Issue No. 474: What’s Your Value Index

Release Date: 

RBR Newsletter

Issue No. 474 – 03/31/11: What’s Your Value Index

ISSN 1536-4143      

Produced every Thursday by RBR Publishing Co. Inc. E-mailed without cost or obligation to tens of thousands of roadies around the world.


In This Issue

  1. From the TopWhat’s Your Value Index?

  2. News & Reviews: Recap of the UCI Track World Championships

  3. Question of the Week: Is Alberto Contador forever tainted?

  4. Ask Coach FredShould I Continue Doing "Lance Intervals?"

  5. Classifieds: Cycling Tours & Products from our Sponsors

  6. Jim's Tech Talk: Planet Bike’s Green Fenders

  7. No ProblemTapering for a Big Event

  8. Scott's SpinDouble Down

  9. Try This On Your Next Ride: Learn to Ride No-Hands

10. RBR eBookstore:  Spring Classics -- eBooks and eArticles for Spring Training


1.  FROM THE TOP -- Views from the Editor      

What’s Your Value Index?

Spring cycling catalog season is in full bloom, and I’m the human equivalent of Pavlov’s dog when I see one.

I practically start drooling on the cover photo of the absolutely gorgeous bike that is always front and center. I sit down with the catalog and ogle everything in it: bikes, stems, cassettes, cranks, tires, shoes, tools -- everything. I really can’t help myself.

But when it comes time to actually buy any cycling product, I have an established Value Index that must come from an entirely different area of my brain than the “drool cortex.” I believe in quality and value, but I’m far from rich. I know that I can’t afford to buy the best of everything. So, I have to draw the line somewhere.

Over time -- as I suppose all of us roadies have -- I've developed my Value Index based on my own very particular (one might say “peculiar”) perception of the value I derive from specific products, combined with the price I’m willing to pay for those products.

Five years ago, when I bought my current “best bike,” I wanted an all-carbon ride with the best components I could get at my price point. I settled on a Felt with Dura-Ace shifters and derailleurs.

Ever since that time, I’ve been partial to Dura-Ace components when it’s time to replace certain ones. I have established the perception in my mind that Dura-Ace delivers a quality that’s worth a little more money. (That said, I seldom, if ever, pay full price for anything. I check out my regular Internet stores, like Performance, Nashbar, Colorado Cyclist, Western Bikeworks, Competitive Cyclist, etc.) One of them seems to always have what I want on sale.

And if they don’t, my Value Index calls for me to go with Ultegra on a situational basis. That is, for cassettes and, in a pinch, chains. Cables have to be Dura-Ace, no matter what.

But cranksets and chain rings don’t even have to start at Dura-Ace. Intellectually, I know they’re equally important components of the drivetrain. It’s just how the complex mental - emotional calculus has netted out in my head. It’s my brain working double time to keep my wallet -- and my wife -- happy. I have no other explanation. Save a little money here, spend it there.

I suppose the same dynamic keeps me from buying $259 Assos bib shorts. I perceive the quality and value of Performance Ultra bib shorts, at around $75 on sale, to be quite high. My Value Index steers me away from the Sidi shoes I see for north of $400. My Shimano shoes at a fourth of that price are just fine, thanks.

And my V.I. causes me to blanch at the $8,000+ price tags of the S-Works Tarmacs, the Orbea Orcas and other high-end bikes in buyer’s guides. I just can’t wrap my brain around how they could be worth nearly 3 times what I paid for my bike. (And the Eddy Merckx EM-7 Limited Edition for $20,000 simply exists in a parallel universe! One I’ll never visit.)

If I were independently wealthy, I’m sure the calculus underlying my Value Index would be quite different. The cash would flow like a raging river, and I’d believe with all my heart that my Eddy Merckx EM-7 Limited Edition was worth every penny!

Sadly, that’s not my reality. So I have to draw the line somewhere. My Value Index shows me the way.

What’s your Value Index?

(Please Comment to let your fellow RBR readers know where you economize, what you can’t live without, and why. Let’s have some fun with this.)

Enjoy your ride!

John Marsh

Editor & Publisher

P.S. Thanks to our very engaged readers for their comments, story ideas, feedback on articles and other ways you participate in the RBR community. Please feel free to send us your thoughts on anything cycling-related. We very much appreciate it!

We received an email this week that I wanted to pass along in the interest of reader safety:

A Canadian reader responded to a piece of advice offered from an Australian reader in a recent issue on what you might do if caught in the middle of nowhere in a lightning storm. The original advice, from the Australian electrical engineer, suggested that -- if you have “no other options for shelter” -- you might stand equidistant between two power transmission poles, “on the basis that the overhead wiring will conduct the strikes to ground via the poles.”

However, upon further consideration (and recognition that not all power transmission systems around the world are the same), both guys agreed with the following advice from a 30-year veteran of a Canadian municipal utility:

"I would avoid all power lines during a lightning storm. The transformers have lightning arrestors, and the conductor conveys electricity to ground via the skywire and their grounding connections. However, direct strikes can break or knock down poles and shred conductors given the extraordinarily high levels of voltage involved. The last place on earth you want to be is underneath a falling utility pole and/or a live piece of conductor."

All parties also agreed that the original advice we provided was spot-on. It bears repeating:

Use these tips when a thunderstorm is chasing you down.

---Get inside a building (safest place).

---Get away from anything metal, including your bike.

---Get out from under lone trees or a group of tall trees.

---Get low in a ditch or gully, but not in a streambed.

If you're in an open space and feel your hair stand on end (yes, it really happens), crouch on the balls of your feet and put your head between your legs. Experts say that this position could allow a bolt to pass through your body without fatal damage. But don't lie down!


Back To In This Issue



On sale now:Nutrition for 100K and Beyond (eArticle) by Coach John Hughes, provides guidance on what to eat, why, how, and how much for distances from metric centuries (62 miles; 100 km) to 24-hour events -- and beyond. This eArticle also provides detailed information on hydration, electrolytes, metabolism, and more.

Coach Hughes lays out how to estimate your hourly energy needs, discusses which kinds of fuel power your slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers, and why this is important: i.e., your need to train at different intensities to train the different metabolisms. He provides guidelines on how much to eat, the sources of the carbs, protein and fat that your body needs, and even provides a chart breaking down many common cycling foods into their component parts and percentages. He also discusses the latest research on hydration, how to calculate your “sweat rate” and how best to replenish your electrolytes to avoid both dehydration and hyponatremia. This eArticle is packed with valuable information.

Recently added to our collection:

Equations for Cyclists: How to Calculate Intensity, Wattage and More -- Without a Power Meter(eArticle) by Coach Fred Matheny. For those of us who don’t want to take a 2nd mortgage to buy a power meter, Coach Fred tells us ways to determine cycling intensity and performance potential that don’t require gadgets. All it takes is applying some simple equations and simpler math. Coach Fred has personally tested all the formulas for accuracy in his own riding, and compared the calculated results with power meter readings. In all cases the formula results, compared to the power meter, were within about 5 percent.

Swift Cycling: A 12-week program for increasing your cruising speed (eArticle), is a 12-week training program designed to help you increase your cruising speed for periods of time from 20 minutes up to an hour in duration. Increasing your riding speed for these moderate time periods can increase your enjoyment of cycling whether or not you have specific goal events in mind. The eArticle lays out a series of interval and time trial training sessions and techniques, along with a  week-by-week training plan to follow. Who doesn’t like to ride faster? It’s one of the reasons we enjoy cycling so much. Coach David Ertl will show you how.

And coming soon to the RBR eBookstore:

Cycling and Lower Back Pain(eArticle), by Alan Bragman, D.C., will bring to bear the past 30 years of Dr. Bragman’s experience diagnosing and treating thousands of patients with lower back pain, many of them cyclists. From his vast experience both professionally and personally as a sufferer of lower pain, he has developed a comprehensive understanding of how to diagnose, treat and prevent lower back pain in cyclists.

Back To In This Issue


2.  NEWS & REVIEWS         

---The UCI Track World Championships were contested in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, over five days last week, ending Sunday.

Frenchman Gregory Bauge earned his third sprint Gold medal and is the prohibitive favorite for his first Olympic Gold at the London Olympics in 2012.

Bauge joined his compatriots to win the men's team sprint as well, continuing its season-long domination of the three-man, three-lap race. The win marked team sprint gold No. 5 for the 26-year-old Bauge -- the Mark Cavendish of track sprinters.

In the men's team pursuit 4km, Australia claimed its first gold medal of the 2011 world championships, soundly beating the Russian foursome. Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Michael Hepburn and Luke Durbridge were the only team to best four minutes in the event on the unusually slow track at Apeldoorn.

Bobridgecontinued his stellar recent run, also winning his first world championship in the individual pursuit. The young rider from Adelaide only recently set a new world record in the men's individual pursuit, breaking the mark held by Chris Boardman since 1996. Just 21, Bobridge has two junior and two senior team pursuit world titles to go along with his under-23 road time trial win in 2009. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on in the future.

Marianne Vosclaimed the host country's first gold medal -- and her seventh career world title -- in the women’s scratch race, a 10km event. The amazing Vos has won four world championships in cyclo-cross, one on the road and another in the points race. She also has an Olympic gold medal.


---Radio Shack’s Levi Leipheimer withdrew from the Volta a Catalunya before the final stage after spending Saturday night in the hospital.

At the time, he was second overall, just 23 seconds behind Alberto Contador, who went on the win his second race in a row. Leipheimer quit the race due to an abdominal sub-obstruction.

“This is an issue Leipheimer has dealt with for a long time, dating back to his childhood when he was kicked in the stomach by a horse,” the team said in a statement.

“At that time the injury caused intestinal damage, and Levi had to undergo abdominal surgery. This surgery caused adhesions and scar tissue. These adhesions reduced intestinal motility and at one point caused a life-threatening intestinal obstruction during the time Levi raced for team Rabobank. When intestinal motility is blocked, first a person gets severe abdominal pain. When the obstruction persists, intestinal fluids can get into the abdominal cavity and cause a lethal sepsis.”

Apparently, on Saturday night, Leipheimer had a partial, or sub-obstruction, a painful occurrence that can turn into a full obstruction. Fortunately, it did not, and he left the hospital Monday morning.

He apologized in a Tweet to his teammates: “Thank you to @TeamRadioShack teammates for all their hard work, I'm sorry to let you down!”

Despite his withdrawal, RadioShack still won the team prize at the Volta as Chris Horner took fourth overall and both Haimar Zubeldia and Jani Brajkovic placed in the top 20.


---The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced yesterday that it would file a separate appeal of the Spanish Cycling Federation's decision to acquit Alberto Contador of clenbuterol doping.

Last Thursday, the UCI also announced that it would appeal the acquittal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland -- the ultimate authority in such matters.

Contador is free to race during the appeals process and plans to ride in the Giro d’Italia and defend his title in the Tour de France. Both races’ directors have voiced their frustration with the lack of resolution – and the “taint by association” – that Contador’s case brings to their events. (See their quotes below, in Overheard.)

Back To In This Issue


---Now for a little levity. You might recall last week’s Scott’s Spin talking about the horror -- the horror -- of white cycling shorts.

An RBR reader with the handle lofaqibal submitted this website on our Comments page in response to Scott’s column: . It’s a tongue-firmly-in-cheek list of “rules” for cyclists. Specifically, lofaqibal referred to RULE 14:

“Team-issue shorts should be black, with the possible exception of side-panels, which may match the rest of the team kit.”

Remember, if you see any “rules” that make you think of yourself, they’re not really talking about you! (At least that’s what I tell myself.) Enjoy!



---"That would be awesome, a sprint against him on the road. I think I'd beat him, yes. But I would need adapted material -- a road bike is less stiff than our bikes. I would be afraid of putting out all I have."-- 3-time track world champion sprinter Gregory Bauche on a possible match race against Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), aka, the “Manx Missile,” widely considered to be the world’s fastest road sprinter.

---"To come here after the world record ride and to finally get the world title after battling Sergent and Phinney over the past couple of years is fantastic. To finally get [a gold medal], and an individual one at that, is what I've been going for over the past couple of years. To get two of two these championships -- I couldn't ask for much more."-- 21-year-old Australian Jack Bobridge, who took bronze and silver in the individual pursuit each of the two previous track worlds, on winning the event this year, along with the team pursuit title.

--- "The judicial system in sport is slower than that we'd hoped, and it's clear that something is not working because it hasn't protected our event. My hands are tied, and I certainly can't force Contador to stay at home if he and his team want to ride. He's innocent until proven guilty, and a rider cleared in a hearing is free to race. But obviously it's not an ideal situation." -- Giro d'Italia director Angelo Zomegnan on the ongoing Alberto Contador affair, and his plans to ride in this year's Giro.

--- "What concerns us is that there should be a line drawn under this affair and a definitive decision taken. CAS is sport's highest jurisdiction. We do not want A response, but THE response. We have waited too long." -- Tour de France general director Christian Prudhomme, also showing his frustration about the Contador saga. Left unsaid was that, if Contador should win this year’s Tour and then be judged “guilty” by the CAS, the Tour de France would almost certainly be forced to strip him of both championships.



Like this newsletter? You'll love being a PREMIUM SITE member! Your membership supports, plus you receive exclusive membership benefits that include a 15% discount on everything RBR sells, huge archives of great advice from Coach Fred, Jim Langley and Uncle Al, unusual stories from Les Woodland, more than 250 major and mini product reviews, and lots more -- all, geared to helping you ride better and enjoy road cycling more. Join todayat

Barry Sherry recently wrote to tell us why he joined:

“I just signed up to be a Premium Member. RBR is sort of like my LBS. I shop my LBS so they stay in business. When I have real problems and need expert advice, they are where I turn, and I'm glad to support them. I have enjoyed RBR for two to three years, maybe longer, and feel a little guilty I haven't been a contributing ($$) member before. I appreciate all you do and want to see many more issues. Keep the good stuff coming!”

Back To In This Issue



Is Alberto Contador forever tainted by the ongoing doping saga -- even if ultimately acquitted?

Answer at , where you can also find an archive of previous poll results.

Highlights of your responses to last week’s Question:Is the UCI getting heavy-handed and autocratic in its dealings with ProTour teams and cyclists?

--53% said “Definitely. Pat McQuaid needs to include cyclists in important decisions.”

--25% said “Yes. The UCI should be more diplomatic.”

Back To In This Issue


4.  ASK COACH FRED -- Training & Nutrition Tips

Should I Continue Doing "Lance Intervals?"

Question:My coach had me doing 2x20-minute intervals all winter on a CompuTrainer. These workouts were great at first. I raised my average wattage from 200 to 240 in the first six weeks. But then my improvement slowed and I got kind of burned out. Should I resume these intervals now that I'm back out on the road? -- Barry T.

Coach Fred Replies:  This pair of 20-minute hard efforts (i.e., 2x20) has acquired a cult following in the last few years.

Part of the reason, as you imply, is that riders with power meters can dole out the workload precisely. And these intervals are great for raising your cruising speed because they force you to work very close to your lactate threshold (LT) -- the point just shy of where steady deep breathing becomes panting.

Also, workouts like the 2x20 were one of Lance Armstrong's secrets to success, according to his coach, Chris Carmichael.

Because Lance's power at LT was so high, he could keep up with his main rivals on a race's early climbs while not working quite as hard as they were. He could save energy for the crucial last hour of the race, then dole out some serious hurt.

So one way to emulate Lance and raise your LT power is to do 2x20 intervals, going just about as hard as you can for the 20 minutes. In other words, time trial intensity.

But as you mentioned, these intervals, although effective, are very tough physically and mentally. So it’s important to be careful and stop doing them if you begin to feel overtrained, mentally fried, or your improvement stagnates.

Also, there’s no reason to do this workout for weeks on end. I've heard of riders who schedule 20-week blocks of two weekly 2x20 workouts. The chances of seeing your progress plateau are pretty high with that approach unless rest weeks and other types of training are included.

The body quickly gets accustomed to any specific workout. That's why progress stalls. You need to change your training to jar yourself into further improvement.


Back To In This Issue


NEW IN THE RBR Marketplace

On sale now:

-- RBR-logoed JerseyBins - 8-gauge vinyl storage pouches that keep your mobile phone and other valuables dry and safe on rides

-- RBR-logoed Podium Hats - black mesh baseball-type hats with one-size-fits-all velcro fastener are perfect for before and after rides

Reader Mike Murphree sent us this tip re: JerseyBins:

Hello RBR and thanks for the great publication! I have been using JerseyBin for about 2 years and love them. I carry ID, money, credit card, compact phone, patch kit, and thumb-sized keychain flashlight in the bin. The slick and stiff qualities that make the bin easy to move into and out of jersey pockets, and hold a flat shape, can also allow it to be accidentally pushed out. I applied a small 1" by 1/4" piece of hook & loop/velcro to the upper part of the bin back that provides just a little grab or friction to the inside surface of the seam at the top of the jersey pocket depending on the jersey material or seam stitching. The bin is inserted with the velcro facing toward the back or outside of the pocket. It works well and adds a little peace of mind.



Also see the Classified Adspage on the RBR website and please support these advertisers who help make this newsletter free for you.

Poster Jerseys - Fun jerseys based on vintage cycling posters.

Men's and women's designs.  Step away from the ordinary.


BW Cycle Studios - Fitting, Coaching, Consulting, and Sales

Offering a private and highly personalized experience in purchasing

and owning a bicycle.


Test ride any CycleAware product at your local bike shop for free!

Click “Test Ride” at  800.252.2927


Wabi Woolens - Start Spring with the new Sport Series!

Special offer for RBR readers and benefit for Mercy Corps at


SpiceRoads Cycle Tours: See Asia by Bicycle

Great roads, delicious food, unforgettable scenery, great riding.

A road biking tour in Asia provides it all.

Back To In This Issue


6.  JIM'S TECH TALK -- Mechanical & Product Advice

Planet Bike’s Green Fenders

There are a couple of reasons I’m devoting this week’s column to Planet Bike’s Grasshopper fenders, a sweet new set of wooden mudguards I think you’ll love. First, we’re coming up on May, which is National Bike Month ,when we promote cycling instead of driving.

I know you’re going to participate. And, these fenders are the perfect complement for any 700c-wheel city bike used for commuting. The other reason is that these fenders are as green as the bicycle, and impressively high-tech, too.

Tip:I recommend putting together a city bike. It’s a fun project that can be done with any old road bike you have, and for not much money. And, you can load it up with all the accessories for around-town biking, like bags, lights, locks, a bell and fenders. With a bike like this at the ready, you’ll surely drive less and you won’t have to worry about your dialed-in road machine getting stolen.

Getting back to the green theme, Planet Bike, the company that makes these fenders (and a wide selection of bike accessories), actually donates 25% of its profits to bicycle advocacy. In fact, since 1996, the company has donated over $100,000 to grassroots bike advocacy, with most of the money going to the Alliance for Biking & Walking , a coalition of advocacy groups across America working to promote safe bicycling.

Tip: If you haven’t already, please sign the People for Bikes pledge . This advocacy organization is trying to gather a million pledges to let policymakers, the media and the public know that bicycling is important and should be promoted. It only takes a minute, and it’s free.

You probably won’t find a greener accessory than the Grasshopper fenders. They’re made with sustainable and beautiful moso bamboo, the fastest growing species on earth. And, what’s special about Planet Bike’s fenders is that they’re the first wood ones that are shaped just like metal and plastic fenders. Up until now all the wooden models I’ve seen have been flat slats of wood, curved to follow the wheel’s shape. But, the Grasshoppers have a compound curve, which gives them an elegant appearance and a nicer, custom fit.

For long life, they feature a durable 3-ply construction and are protected with a marine-grade finish. They come with pre-installed, rustproof stainless-steel stays, which are adjustable for getting the fit just right. All the needed clips and bolts are included, and in stainless, too.

These fenders also have release tabs on the front to meet EU safety standards (European Union safety standards are tougher than ours since bike commuting is so much more common there). These tabs are a safety device that allows the front fender to pop off and not go into the wheel in the event of an accident, a nice safeguard.

According to Planet Bike, the Grasshopper fenders will be available at bicycle shops in mid-April, just in time for April showers. Cost is $134.99 – or about 2 tanks of gas at today’s prices.


Back To In This Issue

(Jim Langley has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for 38 years. At RBR he's the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop and moderator of the technical forums on the Premium Site . Check his "cycling aficionado" website at , his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter . Jim's streak of consecutive cycling days has reached 6,296.)



Tapering for a Big Event

Any racer can tell you the sad truth of hard training: Sometimes it makes you faster, but sometimes it merely makes you tired. The more you want to do well in competition, the more you train. That’s fine if your body is adapting, and your performance is improving.

But many hard-charging competitors train hard right up to the event that they’ve pointed to all season. Then they’re shocked and depressed when they find themselves with legs so tired they can barely ride at training speeds. It's not unusual to have dead legs and declining performances after a period of hard training. Racing can add to the fatigue if you've continued to train hard between events.

But there's good news: If you plan ahead, you can reverse the fatigue from too much training and convert it to superior performance on any given day. It takes time and self-control. Here’s a 3-week tapering protocol that will have you surprising yourself with your big-event strength.

Week 1.  Do a week of extremely light workouts. Ride 3 or 4 times but limit each outing to an hour and go very slowly -- no pressure on the pedals. If you don't feel like riding, don't. This easy week will help you recover from the hard training (or overtraining!) you’ve been doing. It’s a necessary foundation for increased fitness.

Week 2.  Increase the tempo on 2 training days but don't do hard intervals or get into fast group rides that put you into race mode and intensity. You want to keep your fitness but not try to develop it further. It won't happen at this point. If you overdo it, you'll only dig yourself into a deeper hole.

Week 3.  I recommend the tapering procedure found in my RBR eBook, Basic Training for Roadies . The idea is to ride about an hour each day at an easy pace but include a series of short intervals to sharpen your fitness. As you get closer to the event, reduce the number of intervals by 1 each day. A typical third week would look like this:

6 days before the event:5x2 minutes at a "hard" pace

5 days before:4x2 minutes

4 days before:3x2 minutes

3 days before:2x2 minutes

2 days before:rest day

1 day before:easy spin with 2 short sprints

Try this protocol. For most riders, it leads to much improved performance because it's a combination of rest and race-like intensity.


Back To In This Issue

(Adapted from Coach Fred's Solutions to 150 Road Cycling Challenges , a helpful eBook especially for cycling newcomers.)


Yoga and Weight Training - Year-Round Tools for Cyclists

RBR’s eBook YOGA: A Quick & Effective Program for Cyclists has been immensely popular since its launch in December 2010. RBR readers have found the book to be a beneficial part of their winter training program but are realizing that its year-round benefits make it much more than just a cold-weather workout supplement.

This 43-page eBook is written specifically for bike riders by Joe & Maria Kita, yoga instructors and longtime roadies (Joe is the former executive editor of Bicycling magazine).

Weight training, too, really should be a year-round addition to your overall cycling and fitness regimen, according to Harvey Newton, former U.S. Olympic weightlifting coach (and roadie).

Strength Training for Cyclists , the revised version from Coach Newton, is the first program of its type for cyclists. It includes an instructional 42-minute DVD and a fully illustrated, laminated 28-page Quick Guide for use in the weight room.



Double Down

Did you know there’s a sport called chess boxing?

Me neither, till I read a blurb about it in Wired magazine. It alternates 3-minute rounds of boxing with 4 minutes of chess for 11 rounds or until somebody scores a knockout or checkmate. The first match took place in 2003 in Amsterdam, and the hybrid sport caught on quickly in Europe.  Now even Los Angeles has a chess-boxing club.

I suppose the attraction lies in mastering what seem like diametrically opposed disciplines: brains vs. brawn, mental agility vs. physical fitness, exploiting the Rimsky-Korsakov Gambit vs. spitting your teeth into a bucket.

With cycling at a drug-infested crossroads, clearly it’s time for our sport to move in a similar direction. The question is: Which activity should we partner with to form a new megasport that will sweep the globe -- or at least get us on SportsCenter?

Bike racing is often referred to as “2-wheeled chess,” but I see several problems with this combo: 1) chess is already taken; 2) running over an errant knight could cause a flat tire; and 3) you’d probably slip when standing up from the chess board while wearing cleats.

We need to think outside the boxing. Maybe cycling and Ping-Pong. With its emphasis on hand-eye coordination and quick bursts of lateral movement, table tennis is everything cycling is not. Plus, the first world champion would probably be RBR tech titan Jim Langley, who when not riding his bike can be found playing national table tennis tournaments, attending table tennis camp or practicing at home with his table tennis robot.

The only problem is a name for our new sport. Bike Pong? Catchy, but sounds too much like Beer Pong. Any ideas?


Back To In This Issue

(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.)



Learn to Ride No-Hands

If you already know how, you may remember that it took practice to become confident. If you don't know how, you may wonder, "Why bother?"

True, it's not an essential skill. And there's always risk involved when not holding the handlebar. You must be very careful, especially while learning.

Riding no-hands can often come in, uh, handy. For example, it's easier to peel a banana or energy bar with two hands than it is to use your teeth. You can take off and store arm warmers, or hold down your jacket with one hand while you work the zipper with the other.

Race Across America riders, who are on the bike at least 20 hours each day, are known for riding no-hands for minutes on end while tending to various matters. We remember Jonathan Boyer eating a spaghetti dinner out of an overturned Frisbee. The only things missing were a candle and glass of wine.

The big mistake learners make is being tentative. If you release the handlebar but stay forward ready to grab it at the slightest twitch, it won't work. Here's the right technique:

---Wear your helmet and gloves, and practice in an empty parking lot or backstreet without traffic or parked cars. Don't try it on a windy day.

---Pedal at a moderate cadence in a gear that supplies some resistance. Don't go too slow, which only makes the bike less stable.

---Hold the bar on top near the stem. As you continue to pedal, push back gently and evenly from the bar and sit up with your back straight. Let your arms drop to your side. Don't keep them out front like you're sleepwalking, hands hovering over the bar.

Your bike wants to stay upright and headed in a straight line. That's what the wheels' gyroscopic effect is all about. There will be little wavers, but steady pedaling will keep you going in the right direction.

As you get comfortable, you can start using slight hip movements to steer the bike around things in the road. Some riders can actually turn corners no-hands, but don't even think of trying that till simple straight-line riding comes easy.

Return to the bar by leaning forward and placing both hands on the top simultaneously. Watch what you're doing. If one hand should miss or slip off, well, that's why you're wearing a helmet!

Note:For various reasons, some bikes are very hard to ride no-hands. The front wheel veers unpredictably. Be very careful when learning. If you're having a hard time, your bike might be in the NO-no-hands category. Don't force it and risk a crash.


Back To In This Issue



Premium Site annual members automatically receive a 15% discount on every eBook, eArticle or other product in the RBR eBookstore .

Bonus! RBR provides 5 downloadsof every eBook and eArticle (and bundle) purchased. To obtain a new copy for any reason, simply login to your RBR account and do the download.


Spring Classics-- eBooks and eArticles for Early Season Training

Whatever type of training you have (or haven't) done this winter -- yoga, weights, stationary cycling, base-building on the cold road -- it's time to start converting your current fitness to the strength, power and endurance that gives you a flying start for the 2011 season. Learning how to gauge your intensity and performance potential will help you better calibrate your training.

The RBR eBookstore has an array of Training eBooks and Training eArticles to meet your needs, including:

--- On sale now: Nutrition for 100K and Beyond (eArticle) by Coach John Hughes, provides guidance on what to eat, why, how, and how much for distances from metric centuries (62 miles; 100 km) to 24-hour events -- and beyond. He lays out how to estimate your hourly energy needs, discusses which kinds of fuel power your slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers, and why this is important. He provides guidelines on how much to eat, the sources of the carbs, protein and fat that your body needs. He also discusses the latest research on hydration, how to calculate your “sweat rate” and how best to replenish your electrolytes to avoid both dehydration and hyponatremia.

Equations for Cyclists: How to Calculate Intensity, Wattage and More -- Without a Power Meter (eArticle), by Coach Fred Matheny. For those of us who don’t want to take a 2nd mortgage to buy a power meter, Coach Fred tells us ways to determine cycling intensity and performance potential that don’t require gadgets. All it takes is applying some simple equations and simpler math.Coach Fred has personally tested all the formulas for accuracy in his own riding, and compared the calculated results with power meter readings. In all cases the formula results, compared to the power meter, were within about 5 percent.

--- Swift Cycling: A 12-week program for increasing your cruising speed (eArticle, new to the eBookstore). Coach David Ertl lays out a series of interval and time trial training sessions and techniques, along with a week-by-week training plan to follow. This training guide is designed to help you increase your cruising speed for periods of time from 20 minutes up to an hour in duration.

--- Spring Training for Roadies (eBook), Coach Fred Matheny’s comprehensive book that includes daily workouts, effective training techniques, and expert advice on key topics such as nutrition, weight loss, equipment, clothing, injury prevention, avoiding overtraining and coping with changeable spring weather.

--- Beyond the Century: How to Train for and Ride 200 km to 1,200 km Brevets (eArticle) by Coach John Hughes, is a perfect eArticle for those of you looking for a longer -- or longer term -- goal for 2011. Coach Hughes covers the 8 basic training principles, levels of training intensity, and the various phases of a successful brevet training program. He caps it off with a detailed training program designed to take you as far as you want to go.

3 special bundled products that offer BIG savings:

--- Fred Matheny's Complete Book of Road Bike Training (save $19.85 on the Coach's 4 eBooks for year-round training, all under one cover)

--- Coach Arnie Baker's 7 eBooks bundle (save $46.70)

--- Coach Arnie Baker's 17 eArticles bundle (save $37.88)

Back To In This Issue


THANKS for reading and for supporting .

This newsletter is a product of RBR Publishing Co. Inc.:

     John Marsh, president

     3255 Embry Hills Drive

     Atlanta, GA 30341 USA

All material is copyright <c> 2001-2011 RBR Publishing Co. Inc. All rights reserved.

Click to learn more about the LifeBEAM Helmet with Built-In Heart Rate Sensor!
view counter
Click to learn more about the Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel!
view counter
Visit for Great Cycling Gifts and Gear!
view counter

view counter