1. From the Top: New Riding Skills Videos Launched Today
2. News & Reviews: Product Review: Hincapie Gradient Softshell Jacket
3. Question of the Week: Will a Confession Alter Lance Armstrong’s Legacy?
4. Ask Coach Fred: Which Exercises Will Get Rid of My Gut?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Help Solve Westly’s Chain-Jamming Mystery
7. No Problem: Fit-Related Injuries, Part 2
8. Quick Tips: Mind Over Matter
9. Cadence: Try This: Combine Pedaling and Lifting
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
One quick note before I tell you about our new video partnership: Coach Arnie Baker emailed me to say that his technical adviser (him!) had discovered an error in the Yearly Training Log Excel spreadsheet that is part of his High-Intensity Training for Cyclists eBook.
The newly updated version of the ever-popular 242-page HIT went on sale in December, with 11 more pages, 13 new figures, and 3 more tables than the last published edition. Arnie sent us a revised version of the Training Log spreadsheet, which we have placed in the Downloads folder of everyone who has purchased High-Intensity Training. You simply need to download the .zip file to use the new spreadsheet. (Arnie’s tech adviser apologizes for the error!)
Now, on to the big news of the week. And, no, the guy whose name starts with “L” only rates 2nd place in this column.
We’re really pleased today to announce a new partnership with an Australian cycling website and YouTube channel called Cycling Secrets, which produces riding skills and related videos.
In effect, Cycling Secrets is the video yang to RBR’s editorial yin. We both are dedicated to providing the best “how to” road cycling knowledge to help riders improve their skills and enjoy riding even more. But where RBR has always focused on the written word and occasional photos to do this, Cycling Secrets focuses on videos and voiceovers. Yin and yang, indeed.
Even if you’ve read all there is to read about proper cornering or climbing skills, you may still find some useful information or helpful tip by “visualizing” the concepts – and vice versa as it relates to watching videos as a first step. Together, articles and videos can work to reinforce and impart concepts in a way that one or the other alone might not be able to do in all cases.
The novel aspect of these videos is that many utilize computer animation vs. live action, so they are able to easily convey group riding concepts like paceline skills, etc., in a way that live action cannot.
So, without further ado, I invite you to peruse our new selection of Cycling Secrets videos on our Riding Skills page: http://www.roadbikerider.com/riding-skills. You’ll see them listed individually in the left-side navigation under Skills Videos.
(While you’re there, it might be a great time to dive a little deeper into RBR’s website to see the array of information available to you. It’s really a great resource, and we’re open for business every day of the week – not just Thursdays!)
Over the last week or so, since it first came out that Lance Armstrong would be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey (airing Thursday and Friday evening in prime time) and he was expected to confess his PED use, I’ve heard and read much about the guy that I had not truly considered before.
And it seems that many, many folks have increasingly entrenched opinions on Lance – a good number of them negative – regarding his character, his potential legacy, and the real motivation for his finally “coming clean” (though we still won’t know just how clean until later this week).
In business-related emails, in personal emails, in the cycling press, and in the general press, not to mention in cartoons and casual conversations, these strong opinions sprang forth. As they most certainly will for who knows how long!
No doubt you have your own opinions, and surely have heard scads of others over the past week. (Feel free to share yours on the Community Comments page.) Following are but a sampling of what has swirled in my world during the past week.
A couple of interesting articles were forwarded to me (on top of numerous others I read):
USA Todaysports columnist and commentator Christine Brennan wrote an article titled: Life of Armstrong Over as He Knows It. The subhead reads, “Christine Brennan writes that Lance Armstrong is 'nothing short of pathetic in defeat.'”
On Yahoo.com, sports columnist Dan Wetzel wrote a piece called Lance Armstrong's doping admission: Questions Oprah should have asked that made the rounds among my own cycling buddies.
Among the flurry of emails we traded about it, one of them, from my friend Kirk Glaze, stood out. He wrote: “Regarding the questions that Lance should have been asked about whether he has actually apologizing to the people he tried to destroy based on a lie, the flipside of confession is repentance. That's often the more difficult part, and in this case would require genuine humility and seeking forgiveness from the injured parties, one-on-one. I don’t think Lance is anywhere near repentance, but I hope he gets there. If he doesn't, whatever initial positive implications his “confession” elicits will become bitter-tasting and diminish him even more.”
Another email came from Michael Secrest, who is a multiple world record-setting cyclist (we wrote about his latest world record, set at age 58 just last year – click and scroll down for it). He’s also the author of The Guy on the Bike, an autobiographical eBook that reveals details of his unmatched cycling successes and turns them into inspirational life lessons for cyclists and non-cyclists alike. Here’s what he wrote in the email:
“It would seem, now, that after Lance's confession -- we'll know to what extent on Thursday -- the message of my book: accomplishing athletic success without the use of drugs, SHOULD be a very strong message to those young people for which my book was intended. However, because of this "scumbag," no one in the public will EVER believe that a 58-year-old man could set a world record without using drugs.
“I instituted self-mandatory drug testing after every world record I set to prove that I rode cleanly; being that the Ultra-Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA) does not require drug testing of any sort, despite my efforts to change their policy. So, my proof of all negative drug testing throughout my four decades of setting world records is now meaningless because anyone can challenge that and say, 'Well, Lance passed all his drug tests, as well.' At least I can go to my grave knowing that I rode clean and never hid behind any lies.
“Such a sad day for the sport of cycling. This guy should be banned from competition for life, no matter what evidence he can bring to the table. It should be because it's the RIGHT THING to do, not what's in it for him. But, then again, he's proven over and over: that's just not Lance.”
There were also nearly 40 comments on our Facebook Site, http://www.facebook.com/RoadBikeRider, to the question: Reports just out that Lance confessed PED use to Oprah. Are you surprised? You can go there to check them out.
But the last word goes to Oprah herself, who confirmed after the interview that Lance did confess to doping – albeit not as she had expected (being coy for ratings?). She said Armstrong “did not come clean in the manner that I expected. I feel that he answered the questions in a way that he was ready….I can only say I was satisfied by the answers.”
Heaven knows there will be plenty of people who are not satisfied, not matter what he says.
Enjoy Your Ride!
Editor & Publisher
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By Paul Smith
Price: $199.99 MSRP
Colors: Ember (red); Graphite (dark gray)
How obtained: review sample
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 30+ hours
The Hincapie Gradient jacket is impressive on first sight, with a look of quality and purpose. The outer part of the fabric is smooth to the touch, with Hincapie claiming water-resistant protection. Inside is a comfortable fleece lining which feels good against the skin. The overall look and feel highlights the technical nature of the jacket.
In terms of fit, I found the jacket to have a more “American” fit; that is, to run a bit larger than typical European gear. I am a little under 6 feet (1.83m) tall and typically wear a medium size in jerseys and jackets. However, the sample provided by the company was a large and seems more suited to someone probably a couple of inches taller and a bit bulkier than I.
If you’re considering purchasing this jacket, I would recommend you stick to your normal size for uppers. No need to “size up” to allow for room underneath; Hincapie already seems to have done that for you.
I have used this jacket for the past three months as fall turned to winter, both on group rides and for commuting to work -- in temperatures as low as 25F (-4 degrees Celsius) and as high as 60F (15.5C), in rain and on sunny days.
Overall, I found the jacket to be a great tool to keep me comfortable on the road across the range of temperatures and conditions. At the bottom of that temperature range, adding a pair of arm warmers under the jacket kept some of the extra chill at bay. Above 35F, the arm warmers were not needed.
I also added a light vest over the top of the jacket at the bottom end of the range, on occasion. Although the jacket has the nice fleece lining and is sealed against the wind, a vest added an extra measure of warmth.
The maximum temperature for which the jacket was still useful was around 60F, with the zipper open most of the way. It’s not unusual to have temperature swings of 30F in North Carolina, so heading out on a cold morning dressed appropriately can often mean being overdressed toward the end of a ride. The zipper is easy to manipulate, even with winter gloves on, and the jacket can get you through such temperature variations with ease.
It can also handle a little rain. A few times I got caught out in light showers, and the jacket was surprisingly effective at shedding the rain. Perhaps more surprising was that the Hincapie Gradient proved to be the best wicking jacket I have worn to date. It was truly a standout feature and kept me from overheating in conditions that other jackets might not be able to handle.
The jacket has a fairly high neck and fits well at the top, preventing cold air infiltration. The sleeves are long and fit snugly around the wrists, again preventing wind exposure. The cuffs are not elastic but are form-fitting on the wrists and slipped easily inside cold weather gloves.
The jacket has three large back pockets that provide ample storage and are easily accessible. On long base-mile days I could comfortably take along my cell phone, plenty of cycling food, plus have some leftover room for gloves when the temperature got higher.
I found that the vest I sometimes wore at the start of the ride could not fit in the pockets, however, and I ended up tucking it up inside the back of the jacket. This worked pretty well but highlighted one possible issue with the jacket. The bottom seam of the jacket does have a silicone strip to help hold it in place, but does not contain any elastic. As a result, there is the possibility that items stored within the back of the jacket, as I stored my vest, might work themselves free and fall out. This nearly happened once with my vest. Elastic in the seam would be a benefit, and I’m confident that the tighter fit of a medium would have helped in my case, as well.
The only real issue I have with this jacket is the price. With a recommended retail price of $200, I’m not sure it’s $100 more jacket than the Pearl Izumi Select jacket I have been wearing for previous cold-season rides. The rain resistance of the Hincapie Gradient is quite good, and the jacket still manages to be comfortable to wear and reduce internal sweat buildup. With price not an issue, this jacket gets a high recommendation, but the value-for-money proposition may be a little lower.
This is a great jacket with good all-around characteristics. The jacket performed admirably in a wide range of temperatures, has generous and easy-to-access pockets, is well-sealed against the wind and wicks sweat away from your body. The only caveat is price, but if you are looking for a high-end jacket for a variety of riding conditions, the Hincapie Gradient should be among those you consider.
Paul Smith is an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. He is a regular bike commuter whose car is worth less than either one of his bikes.
Gear up for these Product Reviews in the coming weeks:
Last week, a number of RBR contributors shared our goals for 2013. It seems that losing weight is definitely among our readers’ goals this year. More than 100 purchased Pedal Off the Pounds its first week on sale. And for good reason; it’s a great eBook packed with solid, honest, actionable advice.
In Pedal Off the Pounds, USA Cycling Level 1 Coach David Ertl eschews diet book gimmickry for the hard truth, detailed nutritional and dietary knowledge, and a proven approach to weight loss for cyclists – whether weight loss alone is your goal, or whether losing weight and simultaneously training to improve cycling performance is your goal.
Losing weight through exercise alone, without changing your diet, is difficult and time-consuming, he points out in the prologue. Losing weight by changing your diet, without increasing your exercise, is equally difficult. But when you combine a reduced-calorie diet with increased energy expenditure, weight loss becomes manageable and noticeable. And cycling is the ideal calorie-burning activity, he says.
Coach Ertl has laid out the 34-page eBook in a simple and practical order.
Chapter 1, What To Eat: Basics of Nutrition for Healthy Weight Loss and Cycling, includes a discussion of what you should be eating to assist with weight loss and weight management, being healthy and having energy for cycling and life. It is packed with bedrock nutrition information about the building block elements of our diet, fully explains the key terms and concepts (carbohydrates, Glycemic Index, glycogen, protein, fats and oils) and the roles they play in our diet. It tells you what types of foods to avoid, and which to eat for healthy weight loss.
Chapter 2, When and How Much To Eat: How to use Hunger to your Advantage, talks about how much and when you should eat. It provides some tips about eating enough to provide the energy you need for your daily activities and for your cycling, yet still allowing you to shed some pounds at the same time. It discusses hunger, something many books on weight loss tend to avoid. But Coach Ertl tackles it head-on and discusses how you can use your appetite to your advantage.
Chapter 3, Eating for Weight Loss and Cycling Performance, discusses when to be eating which foods in order to balance the need for energy for cycling with the desire to lose weight. This can be tricky but you will get some guidelines to help weave your way through these seemingly contradictory objectives. It discusses the number of calories you can burn while cycling, the role of duration and intensity, and whether to ride in the fat-burning zone.
Chapter 4, Example Training and Eating Plans to Maximize Weight Loss and Performance, contains sample weekly diet programs combined with cycling training programs to help you visualize how to put the two together to maximize your success at weight loss. One sample program focuses on weight loss only as the primary goal, while the other focuses on weight loss while training to improve cycling performance – clearly demonstrating the different needs and approaches for each.
Next time you reach for some “Vitamin I” before a training ride, consider the possible effects on your recovery.
A study from the Netherlands shows that taking Ibuprofen before intense exercise increases bleeding from the intestines (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. December 2012). This can interfere with a person's training program by delaying recovery from intense exercise, according to a recent issue of Dr. Gabe Mirkin's e-Zine.
When intestines are damaged, blood leaks from the intestines into the bloodstream. This can be measured by a blood test called “Intestinal Fatty Acid Binding Protein” (I-FABP). According to Dr. Mirkin, the author demonstrated that blood levels of I-FABP rise during intense exercise and remain elevated only for up to one hour after a person finishes exercising intensely. This shows that the damaged intestines heal within an hour.
Strenuous exercise itself, without Ibuprofen, can damage the intestines. For example, cyclists who rode hard and fast for an hour immediately developed elevated blood levels of I-FABP (PLoS One, July 2011;6(7):e22366). Ibuprofen, in effect, worsens the damage.
During intense exercise, large amounts of blood must be pumped to bring oxygen to muscles. The body gets the extra blood by shutting off blood flow to the intestines, according to Dr. Mirkin. The decreased blood flow to the intestines deprives intestinal cells of oxygen, and they are damaged and not able to absorb food inside the intestines.
This also explains why intense exercise can cause abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea and gastrointestinal bleeding in some people.
Effective training for sports is based on a stress-and-recover program for your muscles. Intense workouts cause muscle damage, as evidenced by muscle burning during the workout and soreness eight to 24 hours afterward. After rest to allow your muscles to recover, you’re able to do your next intense workout, and your muscles will be stronger.
“Skeletal muscles are composed of thousands of muscle fibers,” says Dr. Mirkin. “Each fiber is a long rope made up of a series of thousands of similar blocks called sarcomeres, lined end to end to form a long chain. Each block attaches to the next sarcomere at the ‘Z line’.
“Muscles function by shortening a little bit at each of the thousands of ‘Z lines’. The ‘Z lines’ all shorten simultaneously and the entire muscle then can contract. The ‘Z lines’ are where muscles are damaged. It is damage to these ‘Z lines’ that causes muscle growth after healing, which makes muscles stronger.”
Muscles recover much faster from intense exercise when you take sugar and protein within one hour after finishing exercise, according to Dr. Mirkin. “Exercise markedly increases sensitivity to insulin for about an hour after you finish exercising. This effect tapers off rapidly after that. Taking sugar causes a rise in insulin. Insulin drives amino acids from protein into muscle cells to help them heal faster.”
The intestinal damage caused by Ibuprofen can interfere with absorption of food from the intestines and delay recovery and healing.
RBR reader Pete Royer emailed the following story about how sometimes, the perspective we have in the saddle allows us to see things we normally would not see behind the wheel – like a car partially submerged in a freezing pond on the side of the road!
“You know how sometimes you see the countryside better and notice more things while on a bike than in a car?” Pete wrote. “Case in point, a bicyclist, in January in Minnesota, noticed a car in a pond and called authorities. I wonder how many cars drove past and did not see or notice the car in the water. But a cyclist did. I believe the high for that day was 9 degrees F (-13 C).
“Here is a link to an updated story. Of course, most stories centered on the woman, not the guy on a bike who saw the car.”
We need down time, to be sure: a physical and mental break from more time spent on the bike and other exercise. However, as we age we are more prone to injury. If we take part of the year off because of unpleasant conditions, we won’t perform as well as last year. As a result, we may push hard to regain last year’s fitness, increasing the risk of injury when we start exercising again. Further, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), “there is considerable evidence that regular physical activity is associated with significant improvements in overall psychological health and well-being.” Seasonal Affective Disorder, seasonal depression resulting from less exposure to sunlight, is common. The holidays, although joyful, may also be stressful. Keep moving!
Whether your goal is long-lasting physical health, the joy of physical activity or continuing athletic performance, this 26-page eArticle will teach you what to do in the off-season. It includes a 12-week off-season training program with a range of options. This is the follow-up to Coach Hughes' best-selling article Healthy Cycling Past 50, and the 2nd title in his 4-article "Past 50" series.
Improving your range of riding skills – from holding a steady line to staying relaxed and maintaining smooth control, from riding with one hand or no hands to learning how to handle bumping other riders and touching wheels – improves your confidence, comfort, and safety in all riding situations, whether you’re a beginner or experienced roadie.
In the 24-page eArticle, Coach Canfield provides 21 skill drills and 11 photos, with clear explanations of how to do each drill, and the value of each skill to your riding enjoyment and safety. He breaks down the drills into those you can practice while on a ride, whether group or solo, and specific drills you can practice on your own or with friends in a parking lot, grassy field or other off-road venue.
I have more belly than is good for me. At 45, I changed my life and started bike commuting. I've dropped some weight and three inches off my waist, but there's a lot more to go. Is there something better than basic sit-ups and leg lifts for trimming the stomach? -- Michael R.
It's important to do "core" exercises like crunches to keep the abs toned and reduce lower back problems. You can do them at home on a carpet or exercise mat. No health club needed.
However, remember that strong abs won't reduce the size of your waistline. You can do crunches from now till doomsday and all you'll get is an extremely strong abdominal wall covered with the same layer of fat that presently exists.
Here's why: Fat is lost at the same rate from all over the body. Further, it's lost only by increasing the number of calories burned and reducing the number taken in. There's no such thing as "spot reducing" -- exercising a certain part of the body to take fat off that specific area.
Crunches alone won't burn enough calories to help you shed fat. To lose weight, continue to bike commute. Two rides a day may be more effective than one ride of the same total length because your metabolism is boosted twice.
Ride on the weekends, too, to incinerate more calories. The longer you go on Saturday or Sunday, the better. Include hills or friends who push the pace for even greater benefit. Combine your cycling with a sound nutritional plan and you should see steady weight loss.
You might also check out RBR’s new eBook, Pedal Off the Pounds, by Coach David Ertl, which provides a detailed approach to using cycling to help lose weight.
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
JerseyBin Waterproof Storage Pouches - New! Trim Bin (left photo, with phone) and, by popular demand, Mid Bin (right photo, with phone) clear vinyl storage pouches that keep your mobile phone and other valuables dry and safe on rides year-round. The new Mid Bin fits iPhones in larger cases and many other larger phones. (However, JerseyBin urges users to take their phone out of the case before placing in the Bin.)
Lightweight RBR cycling cap - RBR’s high-quality Walz Caps 3-panel logoed cycling cap in moisture-wicking 100% circular knit polyester. Lightweight, breathable and stylish.
New! Wool RBR cycling cap -- RBR’s high-quality Walz Caps 3-panel logoed cycling cap in 100% wool, with a moisture-wicking band. Soft, comfortable insulation for winter riding – or year-round.
RBR-logoed Jerseys - ONLY 3 LEFT - CLOSEOUT PRICING! 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.
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See our CycleWallets too. http://www.cueclip.com
This week, I’m sharing an email tech talk I had with Westly Wilcox, a roadie from Melbourne, Australia. (You may recall that Westly contributed an article last spring about riding in the first-ever Paris-Roubaix Gran Fondo). He asked for help with an annoying and mysterious chain jam he experiences on descents when coasting. (Asking us direct questions is an often overlooked Premium Membership perk; just click Ask RBR a Question on the Premium site.)
I took a crack at answering, addressing two relatively common problems that can cause the chain to shift into the frame seemingly on its own and while you’re not pedaling. But Westly replied that he had already ruled out one of the things and that the other was unlikely.
So, I thought it would be fun to see if you can help Westly. After reading our back and forth, if you have something for Westly to try, please post it in Comments and between all of us, we can fix his bike.
I'm hoping you can put your finger on an occasional problem I have on my 2009 Trek 5.2 with Shimano Ultegra 10-speed components and a 50/34 crankset. Quite a few times this problem has occurred, but only when coming down a steep hill.
Naturally, I will be in the highest cogs, the 11 or 12 and on the 50-tooth front ring. The issue is that the chain jumps off the cog and jams between the cassette and the rear frame stay. This doesn’t happen when I’m shifting into harder gears, but when I’m coasting in those gears I mentioned.
I go to continue pedaling and find the system is locked. I’m unable to move the pedals forward or back. This is disconcerting when traveling at high speed and then slowing down without being able to naturally uncleat as the pedals are stuck at 9 and 3 o'clock.
I have had the bike looked at by several mechanics, but no one can give me an answer, as they say it is adjusted to perfection.
This issue is usually related to some problem with the rear derailleur or rear wheel hub.
Regarding the rear derailleur, you might have an adjustment problem. [Westly wrote after reading last week’s column about bent hangers and derailleurs, so that’s not the problem]. It's possible that the derailleur outer limit screw is adjusted wrong. That's the screw that determines how far the chain can move toward the smallest cog and frame. It's pretty common for people and even mechanics to not spend enough time fine-tuning these screws when setting up the derailleur.
I see this all the time and worked with a few mechanics who believed they could adjust a derailleur in a few seconds, which isn't the case. So it can get more "ballparked" than expertly adjusted and carefully tested.
If yours is like this, it means that it will land on that smallest cog fine most of the time, but under extreme conditions, it will tend to shift off the cog and onto the frame. I know coasting doesn't seem like an extreme condition. The extreme would be hitting a bump in this case or just cornering hard.
The way to test this is easy. Just suspend your bike somehow so you can shift with your hand, or have a friend hold up the back of the bike for you. Now pedal with your left hand and shift until you're on the smallest cog. Next, here's the test to see if your limit screw is adjusted right (this a key test during derailleur adjustment that's often forgotten).
Pedal gently with your hand again but this time pull outward on the rear derailleur with your other hand as if you are trying to force it to throw/pull the chain off the cog and into the frame. If you can get it to do that, you know the screw needs tightening to prevent it. Turn it in half-turn increments until you can’t get it to shift off. You'll then also need to take up some slack in the cable and you'll be good to go.
Tip: Though not related to Westly’s issue, it’s a good idea when adjusting rear derailleurs to test the inner limit adjustment, too. Again, you pedal by hand, but for this, you push in on the derailleur with your hand trying to get it to shift over the top cog. BE CAREFUL because if the adjustment is way off, it’s possible to push the derailleur into the spokes and if the wheel’s spinning, the derailleur can get caught, sucked into the wheel and ruined.
If the derailleur checks out okay, Westly, I would next remove the rear wheel and investigate the hub very carefully and thoroughly. The first thing I would check is the cassette body. That's the part that the cassette is attached to.
You can just hold it by the cogs and turn the cassette slowly backward to feel how the cassette body is working. But, to really feel it and judge the condition of the lubrication and bearings inside, it's best to remove the cassette cogs. Then you can actually hold onto the cassette body and get your ear close to it to listen and watch it carefully.
Cassettes work very hard. And they're exposed to weather and can easily become contaminated with moisture and then rust. Another common issue is broken parts inside. Because they are a contained bearing system, the parts are held inside and the cassette will keep on working even if it's in awful shape.
In the scenario you describe, a likely cause is a cassette body that binds intermittently but works most of the time as it should. As you're riding downhill and stop pedaling, the cassette freewheels fine. But then, the defect or rust or broken pawl or loose spring inside makes it bind suddenly.
The cassette is now forced to turn with the wheel for a second or two. But, you're coasting, so the chain gets pushed forward and becomes slack. When this happens, slack in the chain is created, allowing it to jump off the cog and wedge between the frame.
It's possible to force lubrication into a cassette body (automobile motor oil is the right consistency), and that can get a dry one running smoothly again. But if it's binding badly or feeling gritty or grinding, they're usually inexpensive enough that replacing it is the better choice. If you can't tell if yours has a problem but it feels a little rough or imprecise, I recommend just replacing it.
Another thing I would check is for a broken rear axle or loose cones and nuts on the rear axle. To do this, you'll remove the quick release so that you can twist and pull on the axle and turn it in your fingers to make sure it's in perfect shape. You can also turn the nuts on the axle to make sure they're tight and don't move.
A bent or broken axle and loose parts on the axle can have the effect of changing the spacing, and that can cause shifting problems and cause the chain to drop.
If you didn't want to do all these tests and inspections, you could instead borrow a friend's rear wheel, put it on your bike and see if the problem goes away.
Okay? I hope something here helps you solve this annoying chain jam!
-- Jim Langley
Many thanks for going to so much detail to answer my chain drop problem, Jim. I should have told you that this has happened over several years and with different wheels and cassettes. So, I don’t think that’s the problem. I will try the derailleur limit screw test. Good idea.
One more clue maybe is that it is possible the chain jamming happens when I go to move the right/left pedals for cornering. What I do is pedal backward and then commence pedaling forward again. Maybe the backpedaling is contributing?
There you have it. I told Westly that backpedaling often causes problems even though it shouldn’t.
If you think you know what Westly’s problem is and how he can fix it, please help him out by explaining on the Community Comments page. And maybe there will be enough tips that I’ll follow-up with more in a later column.
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 6,939.
Last week, I related the story about how I mis-fit myself into an injury some years ago by getting away from the keys of proper road bike fit. I instead followed some trendy bit of advice I had read in a French study. The result was a recurring, acute case of tendinitis where my right hamstring attaches to my glute.
Embracing the keys to a proper fit can help you avoid my mistake. We started the list last week and finish up this week.
Aim for comfort. The assumption that a position has to be painful to be efficient is simply false. To be fast, you don't have to be stretched out like a heretic on a rack during the Inquisition. Speed follows comfort. Speed doesn't follow a painful and overly elongated position—but injury often does. If you're not comfortable on a 3-hour ride, something's wrong.
If your position causes injuries, get a new position. When American roadie Ron Kiefel turned pro, some European racers told him to slide his saddle back for more power. He did—and promptly injured his back. He couldn't train or race for several months. When he returned to his normal position, he recovered and went on to a career that included 7 Tours de France. He was able to withstand the incredible demands of 3-week stage races because he adopted a position his body tolerated well, not the position that style or peer pressure dictated. (It’s the same hard lesson I learned.)
Your position must not compromise bike handling. If your handlebar is too low and you're stretched too far, with straight arms and locked elbows, you won't be able to control the bike well. If you're bumped from the side by another rider, your rigid arms will transmit the shock through the handlebar to the front wheel. You could crash. Bent, shock-absorbing elbows and relaxed arms are a natural result of a balanced position.
Don't make frequent changes. When you make a tweak, give it time to settle in. Ten hours of riding is a good rule of thumb. If you then feel another adjustment is necessary, do it and then give it the same amount of time. Frequent tinkering never allows your body enough time to adapt. You must give each change a chance.
Don't make large changes. If your saddle needs to come down 1 cm, don't lower it all at once. Take it down 4 mm for a week, then another 3 mm and, finally, the rest of the way. Bodies don't like sudden large changes, even when they're the right changes.
Record your numbers. Finally, when you settle into a position that works, write down the key dimensions: saddle height and setback, stem length, distance between the top of the saddle and top of the handlebar, distance from the tip of the saddle to the handlebar and to the tips of the brake lever hoods. Whenever you set up a different bike, you'll be able to duplicate your best position without all the trial and readjustment.
If you need or want fitting assistance, here are various ways to get it.
Your local bike shop. Many good shops have personnel who have been trained in bike fit and use one of the many proven fit systems. Typically, when you get a pro fit, the fitter will also help you tweak your position with follow-up visits until you’ve got it dialed in.
A cycling coach. Coaches certified by USA Cycling have had training in bike fit and are often a good source for a professional fitting.
RBR’s eBookstore. We’ve got a number of eBooks and eArticles that cover various aspects of bike fit. Take a look especially at the Medical and Technical categories. And note that we’ll soon be offering a new title, Bike Fit Video Analysis, by Coach Alan Canfield.
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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This is not going to be a very good column.
Yes, it is! This will be the best darned column it can be.
Sorry, I was practicing my positive affirmations. Why? Because I've come to realize that the mental aspect of cycling is as powerful as the physical side.
If it works for the pros, I figure it can work for me.
So I've developed my own program, which is geared more toward those of us who are, um, talent-challenged. It's based on taking common negative self-talk and imagery, and turning them into powerful, actionable messages that tap the mind's vast potential to. . .oh, heck, it'll make you faster, OK?
Negative: My bike's not good enough.
Positive: Training on my heavy, crappy-components-equipped bicycle will make me stronger, so when I get that new dream machine (right, Honey?) I will say to my riding buddy who's been crushing me, "Ha-ha-ha," but he won't hear because I dropped him miles ago.
Negative: This hurts -- I'm backing off.
Positive: What doesn't kill me can only make me stronger. Pain is weakness leaving the body. And I have some Florida swampland you should seriously consider buying.
Negative: I'm a lousy climber.
Positive: If Earth is roughly one-third uphill, one-third downhill and one-third flatland, I am awesome on 66% of the planet's terrain. Also, I have never looked good in polka dots.
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.
Necessity is definitely the mother of invention, especially for indoor cyclists. That's why there are so many creative ways to take the monotony out of riding the nowhere bike.
Here's another -- a terrific way to combine weight training and indoor cycling. It can work great in situations, like in a home basement or workout room, where your iron and your trainer are just feet apart.
Here's why: Studies done by Gary Sforzo of Ithaca College show that mixing lifting with pedaling can increase muscular strength by nearly 25% while significantly improving VO2 max.
The combo is called "cardio-resistance training." Other studies have shown that similar workouts also improve power at lactate threshold.
And alternating weights with intervals on the bike makes indoor cycling less boring. Clock hands actually move at a normal pace.
Here's how: Simply do your normal weight training routine of, say, 3 sets of 5-10 reps of 5 different exercises. Separate each set with 2-3 minutes of hard pedaling.
For example, let's say your weight workout consists of lat pulldowns, bench presses, upright rows, leg presses and crunches. If you do 3 sets of each, that's 15 sets in all.
Normally you rest between each set for 1-2 minutes. But not in this cardio-resistance workout. Instead, you finish a set and immediately hop on your trainer (or a spinning bike at the health club) and crank for up to 3 minutes.
Don't go all-out on the bike. Instead, use a resistance and cadence that raises your heart rate to about 85% of max by the end of the interval.
Don't use maximum weight. Instead of doing exercises with the most you could heft if you were resting between sets, lower the load by 15-20%.
This is a tough workout --15 sets of resistance exercises and 15 intervals on the bike, all without rest. Once or twice a week is plenty. It's very effective for time-pressed riders who want to improve their strength and fitness efficiently.
As always, be sure to get your physician's approval before launching into this or any other demanding workout.
In case you missed it, Coach Fred wrote the book (eArticle, actually) on this: His WinterPower: A Cardio-Resistance Workout Regimen lays out the ideal cardio-resistance program for your winter workouts.