1. From the Top: Diamonds in the Rough
2. News & Reviews: Newly Updated: Strategy & Tactics for Cyclists
3. Question of the Week: What’s Your Reaction to the Lance Armstrong Interview?
4. Ask Coach Fred: Won't Hard Trainer Rides Ruin My Aerobic Base?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Westly’s Chain, And Tubular (Sew-Up) Tires, Part 1
7. No Problem: Saddle Height Formulas, Part 1
8. Quick Tips: Distracted Driving Quiz
9. Cadence: Women on Wheels: How to Avoid Weight Gain While Training
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
Editor’s Notes: A few quick notes today –
1) Thanks to all the readers who offered suggestions re: last week’s Tech Talk on the Comments page. It was great to see so many fellow RBR readers offer up their ideas and tech fixes to another roadie;
2) A quick reminder of the new Skills Videos we launched last week. Check them out.
3) Arnie Baker’s newly updated Strategy & Tactics for Cyclists is now on sale. See the full write-up in News & Reviews, below including the free 20-page preview!
4) Coach David Ertl’s new eBook, Pedal Off the Pounds, is a hit. Check it out if you’re looking for a great tool to lose weight through cycling.
For the second week in a row, my buddy J.C. and I did one of the hardest, biggest weekend group rides around. We estimated this Saturday’s Tucker Ride to include about 150 riders departing on a cold morning (for us, anyway, at 35F, or 2C). It’s a fast ride over a hilly course, and it’s a tough test, no matter the time of year.
But with our first organized event of 2013 (the annual Tundra Time Trial) now just a month away, J.C. and our fellow Domestiques, my regular group of riding buddies, are looking for good training opportunities. The Tucker Ride, just shy of 45 miles, with lots of interval-type efforts and numerous hills, certainly qualifies.
Heading into the ascent of one of those hills, about a 300 meter-long tester that often fractures the group (this is NOT a “no drop” ride!), I planned to make my way up in a “sit and spin” gear. I quickly realized the need to shift to a harder gear, stand up and add some speed if I wanted to stay with the group.
As I chugged up that entire hill out of the saddle – something that had long been a weakness of mine – I was thankful that I had decided to make it a point of emphasis in my training last year.
We are all diamonds in the rough as cyclists. Every rider has inherent strengths and weaknesses, because – like diamonds – road cycling has so many facets that it’s almost impossible to excel at all of them. However, we can hone and polish our “rough” facets over time, and turn them into strengths.
Every year, I choose one weakness (sometimes two – there’s never a shortage!) to improve by focusing on it throughout the year. Last year I chose to hone my out-of-the-saddle climbing ability, because it had become an obvious weakness.
During a rare race (I typically stick to group rides), I was in an ideal position nearing the finish – which was at the top of a hill very much like the one I just described. I had worked my way up to 5th at the base of the hill, but after being passed by what seemed like a quarter of the field, and then narrowly avoiding a crash in front of me, I shut it down, disappointed and realizing I had some serious work to do.
It had never seemed so glaring a weakness before. On group rides and outings with buddies, I sometimes fell back a bit on hills, but I was content to let them go and climb sitting, at my own pace, justifying it because standing made my knees very tired, very quickly. It took going from 5th to mid-pack in that race to realize that no justification was ever going to get me up a hill faster! Only hard work was going to do it.
So I started standing a little bit at a time on almost every hill of any significance. On the next ride, I would stand for a little longer, and so on, and on. Now, I have defined spots on certain regular hills where I stand every time I climb – no matter how far I’ve already ridden, or how tired I am. And on some of the hills that used to crush my spirit, I can now stand up for the entire hill – and my legs and knees feel fine.
This year, I plan to continue honing this facet of my riding, but my main point of emphasis now will be adding some giddy-up to my stand-up. There are a couple of weeknight hammerfests around these parts during the season that don’t just meander up some of those same hills I train on. Now that I can stand the whole way, doing it faster will help me polish that facet to a sparkle.
Got a weakness? We’re all diamonds in the rough; no rider I know doesn’t have at least a few. Pick one this year, and hone it into a strength.
P.S. My buddy J.C. told me a great story on Saturday’s ride – again, most definitely not a “no drop” ride. When he was describing the ride to his wife (who’s not a cyclist), and telling her he got dropped on a previous Saturday, she asked the following: “Did they stop to say goodbye before they left you behind?”
Enjoy Your Ride!
Editor & Publisher
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Coach Arnie Baker has been busy lately! Recently, he updated his ever-popular 242-page High-Intensity Training for Cyclists eBook, with 11 more pages, 13 new figures, and 3 more tables than the last published edition – including the Yearly Training Log Excel spreadsheet. Many of you have discovered (or rediscovered) this valuable training tool.
Now, Arnie has produced the new 6th edition of Strategy & Tactics for Cyclists, with7 more pages, 3 new figures, and 1 more table than the last published edition. (Previous purchasers will find the new edition already in your Downloads folder!)
The 170-page Strategy & Tactics eBook now includes much more information about breakaway tactics and pacing for ultra events. It is broken down into 6 sections: Energy; Psychology & Style; Specific Tactics; Teamwork; Primes & Finishes; and Event-Specific Tactics. It offers a wealth of proven tactical knowledge, fully illustrated to make strategies come to life.
And those strategies and tactics are gleaned from personal knowledge: Arnie is a category 1 racer and coach who has set eight U.S. 40K time trial records. He has also won more than 200 road races and criteriums, including multiple national championships. But he’ll be the first to admit that he didn't do it with physical talent alone. He will tell you that knowing how to read a race and make the right move at the right time is the key to reaching the podium's top step.
However, even if you never race, there is still a wealth of useful information in this eBook that will help you in just about any event, including detailed info on energy and energy conservation, drafting, riding in pacelines, and choosing and using your equipment, gearing, etc.
Here’s a taste of Strategy & Tactics – a free 20-page preview that includes the eBook’s Introduction: Goals, Strategy, Tactics, Moves and Skills; Part 1: Energy, The Currency of Racing, and Work for a Reason.
By Rick Schultz
SUN Ultra Clean & Fresh Laundry Detergent with Sunsational Scents
Price: $4.98 for 83 oz. (5.2 lbs.)
Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda
Price: $6.02 - $7.53 for 13.5 lbs.
Source: Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club, grocery stores, online
Features: Laundry detergent combined with baking soda takes the unique stink out of your cycling and workout clothes
How obtained: Purchased from Walmart and Costco
Summary: Really works!
I had been looking for years for a cost-effective solution that works to clean our family’s cycling and workout clothes. I’ve finally found it by combining a couple of readily available products.
While in high school, my daughter was running cross country and came home with some really foul-smelling clothes. And, as someone who rides often, I contribute my share of stinky clothes to the laundry pile.
Using a powder vs. a liquid is what my daughter’s coach recommended to combat the stink. But the powder alone did not quite cut it. The clothes were still not 100% fresh.
One day I added some baking soda to the wash, and this seemed to be the boost that the detergent needed. I have been using this formula for almost a year now, and this mixture has not had any adverse reaction with my cycling clothes.
Using about 1/3 of a scoop per wash, I’m getting 80 washes from the laundry detergent. The 13.5 pounds of baking soda is good for about 200 loads. Combining these, I can do a full load of sports clothes for less than 10 cents!
If you’ve tried other detergents and they don’t quite get your cycling and workout clothes as clean and fresh as you’d like, try this cost-effective solution. It has been my go-to alternative for nearly a year now, and it works great for me.
Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains and races in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade and considers it an honor to be a test rider for Cervelo Bicycles.
Gear up for these Product Reviews in the coming weeks:
Since 2004, I have been involved as a coach with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Ride to Cure Diabetes program (www.ride.jdrf.org). This is a program where cyclists raise funds and then get to attend a ride at intriguing destinations such as Death Valley and Lake Tahoe.
I first got involved with this program because of my interest in cycling and coaching, but it soon became apparent that it's not about the bike ride, rather it's about the opportunity to get involved in a program that does real good in this world. And the best thing is that we get to participate and contribute while doing something we all love, riding our bikes! So as you consider some new rides, challenges and destinations for your riding this year, think about broadening your cycling experience by participating in one of the hundreds of charity rides available across the country (no matter which one you live in!).
When selecting a charity ride to support, especially if it requires a large amount of funding to be raised, be sure to check out the legitimacy of the charity and find out how much of their funds actually go to the cause versus administration and fundraising.
If you decide to try a charity ride this year, especially if it is for a cause you feel strongly about, I think you will find extra reward in completing the ride because you will know that it wasn’t simply for your own enjoyment. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that by doing so, you also helped others in supporting a worthwhile cause that does some good in this world.
-- Coach David Ertl is author of the new eBook Pedal Off the Pounds,
Coach John Hugheswill be discussing riding across the country with host George Thomas and a rider preparing for a transcontinental ride in Thomas’s weekly podcast Thursday, January 24, at 7 p.m. CST. Thomas and Hughes are both veterans of many rides across the country, including the Race Across America. Each year Hughes coaches riders preparing for RAAM and other transcons. Catch the live podcast or download it later.
That’s what USA Cycling said in a statement released Friday, after Lance Armstrong finally admitted to doping throughout his professional career. His 2-part confessional with Oprah Winfrey was lacking in detail and left most observers with the opinion that he owes a wide constituency – those he bullied and personally sullied, anti-doping authorities, companies that paid him millions, and the list goes on – a full and complete accounting and apology.
Following is a small sampling of what a few of those constituents had to say afterward:
“The facts and evidence included in the landmark Reasoned Decision report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and the subsequent admissions from cyclists who knowingly and purposely cheated, have cast a much-needed spotlight on what was the darkest era in professional cycling. These overdue admissions, and the resulting public scrutiny, are an essential step in ensuring the transgressions of the past are never again repeated. It is only through this process that professional cycling will completely heal.
“Any rider who knowingly and willfully cheated has an obligation to come forward now and be entirely open and transparent about their actions, no matter how abhorrent, with the relevant anti-doping authorities. From USA Cycling's perspective, the recent series of confessions by Lance Armstrong and others is an important step. Still, USA Cycling is interested to see the extent to which those whose cheating created a dark cloud of suspicion around professional cycling are now willing to reinforce their apologies with substantive efforts to repair the damage they have done, both privately and publicly. They owe nothing less to our great sport; to the members of USA Cycling who continually reinforce the highest values of our sport through their participation; and to the next generation of athletes worldwide who already have begun to usher in a new era through their commitment to clean competition and fair play.”
“He spoke to a talk-show host.” I don’t think any of it amounted to assistance to the anti-doping community, let alone substantial assistance. You bundle it all up and say, ‘So what?’”
-- David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency
“It seemed to us that he was more sorry that he had been caught than for what he had done. If he’s serious about rehabbing himself, he needs to start making amends to the people he bullied and vilified, and he needs to start paying money back.”
-- Jeffrey M. Tillotson, an attorney for SCA Promotions, the insurance company Armstrong sued to collect a $5 million performance bonus. SCA is considering suing Armstrong for $12 million, the total it paid him in bonuses and legal fees.
“He personally chose Winfrey for his big reveal, and it went predictably. Winfrey allowed him to share his thoughts and elicited emotions from him, but she consistently failed to ask critical follow-up question that would have addressed the most vexing aspects of Armstrong’s deception.
“She did not press him on who helped him dope or cover up his drug use for more than a decade. Nor did she ask him why he chose to take banned performance-enhancing substances even after cancer had threatened his life.”
-- The New York Times
And, finally, perhaps the inevitable postscript: News came out this week that Paramount Pictures and production company Bad Robot are planning an as yet uncast biopic on Armstrong. It will be based on New York Times reporter Juliet Macur’s book “Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong,” to be published in June.
It seems only a matter of time now before we hear about the equally inevitable tell-all Armstrong will be paid millions to write.
The professional season got underway this week in balmy Australia with the Tour Down Under, a welcome respite from the Armstrong saga.
World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) got caught up in a group crash in Wednesday’s Stage 2, as Geraint Thomas (Sky) won the stage and holds a slim GC lead over Javier Moreno Bazan (Movistar) and Ben Hermans (RadioShack Leopard), both 1 second back.
Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) is back in the saddle after his long recovery following a fractured sacrum in a crash at last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné.
Really, it’s just good to see guys in team kits racing bikes, rather than in street clothes giving an interview. And for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s nice to catch a glimpse of what we hope our weather will look like soon!
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.
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; Chapter 2, When and How Much To Eat:How to use Hunger to your Advantage; Chapter 3, Eating for Weight Loss and Cycling Performance; Chapter 4, Example Training and Eating Plans to Maximize Weight Loss and Performance.
I'm having trouble reconciling these three training principles:
I agree that it's boring to spend hours on the trainer at a low heart rate. But how much interval-type training can I do without jeopardizing my aerobic base? I thought the hard stuff was supposed to come later. -- Rob C.
This is one of the most contentious issues in training.
Many authorities say that to build an aerobic base and increase capillaries in muscles, you need 2-3 months of endurance rides at 70-80% of max heart rate, with no hard efforts.
Other experts -- and they're now well backed by research -- argue that you should build a base with moderate efforts while at the same time including intensity.
Successful cyclists have done it both ways. But it boils down to a practical point: Most of us don't have the time or weather conditions to consistently do long, moderately paced road rides for three months in winter, so we have to ride indoors.
And indoor riding is deadly boring if continued much past an hour. That's why smart riders mix harder efforts with steady pedaling. Get the most out of 60 minutes, then get off.
Interestingly, Chris Carmichael set up the training plan in a similar way when he was U.S. national team coach in the 1990s. However, some of those riders burned out quickly on the diet of hard intervals with no races in sight. So be careful.
The trick in winter and into early spring is (1) not to overdo hard efforts, and (2) be sure to schedule plenty of recovery. Rest is necessary whether "hard" means pedaling at a high heart rate or for longer periods at a slower pace.
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
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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.
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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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First up this week, thanks for all the excellent tips, suggestions and full-on detailed instructions to help RoadBikeRider reader and contributor Westly Wilcox from Melbourne, Australia, figure out and fix his chain jamming issue that I covered last week. I haven’t yet heard if you solved it for him, but I know he’s delighted to have such a willing and experienced group of fellow RBR readers helping him with his bicycle.
Some of your tips included things everyone can check to ensure a properly shifting and running drivetrain, such as inspecting and replacing worn shift cables and housing, checking derailleur pulleys for smooth running, not pedaling backwards, checking the frame dropouts for misalignment or even cracks - to maybe a Wipperman Connex “master” link that’s installed upside-down. There was also a comment from one wiseacre who said to get rid of the Shimano setup and switch to Campagnolo. D’Oh!
But, by far, the most popular suggestion was to check the chain length and ensure that it’s not worn out, too long or too loose due to a bad adjustment of the derailleur’s B tension screw, for example. To help with getting the chain length correct, John Marsh provided this link to a handy online chain length calculator.
Changing subjects, the idea to cover tubular tires came to mind when talking with my editor at Bicycling magazine this week. She said that in their readers’ survey one of the most common requests was for information on installing tubular tires. That surprised me because these tires are more associated with racing than regular “everyday” cycling.
Since Bicycling readers have questions I thought you might, too. Coincidentally, I actually recently returned to tubular tires after being off them for decades. So I’m riding the latest in tubular setups and can explain these unique tires and provide some tips should you be simply curious or planning on racing and thinking of going to them.
Tubular tires feature a construction that goes back to the earliest days of pneumatic tires. Just like on the standard clincher tires you have on most bikes today, tubulars feature a separate tire and tube.
But on the tubular tire, the tire sidewalls are formed round (the casing is, too), and they come down, fully enclose the tube and are sewn together on the belly of the tire. This is why another name for tubular tires is sew-up tires. If you hold one of these tires, you’ll see they look essentially like a giant, skinny donut with a valve stem.
Tip: You can’t usually see the threads holding the tire together because they’re covered by the basetape on the belly/bottom of the tire. But they’re there and the reason these tires are called “sew-ups.”
The other huge difference between a tubular tire and a clincher tire is that the tubular requires a tubular rim (see photo below). This rim has a curved flat surface on top to provide a large surface area for the tire to sit on. That’s because the tire is glued onto the rim.
In comparison, clincher tires are held on by the rim sidewalls and the tire pressure. In other words, the clincher tire is held on mechanically by the rim (see illustration), and the tubular is held on by the glue/adhesive between the tire and rim.
When riders new to tubulars see them, they often wonder what crazy person thought to glue tires onto rims? It does seem foolish, even downright dangerous, that you’d trust a thin layer of glue to keep your tires on, especially considering how fast and hard road bikes get ridden.
But, gluing tires goes even further back than clincher technology and, though it does take care to glue tires on properly, it’s a time-tested and proven way to do it. And the reason it remains so popular is because no one has come up with anything that professional road racers (and their team mechanics) truly believe to be as good. That’s why the design lives on, and it’s also why I race on tubular tires now.
The biggest single advantage of tubulars is lighter weight. The weight savings come from both the tubular rims being lighter and the tires, too. It’s because extra material is needed in clincher tire and rim construction because of the tremendous stress trying to blow the tire off the rim.
With tubular technology, the fully sewn tire easily withstands the pressure, so the tires and rims can be super light. If you were to compare a cross-section view of a clincher rim to a tubular one you would see the simple box shape of the tubular rim that can be so much lighter than the more complicated clincher with its sidewalls and box section below.
These differences explain how it’s not uncommon to be able to take a couple of pounds off a bicycle simply by switching to tubular wheels and tires. And a couple of pounds removed from the wheels will make you feel like you can suddenly fly.
The other thing that racers appreciate about tubulars is the improved ride quality. This comes from a completely round tire instead of the D-shaped profile of the standard clincher. The lighter construction helps improve compliance, too.
You still need to choose the right width tires and pressure for your weight and road conditions; however, most people who try tubulars feel a significant improvement right away. And many tubular riders swear they grip in corners better too due to their rounder profile.
Tip: Don’t confuse tubular tires with tubeless tires. Tubeless tires do not use tubes but otherwise are clincher tires. With tubeless you can run lower pressures and enjoy a nicer ride quality than standard clinchers because with no tube, there’s almost no chance of pinch-flatting.
Even though they have a performance advantage most any roadie would appreciate, I don’t recommend tubulars for most riders because the hassle factor and learning curve is daunting.
The biggest issue is installing the tires and dealing with gluing. You can have professionals mount your tires if you don’t mind paying for it. If you glue your own, you need to do it right, and it takes a practice. Many riders find gluing too much trouble to learn, versus the simple, quick installation of standard clincher tires.
The glue does offer one advantage. If you have a sudden flat, a tubular will stay on the rim and not roll off, so there’s a chance you won’t crash if you have a blow-out.
Also, with tubular tires, you need to carry a spare tire for when you flat. The spare is prepared ahead of time with a coat of glue on the basetape that you let dry. When you flat, you peel off the punctured tubular tire (not always easy, so bring tire levers) and once it’s off, it takes just an instant to install your spare tire and get back on the road, because the glue on the rim is dry and the glue on the tire is dry.
Think contact cement. When you put the two parts with dried glue together, the glue immediately marries and you get an instant tight bond. Slip on the spare tire, pump it up, put your wheel back on and ride. It can be fast and easy.
Tip: If you’re running tubulars, it’s a good idea to inject sealant into them to help minimize punctures.
The other drawback is the cost, but this depends on what you’re already riding. Tubular tire prices have come down. If you run the best tires and have a shop glue them on, though, you will spend more than a comparable standard clincher tire setup.
I’ll continue next week with the story behind my giving up on tubulars and then returning to them recently (for racing). And I’ll explain the gluing procedure since that’s the major hurdle for most people, and there are some tips that make it manageable -- even fun!
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 6,946.
You want to find your best saddle height, but every “expert” you consult or formula you see produces a different number.
Of all the ways that a human body (yours) fits a mechanical contrivance (your bike), saddle height is the most important. Get it right and you’ll produce the most power that your heart, muscles and peripheral circulation can muster. You’ll escape most of the injuries inherent in doing a repetitive motion (pedaling) for hours at a time. And you’ll have the best chance of doing it all in comfort.
But while there’s widespread agreement on a general saddle height “window,” there’s certainly no consensus on the ideal for any given rider. To illustrate, I used myself as a guinea pig and calculated my saddle height using 7 systems. I’m 5-foot-10 (1.78m) and have a crotch-to-floor measurement of 34.6 inches (88 cm), which is relatively long for my height.
We’ll get started with how to measure your legs, and then talk about four of the seven systems today. We’ll finish up next week with a rundown the remaining systems, and I’ll tell you how I parsed the various recommendations.
Before we begin, you should know how to measure crotch-to-floor distance. It’s the key measurement in determining saddle height:
1. Stand barefoot, with your back to a wall. Feet should be about 8 inches apart.
2. Put a carpenter’s square or large thin book or record album (remember those?) between your legs. Snug it into your crotch with the same pressure you feel on a saddle. (This is difficult to get right, as I discuss below.) One edge of the carpenter’s square should be flush against the wall, the other sticking out in front of you.
3. Have someone measure from the top of the square to the floor in centimeters (easier to work with than inches). This is your crotch-to-floor measurement. Note that this isn’t the same as the inseam length of pants you buy—unless you wear them snugged tightly against your pubic bone with the cuffs brushing the ground.
Now as an example, let’s plug my 88-cm crotch-to-floor measurement into several formulas for saddle height.
Heel-on-Pedal Method. With your bike on a trainer, pedal comfortably until you’ve settled onto the saddle in your normal position. Then unclip your feet and put your heels on the pedals. Pedal slowly backwards. Your heels should just keep contact at the bottom of the stroke as your legs straighten, with no hip rocking necessary. This is dependent on the thickness of the shoe sole and pedal body, so saddle height will change along with these factors. After setting my saddle this way, I measured from the middle of the crank axle along the seat tube to the top of the saddle and got 76.2 cm
109% Formula. Multiply the crotch-to-floor measurement by 1.09. Set the saddle by measuring from the top of the saddle to the top of the pedal when the crankarm is straight down in the 6 o’clock position. This ancient formula gives me 95.9 cm, which results in a saddle more than 2 cm higher than method No. 1. Measured from the center of the crank axle along the seat tube to the top of the saddle, I got 78.6 cm.
Fit Kit. The Fit Kit was created by measuring dozens of good riders’ physical dimensions and bike setups, then extrapolating a recommended saddle height from this data. However, these measurements were taken more than 20 years ago when pedals and shoes were different from today. The upshot is that the Fit Kit produces a slightly higher saddle than it probably would if its database was built from riders using 21st century equipment. It allows a range of about 1 cm and says my height should be 77.2 cm.
LeMond Method. Greg LeMond says to multiply your crotch-to-floor measurement by 0.883. This figure was determined about 25 years ago by LeMond’s French coach at that time, Cyrille Guimard. Back then, everyone was on cage pedals with toe clips and straps and wearing leather-sole shoes. LeMond recommends subtracting 3 mm from the number produced by his formula if you use clipless pedals. I take off another 2 mm because shoe soles have become thinner, too. Height is measured from the middle of the crank axle along the seat tube to the top of the saddle. The result is a saddle height of 77.2 cm.
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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Remember the good old days when the only things distracting drivers were bad pop songs on the radio and a little spilled coffee in the lap? Now we have in-car DVD players, mobile phones, tablets, navigation units and even worse pop songs on the radio.
It all adds up to trouble for cyclists. Eighty percent of all crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some type of distraction, according to a study done for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
What can you do to stem this terrible tide? Raise awareness by asking your driving friends to take this quiz:
The U.S. government actually has a website that addresses this issue. What is the URL?
Which form of personal grooming is acceptable to do while driving?
(a) Running fingers through hair
(c) Trimming fingernails
(d) Trimming toenails
(e) Injecting Botox into forehead
The most alarming distracted-driving behavior is?
(a) Texting, because it involves visual, manual and cognitive distractions
(b) Using a navigation system, because they're always wrong and steam from ears fogs windshield
(c) Eating, because dropped Big Macs lose their deliciousness when covered in floor-mat fuzz
Which films are the least distracting to watch while driving?
(a) Anything starring Keanu Reeves
(b) Judd Apatow comedies, especially the recent ones
(c) Alvin and the Chipmunks flicks
(d) All of the above
Driving while using a mobile phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by . . .
(b) killing what few brain cells you have left from years of cell-phone yakking
(c) "Hey . . . can't you see I'm on the phone?"
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.
I am preparing for a 600km ride, and I find that I’m so confused about my diet that I have been putting on weight instead of getting leaner. My problem is that I still can’t stop myself from eating a lot after a ride. Any hints for getting the body leaner while staying healthy? Some say I’m overtraining, and others say I’m overeating because I know that I can burn the calories.
Nutrition for cycling is confusing: there’s a lot of unclear and conflicting information. Most cyclists are interested not only in getting fit, riding faster and being more efficient, but also in using cycling as a way of staying lean and in shape.
Muscle weighs more than body fat, but you can tell if you’re putting on fat versus muscle by how your clothes fit. If you see the scale moving up, but your clothes are fitting looser, then you are changing your body fat to lean muscle mass. That’s good. The more lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories your body will burn at rest. Lean muscle mass burns calories. Body fat does not.
However, total body weight does affect how effectively you can climb hills. The more you weigh (whether it’s muscle or fat weight), the harder it is for you to climb, because you are fighting gravity against mass (weight). So weight becomes a balancing act. To be strong you need a certain amount of mass, but the lighter you are, the easier it is to climb. (It’s the power-to-weight ratio at work; and that’s another topic for another day.)
Today, I’ll give you some tips and pointers on riding strong while maintaining a lean and healthy body.
To prevent weight gain and to set yourself up for tomorrow’s ride, eat a small recovery snack after your rides. The following are examples of good post-ride-recovery nutrition.
Commercial Recovery Drink — Commercially available powders that are mixed with water and stored in a sport bottle are a good and easy option.
Homemade Recovery Shake — Made from 2 cups of water, 1 scoop of protein powder (of your choice), 1 cup of berries or 1 piece of fruit, and 1 teaspoon of nut butter. Blend until smooth.
An energy bar OR yogurt, fruit, and half a bagel.
The question of gaining weight and overtraining also comes up frequently, but the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. If you lack energy because you are overtraining (doing too much without adequate rest), then you’ll reach for more food to compensate to offset the lack of energy.
To determine if you are overeating because you are overtraining instead of being calorically deficient, keep track of your morning resting heart rate (RHR). Your morning resting heart rate is a gauge of your fitness level, as well as a fatigue monitor. If your morning RHR is consistently 5 to 10 beats higher than normal, this could indicate that you’re overtraining, or it could be a sign that you’re getting sick.
To establish your morning resting heart rate (RHR) upon waking, before you get out of bed take your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply it by 6 (to give you beats per minute). Resting heart rates vary for many different reasons, so track it daily for two weeks to get a baseline level.
The other way to ensure you aren’t overtraining is to periodize your training: allow for recovery rides and recovery weeks. This structure will help you become fit and strong, without getting sick or fatigued.
To summarize: Stay fueled, get lots of rest, and ride strong.
(Coach David Ertl’s new eBook, Pedal Off the Pounds, is loaded with practical advice on how not just to avoid gaining weight while training, but how to eat, and what to eat, to actually lose weight while training.)
Diane Stibbard is a world-class duathlete who writes for www.WomensCycling.ca, which contributes the Women on Wheels column that runs each month in RBR Newsletter.