That’s the headline RBR Premium Member and product reviewer Brian Nystrom wrote for his Comment on last issue’s Ask Coach Fred, which was titled “Are Triples or Compacts for Weenies?” Brian was not alone in his opinion. Here’s what he said:
“My personal experience mirrors Coach Fred's almost exactly. You have to do whatever it takes to keep riding and ENJOYING it. Worrying about whether some "gearing snob" will think you're a weenie is just plain silly. Anyone who cares about that or the color of your socks or whatever other "fashion statement" you may make is a loser with much bigger problems, who is not worthy of your time.
I regard "riding" the same way I do "reading". I could force myself to read without the reading glasses that my age has forced on me, but I wouldn't get much of it done and wouldn't enjoy it at all, so what's the point? The same would be true if I forced myself to ride the gearing I once raced with; it would restrict the roads I could ride and the distances I could travel, and I'd be struggling and not having any fun. I ride for enjoyment and fitness, and long ago resigned myself to the fact that I'm not going to impress anyone with my prowess on the bike.
For what it’s worth, I currently use a compact with a 13-26 cassette, as I don't need the high-end gearing either, but I do still appreciate the feel of close ratios.
Do what you need to do, dismiss anyone who gives you crap and have FUN on your rides!”
Reader Chris Nelson added this:
“I agree. Why be hung up on it? … I ride Colorado mountains all the time. I reconfigured my 80s-vintage Bianchi from a 39/53 front to a 30-39-50 triple, and it cost less than $100. I also put a 28 on the back. I did that about 5 years ago and now that bike is my commuter bike.
My carbon bike was purchased as a compact, 34/50. I changed out the rear cassette to a SRAM PG1070 11-32 configuration, which matches the ratios on my Bianchi. No regrets. No changes needed to any other running gear, and that also cost less than $100.”
And reader Lew Hershey emailed me his two cents’ worth:
“I bought a new 2007, 6.5 Madone a few years back and it came out of the box with a standard triple and a 12-28 cassette. I was tickled because I didn't have to install a triple (have never had anything else). I have since installed a 32 cassette and then "upgraded??" to a 36. I am 70 years old and still do some funky rides -- Assault on Mt. Mitchell, Mountains of Misery, Mountain Mama Challenge, etc., and I NEED those gears.
I get a lot of kidding about my Pie Plate, but my ego allows it. I now have some much younger biking friends who are making a change to a compact or triple, and larger cassettes. Other than ego, why would anyone want to push those high gears when there is everything to gain and nothing to lose, because the option of 53 x 11 is still there? Probably because they can, but the time will come when they can't.”
We also had a couple of good – and quite interesting! – tips riffing on last issue’s No Problem, about whether chamois cream is necessary anymore in an age dominated by synthetic chamois.
Brian Nystrom weighed in again, with a regal suggestion:
“I typically don't find any need for chamois cream on rides under 40 miles. For longer rides, I use Bag Balm (my standby since the ’70s) or Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Creme (I kid you not) that I bought on a whim at Walmart. If you don't like the thick texture of Bag Balm, give the Queen a try!
I've tried several others over the years. Products like Udderly Smooth and many bike-specific chamois creams are water-based, which means they wash off as soon as you start to sweat, making them a waste of money. In my own experience, for durability, chamois cream needs to be petrolatum- or oil-based. Of the bike-specific products, Chamois Butt'r is the only one that I've tried that works decently, though there are probably others. Frankly, most are too expensive to take a chance on, especially when I have two inexpensive, proven alternatives.
The standard disclaimer applies: Your mileage may vary.”
And a reader with the handle xavidefyp added this:
“I read your article and wanted to comment. I suffered for years with saddle sores and used every cream, ointment and unguent available. Until my dermatologist recommended I stop using all those things and use powder. She recommended Zeasorb extra absorbent with the yellow stripe on the package. My happiness in the saddle has increased exponentially!
The creams were clogging my pores and causing the problems....something to think about.”
Thanks – as always! – to our great readers for sharing their tips and opinions with fellow roadies.
Coach John Hughes uses the concept of Athletic Maturity to assess how relatively fit a client is and in what areas the client needs to improve. Although he turns 65 in April 2014, Coach Hughes has been working out for 39 years. His regimen includes endurance and intensity riding, weight-bearing activity, full-body strength training, flexibility and balance exercises. Because of his athletic maturity, he can handle a harder workout program than someone a decade or more younger.
His new eArticle Cycling Past 60, Part 1: For Health includes his diagnostic test of Athletic Maturity to help you assess your overall fitness. The test asks about riding: how many years you have been riding, how much you ride a year and your longest ride of the year. The test also evaluates your muscles in four critical areas: lower body, core, upper body and even small muscles for balance! Finally, it evaluates body weight and flexibility as important components of overall health.
The more athletically mature you are, the healthier you are now and the greater volume and intensity you can handle -- despite your chronological age. Your score on the Athletic Maturity test helps to determine which of the exercise programs detailed in Cycling Past 60 is most appropriate for you.
Coach Hughes scores 24 points on the Athletic Maturity test out of a possible 27 points. Our Question of the Week this week asks how many points you score if you are 60 or older. Take the test in Cycling Past 60, Part 1: For Health and answer the Question of the Week. (The responses will be used to help tailor the workout programs for Part 2 of Cycling Past 60.)
Damon Rinard is a Senior Advanced Research and Design Engineer at Cervélo. He’s helped us out before on engineering/technical issues that require, well, more of the specific technical knowledge – and brainpower! – than we can bring to bear on some topics.
One of those topics that Jim Langley addressed in a recent Tech Talk column dealt with whether harm could come to a carbon bike by using it on a trainer.
We put the issue to Damon for his take. Following is his reply:
Yes, riding on a trainer puts different loads on a bike compared to riding on the road, especially riding out of the saddle. Nevertheless, in practice, most bikes are fine anyway. Obviously, don’t tilt the bike violently.
All Cervélos are okay to use on trainers, and trainer use does not void the Cervélo warranty.
In 2006, Tom Demerly polled his shop’s bike brands, and at the time, all of them told him trainers are okay.
Recently, though, some bike makers have begun specifically warning against using their bikes on trainers. (Felt, for one.)
Bottom line: Ask your bike’s maker.
Tips: Make sure you engage the bike in the trainer properly: the trainer must contact the bike only on the skewer, and not touch the frame, dropouts, derailleur, cables, etc. To prevent contact, consider changing to a Tacx skewer (cylindrical nut, rather than conical), or a smaller diameter trainer cup (optional with some trainers), or both.