bolt, remove the pulley, clean and lube all the parts and reinstall the pulley carefully to eliminate the drag. Note that the top and bottom pulley can differ and on most newer drivetrains shouldn’t be switched. So it’s best to remove them one at a time and put them back where they were.
These relatively easy checks and maintenance tips should get a dragging drivetrain spinning freely again.
Jim Langley has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for 38 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 7,260.
Always warm up before any trainer workout and cool down afterward, using these routines:
WARM UP. This takes 15 minutes. Start by spinning a low gear at about 70 rpm. (Count every time your right foot comes around during 30 seconds and multiply by two.) Increase your cadence by 10 rpm every minute. After five minutes, increase the gear, reduce cadence, and starting building again. At the end of 15 minutes you should be sweating and your heart rate should be about 80 percent of max.
COOL DOWN. Allow 10 minutes. Reverse the warmup procedure by decreasing your cadence and gears at one-minute intervals until you’re spinning easily at about 70 rpm.
This is a general workout for overall fitness.
Minutes 1-15: Warm up.
Minutes 16-25: Pedal with one leg for one minute, then switch legs. Use a moderate gear that lets you maintain a cadence of about 80 rpm. Hook the non-pedaling foot on the trainer.
Minutes 26-35: In a moderate gear, pedal steadily at an effort level of about 8 on a scale of 10. Work hard but not all-out.
Minutes 36-40: Spin easily in a low gear to recover.
Minutes 41-50: Alternate one minute of hard pedaling with one minute of easy spinning.
Minutes 51-60: Cool down.
This workout develops your ability to maintain high speed.
Minutes 1-15: Warm up.
Minutes 16-25: Pedal with one leg for one minute, then switch legs. Use a moderate gear that lets you maintain a cadence of about 80 rpm. Rest the non-pedaling foot on the trainer stand.
Minutes 26-30: Pedal for 5 minutes at a heart rate of about 85-90 percent of max. Use a gear that allows a cadence over 90 rpm. Don’t overgear!
Minutes 31-33: Spin easily in a low gear to recover.
Minutes 34-49: Repeat the 5-minute interval and the 3-minute recovery two more times.
Minutes 50-60: Cool down.
To simulate uphill riding, angle your bike a few degrees by putting a thick phone book or block of wood under the front wheel.
Minutes 1-15: Warm up.
Minutes 16-25: Shift to a relatively large gear, stand up, and pedal at about 80 rpm for one minute. Then sit down and spin a low gear for one minute to recover. Repeat for 10 minutes.
Minutes 36-51: In a large gear, stay seated and pedal at about 85 percent of max heart rate for 3 minutes. In the same gear, stand and pedal at a slow cadence (about 50 rpm) for 3 minutes to recover. Repeat 3 times.
Minutes 52-60: Cool down.
Our Premium Members are the main source of financial support for the weekly RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com, and we depend on your support to continue the 11+ year RBR tradition.
Premium Member Steve Bayard sent us today’s Quick Tip. Here’s what he says:
In your 11/14 issue you suggested wearing a second pair of shorts to minimize saddle sores. Here is a variation that works better.
Unstitch the chamois from a pair of shorts that are no longer usable and then wear this second chamois inside your good shorts. The nature of the materials will hold the additional chamois in place for the entire ride. The second chamois does not materially affect comfort. In hot weather the second chamois also dissipates perspiration better than a single chamois.
Send us Your Own QUICK TIPS!
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. -- J.M.
Curse you, power-to-weight ratio.
I could've chosen a mellow activity like archery or gator rasslin', but no. I had to pick a sport that's ruled by this merciless equation. The only way to ride faster is to: (a) increase your power, (b) decrease your weight, or (c) find a top-notch pharmacist.
I tend to squander my cash on food and shelter, so "c" is out. Boosting my power would be an option if I were 23 and had been born without pain receptors, but I burst into tears when I get a paper cut opening my AARP mail.
That leaves weight loss. Fortunately, there's lots of advice on the topic. Unfortunately, none of it works.
I could weigh my food, as some nutrition experts suggest. Or I could employ the non-diet diet of simply not eating for a few days. Or I could subsist on baby food, which one top Tour rider supposedly did in the 1980s. ("Alpe d'Huez tomorrow? Pass me another jar of strained peas!")
All of those require superhuman discipline. Where was I when the Big Guy was handing out that trait? Probably in the cafeteria.
To shed pounds, I have to nibble around the edges of the problem. Oh, I know all the angles. Skim milk instead of regular. Good carbs vs. empty ones. Whole grains over, um, half grains. Death to high-fructose corn syrup. Long live yams.
And yet the scale is not impressed. I watch as my spare tire inflates from 650B to 700C.
Enough, I say. This time the weight's coming off for good, one way or another.
Tomorrow, I'm buying a lighter bike.
If you enjoy reading Scott Martin, the eBook Spin Again contains 181 of his witty, sometimes wacky, and occasionally heart-felt observations on road cycling.
Dynamic Conditioning Monthly - Month 1: Base Conditioning, by Coach Dan Kehlenbach, a dynamic condition expert. Part 1 of a 5-part series of monthly dynamic conditioning workouts. Each month’s workout regimen will build on the last. ON SALE NOW!
Dynamic Conditioning Monthly - Part 2: Basic Strength Building, by Coach Dan Kehlenbach. Part 2 of a 5-part series of monthly dynamic conditioning workouts. ON SALE NOW!
Cycling Past 60: For Health, by Coach John Hughes, author of our best-selling Cycling Past 50 Series. He’s putting a finer point on some of the body’s physiological changes, and the things we can do to remain healthy cyclists, in our 60s and beyond. ON SALE NOW!
Off-Season Weight Management, by Coach David Ertl, author of this year’s best-selling eBook Pedal Off the Pounds. This new eArticle will focus on nutrition and management strategies for keeping the weight off during the off-season – a time when many roadies tend to eat, drink and be merry as their mid-sections grow! ON SALE TODAY!
Updated Strength Training for Cyclists. Coach Harvey Newton’s bible of resistance training is tailored specifically for cyclists. As we age, the need for resistance training grows, because muscle mass and bone density begin to decline. (Tentative release date: December 12)