1. From the Top: How to Lose 583 Pounds
2. News & Reviews: Product Review: Compass Barlow Pass Extralight 700x38 Tires
3. Question of the Week: What’s the Widest Tires You Would Consider on Your Road Bike?
4. Ask Coach Fred: What Pressures are Appropriate for 28s?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Fixing Sloppy Rear Mechanical Shifting
7. No Problem: Should I Be Hitting the Weight Room?
8. Quick Tips: My Own Indoor Bike Washing Technique
9. Cadence: How You Lose Weight
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
Editor’s Note: Several of the readers who sent us their 2015 goals last week mentioned losing weight as either a primary or secondary goal. This time of year, especially, it seems like a lot of road riders are in the same boat. A few weeks ago, I shared with Coach David Ertl an email from an RBR Premium Member extolling the virtues of Coach Ertl’s terrific eBook, Pedal Off the Pounds. (See his testimonial, below, in David’s article.)
As a suggestion to those of you who belong to a cycling club, David thought it would be fun to share with you information about how his own hometown club in Des Moines, Iowa, has used his eBook as the foundation for a seasonal weight-loss contest. The results speak for themselves, but there’s nothing stopping individual riders from reaping the same benefits on their own. (Don’t miss the related article from Dr. Gabe Mirkin in Cadence about the body’s processes involved in weight loss.)
Also in today’s issue, Coach Fred Matheny kicks his exploration of wider tires up a notch – to 38s! He reviews a set of Compass Barlow Pass Extralight 700x38 tires. And he provides some inflation insight in this week’s Ask Coach Fred column to a reader who just made to jump to 28s, a width just under the 32s Coach Fred reviewed back in September.
By Coach David Ertl
In the summer of 2013, following the release of my eBook Pedal Off The Pounds (POTP) that January, the Des Moines Cycle Club (my hometown bike club) decided to use the book as the basis for a weight-loss and exercise challenge, somewhat based on the TV show The Biggest Loser -- except no one gets voted out of the Club. (That's me, at left; I follow my own POTP advice!)
The contest was the brainchild of Ride Director Jason Rose and co-led by our club president, Georgie Libbie. Part of the challenge was about getting people to learn to eat more healthfully and lose weight, and part of the motivation was to introduce people to cycling and to get them to realize that exercise can be fun.
The best way to stay active and lose weight is to find an activity that is fun and people can stick with, which (yes, I’m certainly biased here) we all know is cycling. The Pedal Off The Pounds Challenge was a great success, with the winner losing more than 53 pounds during the 22-week program!
In 2014, our Club decided to repeat the POTP Challenge. The 100 participants were divided into 4 teams (red, purple, yellow and green – each of which had T-shirts in the team color), and we met every Monday evening. These weekly meetings included a weigh-in for all participants, and the teams and individuals losing the most weight that week received rewards and recognition. Winners of various categories received strings of beads where were traded in at the end of the season for cycling accessories.
After the weekly weigh-in and awards ceremony, all the teams either took part in a fun cycling-related challenge, such as a slow race, or listened to a motivational speaker. We finished up the evening with a group ride (no-drop policy in effect).
At the end of this past summer’s Challenge, the Club gave out an award for the biggest cumulative team weight loss, as well as for the biggest weight loss by an individual.
2014’s grand prize winner, Lisa Klever, lost 16% of her body weight during the Challenge. After the program ended, Lisa continued to lose weight and has now lost 69 pounds! Here are before and after pictures of her.
The combined weight lost in the 2014 challenge was at least 583 pounds. Not all participants were able to make every weigh-in, and we think it’s safe to assume the total was even higher.
We continue to tweak the Challenge from year to year. For example, following the incredible success of the 2013 season, Georgie sent out a survey to the POTP participants and asked them how much they spent on bikes and accessories as a result of them joining the POTP challenge. The results were astounding; participants spent $60,000 on equipment during the season!
So Georgie went around to the local bike shops and shared that statistic with them and asked them to contribute prizes to the 2014 challenge. She successfully obtained a bike rack, a new Trek bike and lots of other accessories as donations for prizes. Lisa won the bike as the grand prize.
We’re gearing up for Year 3 of the POTP Challenge, with many eager participants (and sponsors) ready to roll. It’s a terrific way for a club to generate interest and enthusiasm around cycling. Most cycling clubs feature a cross-section of riders with varying interests and abilities, and the POTP Challenge is something that unites all of us in a common – healthy – pursuit. Who among us, even the fittest, doesn’t usually have at least a few extra pounds we’d love to get rid of?
So if you belong to a cycling club, consider implementing your own version of the Challenge. I’d be happy to share any additional details with you about how we structure our program.
But you don’t have to be a member of the Des Moines Cycle Club – or any club, for that matter – to benefit. John recently shared with me this email testimonial from RBR Premium Member Steven Seidenberg of Wheeling, Illinois:
“On August 26 last year I purchased Pedal Off The Pounds and have lost 37 pounds to date. This was the best thing I ever read. The before picture is in an XL jersey and XXL bib shorts; I weighed 220 pounds in May 2014 before starting riding. The after picture is at 183 pounds at the end of October 2014. I lost so much weight that on that vacation we took several hours to purchase new pants with a waste size 38, 4 inches smaller than before, and Medium shirts, down from XL.
“In the past I ran and used bicycling as cross-training. I would burn lots of calories exercising but did not change what I ate. Then I found your plan and it spoke to me in a way that nothing else has in the past. I read it once and started to get what you were talking about. The second time through I used a highlighter and then discussed with my health-conscious wife.
“After the third time I was comfortable with the eating part. Re: biking, I am still doing my own thing but am starting to see the light in terms of [having] an organized training plan with goals for my workouts. It matters what I eat. Good food gives me energy, keeps me full and alert. Fast food and bad food makes me sluggish and carry excess fat.”
I suspect Steve isn’t the only RBR reader who has read Pedal Off The Pounds and found it helped them lose weight through cycling – which is exactly its purpose. We would love to hear your success stories, too. Please share them with us.
If losing a few pounds is one of your aims this year, Coach Ertl has consented to a special price of $9.99 (Premium price: $8.49) for the next 4 weeks for Pedal Off The Pounds, to give you a small additional incentive. (The regular price is $11.75/$9.99.) Just a quick reminder to club members: If your club does decide to run a contest, please ensure that every participant purchases his or her own copy of the eBook. We want you to share in the fun and sense of accomplishment in losing weight together, but sharing eBooks and eArticles is not fair to the authors like Coach Ertl who work extremely hard to tailor highly useful information for you (and certainly aren’t getting wealthy from the royalties!).
By Coach Fred Matheny
Weight: 327 grams
Tread design: traditional file/rib tread
Variations: Black or tan sidewalls (tested: black); extralight and regular casings
Miles tested: 800+
How Acquired: Sample from Company
RBR Sponsor: No
In September, I reviewed the Compass Stampede Pass 700x32 tires. I was interested in the move to wider tires and thought that going from 25s up to 32s would be a good test of their reported benefits: a smoother ride, greater resistance to pinch flats and no loss in speed compared to “racier” tires. As I reported in that review, the Stampede Pass tires performed admirably.
But they still left hanging the question: How wide can you go?
With that question in mind, Jan Heine of Compass Bicycles sent me a pair of their Barlow Pass 700x38 Extralight tires. They’re designed to duplicate the legendary performance of the high-volume, handmade clinchers ridden by French randonneurs in the 1930s and 40s on the rough, often unpaved roads of the time.
My initial impression as I opened the package – these puppies are wide. Visually extravagant might be a better term. They appear much larger in proportion to the bike than the 32s, which looked plenty voluminous and drew questions (and a little dismay) from other riders.
But the Barlow Pass tires scream “monster truck” to most roadies. (See the photo of the tires on my Rivendell Roadeo.) Peering down on the front tire, I was reminded of how a racing teammate once described the team-issue 25mm tires we received at a time when 23s were considered wide: “fat, black sausages.” I wondered what he’d think of these 38s? And I wondered why I’d want them on my road bike. An October ride near my western Colorado home provided an answer.
I started in town, meandered onto paved farm and ranch roads and then struck off on a mixture of dirt and gravel. The puffy tires rolled at my usual speed on pavement and handled the unpaved surfaces with plenty of traction in loose corners and surprising comfort even on washboard.
But the real payoff came when I detoured off the dirt road and headed out on the local singletrack playground, Buzzard Gulch. It’s moderate singletrack by Colorado standards—packed dirt, slickrock and small climbs tucked in the pinion and juniper trees—so it was perfect for tackling with a road bike. The Barlow Pass tires gripped almost as well as knobbies on dirt. They were even better on rock, with a gecko-like adhesion akin to climbing shoes on granite.
They also provided sufficient air volume to protect the rims while bouncing over rocks. I had fun swooping in and out of gullies, and while I would have descended faster on a suspended mountain bike, I went faster uphill on my light road bike. And in spite of cactus by the trail, as well as sharp rocks, the tires suffered no punctures or sidewall problems. Simply mounting fatter tires transformed my road bike into a much more versatile performer.
Before investing in a pair of tires this wide, though, check your bike’s clearance carefully. As I mentioned in the previous review, you need a bike with sufficient room for wide tires, and the 38s push the limits on even those frames designed with them in mind. On my Rivendell Roadeo, there was sufficient clearance, but I couldn’t have mounted fenders safely.
Compass tires come in both regular and extralight models. The difference in weight is mainly due to the casing. Heine’s testing has shown that tire performance is dependent on casing suppleness, so the extralight casings are thin indeed, reminding me of the old Clement Criterium tubulars.
Inflation pressures are important with wide tires. After the Stampede Pass review, I was taken to task by readers for running them too hard, at around 85 psi. So I reduced the wider Barlow Pass tires’ pressure to the 50 psi range. To my senses, accustomed to running 90-100 psi in 25 or 28 mm tires, the 38s felt a bit squirmy at first. But I quickly got used to the feeling and was rewarded with more cush on rough surfaces.
With the thin casing, I was concerned about punctures. I haven’t flatted the Stampede Pass 32s yet, but on the second ride with the Barlow Pass 38 tires, after a total of about 90 miles, I got a slow leak in the rear. The culprit turned out to be a goathead thorn the size of a fingernail paring that had gradually worked its way through the thinner tread on the outside of the casing and into the tube.
I normally have flats from these obnoxious weeds only once or twice a year. However, 2014 was wetter than normal, so the offending vines had grown up in the pavement cracks on little-used roads. Because bad luck with punctures is essentially random, it’s possible I would have had the same result with heavier tires. And the Barlow Pass tires handled the Buzzard Gulch singletrack with no problems. To take some liberties with Einstein, the puncture gods are both subtle and malicious.
When I changed out the punctured tube by the roadside, I noticed two other quirks of wider tires. The quick release on my Shimano dual pivot brakes didn’t open wide enough to clear the tire so I had to undo the brake cable to get the re-inflated tire in. Not a big deal but another step in the flat repair process.
Also, I struggled with my Lezyne Road Drive mini-pump to get enough air into the big-volume casing. It was quite an arm workout to squeeze in 40 psi so I could ride home with no fear of a pinch flat. I usually carry a Blackburn Frame Pump along the left seatstay, but the wide tires rubbed on the pump’s shaft. The longer pump would have made the inflation task easier. (And if you prefer CO2 cartridges for your roadside inflation, be sure to carry multiples, or big enough cartridges to adequately inflate these tires. You might try practicing at home to see how much they hold.)
Winter set in before I could accumulate enough miles on the Barlow Pass tires to check their resistance to wear. However, after about 800 miles there is no tread wear visible and the sidewalls are pristine. For the same reason, I was unable to return to Red Mountain Pass where I tested the descending chops of the 32mm Stampede Pass tires. Based on the 38mm tires’ grip on shorter, curvy descents, I am sure they’d grip at least as tenaciously on any corner.
Running wide tires with a supple and thin casing definitely involves trade-offs. On the plus side, there’s greater comfort, tempting you onto small roads with bad pavement but great scenery, the kind of roads we often avoid on narrower tires. They definitely have more descending grip. They reduce fears of your tire falling into narrow pavement cracks and causing a crash. And they make your bike much more versatile, capable of riding pavement with no loss of speed compared to narrower rubber but also up to the challenge of dirt roads and mild singletrack.
Negatives include an arguably greater risk of punctures from small, sharp objects like goatheads and tire wires and a few inconveniences of wider casings like brake compatibility and frame clearance. They also increase toe overlap and raise the bottom bracket height compared to lower-profile tires.
Will I leave the 38s on the Roadeo? I envision using narrower and more flat-resistant tires, like Continental 4Seasons in 28mm, for winter rides when the roads are more littered with debris but mounting the Barlow Pass tires in more clement weather. They’ll be a big advantage when dry conditions tempt me onto varied surfaces. I also like them for added comfort on long rides, as well as increased cornering control on Colorado descents.
These “fat, black sausages” may look odd to conventional roadies’ eyes, but they justify the choices of those French randonneurs of nearly a century ago.
Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.
A friend of mine who organizes a charity ride that supports Aplastic Anemia is looking for an over-the-road start/finish line that he could use for his ride in June north of Atlanta.
If anyone has a lead on such a thing, please contact me, and I can put you in touch with the ride organizer in need.
Thanks for any information you can provide that may help.
Nod silently in agreement if you’ve ever heard this before from a friend or acquaintance who knows you’re a cyclist: Why do cyclists always blow through stop signs and weave in and out of traffic? [Or some variation on that theme.]
I heard it just this past Sunday, and I gave my usual “They give us all a bad name. We’re not all like that. You’re focusing on one cyclist and not seeing the vast majority who do obey traffic laws” spiel.
But, really, just like drivers, most cyclists do, at least on occasion, scoff the law. Who among us hasn’t rolled through a stop sign (or even ridden above the posted speed limit)?
An interesting article in the Washington Post titled “Let’s talk seriously about why cyclists break traffic laws” points out that the reasons cyclists sometimes break the law are varied and personal – often having to do with providing themselves what they feel is an extra measure of safety.
“If some of us violate traffic rules to stay safe, would we be more law-abiding if cities created safer spaces for us?” asked author Emily Badger. “(By this, I do not mean a separate network of biking roads in the woods, but more protected bike lanes and dedicated signals that would allow cars and cyclists to share the road on their way to the same places.)”
Badger admits that she does sometimes scoff the law on her bike, as does Wesley Marshall, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado at Denver who co-directs the Active Communities Transportation Research Group.
“Most of us, whatever mode we travel, break the law at some point, Marshall points out, whether we're driving five miles over the speed limit, or crossing the street against the crosswalk. And yet, we tend not to treat lead-footed drivers with the same disapproval as cyclists who ride through stop signs, even though the former behavior is potentially more publicly harmful than the latter. Which raises another question: Are cyclists really more prolific scofflaws than drivers anyway?”
Marshall hopes that collecting data on why cyclists break the law has the potential to help create safer streets and may even foster a more productive dialogue about how cars and bikes can better, more safely share the road.
Take a look at the article, and see what you think.
This is encouraging: a New York Times article titled “How Exercise Keeps Us Young” reports on a new study whose findings defy the age-old wisdom that we inevitably decline physically with age. Instead, the study reports, how we age is largely dependent on us.
Instead of focusing on the typical sedentary population to determine factors involved in aging, “'We wanted to understand what happens to the functioning of our bodies as we get older if we take the best-case scenario,'” said Stephen Harridge, senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London.
The scientists chose to look at a group of serious recreational cyclists, both men and women, between the ages of 55 and 79. According to the Times article, the men had to be able to ride a metric century in 6 1/2 hours, and the women 60km (37 miles) in 5 1/2 hours – “benchmarks typical of a high degree of fitness in older people.”
The cyclists were put through a battery of physical and cognitive tests. And here’s the great news:
“As it turned out, the cyclists did not show their age. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability.”
Three cheers for cycling!
The study did, of course, point out what most of us already know. Namely, that endurance and power inevitably do diminish with age. I think we dedicated roadies willingly accept that bargain.
I'm really pleased to tell you that I've lined up a Fly6 Rear LED Light with Built-In HD Camera for our first Premium Prize of 2015!
It's one of my absolute favorite new safety products, and it's been on my bike for every single ride since I reviewed it back in August. I was one of 20 testers worldwide who provided feedback on the new model, as well, which came out in November. Click the link to see my updated Fly6 product review. Click the image to go to Cycliq's Fly6 product page.
I continue to line up great products like this one -- priced at $249 -- as drawing prizes to give away to our Premium Members. It's just a way for me to say Thanks for Supporting RBR!
Your $24.99 annual Membership gives you the satisfaction of supporting an independent, enthusiast-driven newsletter and site that have been supporting road cycling for almost 15 years.
Any new or renewing Premium Members for the month of January who sign up before January 31 will be included in the drawing for the Fly6 Rear LED Light with Built-In HD Camera. (And we're already working on some other great prizes and sponsor offers, too.) Sign up now! And, again, my thanks to all our supporters!
-- John Marsh
Today's Question is pegged to Coach Fred Matheny's Product Review of the Compass Barlow Pass Extralight 700x38 Tires
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
Back in Issue 548 you addressed the topic of wider vs. narrower tires and RBR ran a question asking what size tires we ride. I noted that you said you had switched to 28mm tires from 25mm without suffering performance problems and found them more comfortable. I had then recently switched to 25s from 23 with the same result and the idea of switching to 28 has stuck in my head. I am going to do so and went back to read the old issues to get an idea of recommended tire pressure for that size tire. I read in interesting article at http://www.bikequarterly.com/images/TireDrop.pdf. Using their chart and assuming a 40/60 front/rear weight distribution came up with optimal pressure of 72psi rear and 55 front. That seems way too low. What do you guys recommend? -- Richard Z.
Good question, Richard. A lot of riders are taking advantage of the increased comfort of wider tires. There doesn't seem to be any performance loss and on rough roads speed is often faster because the wider tires absorb the bumps and roll over them with little loss of forward speed, while in contrast narrow tires with high pressures bounce and retard speed. The only issue for most riders is whether their bike has sufficient clearance for wider rubber.
I weigh 150 and run 95 psi in the rear tire, 90 in the front when I'm using 28s. This is higher than most recommendations and I've experimented with lower pressures. However, I have ridden for over 40 years with the traditional higher pressures and find lower psi a bit squirmy in corners. Maybe it's just a question of getting accustomed to a slightly different road feel.
I respect Jan Heine's recommendations and his research seems solid. In fact, in today’s issue, I review a set of Compass Barlow Pass 700 x 38mm tires. I figured that if the trend is toward wider tires, why not go all the way! I found the increased width to be quite comfortable at inflation pressures of around 55 psi and didn't notice slower average speeds. Again, on rough roads speeds actually increased.
So my recommendation for 28mm tires is to experiment with various pressures until you find the "sweet spot" for your road surfaces and riding style. I would guess that for you, ideal inflation pressure would be 80-90 psi, but this may vary depending on your roads, riding style and the balance between comfort and performance you find ideal.
Keep a couple of things in mind. First, gauges on floor pumps are notoriously inaccurate, so if you want to be sure of inflation pressure, a good gauge is useful to get repeatable pressures. Second, beware of the usual figure of 60% of total weight on the rear tire and 40% on the front. This can vary a lot depending on the rider's body's weight distribution, position on the bike and whether the rider is on the drops or sitting up.
If your weight distribution is different, your ideal pressure may differ from the chart. Also, the suppleness of the tire's sidewalls can change the way a tire feels on the road at a certain pressure. More supple sidewalls make the ride more comfortable while rigid sidewalls mean a harsher ride at any given tire pressure.
Finally, I'm not sure that worrying too much about small variations in tire pressure is warranted for most riders (and most rides). I usually can't tell the difference when my tires are 5-10 pounds different from one ride to 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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Whether it’s not being able to shift into your easiest or hardest gears (the largest and smallest cogs, respectively) or having to fuss around to hit the right gear in the middle of the range, few things ruin a ride faster than sloppy and balky rear shifting.
Besides the frustration, it also wastes energy since it can force you to ride in the wrong gear or keep trying to hit the right one. On a group ride, a miss-shift can cause you to lose contact with the group. Or worse, if you fumble a shift at the wrong time, you could even crash.
Usually, it’s relatively easy and quick to fine-tune rear mechanical shifting issues and fix them. And, if the quick fix doesn’t work, it’s only a bit more work to investigate, find and solve the problem. Instructions for both approaches follow.
Disclaimer: These tips are for non-crashed or -abused road bicycles with cable-operated mechanical rear derailleurs and what’s known as “index shifting.” You have this type of shifting if your right shift lever clicks into gear when you operate it. And, while some of these instructions can relate to front shifting, too, the tips are mainly for the rear shifting because that’s used the most and what goes out of adjustment most often.
The most common rear shifting issue is the chain hesitating to go into the next easier gear (next larger cog). You click the lever, but instead of the derailleur crisply shifting the chain into gear, it makes a clattering noise and you have to overshift the lever to make the shift (or it might not make the shift no matter what).
The most common reason this happens is because the shift cable stretched. That creates slack in the cable. This slack changes how far the derailleur moves with each click of the shift lever. And, when the cable can’t move the derailleur far enough, the derailleur won’t be able to shift the chain onto the next cog.
Fortunately, most bicycles have a built-in barrel adjuster (illustration) for taking up any cable slack and fine-tuning your shifting. Look for it on the back of the rear derailleur. You’ll see the adjuster if you follow the cable path to where it enters the derailleur. The adjuster is knurled for turning by hand, no tools needed.
To fix the shifting hesitation, turn the adjuster counterclockwise in 1/2-turn increments, check the shifting after each 1/2 turn, and repeat until each click of the shift lever hits the next gear smoothly. Usually, it’ll only require a handful of half turns at the most.
When the derailleur adjusting barrel doesn’t solve your shifting issue, taking a more systematic approach is the best way to figure out and fix what else might be wrong. What I describe here may seem like a lot of work. But with luck, you will just be checking these things and not doing too much work on the parts.
The reason to take this approach is to check everything in the rear shifting system so that you know everything’s working the way it should. What can happen is the adjustment can get messed up if too many changes are made over time, such as cable tensioning, derailleur limit screw changes and even swapping cassettes or rear wheels.
This systematic 7-step approach resets everything back to square one, so it works optimally again. Even if you choose not to do it, if you read it, you’ll know the procedure a pro mechanic will use and can ask for it at the shop.
Step 1. Start by removing the rear wheel and trying to turn the nuts on the axle ends with your fingers. Occasionally these parts come loose and they can then move in and out, changing the axle spacing and shifting. Cassette cogs can loosen, too. Hold and try to wiggle them to check. There shouldn’t be any play between the cogs. If the nuts or cogs are loose, fix these issues.
Step 2. Before reinstalling the rear wheel, look at how the rear derailleur connects to the frame. Depending on your frame type, you will probably see some small screws holding the plate the derailleur is screwed into onto the frame. These need to be tight. Check with the right tool (usually a tiny allen wrench). Now that these things are checked, reinstall the rear wheel.
Step 3. Next, loosen the rear shift cable from the rear derailleur by loosening the cable anchor bolt. Once the cable is loose, hold the end of the cable between your fingers and pull on it. Hold on tight and operate the shift lever. Feel for if the cable moves nice and smoothly and if the lever moves into all its positions without any issues. If the lever doesn’t work right, that could be the cause of the shifting problem, and a lever repair or replacement might be needed. Usually they don’t fail, though. A more common thing is to find something dragging in the cable, either rust or a frayed cable inside the housing, or a bent or cracked or crushed piece of housing (replace bad cables/housing). If the cable feels nice and smooth and the lever works perfectly, that’s great.
Step 4. With the cable still NOT tightened in the derailleur anchor bolt, you can check the derailleur limit screw adjustments with no cable influencing how it shifts. To do this, suspend the bike and pedal with your right hand while gently pushing the derailleur in with your left hand and releasing it. The derailleur will walk the chain up and down the cogs as you do this, and you can watch it for problems. It should shift up onto the biggest cog nice and smooth and run nice and quiet up there. And it should drop onto the smallest cog quickly and accurately, too. If it doesn’t shift onto the smallest or largest cogs, fine-tune the high and low limit screws in 1/2-turn increments with a screwdriver until it does. Keep checking, shifting with your hand and pedaling with your other hand and make sure the limit screw adjustments are spot on.
Most component makers provide limit screw instructions online in their tech docs, or similar. That’s the best place to find the latest instructions for adjusting the limit screws on your specific derailleur. Here are generic instructions to get you going: Find the high and low limit screws on the rear of the derailleur, usually marked H for High gear and L for Low gear adjustment. To use them, understand that even 1/2 turns make a big difference in the adjustment. So turn one at a time and test the adjustment before fine tuning more. Also, remember what you did so you don’t get confused and can easily go back if you got it wrong or went too far.
You use clockwise turns of the screws to reduce how far the derailleur can move toward the spokes (the L screw), and toward the frame (H screw). To increase the derailleur’s range, you turn them counterclockwise. Once these limits are perfectly set for shifting to the smallest and largest cogs, note that there is no adjustment with the screws for fine tuning shifts to any of the other cogs. Instead, you fine-tune that adjustment by changing the cable tension with the barrel adjuster.
Tip: It’s worth taking your time and getting the limit screws set perfectly, because they’ll stay put and you may never need to touch them again for the life of the derailleur – as long as you don’t crash and bend the derailleur.
Step 5. To review: the rear wheel’s axle nuts and cassette cogs are good, the rear derailleur is tightly attached to the frame, the cable and the shifter are good, and the derailleur limit screws are perfectly adjusted. The final step is to remove slack in the cable and tighten it to the derailleur. First, check to make sure the rear derailleur is as far to the right (the bike’s drive side) as it will go, and holding the chain on the smallest cog. Also make sure the shift lever is in its starting position. In other words, where it is before you’ve made any shifts.
Step 6. Now, remove any slack in the cable by pulling on its end with pliers, and then tighten the shift cable to the derailleur with its cable anchor bolt. Do this carefully because there’s a fine line between too tight and just right. You’re just taking out the slack. You are not trying to make the cable really tight. If you pull too tight you can actually move the derailleur and change how it shifts.
Tip: A top tip that can save you if you get the cable too taut is to use the adjusting barrel on your derailleur as a cheat. Before tightening the cable, turn the barrel out about 3 or 4 turns and then remove the cable slack and tighten it to what feels right. You can tell on the first test shift if the cable is too tight because it will jump too far up the cogs and it won’t drop back down on the small cog. If that happens, now that the adjustment barrel was adjusted out (the tip), you can just screw it in to loosen the cable rather than having to loosen the anchor bolt and try again.
Step 7. The final step is fine-tuning the cable tension with the adjustment barrel so that each click of the shift lever results in a perfect shift.
A lot more things can go wrong with rear derailleurs and shifting, yet these basic procedures will go a long ways toward keeping your shifting -- and you -- happy.
Next week: replacing rear shift cables.
An RBR roadie writes: “I’m doing squats this winter in hopes of adding strength to help my cycling next season. I read the weight training chapter in your Off-Season Training for Roadies and now I'm unsure about whether to continue working so hard in the weight room.”
The answer to whether strength training for the legs improves cycling is a definite maybe [writes Coach Fred Matheny]. There are 2 considerations that I went into in some detail in the eBook chapter mentioned. Here's the short version.
Sports science isn't sure that conventional resistance training helps endurance performance. It depends on the individual's weaknesses. If you're naturally strong but lack aerobic power, you're probably better off riding and working on strength on the bike with short hard hills and low-cadence/high-gear repeats. If you lack strength in your legs, weights can help improve this weakness. But then you have to convert that strength into cycling-specific power with on-bike training.
There’s another consideration. As we age, it's increasingly important to maintain muscle volume. Weights are a great way to do that. I suspect that most riders over 45 or 50 should do squats or leg presses routinely just to stave off sarcopenia (loss of lean muscle tissue). Think of it this way -- you’re lifting not to improve your riding next spring but rather to ensure that you’re still able to ride in 20 or 30 years.
Relatively low reps (5-10) and heavier weights build strength most effectively, and that's why you're in the weight room. But if you don't have good flexibility and good form in doing leg exercises, you're better off using high reps and relatively low weight to avoid injury.
Remember that some great riders can leg press only around 400 pounds, while many strength athletes can top 1,000 -- but can't ride a bike very effectively. So it's safer to use a weight that allows 15-25 reps. Do several sets. These higher reps will force you to use lighter weight, thus reducing the chance of injury. And higher reps are more specific to cycling as well.
Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. I could squat around 500 pounds in my college football days and was leg pressing 700 pounds in my late 50s. Did that strength make me a better rider? Well, it probably didn't hurt, but following winters when I didn't do leg presses I rode just as strongly.
My cycling weaknesses occur at other places in the power production chain. So for riders like me, it makes sense to work on lactate threshold, anaerobic power and so on. These things are best improved by riding.
Before I get to my indoor cleaning technique, I want to share a quick email from reader James Walker about his own outdoor winter solution. James wrote:
“I live in Colorado, and using the hose outside is not always an option. I bought a weed sprayer used for the lawn and fill it with water and use the attached sprayer to wash down the bike and drivetrain. Doesn't produce enough pressure to get into bearings, but enough pressure to get the job done.”
If you prefer to keep it all indoors, though, in the winter, here’s another option:
I like to keep my bike clean. But those wet, gritty rides that we suffer through in the winter really do a number on your bike, don’t they? The grit seems to end up everywhere, but especially on the chain and cassette, on the underside of the downtube, fork, seat stay and brakes. And it gets on your wheels, too. What a mess!
Before I start, I draw a bucket of warm to hot water poured over a couple of squirts of dishwashing liquid from the kitchen, which is a nice, non-abrasive cleaner that does a good job on grease and grime. I set aside the bucket for a minute.
I start with the chain. Since I use Chain-L lube (see our Product Review, and Sponsor page for Premium Member discount offer), which only has to be “touched up” now and again during the life of the chain, that’s precisely what I do after a particularly nasty winter ride.
First, using a dry microfiber cloth (which I buy in bulk at Target; they’re available at any auto parts store), I run the chain through the cloth to remove the loose grit. Then I apply a little bit of Chain-L to the cloth and run the chain through it to add a new, light coating to the chain, making sure to wipe as much off as possible. I wipe it down again after my next ride.
Next, I take off the wheels and, using a different (cleaner) microfiber cloth, I use the soapy solution to clean the rims, hubs and spokes. I use a Global Bike Wipes Gear cord (a nylon “tube” cord that’s coated in a light lube) to “floss” the cassette, cleaning it and removing the loose grit at the same time. Then I take that same dry cloth I used on the chain, and I use its edge to floss the cassette again, which takes off any traces of the lube from the cleaning cord, which would attract dirt. (There are lots of “homemade” options for cleaning cords: shoe laces, strips of rags, etc.)
On occasion, I’ll lift the chain off the small ring onto the bottom bracket and clean the chain rings using a cord and cloth. Usually, though, I just use the chain cloth and wipe off the rings, which I find is quite adequate.
(Quick note about how I use cleaning cloths: They all start, new, as frame and wheel cloths. Then when they get too dirty, I switch them over to chain duty. I find that microfiber does a great job cleaning smooth surfaces while having enough “traction” to really grab the gunk off of the chain, too. And because the ones I buy are stitched around the outer edge, they’re great for flossing parts, as well.)
Finally, I use the soapy solution and clean cloth to wash the bike from top to bottom, so that any loose grit falls down, and not on a wet surface. I make sure to frequently dip the cloth in the water and allow the grit to fall to the bottom of the bucket so it doesn’t affect the finish. Before I put the wheels back on, I use the cloth to floss the underside of the fork and brakes, and I wipe off the brake pads. This is a great time to inspect them and pick out any imbedded debris, too.
--- John Marsh
Again, share your own bike washing tips on the Comments page.
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, MD
When you lose weight, you breathe off 84 percent of the lost fat weight as carbon dioxide from your lungs and lose 16 percent as water in your urine. The lost fat is not lost as heat. It is not converted to muscle, and you do not lose weight from your bowel movements (The British Medical Journal, December 16, 2014).
Matter cannot be destroyed. It can only be altered. So in every chemical reaction, you have to have the same number of molecules after the reaction that you had before the reaction. Your body stores fat as triglycerides in fat cells and other tissues.
Triglycerides + Oxygen = CO2 + Water + Heat
The triglycerides that form body fat combine with oxygen to be converted to carbon dioxide plus water and generate heat. To lose 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of body fat, you need to breathe in 29 kg of oxygen, and breathe out 28 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) and lose 11 kg of water (H2O).
If you want to lose weight, you have to exercise more or eat less. Exercising without dieting rarely helps people to lose weight and keep it off. Successful weight-loss programs require taking in fewer calories as well as moving more. You can markedly reduce the absorption of calories from food by not cooking, grinding, cutting or chewing food excessively. You can also increase the number of calories burned by exercising longer and harder and moving more rather than sitting or lying in one place for extended periods of time.
You can lose weight by eating foods that are absorbed poorly from your intestinal tract, such as high-fiber fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and eating less of foods that are more readily absorbed such as those made with added sugar or flour. You can also reduce the calories that you get from food by eating it raw rather than cooked, and whole rather than ground, juiced or pulverized.
Many of the most abundant plants on earth are poorly digested by humans in their raw state. However, cooking softens hard seeds, breaks down toxic and irritating substances in roots and leaves, and releases nutrients bound up in plant cells. Raw starchy root vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, cassava, yams and rutabagas are very low in calories. Boiling, baking or frying them markedly increases their calories, and the longer you cook them, the more calories they provide. Starchy foods such as potatoes, whole grains, beans and cassavas have 75-100 percent more digestible calories when they are cooked than when eaten raw.
Root vegetables are low in fiber and high in starches. Cooking turns these poorly absorbed starches into sugars that are readily absorbed in your intestines. Starches in root vegetables such as potatoes or in whole grains such as wheat are composed mostly of multi-sugar molecules called amylopectin and amylose. Your digestive enzymes have great difficulty breaking them down. Cooking gelatinizes starches so they are easily exposed to intestinal enzymes that break them down so they are readily absorbed.
Whole grains such as wheat, rye, barley and quinoa are seeds of grasses. These seeds have tight capsules that cannot be broken down by the enzymes in your intestines so they are hard to absorb. However, if you grind a whole grain into flour, it is easily absorbed. Cooking the flour increases the calories you absorb even more.
After 22 weeks, rats that ate uncooked cereals that were softened by being puffed with air were six percent heavier and had 30 percent more abdominal fat than rats that had been fed hard cereal pellets (Journal of Dental Research, 2003;82:491-494). This is a sign of higher blood sugar and insulin levels and risk for diabetes. Researchers showed that the rats fed hard food had a higher rise in body temperature after meals because they used significant energy in the act of chewing and digesting the food. The hard-pellet rats also had nearly twice the volume of feces, showing that they had absorbed far less of their food.
When you eat meat, you eat mostly muscle which is made of very poorly absorbed collagen. If you ate raw, un-ground meat you would get very few calories from it. Cooking meat causes the muscle fibers to loosen and separate, making it easier to chew and digest. It also changes the structure of the proteins, causing them to unwind and become more susceptible to intestinal enzymes that break down protein to increase absorption.
However, cooking kills most of the parasites and bacteria that flourish in raw flesh and can be deadly to humans. Cooking allows humans to eat animal products more safely. A dog can eat food right out of the garbage can because dogs and wolves have the most acidic stomachs of all mammals, and their stomach acids kill most germs. If you eat spoiled meat, you can get an infection and die.
Grinding meat into hamburger markedly increases absorption and reduces the amount of time you have to chew it. Organ meats such as kidneys, liver and brains are also easier to digest because they are low in collagen so you do not have to chew them as long as when you eat muscle.
Many body builders and weight lifters eat raw eggs with the mistaken belief that raw eggs grow larger muscles. When you eat uncooked eggs, you absorb less than 50 percent of their protein. When you eat cooked eggs, you absorb up to 95 percent. Heat denatures protein so that the protein molecules swell and are more exposed to the intestinal enzymes that separate proteins into their building blocks called amino acids. You then absorb a much greater percentage of the protein because amino acids, not whole protein, pass into your bloodstream.
If you are trying to lose weight, eat more foods that are not cooked, chopped, ground or softened in any way.
* Eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables.
* You can eat cooked fruits and non-starchy vegetables also, because they are usually low in calories even when cooked.
* Eat WHOLE grains, beans, seeds and nuts that have not been ground into flour.
* Restrict sugared drinks because virtually 100 percent of their calories are rapidly absorbed.
* Restrict all sugar-added foods.
* Restrict foods made from flour such as bakery products and pastas.
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine. 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/.