1. From the Top: Paceline Rules to Remember
2. News & Reviews: Foam Roller Primer and Product Review
3. Question of the Week: When Did You Buy Your Last New Road Bike?
4. Ask Coach Fred: How Can I Keep Drinks Hot on a Cold Ride?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Disc (-brake) Fever, Part 3 – Your Turn
7. No Problem: Limited-Time Training, Part 1
8. Quick Tips: Sand It, Plane It, Clean It – More Brake Pad Tips
9. Cadence: Eating When it’s Hammer Time
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
Last week, one of our regular contributors, Rick Schultz (whose terrific foam roller primer and Product Review runs today in News & Reviews) wrote Jim Langley and me with a question about paceline rules. Specifically, Rick asked if there are any hard-and-fast rules about rotating based on wind direction.
Rick, like most (but not all) of us, is a very experienced rider. But the fact is, we can all use a reminder from time to time of all the intricacies that add up to safe, fun road riding. And with spring (we hope and pray!) right around the corner, we’re apt to be doing more group riding soon. Heck, even the pros crash in pacelines on occasion. (So maybe even they would benefit from a refresher, too!)
I should also say that both Jim and I replied to Rick’s email, and that this paceline primer includes a combination of advice from me, Jim, and Coach Fred, by way of the Coach’s Solutions to Road Cycling Challenges eBook.
A paceline is a pact. When you form up into a paceline, you’ve made an implicit agreement and a promise to everyone else in the group. The agreement: You’ll work together, safely and steadily, to further the group’s goals. The promise: That you know the basic rules of paceline riding and that you’re alert and ready to ride together.
No false moves. The essence of paceline riding is predictability. Any abrupt moves or unexpected actions dangerously disrupt the paceline. If a rider near the front gets squirrely, the reactions can radiate through the paceline like a sports crowd doing the wave.
Don’t get grabby on the brakes.If you’re getting too close to the wheel in front of you, soft pedal to let your bike slow slightly, then smoothly resume applying power. If that's not enough, feather the brakes lightly. Never grab them. Or move over gradually till you're slightly out of the draft, and sit up slightly so your chest catches more air. You'll slow gently and regain the correct spacing to the next wheel.
Follow the leader(s). The leaders or riders in front determine which way to rotate depending on the wind and traffic, usually. If the wind is from the side, you would want to rotate into it – if traffic allows. If the side wind is strong, riders may overlap wheels in the formation known as an echelon (assuming there’s enough space on the road, and traffic allows for it). If the wind is straight on, you rotate on whichever side is safest, based on traffic. In many cases, traffic alone will dictate the rotation side – regardless of wind direction. It should be easy to just follow what the leaders set as the "rules." And, if they know what they're doing, it'll be the most efficient way to ride down the road, and the fastest, too.
Keep some safety space. Unless you’re riding with cyclists you know and trust, there’s no need to ride just inches from the wheel you're following. Allowing a gap of 2 feet or so gives you room to maneuver in case of mishaps or obstacles in the road. This is especially important on organized and other rides where you’re likely to form up with riders you don’t know, and can’t necessarily trust like you can your buddies.
Look up the road. Don’t fixate on the rear wheel just ahead. Look around that rider and up the road so you can anticipate things (turns, potholes, traffic) that may cause a reaction by those ahead of you. Let the lower edge of your peripheral vision monitor the gap in front of your wheel.
Protect Your Wheel. Touching wheels with the bike in front of you is one of the leading causes of crashes in a paceline. And you will crash, not the rider in front of you! Protect your wheel. But if you do happen to touch wheels, don’t panic. Remember to turn into – not away from – the wheel you’re rubbing, as you ease off the pedal pressure to fall back just enough to get clear of the wheel you’re following. Then smoothly apply power to get back to your proper position. If you do this right, the rider in front of you might not even realize you’ve touched.
Don’t Get Distracted. Most crashes in pacelines are caused by distractions outside the paceline. For example, a dog running from a yard toward the line, which causes riders to lose focus. The key thing is to always remember that the biggest hazard is that rider in front of you, not anything on the side of the road or up the road or behind you. Your job is to pay attention to that rider directly in front of you.
Ride in the drops. Doing so keeps you in the most aero position, which helps with the overall energy savings you’ll reap, and the overall efficiency of the paceline – the reasons you ride in a paceline. But riding in the drops has the added benefit of protecting you from being “hooked” by another rider’s bar. As riders are moving back down the line, or sometimes in a double paceline, there’s the chance of being hit from the side and getting your bar hooked by someone else’s bar – which can take you down in an instant. In effect, riding in the drops, you “seal off” the bar ends with your arms, making hooking impossible.
Communicate! Pacelines are often quiet, except for double pacelines rolling at a conversational pace. When groups are going faster—and the danger is greater—let your fellow riders know what’s going on. There’s no need to shout out obstacles. Merely pointing at them is sufficient. But if there’s a question about the next intersection, or a turn, it’s far better to tell, or ask, than to guess.
Don’t increase the pace on your pull. The biggest mistake novice riders make is getting all psyched up when they hit the front and increasing the speed several miles per hour. This opens gaps between riders and could blow some of them off the back. It makes the paceline ragged and wastes energy as riders have to surge to close gaps. Granted, it can be tough to know how hard to pedal when you're suddenly feeling the wind. But the solution is easy: Take a quick glance at your computer when you’re the second rider in line. When the leader pulls off, simply maintain that speed (assuming there's no wind or terrain change).
Don’t take monster pulls. There’s no reason to sit on the front for 10 minutes, trying to impress everyone but exhausting yourself. Generally, give up the lead after 1-3 minutes and let other riders have some fun. Sometimes, though, a couple of riders may be much stronger than the others. Then it might be appropriate for them to pull for 5-8 minutes while the rest take short pulls or none at all. Discuss this so everyone knows what’s going on.
You’re the eyes and ears at the front. As the lead rider, you’re the eyes and ears of the group. You are responsible for the whole group’s safety. You must point out road obstacles and watch for traffic at crossroads, shouting a warning if necessary. Try to be an “early warning system,” keeping in mind that a shout may take several seconds to trickle down the line, and may be “lost in translation” along the way.
Responsibility at the back, too. When you rotate to the back of the paceline, you still have a special responsibility. It’s your job to check behind periodically for approaching traffic and calling out “Car back!” when a motorist is approaching. If the group is in a double paceline on a narrow road, someone will yell “Single out” or “Single up,” and the double paceline will form into a single line so the motorist can pass safely.
But when there are no traffic concerns, being last in line is a privileged position. Because no one is behind you to be disrupted by your actions, now’s the time to take a drink or sit up and grab a snack from your jersey pocket. Need to remove a vest or peel your arm warmers? Do it while at the back.
No aero bars! Aero bars are fine for time trialing or long solo rides where they help you cut through the wind and take pressure off your hands. But aero bars are unwelcome in pacelines. A cyclist using aero bars in the paceline is less steady, and hands are far from the brake levers. They present particular dangers, both to themselves and to the other riders – and they should self-select out of pacelines.
If you have any additional tips or rules for safe paceline riding, please share them on the Comments page.
Editor & Publisher
Recently, we announced that we'd be giving away 5 RBR-logoed Walz cycling caps a month (see details below).
The Premium Member winners in our first drawing are: Eric Irwin, Scott Douglass, Peter Taylor, Elizabeth Tidd, and Kresimir Mudrovcic. Congratulations to all of you!
--- 5 RBR-logoed Walz lightweight cycling caps per month for the next 3 months (at least). RBR’s high-quality Walz Caps 3-panel logoed cycling cap in moisture-wicking 100% circular knit polyester.
Perfect for wearing anytime, including under your helmet while riding. NOTE: In Black with WHITE stripe (not orange stripe, as pictured), or White with Black stripe. RBR logo embroidered on one side of the cap.
I’ll announce the next 5 winners of these great cycling caps, valued at $24.99 each, April 17, from among new and renewing Premium Members in March.
As always, I am grateful for the support of our Premium Members!
Again, I sincerely hope that, if you have let your membership lapse, you’ll rejoin now. And, if you have thought about joining before but never pulled the trigger – Please Join Today!
By Rick Schultz
My daughter is finishing up her degree in Kinesiology and applying for graduate school to earn her doctorate in physical therapy. She is also a hard-core athlete. She runs cross-country, does triathlons, races crits, time trials and road races and, like the rest of us, she definitely gets sore muscles and overuse injuries.
Even though she stretches multiple times a day, she can’t always get rid of all of her trigger points (knots in muscles). One problem area for her is having tight IT bands.
Solution! For her last birthday, I bought her “The Stick” muscle therapy bar. She uses this religiously and recently let me borrow it when my calves were tight and sore. She showed me some stretches to do as well. This really helped me – that is, until she asked for her Stick back.
Thinking that this might be something good to test, I started searching the Internet for muscle therapy solutions. What I found is that there are actually 2 solutions that work hand-in-hand: muscle therapy bars, and foam rollers.
The basic idea of these recovery aids is to provide deep tissue self-massage before and after exercising. Used correctly, these work the same way as professional physical therapy sessions; you need to apply enough pressure so that it hurts. This will massage the deep tissue, allowing you to recovery more quickly, as well as minimizing injuries.
Other benefits include decreased muscle tension and pain, stimulation of circulation and elimination of trigger points (knots) in muscles. The other important point is to continue stretching.
While on a recent vacation, I had no access to a bicycle (my main sport), so I decided to cross-train instead. I started by jogging 5 miles a day. Normally, after 3 days of cross-training off the bike, I would be so sore that I could barely move my legs. So I thought this would be the perfect scenario to test out these muscle massage bars and foam rollers.
During my light warmup stretch, I would use one of the massage bars for 60 seconds on my calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. After each jog, I would stretch these muscle groups again, followed by 60 seconds of deep tissue massage, pressing firmly until it hurt. The results amazed me: I was never sore!
Read the full review with photos at: http://www.roadbikerider.com/product-reviews/recovery/massage-bar-rollers
Richmond 2015, the organizing committee of the UCI Road World Championships, last week announced the courses for the 12 World Championship races, which expect to attract 450,000 on-site spectators from the United States and around the world.
All of the races will end at the Greater Richmond (Virginia) Convention Center on Broad Street in downtown Richmond; individual events will start in the City of Richmond and surrounding counties. The 9-day event will be held from Sept. 19-27, 2015.
Two of the courses, the time trial and road race circuits, will be used during the USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals May 2-4, 2014, which will serve as a test event for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships. An additional criterium course also will be used for the Collegiate championships.
Here’s a link to the event schedules and course list, including detailed maps of each course: http://richmond2015.com/about/courses/.
For U.S. cycling fans, this is a unique opportunity to see the Road Championships, which have not been held in the U.S. since 1986, when Colorado Springs hosted the races.
Coach John Hughes is finishing up Part 2 of his Cycling Past 60 eArticles, which answers these and other questions RBR readers have asked Coach Hughes to touch on:
Part 2 will be published on either March 13 or March 20 (we’ll keep you posted). What else would you like Coach Hughes to cover? Post any additional suggestions or questions on the RBR Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/RoadBikeRider, or on our Community Comments page on the site.
Part 2 will contain sample weeks for riders in the upper ranges of Athletic Maturity, as defined in Cycling Past 60, Part 1: For Health, and also sample weeks for the Off, Base and Main seasons of your cycling year.
A couple of you had follow-on comments to last week’s Ask Coach Fred column about dealing with a chronic saddle sore.
Both suggested making sure of the diagnosis as part of the process of dealing with what you believe to be a saddle sore.
First, from Clifford Feldheim: “When I talked to my GP about chronic saddle sores, he just gave me an antibiotic cream. He did not even look at me. A couple of months later I went to my dermatologist for a regular check-up. I asked him about chronic saddle sores. He was immediately concerned. He had a patient recently with this complaint, and it turned out to be CANCER. Please make sure of the diagnosis.”
And this, from Stan Purdum: “It’s possible the chronic saddle sore that Greg R. describes in Issue 612 is not a cyst, as Fred suggests, but an infection caused by sitting on a public toilet seat. Apparently, even when the previous user does not dirty the seat, the flushing process causes a invisible “bloom” arising from the bowl that settles on the seat.
“That can cause ‘lumps’ on one’s bottom that are essentially boils without heads, and they don’t go away on their own. The fix is an antibiotic cream called Bactroban (mupirocin calcium cream 2%). It’s available by prescription only. The prevention is to carry some kind of sanitizer spray or wipe clean the toilet seat before using.”
The love we share for talking about our bikes continues to manifest itself in our fun run of reader polls about our trusty steeds. The previous two weeks covered frame materials, while last week’s Question of the Week asked: What is the Drivetrain on Your Main Bike?
Well over 1,000 of you voted last week! Fantastic! Now, the results:
8-Speed. -- 3%
9-Speed. -- 21%
10-Speed. -- 59%
11-Speed. -- 14%
Something less than 8. -- 3%
Total votes (through Tuesday): 1032
I don’t see any big surprises in this poll, but the numbers of 9- and 10-speed bikes do beg the question: Are we holding onto our older bikes longer, opting for 10-speed drivetrains on new bikes, or delaying purchasing a new bike (possibly with an 11-speed drivetrain)?
Which leads perfectly to our Question for this week: When Did You Buy Your Last New Road Bike?
Answer at http://www.roadbikerider.com/question-of-week, where you can also find an archive of previous poll results.
Coach John Hughes' latest is for both health-focused and recreational cyclists who ride with more intensity. Coach Hughes provides information on effective aerobic training, cross-training and indoor workouts that meet the recommendations of the American College of Sports Medicine. He also provides a detailed 12-week resistance training program, with the exercises illustrated on his website.
Like all of his eArticles, Coach Hughes’ 27-page Off-Season Training eArticle provides all of the information that you need for a productive off-season, structured into easy-to-follow 12-week programs.
All our recent titles make for some great off-season reading and contain an array of terrific training programs. Our other new titles include:
Dynamic Conditioning Monthly – Part 3: Power Development, by Coach Dan Kehlenbach. It’s the 3rd installment in Kehlenbach’s 5-month series, with each building on the previous installment. Part 3 focuses on power building, particularly functional power.
Coach Harvey Newton’s new 132-page Strength Training for Cyclists Manual, which can be purchased on its own or as part of the entire Strength Training for Cyclists System (eManual, DVD and 28-page hard copy Quick Start Guide). This is the strength training resource for cyclists.
Coach David Ertl’s eArticle Keeping Off The Pounds – a Strategy for Maintaining Body Weight in the Cycling Off-Season was written to complement his best-selling eBook, Pedal Off The Pounds. It contains both nutrition and workout tips for managing your off-season weight.
Coach John Hughes’ eArticle Cycling Past 60, Part 1: For Health 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.
All of our more than 100 titles are available for instant download.
I love to ride in the winter but sure wish I could have something hot to drink about an hour out. My bottles freeze even if I start with them filled with hot tea. What are my options? -- Jane A.
The best option is to plan your ride to include a convenience store or coffee shop at the halfway point. Buy a steaming latte or hot tea and sip it in the warmth of the store. In England, mid-ride tea breaks are a club tradition.
If your route doesn't have such civilized pleasures, you'll have to tote your own hot drink. An insulated Polar, Camelbak or other bottle (available at bike shops and online) works fine in summer to keep cold drinks cold, but it won't keep hot drinks sufficiently hot very long in temperatures below about 35F (2C) degrees.
Another option is a Thermos bottle. John tells me he has one that fits pretty well in a bottle cage and allows for one-handed valve operation. These work better than normal insulated bottles, but when they're nestled in your bottle cage catching cold wind, they still won't keep a drink hot forever.
You may have better luck carrying it in an insulated rack trunk if you don't mind stopping for a moment when you want to drink.
Some riders wear a jersey under their winter jacket and carry the bottle in the middle rear pocket. It's out of the wind, gets insulation from the clothing and your body heat helps, too.
Similarly, you could try a back-mounted hydration pack worn under your jacket so body heat will keep it warm a little longer. Liquid can turn to ice in the nozzle or hose, so you may need to slip on a section of pipe insulation of some sort.
Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.
For new, and renewing, Premium Members (dating back to January 1 of this year), I’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 67 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 will work: 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.)
In addition to the Walz Cycling Caps (see above, under From the Top), we've got the following great prizes lined up:
--- 1 Tailwind Challenge package (that’s four large bags in each of their flavors) of Tailwind Endurance Fuel sports drink. That’s a value of $125. Tailwind already offers a 15% discount to our Premium Members off any size package they sell.
Coach Fred gave Tailwind Endurance Fuel 4.5 out of 5 stars in his Tailwind Product Review last year, and I back that up; I have been using it regularly myself for several months.
I’ll announce the Tailwind Challenge winner on March 13.
--- 1 pair of Lake CX217 cycling shoes. This is the big one! With an MSRP of $229.99. The shoes feature: Real leather construction; Boa Technology closure system; All-new Lake Pro carbon sole; Choice of men's, wide's, or women's models, including half sizes from size 36 to 50. (Our thanks to Mike from Stage-Race / Lake USA for this great giveaway prize!) Click http://www.lakecycling.com/ for more info on these super shoes.
I’ll announce the Lake CX217 cycling shoes winner April 3 – just in time for your Spring riding! For this drawing, I’ll include all Premium Members from January through March.
I knew disc brakes on road bicycles was a tech topic on your minds because I received a number of emails about them, which prompted me to write about them in the first place.
And now, after providing an overview of how they work and some basic pros and cons, for the past two weeks in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, you submitted some excellent feedback from your experiences with them that I can share. Thank you!
Below are the best comments and emails that came in, with a few additional thoughts from me beneath. As always, keep the conversation going by posting on our Community Comments page.
Frequent correspondent Bob Eltroth wrote “I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss well set-up cable-actuated disc brakes, Jim. For touring on the road, they have an advantage that they're easier to fix on the road a couple of hundred miles from a bike shop. They're also easier to pack if the bike has S&S couplers (frame-splitters). Have you seen any quick release hydraulic line couplers? It’s easy to find cable splitters.
“I have hydraulic disc brakes on mountain and cargo bikes, but our coupled touring tandem has cable discs, although we sometimes change out the rear wheel for a rim brake and Arai drag brake for loaded touring with major hills.
“Unfortunately, it's common to see mismatched cable levers and calipers on road bikes with cable-actuated discs. We happen to have mountain calipers, but Cane Creek makes levers with the proper pull for them. Of course, we also happen to use bar-end shifters for touring so we aren’t dealing with shifting braking and can use whatever brake levers we need.
“And, to add to your cons list, Jim, one disadvantage of disc brakes for loaded touring is trying to find rear racks that accommodate them. Some have the skewer run through them, causing difficulties changing flats on the rear wheel.”
Road and mountain biker Steve Fenn pointed out, “Regarding overheating: Yep, no more rims getting hot and wearing out to the point of cracking. But disc brake rotors get hot. On a 26-inch-wheel mountain bike I thought mechanical disc brakes were great! Especially after moving from rim brakes and doing 5-mile, or longer, downhills. No issues.
“But on a 29er MTB, on those same 15-24% downhills, with the stock 160mm diameter rotors, the rotors were turning blue and screaming and squealing. I replaced the rotors and pads and experienced the same thing. I upgraded to Shimano XT ICE disc brakes with 160mm rotors and the same thing happened. Finally, I ended up installing 180mm rotors front and rear. Now, the heating isn’t a problem and I pretty much have one-finger super strong braking action.
“So, knowing my experiences on a 29er, which is close to a road bike’s 700c wheels, l wonder if 160mm rotors will handle the 20-24% paved descents I ride? It might be necessary to go to 180mm. I'm squeezing pretty darn hard on my rim brakes for now.
“Also, maybe a larger disc rotor is all it would take to make a set of mechanical-disc brakes with smaller diameter rotors stop much more powerfully?”
Tips: Speaking of hot rotors, Steve, it’s worth pointing out that excessive heat during braking can warp the rotors and mean having to straighten them. So you don’t want to ride the brakes to that extent if you can help it. Also, if you stopped after a long downhill and had to remove your wheel to put your bike on your car, etc., it’s a good idea to remember not to touch a hot rotor.
Longtime tourist and frame-builder Mark Perkins offered his perspective, which goes back a ways.
Mark says, “Before the new generation of disc brakes came on the market, back in '92, I designed and built a front and rear drum-brake-equipped bike for loaded touring and even off-road use. It was a good choice at the time, especially for someone who wants to avoid rain or mud compromising their brakes.
“I used Sturmey-Archer drum-brake hubs, which were sealed-bearing hubs that worked really well for what they are, but not as good as today's disc brakes. (FYI: The brake shoes in those now 22-year-old drum brakes still don't need to be replaced, and should be good for at least another 22 years!)
“My main point is that although most articles I've read about the new road bike disc brakes mention their use on road bikes meant for single-day rides, the advantage these brakes should have on a touring bike should be even greater. This should be a natural use for these brakes.
“I do realize that a huge percentage of bicycle tourists use mountain bikes or hybrid bikes, some of which already come with disc brakes. But I don't tour on a fat-tire bike, and want to use these disc brakes on 700 x 32c wheels on a nice touring bike for excellent braking when I’m traveling with all my gear.”
Tip: I lost the person’s name who offered this tip (sorry), but loaded touring usually results in more flat tires. And that’s another reason for disc brakes, which make wheel removal and installation quicker and easier, since there are no brake pads to have to fit the tire through.
A reader with the username SportVelo feels the way I do about discs on performance road bikes. He commented, “Thanks for the clear, concise write-up on disc brakes for road bikes, Jim. I couldn't agree more with your personal conclusion: that for road riding and racing this technology is overkill. Disc brakes make sense on motor vehicles (both 4 and 2 wheels (speed, suspension, and weight)), plus mountain bikes, and cross bikes for the possible extreme conditions.
“I'm certain the ultimate performance of hydraulic discs can be better than cable-actuated calipers, but measured against the added complexity, different loading forces and weight, it just doesn't add up for me. If and when this becomes the de facto standard (service, and parts repair availability), I'll be a very late or non-adaptor.”
A roadie who goes by jerryh3052 offered a good warning for some of us who might soon have bikes with disc brakes and bikes with standard ones. He writes, “I have 2 road bikes, an older Giant Cadex with standard brakes, and a 2-year-old Marin Lombard with mechanical-disc brakes. I am quite satisfied with the Marin but find the biggest challenge is for the first 5 minutes or so when having changed bikes I need to remember the correct amount of pressure to apply to stop the bike or risk being surprised by the power.
“Also, I have not had to have the disc brakes adjusted between tune-ups and am always having to adjust the standard sidepull brakes. For that reason alone, I would much rather have the mechanical-disc brakes than standards. Hopefully, I’ll get to try the hydraulic brakes to experience the difference from mechanicals.”
Lastly, here’s an idea from reader Russ Starke, who wrote, “With most of the braking power of vehicles coming from the front, why not put a disc on the front and leave the rear brake traditional? More bikes could be updated with just a new fork, instead of new frame/fork, and it would be less expensive, too.”
Cool idea, Russ. Thanks! And thanks to everyone else, too.
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 7,370.
“If only I had more time to train, I’d be in super shape.”
Ever overhear that comment on the club ride? I bet you have. You may have even said it yourself. It ranks way ahead of other cycling “if only’s”—wishes for more power, a faster sprint, or a lighter bike.
Give me 20 hours a week on the bike, we fantasize, and (insert famous pro rider) would be in trouble.
Sorry. More saddle time or mileage alone is unlikely to make us better riders. And that’s good consolation for riders fighting a time crunch.
For the next three weeks, we’ll take a look at how to make the most of your limited training time and provide some tips on how to perhaps carve out a little more time to ride from you busy schedule.
We’ll start today by examining why a modest amount of training time allows you to unlock nearly all of your genetic potential. Next week, I’ll show you how to reach top fitness by training only seven hours per week. And then I’ll offer those tips on “discovering” more time in the day.
When some people start riding, 10 miles is a real chore. But soon they can ride longer and their average speed improves markedly. However, after some months they reach a depressing plateau. Average speed stagnates and it’s harder to tack an additional 10 or 15 miles on weekend rides. Even when they increase training mileage substantially, performance refuses to budge.
Each of us has inherited limits to our abilities. Simply adding mileage won’t shatter that genetic ceiling. In fact, riding too much can slow us down rather than make us faster when we exceed our capacity to recover.
Example! Runners are more susceptible to injury than cyclists due to the high-impact nature of their sport. As a result, runners get harsh reminders from their bodies that they’re overdoing it.
Sports scientists agree that the injury rate for many runners jumps sharply at about 30 miles per week. Stay below that number and most runners can perform almost as well as they would at 50 or 70 miles a week—and have a far lower incidence of injury.
Because cycling is a compliant, non-impact sport, we don’t get such a dramatic warning that we’ve reached our mileage limit. But current thinking places it at about 110 to 150 miles per week for people who work for a living. That’s roughly six to nine hours of riding.
Most workaday cyclists think (know) that 10 hours a week is a lot.
There’s one more fallacy of wishing for unlimited time to ride: You’d probably get bored with cycling. Isn’t gonna happen—you love to ride, right?
But if all you did was ride—no weight training, no hiking, no leisurely Saturday mornings puttering around the house—you’d eventually come to dislike the bike.
Check back next week for that 7-hour plan.
RBR is “written by rec roadies like me about real riding by real people -- who aren't pros and never will be -- and the reality of the experience. Thanks!” -- Premium Member Randy Brich
Support RBR with an annual Premium Membership for only $24.99.
Reader and Product Reviewer Brian Nystrom and reader Marni Harang had some follow-on advice to a recent Tip about maintaining your brake pads.
There are a couple of tips I use when bedding and maintaining brake pads.
If you have trouble getting the brake pads to make even contact with the rim (this is especially an issue if the braking surface is curved), attach a 4- to 6-inch (10-15cm) strip of sandpaper (about 120 grit) to the rim with double-sided tape. Press the brake pad against it as you rock the wheel back and forth. In no time, you'll have a perfectly shaped pad. You may want to toe it in slightly afterward.
You can use the same tip to clean up dirty, grooved pads. However, for the woodworkers out there, using a block plane to take off a few thin shavings will get your pads back in top shape quickly, while maintaining the proper angle on the pad face. Just remember to remove any dirt or grit beforehand, so you don't dull the blade.
And here’s Marni:
Every time I ride, part of my post-ride ritual is to take a rough terry cloth scrap and insert it between the brake pad and the wheel. I then scrub up and down and side to side, pressing against the brake pads. Then I use the other side of the terry cloth to wipe all around the brake track. Just a standard part of the check, clean and prep routine that follows each ride.
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.
Have you ever bonked on a long group ride because the pace was too hard to let you open, chew and swallow solid food? Racers are masters of eating on the fly. Here are 6 of their tricks for meals on wheels:
Eat when you're at the back. You don't have to pedal as hard when you're sheltered in the draft. You'll be out of the way of other riders as you pull out food and shove it down.
Eat when the pace eases. Look for descents, lulls in the action or tailwind sections. Even a heart rate 5 or 10 beats slower will enable you to chow in greater comfort.
Pre-peel your bars. Most energy bars are hard to open on the fly. Do it before the ride to make it lots easier to finish the job with one hand and your teeth.
Take small bites. Shoving half a bar into your mouth makes it tough to breathe. Smaller bites can be tucked back by your molars to chew, leaving an airway on the other side.
Opt for bite-sized nutrition. You could also go with one of the many bite-sized bars or chews available. Then you can just grab a handful and eat one or two at a time.
Don't be dainty. Table manners go out the window in a fast group. Forget what Mom said about chewing each bite 20 times. Take a couple of hearty chomps and swallow. Repeat.
Opt for gel. If solid food is still too hard to handle despite these tips, try energy gel. If gel packets are still too tough to deal with, transfer the gel to a small flask. Open the nozzle with your teeth like you do a water bottle, squeeze in a mouthful, swallow, go.