1. From the Top: Shooting the Cycling Bull
2. News & Reviews: Product Review: O2 Rainwear Nokomis Hi-Viz Jacket
3. Question of the Week: Have You Changed Your Riding Habits as You’ve Aged?
4. Ask Coach Fred: How Should I Pedal When Standing?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products & Organized Rides from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: News & Views From The World of Wheels
7. No Problem: Managing Food and Fluids
8. Scott's Spin: Long Gone
9. Cadence: Health Matters: Cycling and Hemorrhoids
10. RBR eBookstore: Spring Classics -- eBooks and eArticles for Early Season Training
Editor’s Note: Next week we launch another new eArticle, Low-Tech Training for Cyclists, by Coach David Ertl, Ph.D. Coach Ertl tells us how to train and improve without investing a mint in the latest technology and gadgets.
The first email usually hits my inbox before 10 o’clock on most Friday mornings. The subject line typically reads, “Weekend Rides.”
It’s from one or another of my Domestiques riding buddies, testing the waters for our ride schedule that weekend. How about we meet Saturday here and do the such-and-such route? Or Sunday at so-and-so time and do that other ride?
We normally manage to hammer out a ride plan for the weekend from these exchanges, but more often than not they morph into full-fledged email bull sessions. We end up getting ourselves so worked up about riding that we just can’t help talking about one aspect or another of some century we’re planning to do next month, or the training benefits of the weeknight hammerfest.
To me, there’s no truer measure of a cyclist’s passion about riding than the degree to which he or she talks about it, emails about it, texts or tweets, or posts about it on Facebook. If you can’t be riding, at least you can be talking about riding!
Heck, at least half of the conversations we have on group rides – while we’re riding! – are about, what else?, cycling. “Your new bike is a beauty.” “Are you one of those always-keep-a-shiny-cassette guys, or is that just a new cassette?” “Man, I got a great deal on these wheels.” “Are you riding the Gaps with us next weekend?” And on, and on.
I love that about being a roadie! Part of being one is being so invested in the myriad aspects of the “cycling culture” that even if you’re not “a serious rider,” you still have so much skin in the game that talking about cycling is second-nature.
I grew up playing baseball, and I loved both playing and watching the game. But I was not so passionate about it that I wanted to endlessly dissect it and discuss it. (I don’t believe I ever had a single serious conversation about how I oiled my glove!) Cycling seems to me to be unique among sports in that regard. I think it’s in part because there are so many facets to it, from the technology, to gear and clothing, to training and nutrition, skills and strategy, and so much more.
A large part of the reason we discuss it amongst ourselves is that you can’t have a meaningful conversation with your non-cycling significant other about the relative merits of a compact crank, or your preferred brand of chain lube. It’s the same reason why there’s no reality TV show about a group of quantum physicists working theorems together. We wouldn’t understand word one, nor would we care.
So on your next ride, or during a slow Friday afternoon at work, if you find that you’ve just spent the past 15 minutes deep in conversation – or far down the email trail – about who makes the best straight-pull spokes – you know you’re a roadie. And you should revel in that!
Enjoy your ride!
Editor & Publisher
RBR Premium Member Giveaway Program
Each new or renewed Premium Membership purchased during 2012 will be entered in a drawing for the month of purchase to win a cycling prize package.
The APRIL Premium Prize Package includes: One 4-oz. bottle of Chain-L Lube; one Cobra Tire Tool; one RBR JerseyBin; an RBR Podium Hat and water bottle; and your choice of an epicRIDES Training DVD or 2 BB30 steel bottom bracket bearings from The Parts Shoppe. Total value of the package: approximately $80.
Total value of the package: approximately $83.
1 winner will be announced in the May 3 RBR Newsletter
SPECIAL PRIZE for which all new and renewing Premium Members during the
2nd quarter of 2012 will be eligible: To Be Announced Soon!
Here's a rundown of the numerous other benefits of being a Premium Member. Please join today!
Editor’s Note: Just in time for April showers, this is the first of 3 successive rain jacket reviews over the next 3 weeks by ultracyling legend Ken Bonner.
By Ken Bonner
How obtained: Sample from company
RBR advertiser: No
Time tested: Several months
As an ultracyclist, I ride about 18,000 miles (30,000 km) per year, mostly on roads in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and the ‘Wet’ Coast of Canada. I have a basement full of cycling rain jackets that were full of promise but did not live up to expectations.
In my experience, almost any rain jacket will prevent heavy, cold rain from penetrating through to the cyclist (even a large garbage bag, in an emergency, can do this). Similarly, most rain jackets will dissipate moisture created by the cyclist’s exertion, but only over normal, short commuting distances.
I have yet to find a cycling rain jacket that truly keeps the cyclist dry from moisture created from within the jacket. I can live with that situation. However, there is no need to become chilled as a result. My all-time favorite rain jackets, the MEC Bernoulli and the Gore Fusion, left me wet from the inside, but both jackets were well-ventilated and kept me warm and comfortable even in heavy rain, with temperatures near the freezing mark. Alas, they are no longer available. What to do?
Scrounging in my basement, I discovered an inexpensive ‘Original’ rain-jacket from O2 Rainwear that I had used many years ago while riding one of the five 1200k Paris-Brest-Paris events I have finished. Researching to see if this jacket was still available, I discovered that O2 Rainwear has two new rain jacket models, including the Nokomis, introduced in 2011.
The Nokomis is a great jacket for commuters, weekend riders and long-distance cyclists. When the rain stops and the day warms up, the sleeves can be easily removed, converting the rest of the jacket into a wind vest. It has a comfortable high neck with a cord at the back to adjust the snugness of the fit around the neck. The Nokomis also has an adjusting cord around the bottom of the rear-flap so it can be adjusted to fit closely to the body.
If wearing the Hi-Viz jacket in daylight, it would be difficult for a motorist to claim they did not see the cyclist. The reflective piping is also useful at night, although there are other rain jackets on the market with more reflective taping. An improvement would be to place reflective piping on the rear of the forearm, so that during hours of darkness fellow road travelers approaching from the rear would be made aware of the cyclist’s intent to make a turn.
The Nokomis also has a loop on the rear flap in order to attach a small rear flashing light and/or a reflective triangle. This is a nice feature to have when one is making an adjustment or repair off the bike.
The Nokomis fits large compared to normal sizing. Although a medium size would fit me better (probably eliminating the sleeve flapping on fast descents), I ordered a large, so I could wear more clothing layers under the jacket. However, from my experience with the Nokomis, I found I do not need extra inside layers of clothing.
The wrist openings of the jacket’s arms have both elastic and Velcro closures. I found the elastic closure too tight to pull over my gloves, or to provide extra venting via the wrist openings. My preference would be to have only the Velcro closures.
Washing instructions recommend a cold water wash and hang to dry. O2 Rainwear suggested that a warm water wash is OK, but only use a washing machine’s gentle cycle.
Overall, the Nokomis is a really nice, versatile rain jacket.
Ken Bonner is a marathon runner and renowned ultracyclist who holds the course record for the British Columbia Rocky Mountain 1200k and several UltraMarathon Cycling Association point-to-point records. Retired and living in Victoria, British Columbia, he rides about 18,000 miles a year.
RBR reader Russ Starke sent us an email recently with an interesting suggestion for those of you who may do a lot of riding in the dark.
“Just thought I would share something I came up with in case it helps anyone else. Due to my schedule, most of my daily rides are at 5:30 a.m.-ish. Some or all of the ride is in the dark. In addition to good lights, etc., I recently added a small LED light to my seat stay. It is just enough to put a pool of light on the gear cluster. No more trying to remember what cog I'm on. Just make sure to get a light that the mount can rotate 90 degrees so the light can shine down to the cog. The one I found was from Planet Bike. It has a velcro strap, and the mount can be adjusted 90 degrees.”
Our thanks to Russ for an ingenious idea. If you’ve come up with a unique solution to a roadie issue, please share it with us, and we’ll pass it along to your fellow RBR readers.
RBR reader Michael Solomons sent us an email about a novel use of smartphone technology to improve the roads for cyclists in Western Australia.
“John, Thought this may be of interest you and your readers. Senator Scott Ludlam, a local politician, launched this iPhone app-based reporting system [called Bike Blackspot] recently in Western Australia allowing cyclists to report cycling-related hazards, including photos, straight to the government department that handles such things [the Minister for Transport] -- allowing the collation of data from the people who use the roads. This in turn will assist in providing better cycling infrastructure for Western Australia. Maybe other government departments around the world can be encouraged to adopt this innovative approach.”
If you click the Bike Blackspot link above, you’ll see a Google map with “blackspots,” or trouble spots, pinpointed on the map, including a description of what’s at issue, along with the exact GPS coordinates.
Assuming the Minister for Transport actually addresses the issues, what a cool system this is! And even if it serves only to benefit fellow cyclists as a sort of warning system, it seems like something well worth the effort of other local governments to employ.
If you live near RBR HQ in Atlanta, consider coming out to ride a couple of upcoming events in the area. Look for John in his RBR jersey, if you do, and be sure to say Hi.
Saturday, June 16
This ride, which meanders through some equally lovely countryside near Braselton, Georgia, benefits Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation (AA&MDS). Aplastic Anemia is a very rare and very deadly bone marrow disease that receives almost no funding for research, and the treatment has not changed in 25 years. RBR is supporting the ride for the first time, and we’ll have a booth at the Jackson County Brevet as well. Again, John will be joining in the ride, so look for him if you’re there.
RBR Reader David Natoli sent me an email to let me know about another upcoming ride for a great cause: Ride To Inspire, April 28, 2012, in Cartersville, Georgia, to benefit Georgia Special Olympics and Camp Inspire. For more information and registration, visit www.ridetoinspire.org. (I used to be a board member of Georgia Special Olympics and can certainly attest to what a great organization it is.)
--- “After eight years as a professional, I know when it’s time to help the others and when it’s time to have my own day.”
-- Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), who had his own day by timing his sprint perfectly on the final ascent of the Cauberg to win the Amstel Gold Race Sunday. Two-time defending champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) made a move on the Cauberg for the win but his acceleration was met by the Italian, and he was also passed by Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), who took the other podium spots in the 260.4-km race from Maastricht to Valkenburg in the Netherlands.
Frank Schleck had hoped to repeat his 2006 victory in the race on his 32nd birthday, but fell short, finishing 12th. After competing in the other Ardennes Classics, he’ll focus on his preparations for helping his brother Andy try to win the Tour de France. Meanwhile, TdF champion Cadel Evans abandoned the race after finding himself in a group behind the peloton midway through. His focus, too, remains on his preparations for defending his Tour title.
--- “Everybody has this uneasy feeling. This is weird. This is not good. It’s a guilty pleasure. You’re out enjoying this nice March weather, but you know it’s not a good thing.”
-- Jerry Meehl, a climate scientist who specializes in extreme weather at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, commenting on the record-shattering warmth in the U.S. in March, when temperatures in the lower 48 states were 8.6 degrees (F) above normal for the month. Temps were 6 degrees above normal for the first three months of 2012, breaking the January-March record by 1.4 degrees. Normally, climate scientists say, records are broken by only .1 or .2 of a degree. Temperature records in the U.S. date back to 1895. Two more stats: this winter was the fourth-warmest on record; and the period since last April has been the hottest 12-month period on record.
For roadies throughout much of North America, these record-breaking temps meant more opportunities to ride through the winter, and often-reduced clothing needs on those rides. While I think we can agree that we greatly enjoyed these benefits, we fear the continuation of this trend in the coming summer.
--- “[I will be returning to cycling] in the Eneco Tour. I can also confirm that I will be at the Vuelta a España. I'm very motivated for every race I attend. Also, to race your home Grand Tour is special, and I will be there even more motivated than if I had 80 days of competition in my legs.
"I'm working on [contract negotiations]. There were six interested teams, amongst them Movistar. But without a doubt, my priority is the Saxo Bank team, who gave me their unconditional support through these difficult times, and that's something that money can't buy. There are things you need to honor, and they are priceless."
-- Alberto Contador, announcing his comeback plans in a recent radio interview. His doping ban ends August 5. Contador also noted that he has been courted by a total of six different teams but will likely re-sign with Saxo Bank, in part because – and you just can’t make up quotes this ironic – “there are things you need to honor, and they are priceless.”
Coach John Hughes’ new article, Gaining a Mental Edge: Using Sports Psychology to Improve Your Cycling, shows us how.
Whether you do weekend club rides, tours, ride centuries or race, the article will teach you how to: 1) Set goals, 2) Stay motivated, 3) Build confidence, 4) Develop a game plan, 5) Deal with pre-event anxiety that hinders performance, 6) Focus during an event, 7) Tactically manage your ride during an event, and 8) Deal with pain. While it becomes increasingly difficult to improve physically after a certain age, we can continue to sharpen our mental edge as a way to improve our cycling -- without respect to age.
“Knee pain remains the most common overuse injury associated with cycling,” says Alan Bragman, D.C., in his new RBR eArticle, Cycling and Knee Pain. To understand why knee pain is so commonly associated with cycling, we need to first understand the structure and function of the knee joint. It’s a complex joint, to be sure, and Dr. Bragman takes us through a tutorial as he begins the article. It is likewise important to understand the common causes of knee pain, the roles of proper bike fit, setup, shoe and cleat positioning, as well as the affects of riding style and knee position. He provides guidance and tips in the article on how best to address these “common cause” issues, based on the roles they play in causing knee pain.
Fortunately, Dr. Bragman says, “strengthening and stabilizing the knee through exercises can help prevent knee problems. And if they do arise, I provide tips for treating, and recovering from, knee pain.” He provides a number of these strength-and-stabilization exercises in the article, and finishes with a section on treatment and recovery.
If you ever suffer from knee pain associated with riding – and, let’s face it, almost everyone does at some point – this article is for you.
Did your current saddle come with your bike when you bought it? Is it one your riding buddy recommended, or that looked cool in the store? Do you have issues with your saddle and don’t know how to make a better choice to replace it? Don't waste your time selecting seats based on looks, luck and what works for someone else. In The Illustrated Guide to Bicycle Seats, Joshua Cohen’s fully illustrated and easy-to-understand guide, he tells you exactly what to look for when selecting a bicycle seat based on your riding style, anatomy, and typical riding position – the main factors affecting saddle comfort.
Cohen combines his extensive knowledge of biomechanics (he has a Master's degree in Biomechanics and Human Movement Science), anatomy (he's also a physical therapist), seat design (he designed the Kontact Anatomical Saddle -- which we reviewed last week -- and has been in the industry for over 10 years), and the latest saddle research (he has researched and published in scholarly journals on the topic) in this informative and relevant guide.
He discusses recent changes in seat designs and how they can impact and improve your comfort and performance on the bike. The Illustrated Guide to Bicycle Seats also contains numerous links to additional research and articles by the author and others for those who want to take a deeper dive into the topic. When combined with his creative and illustrative graphics (see actual pages below), this is an eBook that every person who rides or sells bicycle seats should read to get the facts and avoid being lured by “marketing-driven” saddle designs.
Answer at http://www.roadbikerider.com/question-of-week , where you can also find an archive of previous poll results.
-- 36% said “A few. I do not go overboard, though. My bikes look good enough without much bling.”
-- 27% said “No. I do not feel the need to fancy up my bikes. They are fine as is.”
-- 23% said “Absolutely. I have customized several things on my bikes to enhance the look and performance.”
I've read articles about circular pedaling techniques, but they all relate to seated riding. When I'm standing and climbing on short, steep hills, my feet feel like they are attached to a stair climber and I'm just pumping up and down. What exactly should my legs be doing when I'm climbing out of the saddle? -- Keith D.
When you stand, pedal action changes. It's hard to pull up because you aren't in contact with the saddle -- there's nothing to brace your hips to pull against.
Generally, when you pedal standing, you should use your body weight to help you push down. Let the bike rock rhythmically side to side in an arc of about six inches (judged by the movement of the handlebar stem). This gives each leg a direct push against its pedal and makes the best use of body weight.
You can think about getting the non-pushing foot "out of the way" by attempting to pull up. But classic pedaling form is almost impossible.
Be careful not to lean too far forward when standing on climbs. This overly weights the front wheel, pressing the tire into the pavement and scrubbing off speed. Stay back a bit and find the front-to-back sweet spot. This helps center your weight over the crank to drive the pedals as just described.
On short, rolling hills, the trick is to click to the next higher gear (smaller cog), then stand and pedal up and over with a slightly slower cadence. This keeps quads from loading up with lactate because it helps you pedal with body weight. In fact, it can feel like you're stretching your legs and almost giving them a short rest.
Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.
In the RBR Marketplace
RBR-logoed JerseyBins - 8-gauge vinyl storage pouches that keep your mobile phone and other valuables dry and safe on rides year-round.
RBR-logoed Jerseys - Made from high-tech fabric for superior comfort and wicking. Three rear pockets. Raglan-style with separate side panels. In club cut (loose American fit), with a full-length zipper.
RBR-logoed Podium Hats (free RBR water bottle with each hat purchase!) - black mesh baseball-type hats with one-size-fits-all velcro fastener are perfect for before and after rides
Durable & Small with style. Club Discounts (printing available).
See our CycleWallets too. http://www.cueclip.com
I know we talk a lot about wheels, but there’s a good reason. Apart from a road bike’s frame, no other component influences the ride and performance more than the wheels. That’s because they’re what you have to get moving to fly down the road. And it’s why we’ve seen such incredible changes in the average pair on modern bicycle wheels, and how they’ve become probably the most popular upgrades, too.
Because they make such a difference in ride quality, and because I race, I try to keep up on the latest technology and ride the best ones, too. I’d like to share a couple of recent wheel experiences that I found interesting and will likely influence the wheels we all end up riding in the future.
I’ve known Keith Bontrager since the early eighties when he moved to Santa Cruz and started custom-building Bontrager frames out of his garage. He’s a great guy who came to cycling from a motorcycling background. He studied physics in college and has put his moto, bicycle and science knowledge together in his current job as head of Bontrager, now a key component of Trek Bicycles. There are Bontrager-designed and branded components on all kinds of Trek bicycles, so he stays very busy.
As you know, I’ve been getting into time trialing and I learned that Keith was working on a new aero wheel, the Aeolus, that was rumored to be among the fastest to date. So I contacted him, expecting him to be out of the country helping the RadioShack boys. But instead he surprised me by driving over to my house and hand delivering the Aeolus 5 and 3 D3 tubular wheels for me to take for a spin (clincher versions are available).
Carbon rimmed wheels are usually lighter at the rim than aluminum ones, so they feel fast, sometimes almost effortless, depending on what you’re upgrading from. But what’s so special about the Aeolus wheels is the aerodynamics. Following in HED and Zipp’s footsteps Keith and his team of Trek engineers studied rim shapes and discovered that the inside of the rim was just as important for aerodynamics as the tire side that meets the wind.
Experimenting and testing rim profiles, they ended up with one that looks crazy wide (26mm). With 22mm tubular tires, the edges of the rim are clearly visible from above, that’s how wide 26mm is (a standard rim used to be about 19mm wide). The rims are so wide that before you can install the wheel you will probably have to widen your brake adjustment.
The Aeolus rim doesn’t have a sharp triangular edge on the inside like you used to see on so-called aero rims. It’s a blunt, round profile like a bullet. This ensures that the rim smooths out the airflow past the wheel and decreases wind drag more than any other design Trek tested. It looks heavy and slow, but it’s just the opposite.
The free speed is the reason I reached out to Keith in the first place, because riding fast time trials has a lot to do with how aero your bike is. You hardly need your brakes, in fact. But Keith letting me try his Aeolus 3 wheels, superlight beauties perfect for hill climbs and road races, meant that I would be braking a lot on them.
This worried me because my current carbon wheels with Swiss Stop brake pads made for carbon are dangerously grabby and almost caused me to crash in races last year. It made me feel better when Keith said that the team had requested he come up with a brake pad to go along with his new Aeolus wheels that would perform as well as regular pads on aluminum rims. Keith explained that Fabian Cancellara and the Schleck brothers would routinely go through a set of pads in one stage of the Tour (!), and they were very unhappy with the braking on their bikes.
So, with the wheels, Keith gave me a set of Bontrager cork brake pads that have worked miracles. Last year I was sanding the Swiss Stop pads to remove the black marks on them from the carbon rims after every ride. And I was cleaning the rims with solvent, too. Even doing that, though, the pads would grab and cause the wheels to almost lock up, which made descending treacherous and made it impossible to hang with the top guys on descents.
Keith’s new pads completely solved the problem. It’s possible that it’s the combination of the wheels and the pads. His new wheels ride so nicely I’ve ridden them in every race this year. And the braking feels exactly the same as standard pads on aluminum rims. I haven’t had to clean the rims or sand the pads once. I’m highly impressed and no longer worry going into technical courses with hard cornering and fast descending.
I also believe that Keith’s Aeolus wheels offer an aerodynamic edge. I’ve posted some faster times on my time trial bike and even with the Aeolus 3’s, which are only 35mm tall, I feel just as fast as on the 50mm-tall carbon rims I rode the previous two seasons.
I’m hoping to try Keith’s 90mm-tall Aeolus 9 D3, at least in a front wheel, since it might be the fastest front TT wheel. But, Keith tells me it’s in such high demand by the pro teams that it’s not going to be easy for me to get on one. I’m holding my breath.
Tip: If you’re interested in the design and testing of the Aeolus wheels, you’ll enjoy the white paper on them.
The same way I contacted Keith looking for fast wheels for my TT bike, I contacted HED Cycling. I don’t know Steve Hed as well as I know Keith, but I did buy my first disc wheel from Steve around 1984 when I was trying to become a pro triathlete. And I’ve talked to him whenever I’ve gotten a chance over the years because he’s been a leader in aerodynamic wheels and components for so long and worked with so many famous pros over the years, from LeMond to Armstrong.
I didn’t get to speak with Steve but I still got an education from Tim at HED, who helped me select a new disc wheel for my TT rig. Unless you’re into time trialing or triathlon, you’re probably not interested in disc wheels, but keep reading because what HED told me might surprise you.
First, understand that I told Tim I wanted the fastest disc. Looking at their catalog and talking to riders, I had decided that that would be their Stinger Disc tubular. So I was taken aback when Tim told me that their fastest wheel was actually their Jet Clincher (less expensive than the Stinger, too)! It’s actually the disc that Tony Martin won the world time trial championship with and what superstar Bradley Wiggins now rides, too.
Tim explained that the clincher is faster than the tubular because 1) it forms a more aerodynamic shape at the rim; and 2) it reduces rolling resistance since the tire sits perfectly on the rim (unlike glued-on tubulars that never sit exactly true on a wheel).
Tip: HED has found that another way to decrease rolling resistance and add a little extra speed to your wheels is by using latex tubes and dusting them and the inside of the tires with talcum powder.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was when HED told me that Tony Martin and Bradley Wiggins run only 90psi in their race tires -- even on smooth courses. HED has been a proponent of wider rims and lower pressure since before Bontrager and Zipp (the Jet disc’s rim is 23mm wide). But I was still fascinated to learn that pros were riding clinchers and such low pressures, since the European peloton is usually so traditional, and tradition says tubulars and maximum pressures.
These Bontrager and HED wheel developments are already changing wheel designs from other companies. It’s looking like, now that we have good braking, carbon wheels are here to stay, and that wider rims are, too, because they’re faster and ride nicer. And clinchers run at lower pressures are the way to go unless you need superlight wheels, in which case tubulars still have an advantage. The other emerging wheel tech trend to watch is disc braking, but I’ll leave that for when it’s more settled.
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 http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim's streak of consecutive cycling days has reached 6,673.
Your club’s annual century is coming up, and you’ve been training well. You’re pretty sure you can ride the distance. You’re not so sure, though, about how to fuel the effort so you don’t run low on energy or, worse, bonk and finish at a crawl.
Endurance on rides longer than 75 miles depends more on your food and fluid intake than your fitness. Most century riders who slow markedly in the last 25 miles do so not because they lack endurance but because of fueling mistakes.
Now we know that during each hour of a long ride we need the caloric equivalent of one large bottle (28 oz.) of carbohydrate-rich sports drink plus one energy bar. This totals 300-350 calories. Contrast that with a 7-hour ride I did years ago when out of ignorance I drank only 4 21-oz. bottles of water, one Coke and ate around 500 calories worth of fig bars and pastry. I was at least 5 bottles of fluid and 1,500 calories short of the mark.
Use sports drinks. On long rides you should consume both water and sports drink, but the proportion should lean heavily toward the latter because it’s a carbohydrate source, not just a fluid source. The usual recommendation is to drink one 28-oz. bottle per hour, but this varies with the weather and your size. The bigger you are and the hotter or more humid it is, the more you should drink.
Drinking water along with a sports drink tends to dilute the carbs in your stomach and delay the rate of stomach emptying, but this usually isn’t a significant problem. It’s worth risking optimal absorption in order to rinse away the cloying sweet taste after couple of swigs if it’s bothersome. So much the better if you find a sports drink that doesn’t leave you wanting to rinse after drinking it!
Carrying enough fluid is difficult on long rides. Unless there are convenient reloading points along the course, the best solution is to use a back-mounted hydration pack. It’s your choice whether to put water in the pack and sports drink in the bottles or vice versa. Perhaps a stronger case can be made for putting the drink in the pack because ice can be used to keep it colder longer. It’s more palatable to drink warm water than a warm, sweet drink. Also, it helps keep sticky stuff from dripping onto your bike.
Eat solid food. Some ultramarathon cyclists can do long rides, including the 3,000 miles of the Race Across America, on liquid meal replacement products. No solid food to speak of for 8-10 days of hard riding. There’s no need to use such an extreme diet for typical long rides like centuries or even double centuries. You’ll get an adequate number of calories if you down the equivalent of one energy bar (about 225 calories) per hour along with a bottle of sports drink. Of course, feel free to eat any food you like better as long as it’s rich in carbohydrate and supplies enough calories.
Generally, the cooler it is, the easier it is to eat, and the more food you will crave. European racers, competing in cold and wet Spring Classics, have traditionally eaten small sandwiches (known as panini) made of bread, jam, cream cheese and ham, individually wrapped in foil. That might sound like a heavy, indigestible ration — unless it’s sleeting and the race is 160 miles long. Or it might sound good to you.
Set a reminder. Food won’t do you any good if it stays in your jersey pocket. It’s surprisingly easy to forget to eat often enough (or at all) when you’re in an event. An effective solution is to set your watch’s countdown timer to beep every 12 or 15 minutes as a signal to eat and drink.
For more great resources of cycling nutrition advice, check out our Nutrition section in the RBR eBookstore, which includes two very helpful titles from Coach John Hughes, Nutrition for 100K and Beyond, and Eating & Drinking Like the Pros (which includes a number of recipes for both food and homemade sports drink).
Adapted from Coach Fred's Solutions to 150 Road Cycling Challenges, a helpful eBook especially for cycling newcomers. 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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Riding in the rain makes you tough. I am not tough.
I don’t mind getting caught once I’m out, but I won’t leave home if it’s already raining. I didn’t used to feel that way; in my younger days I’d ride in a monsoon.
Rain riding, I’ve come to realize, is just one of many Things I Used to Do But Don’t Anymore. Whether because of wisdom or wimpiness, I’m not sure. Some examples:
I used to run my rubber till threads showed and nicks gave way to gouges, mostly to save money. But after witnessing one too many blow-outs and wipe-outs, I replace my tires when they start getting that flat-top look.
Maybe this isn’t such a good thing, but as my riding time has gotten more limited, I’ve become more ruthless about getting the most out of my workouts. That usually means structure, which usually means intervals, which usually means a power meter. Efficient? Yes. Carefree? Not so much.
Call me a snob, but life’s too short to pedal a cheap, heavy bike with sloppy shifting and squeaky braking. Give me the best I can afford.
Rain, snow, ice, darkness –- nothing kept me from my appointed rounds. My indoor trainer was for draping wet clothes. Then I realized that getting sick or run over puts a damper on your fitness. I no longer loathe my trainer; I just dislike it very much.
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.
Without a doubt one of the most unpleasant maladies associated with riding a bike is hemorrhoids. This is a condition where the veins around the anus or lower rectum become painful, swollen, inflamed and may itch or bleed.
Before providing a more detailed explanation of hemorrhoids, including classification and treatment options, here’s the good news:
Contrary to what most people think, riding a bicycle is not directly related to causing hemorrhoids. Cycling is indirectly linked to hemorrhoids, as it can be a contributing factor to further aggravating or causing additional deterioration in existing hemorrhoids.
Obviously, sitting on a bike seat for a prolonged period of time with painful, inflamed hemorrhoids is neither comfortable nor conducive to resolving the situation. When sitting on a bike seat, blood flow to the anal region is greatly reduced, and there is friction between the saddle and the hemorrhoid. Cycling itself does not cause hemorrhoids to develop in an otherwise healthy anus, but it certainly can aggravate an existing condition.
If these veins are located inside the anal canal, they are classified as internal hemorrhoids. Near the opening, they are external hemorrhoids.
External hemorrhoids are varicosities of the veins draining the inferior rectal vessels, which are branches of the pudendal artery. External hemorrhoids are prone to developing blood clots. This is classified as a thrombosed hemorrhoid.
Internal hemorrhoids are varicosities of the veins draining the territory of the superior rectal arteries. Because this area lacks pain receptors, internal hemorrhoids are usually not painful unless they become thrombosed or necrotic.
Internal hemorrhoids, if untreated, can lead to prolapsed or strangulated hemorrhoids. Prolapsed hemorrhoids are severely distended and are actually pushed outside of the anus. If the anal sphincter goes into spasm, the prolapsed hemorrhoid may have its blood supply cut off and become strangulated.
Internal hemorrhoids are graded by the degree of prolapse:
About 75% of the population suffers from hemorrhoids at some point in their life, with the 45- to 65-year-old population being the most commonly afflicted. The primary causes of hemorrhoids are constipation, straining on the stool, excessive sitting, pregnancy, being overweight, lack of exercise, a sedentary lifestyle and a poor, low-fiber diet.
Fortunately, most cases of hemorrhoids resolve within a few days, and only rarely do they require additional treatment. Home treatment includes over-the-counter creams, ointments, suppositories, or pads, which contain witch hazel or hydrocortisone. Other home remedies that offer some relief are using an ice pack over the area for 15-20 minutes or soaking in a warm bath for a similar amount of time.
For painful or bleeding external hemorrhoids, a doctor may make an incision to drain and remove the blood clots.
One treatment option for internal hemorrhoids is Rubber Band Ligation. This involves placing one or two tiny rubber bands around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off the circulation. The hemorrhoid will wither and fall off within a week; this is a very effective treatment in most cases. Another treatment option is an injection or Sclerotherapy. This is where a chemical solution such as Phenol is injected directly into the hemorrhoid tissue to shrink it.
At times, coagulation techniques utilizing lasers, infrared light or heat are used in an attempt to shrink the hemorrhoids. Generally, coagulation and Sclerotherapy are less effective then banding.
If all else fails, surgery may be the last resort, as it may have secondary complications such as infection, urinary retention, bleeding and anal strictures. A hemorrhoidectomy is reserved for severe and persistent hemorrhoids that fail to respond to more conservative measures. This involves surgical excision of the hemorrhoids, and it is a very painful procedure with a lengthy recovery period.
If even that fails, there is a church located in Murtosa, Portugal, that has a statue of a local saint from the 13th century that is thought to have the power to cure this unpleasant malady. In addition to curing hemorrhoids, Saint Goncalo was also thought to have the power to cure acne and help women find husbands.
Alan Bragman is a chiropractor living in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a former Cat 3 cyclist and nationally ranked inline speed skater. He was on the medical advisory board at Bicycling magazine for 10 years and has written for other sports publications. He is the author of 11 books and articles in the RBR eBookstore, including his latest, Cycling and Knee Pain.
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