Body. I always feel I have at least a few pounds to spare.
1. From the Top: Product Review: Sports Optical RX Sunglasses
2. News & Reviews: Age Is No Barrier: Training Elizabeth
3. Question of the Week: What keeps you returning to your favorite organized event(s) each year?
4. Ask Coach Fred: How Can Senior Cyclists Warm Up Faster?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Body Mechanics
7. No Problem: How to Handle Sharp Corners
8. Quick Tips: Jerseys for the Rest of Us
9. Cadence: Health Matters - Dealing With Shoulder and Abdominal Pain While Riding
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
Editor’s Notes: It’s time to purchase your RBR 2013 Custom Jerseys! Our pre-order numbers more than met the requirement to get our order next up in Rage Cycling’s queue. So, please go to the RBR Marketplace, http://www.roadbikerider.com/marketplace, and purchase your jersey today. Thanks for the great response! It will be a kick to see more and more RBR jerseys on the road! Note: Purchases must be made by March 21; I’ll be turning in our official order to Rage on the 22nd. Even if you did not pre-order, you can still purchase a jersey. Don’t miss out!
Coach John Hughes’ new book, Healthy Nutrition Past 50, goes on sale next week! It’s the 3rd installment in his “Cycling Past 50” series. More details in next week’s issue.
By John Marsh
Cost: Handmade sport lenses begin at $195; performance sport frames begin at $109
How Obtained: Review sample from company
Lenses - Frames: Several tints, shapes, colors, Rx options available
Source: Order direct from company
RBR Sponsor: Yes
Tested: 35+ hours
It’s not often that a new product you try almost immediately shows itself to be superior to what it’s replacing, and in such a way that it – literally – opens new vistas to the user.
Such was the case, though, with these sunglasses.
I’ve always been extremely near-sighted and have worn glasses since age 11 or 12. That meant I’ve always needed Rx sunglasses when cycling. It also meant, with my strong prescription, I’ve been captive to the various types of clip-on style Rx sunglasses available (like these I reviewed 1-1/2 years ago) – which feature small, clear Rx clips or lenses covered by the actual sunglass lens.
Having a greatly expanded field of vision is something I didn’t even realize I’d been missing. It was apparent on my first ride wearing the new specs. I was amazed that I could see things in the periphery of my vision.
The world outside the boundary of the relatively small Rx lenses in my other cycling glasses was no longer the blur it used to be. And the extra half inch (about 13mm) of Rx lens that extends downward beyond the old lenses adds even more to the “visible spectrum.”
I quickly realized I no longer needed to turn my head left or right to, in effect, put the Rx lens between me and what I was trying to see. Now, I could simply move my eyes while keeping my head still. (That may not sound like much, but there are many instances when riding – in a paceline, when approaching an obstacle with other riders around you, etc. – when cranking your head to the side is not optimal. It can easily take you off your line enough to cause trouble.)
Moreover, with the lenses fitting close to your face and wrapping around to the edge of your eye sockets, the wind-blocking is superb.
I was never a candidate for “one-piece” traditional Rx sunglasses – in which the sunglass lens also corrects your vision. That is, until I heard about Sports Optical, which promised they had the technology to put me in a pair or true wrap-around one-piece sunglasses.
I dutifully sent them my prescription, and as they do with all customers, they consulted directly with me on available lens and frame options.
I went with single-vision Transition Extra Active lenses – “photochromic” lenses that begin with a slight, nearly imperceptible base tint of gray and as you transition to brighter conditions, the lenses darken appropriately. The transition capability means I can now leave the house near dawn, or arrive home near dusk, with the same visual capability as a mid-day, bright sunshine ride – without ever having to flip up or remove a sunglass lens.
Because of the strong Rx and the required thickness of the lenses, my only choice for frames was Rudy Project’s flagship Ketyum model, made from an innovative, lightweight metal alloy with built-in spring hinges and the ability to handle a super wide range of prescription lenses. This frame both looks and feels more robust than the other two pairs of Rudys I own, yet it maintains all the adjustability for a dialed-in fit.
The result is a pair of Rx wrap-around sunglasses that look and feel as good as they function.
Sports Optical uses impact-resistant high-index polycarbonate, which is both extremely lightweight and the safest lens material, according to Bret Hunter, company owner and lenscrafter. Hunter developed the proprietary formulas that adjust prescriptions according to the curvature of the lens -- specifically with the eyewear issues of cyclists in mind. “This is the core of what allows us to achieve optimal clarity in a curved-format lens,” he says, “and our unique formulas are what separate our lenses from all the others.”
Despite the size and thickness of my lenses (see photo), the glasses actually weigh less than my old Rudy Project Exception glasses. The Ketyum frame weighs 1.1 oz. (31g), and the lenses add just over 1/3 of an oz. (10g), for a total of 41g. The all-in weight of the Exceptions is more than 45g. (It seems important to note, too, that because of the extreme curvature of the lenses, the thickness in part “blends into” the overall look of the glasses. Only upon close inspection from just the right angle is the thickness readily apparent.)
The benefits of being able to wear a “one-piece” traditional Rx pair of sunglasses are myriad: greater field of vision (and related benefits, including improved safety and the overall added enjoyment of improved vision); better wind-blocking; no need to mess with Rx clips or attachments; and no need to carry extra glasses for store or other stops.
Whether you’re a strong-Rx cyclist like me who never thought I’d be a candidate for traditional Rx cycling glasses – or whether your prescription has always allowed it – the custom lens crafting and wide selection of sport lenses and frames available from Sports Optical warrant a look when you’re in the market for a new pair of Rx riding specs.
(Editor’s Note: Sports Optical is an RBR Sponsor company and offers Premium Members a 15% discount on custom, handmade prescription lenses.)
(Editor’s Note: Coach John Hughes is helping Elizabeth Wicks prepare for the 2013 Calvin’s Challenge 12-hour race on May 4. Last year Elizabeth set the women’s age 65-69 record of 169 miles! Coach Hughes will be documenting her training for RBR in the weeks ahead to provide insight into what such a program entails. There may well be nuggets in the process for you, no matter your goals (or lack thereof). Today, Coach Hughes reviews Elizabeth’s winter training.)
What do you do when you are 69 years old and hold the women’s age 65-to-69 record of 169 miles in the Calvin’s Challenge 12-hour race? Set a goal of at least 180 miles in this year’s race on May 4!
My good friend and client Elizabeth Wicks has been an endurance cyclist for 20 years and likes to challenge herself. She lives in the central Massachussetts area just north of Worcester and has regularly ridden 200, 300, 400 and 600 km brevets (125, 188, 250 and 375 miles). In 2003 she completed the 1,200 km (750-mile) Paris-Brest-Paris.
Elizabeth got a new right hip in Oct 2010. She was diligent in her physical therapy and rode 3,000 miles in 2010, 3,800 in 2011 and 3,700 miles last year. Her goals include 5,000 miles this year and then 7,000 miles and seven events next year when she turns 70! Elizabeth works full-time with about a 20-minute commute by car. She gets up at 5 a.m. several days a week to train before work.
Elizabeth keeps a simple training log for each day, which includes:
We started her preparation for Calvin’s by reviewing her training log from November 2012 until now. Having all this data is very beneficial — we can look at what she’s done so far this year and how it can be improved.
Since November 2012 she:
Overall, Elizabeth has done an excellent job of building her aerobic endurance base, the key to a successful season and to her goal of 180 miles at Calvin’s. She has included plenty of active recovery, which is essential for older athletes.
We all do the activities we enjoy and tend to neglect the ones that aren’t as much fun. Elizabeth and I have discussed this, and her weekly program now includes:
Next week Elizabeth will be at the PAC Tour Desert Camp, six days of riding in Arizona covering 500 miles with 18,400 feet of climbing. This week she is tapering so that she is fully rested for the big week. In next week’s RBR Newsletter I’ll describe her training plan for camp and, in particular, her recovery techniques so that she has as much fun as possible and gets fitter in the process.
You can read Coach Hughes' recommendations for older athletes in the first two eArticles in what will be a 4-article “Past 50” series:
The next “Past 50” eArticle, Healthy Nutrition Past 50, will go on sale next week, on March 21.
Editor’s Note: Last week’s lead story in News & Reviews, Is Cycling Past 70 Different than Cycling Past 50?, sparked Premium Member Steve Bayard to write me a lengthy email. I appreciated his viewpoint and decided to run his message today as a sort of “counterpoint” for the older cyclists among us who have chosen to leave competing behind and mostly ride for the exercise, fun and camaraderie of it – while occasionally still getting a little frisky on the bike!
To be sure, there’s no right or wrong approach: Some of us keep racing into and past our 70s! Yet others continue to log “serious” miles and ride regular organized events but don’t race. To each, his or her own, I say. Butt in the saddle – and safely enjoying it – is the main thing, no matter your age!
Here’s what Steve wrote:
“I read with interest your column on cycling in your 70s. I got the feeling some people feel or fear it is almost impossible to be a serious cyclist in your 70s. WRONG. While I rode a lot as a kid and some after I was married, I hadn’t ridden a bike for about 25 years when my wife and I bought a Condo in Cortez, Florida. A couple of years later I bought a Marin Hybrid Bike and began serious cycling at the age of 67. Five years ago I traded up to a Specialized Sirrus Pro carbon bike. Over time, as parts wore out I upgraded to high-level components.
“In the past eight years I have pedaled 80,000+ miles with my two metal (replaced) knees. Manatee and Sarasota Counties are great for year-round cycling. I also take trips to ride. One of my favorite is the week-long RAGBRAI ride across Iowa, which I will be doing for the sixth time this July. I also do three or more full Centuries a year.
“I ride often with a 20-member ‘Palma Sola Peloton,’ an informal club of 60- to 78-year-young guys and gals. We ride three days a week. Our pace line averages in the 15-17 mph range for 30- to 40-mile trips.
“One of the advantages of retirement is that you can ride daily, with time constraints that you set. Everyone in our group has no intentions of challenging any of the Tour de France riders. That said, we don’t hesitate to push hard for six or eight miles at a time, and or do a sprint to the finish. And we do have fun yelling “On your Left” as we chase past many a younger rider struggling along.
“Many in our group have some heart and/or other health issues, but using sensible restraint, they keep up with the group. We ride for the camaraderie, for fun, for the exercise and to stay as fit as the typical 50-year-old. And most of us feel like we are in our in our early 50s.
“As one cycles in retirement years, I have a few suggestions. In serious cycling, like in other sports, there is a code of do’s and don’ts with regard to equipment, etc. Do not hesitate to violate that code when doing so will increase your comfort, safety or enjoyment.
“An example is ‘mandatory drop bars’ on road bikes. In our senior group it is rare to see any regular use of the ‘drops.’ Everyone is riding the hoods or the tops. For me I ride a flat bar with extenders that provide multiple hand positions. This saves pressure on one’s back and neck. Further, the levers are in a more comfortable position to activate in heavy traffic.
“Likewise, an ‘endurance bike’ like a Specialized Roubaix or a Trek Domane featuring high head tubes will allow comfortable 50- to 100-mile rides. Another suggestion is ditch your road shoes and pedals in favor of mountain shoes and pedals. This will give a much more stable footing when walking (depending on your road pedal and cleat choices). I found this to be especially important when the rider has metal knees!
“I like to use Crank Brothers Candy pedals as they allow you to position the cleats such that you can comfortably pedal either clicked in or not This option is quite useful as one approaches a stop sign, traffic light and/or congestion.
“Keen (shoe company) makes a great cycling sandal for warm (60+-degree) weather. Their sandals are much more comfortable than regular bike shoes, especially so after a sudden rain squall that soaks your shoes and feet.
“A good idea is to ride with a heart rate monitor. This helps you 'pace' yourself. It also is a very good safety device to monitor your performance as you ride.
“A further suggestion is have a large saddle bag to carry your snacks, cell phones, rain jacket, bike lock, flat repair junk, etc. Sure, it adds a couple of pounds, but it sure is a lot more comfortable than stuffing the back pockets of your jersey to their limits on a 50-mile ride in the hot sun.
“The question isn’t what riding is like in your 70s. It should be what riding is like in your mid-80s.”
-- Steve Bayard
Last week’s newsletter also featured the email correspondence Jim Langley and I had with a reader not long ago on the topic of Body or Bike: Where to Best Cut 5 Pounds? Not surprisingly, it elicited much feedback on the Community Comments page – too much to run in this space, but I urge you to go to the Comments page to have a look.
I will share with you my favorite of the lot, though, which seems to me to be the perfect marriage of bike, body, incentive and reward (thanks for the suggestion, Matthew!):
“The answer is easy - as long as you have weight to lose... both.
-- lose weight from the body
-- use bike weight loss as a reward for losing body weight
-- the size of the reward is proportional to the body weight loss. If a 200 lb rider loses 20 lb, then they are eligible to reward themselves with a 2 lb weight loss from a 20 lb bike
-- go for the wheels first! (Warning - some wheels have a weight limit!)
-- Matthew Walker, Sydney, Australia
For some targeted video tips from our video partner, Cycling Secrets, on the topic of Cornering (also covered in today’s No Problem column), click Cornering. You can view all of our Skills videos on our Riding Skills page: http://www.roadbikerider.com/riding-skills)
USA Cycling last week announced the introduction of RaceClean -- an innovative anti-doping program designed to increase the frequency and effectiveness of in-competition and out-of-competition testing at all levels of competitive cycling in the United States. The press release announcing the new program touted it as the most extensive anti-doping effort to be introduced by a U.S. National governing body within its own events.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will conduct the testing and adjudication elements of the program and, to ensure that RaceClean reflects the highest standards of integrity and effectiveness, USADA will operate with full independence in doing so, according to the announcement.
“The development of this innovative and collaborative RaceClean program is intended to send a strong statement about anti-doping, further establish the trust in our sport, and ensure a level playing field at all levels of racing,” said USA Cycling President & CEO Steve Johnson. “This important program represents a considerable financial contribution by USA Cycling, and it is gratifying to see that race directors, teams, riders and our Local Associations fully support this initiative.”
Read more about the new RaceClean program.
March 23: 2nd Annual Frankie’s Ride to the Border and Social
You may remember my column last fall documenting my Silver Comet Trail ride to Alabama and back, a 213-mile round trip. Frankie’s Italian Restaurant, in Rockmart, featured prominently on that ride as a much-needed fueling station both ways. It is, as I described in the article, a well-known cyclists’ haunt that sits just off the Silver Comet Trail (SCT).
This year’s Frankie’s Ride to the Border features a 9:30 a.m. ride on the SCT, America’s longest contiguous paved trail. You can ride from Rockmart to the Alabama/Georgia border and back for a total of 48 miles – or any portion thereof. The ride is free for all participants.
From Noon until 3 p.m. at Frankie’s, Frankie herself will be serving her fabulous hot garlic bread sticks, along with a pizza buffet and New Belgium beer. The Social costs $7 in advance for adults, $3.50 for kids under 15; at the door, $15 and $8. Click for registration for the Social.
Finally, if you are new to cycling, you can sign up for a morning workshop to learn the secrets of experienced cyclists. The workshop will include a 30-minute instruction period, followed by a ride on the Silver Comet accompanied by coaches. There is no cost for the workshop, but space is limited. To reserve your workshop place, contact Judy Galvin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 13: Tony Serrano Century Ride
For the 3rd consecutive year, RBR is one of the sponsors of the Tony Serrano Century Ride. Honoring the memory of its namesake, who was killed when hit by a car while cycling, in addition to promoting the rights of cyclists in Georgia, the 10th annual edition of this ride takes place in the beautiful countryside around Monroe, Georgia.
Richie Porte(Sky Procycling) this week became the first Australian to win overall at Paris-Nice – picking up the title that teammate Bradley Wiggins earned last year to jump-start his season for the ages.
Porte, a 28-year-old Tasmanian, won the final stage time trial up Col d'Eze to seal the victory and give Sky another great start to the season.
"I just never thought or believed that I could win Paris-Nice," said Porte. "For me personally I've never had a nice experience at this race so it's a massive monkey off the back to come here and win it.
His final margin was 23 seconds over young American Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp. Nairo Alexander (Movistar) took third at 27 seconds back.
Two days later at the Tirreno-Adriatico, bigger names dominated the action, with world TT champ Tony Martin (OmegaPharma-QuickStep) winning the final-stage time trial, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) took the overall victory for the second year in a row.
Rounding out the top three were Christopher Froome (Sky), 23 seconds in arrears, and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), 52 seconds off the pace.
Body. I always feel I have at least a few pounds to spare.
Have you guys noticed that it takes much longer to warm up for a ride? Once upon a time I could jam from the gun. Now, 40 years later, it takes me close to 40 minutes to get comfortable going hard. And if I push hard too early, the ride seems to stay hard to the finish. Is this common among senior riders or unique to my physiology? -- Art W.
I'm afraid that difficulty feeling good and performing well without a warm-up is common among older riders. As the saying goes: "By the time I'm warmed up, I'm too tired to ride!"
When we were young, we could jump off the couch and start playing pickup basketball or touch football with nary a stretch or jumping jack. That ability slowly deteriorates as we age into our 30s and 40s. By the 50s and 60s, a good warmup is crucial for any activity to avoid injury and make sure we have fun.
I'm not aware of any studies that have explored the relationship between growing older and warming up. Certainly as the population ages while still remaining active, there will be research that might show us how to warm up most efficiently.
Based on experience, the best warm-up for cycling is cycling. Here are some tips:
Start slowly and gradually increase your pace. When riding with others, look for a friendly wheel to follow to make the start that much easier.
Avoid group rides that go from the gun. An immediate fast pace can be hard for anyone who has driven to the start.
If possible, pedal to the ride for a warm-up or get there early enough to spin around for 15-20 minutes. An on-bike warm-up is essential before a race, of course. If the location makes riding impossible, take your trainer and use that.
Stretch if it works for you. The jury seems to be out on how effective stretching is for warming up. Studies on whether stretching helps prevent injuries are inconclusive. Some show benefits, others have found a higher rate of injury.
The consensus at this time seems to be that stretching after the activity is fine but it shouldn't be done "cold" before cycling, running or other sports. Of course, everyone is different. You'll find people of any age who swear by pre-ride stretching.
Another strategy is to ride easily for 10-15 minutes to a grassy park or other place you can park the bike. Get off and do a short stretching routine before continuing. This might quicken your overall warm-up.
Bottom line: You're not in your 20s anymore, Art. Avoid hard efforts and, thus, the risk of injury, before you are warmed up -- however long it takes.
Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.
Don’t miss your chance to get one of our three 2013 RBR custom jerseys at a great price!
Premium Member Price: $47.50 / Non-Premium Price: $62.50; Free U.S. Shipping / $15.00 International
Working as a wrench and service manager in six bicycle shops in as many towns, I met lots of different cyclists. The first interaction was usually listening as they described their bicycle problems, and I learned that most people think about things and solve problems based on their experiences and background -- sometimes with fascinating or totally off-the-mark conclusions.
Take “Steve,” a roadie who brought his Cannondale to me several times a year to keep it in tip-top shape for sailing up and down the Santa Cruz Mountains he loved so much, and for knocking off the local events he enjoyed, like the Strawberry Fields Forever Ride (well, back then it had another name, but the roads are about the same and the food’s way better).
Steve came in one day with his bike and told me that he’d had a scare over the weekend, barely avoiding crashing when he was zooming along with a tailwind and his bike suddenly veered hard right. Steve said that he hung on, got his foot out and stopped safely on the shoulder. But he was frightened by it and afraid to keep riding for fear of it happening again.
Now you or I would probably immediately suspect that something was wrong with the front wheel or fork, maybe. But Steve had an entirely different diagnosis -- and I use that word because it’s exactly what Steve did in thinking about his near crash.
But he didn’t diagnose the bike. He diagnosed himself and came to the conclusion that the reason he had swerved off the road and almost gone down was because he had experienced a minor stroke!
You see, Steve was a neurosurgeon. So it was only natural for him to think he had blown a fuse instead of his Cannondale. Once he had himself checked out, he brought his Cannondale in to me and it only took a minute or two to find the broken fork blade about to drop out.
I’m absolutely not a doctor, but I do think the same way Steve thinks. When my knees started acting up recently -- to the point that I could barely get in my daily hour rides, I didn’t think about going to see a doctor at first. Instead, I thought something had gone wrong with my bicycle and I went to work to find a mechanical solution, just like Steve reached into his doctor’s bag.
Since knee pain is so common for cyclists, I’ll tell you five things I tried since it might help you if your joints are hurting you. It turns out that there are a lot of things you can try. Some seem to be helping my achy hinges start to feel a lot better.
The most common cause of knee pain, in my experience, is riding with your seat too low. Most of us know how to find the right seat height, but we might not realize that seatposts can slip down over time. And if we keep right on riding, we can injure our knees -- never realizing that we’re pedaling on a seat that’s now much too low.
The way to avoid this mistake is to mark your seatpost with a piece of tape or an indelible line so that you can tell at a glance if it has slipped down and changed your seat height. With slippery carbon seatposts and frames, this is even more of a problem than ever, so it’s a good thing to check frequently. My seatpost hadn’t slipped.
Most clipless pedals today have some built-in lateral foot float that’s designed to protect the knees. It’s nice to have but it can make it tough to figure out if your cleats are positioned perfectly. In my case, since my left knee was acting up even more than my right, I decided to carefully compare the left cleat to the right cleat.
Looking at the gradations on the bottom of the shoes suggested that the cleats were in exactly the same place. The bolts were still nice and tight and there were no marks indicating that the cleats had moved. But, by holding the shoes at arm’s length and staring at them, it became obvious that the left cleat was actually about 5mm forward of the right cleat.
When a cleat is too far forward, you tend to pedal more with the front of your foot, sort of on your tip-toes. That can definitely cause knee pain eventually. So, I carefully moved that cleat to match the other. And, it’s a good tip to not trust the cleat lines they put on shoes!
When my teammates learned of my knee pain, they wanted to help. Ken Sato, who likes time trialing as much as I do, and who is also a doctor, made a fascinating suggestion. He knows that I ride on Speedplay Zero pedals on two of my bikes.
He rides Speedplays, too, and he told me to try what has been working so well for him, which was purchasing and installing Speedplay’s longer pedal spindles. That’s one of the cool things about Speedplays. You can dial them in many different ways. This graphic shows how the extenders work.
It was easy to install the longer spindles, and it pushed my pedals out about 1/2 an inch (13mm). I know that lots of experts believe that the closer your feet are to the bike centerline, the more power you can generate. But having my feet wider feels better for my knees. Thanks, Ken!
On one of my bikes, I have Look Keo pedals. To push them out, all it took was adding a threaded spacer made by Kneesavers. If you’re having knee pain or just don’t feel like you’re as comfortable as you should be, you might give Speedplay’s longer spindles or Kneesavers a try. Rumor has it that you can find knock-off Kneesavers on eBay, too.
Everybody knows that you’re supposed to spin the pedals, not push them slowly. But when you’re injured, you can develop bad habits and change your technique because you’re desperate to keep riding. For me, there was less pain when I pedaled more slowly and pushed against something more forcefully.
I rode like this for a few weeks before realizing my mistake. I had to focus to rev my pedaling back where it should be. But the new cleat position, wider pedals and some healing has made it possible to do it with almost no pain now. And, it’s the more efficient way to ride and best for your knees.
The last thing I did was listen to another teammate, Scott Martin of Scott’s Spin fame. He had been urging me right along to visit his sports doctor, Amy Haberman, a chiropractor and physical therapist who has been helping Santa Cruz athletes keep doing the things they love for decades.
I had been avoiding a doctor’s visit because I was sure they would tell me I needed surgery. I’ve had it before and I didn’t want to have it again. But I know Amy. I used to work on her bike when she was racing Ironman triathlons. And Scott assured me that she would never tell me to stop riding.
So, a couple of weeks ago I put my knees in Amy’s hands and already she has made them feel significantly better. Interestingly, and appealing to my mechanic’s point of view, she explained that my left knee had swelling behind it.
She described this as like having a tennis ball behind your knee, and your knee getting pushed out of alignment on every pedal stroke. It makes sense, and I had no idea. Her treatments have already eliminated the swelling, and I’m optimistic that I’ll be riding normally again soon.
One last suggestion is to check out some of the great resources we have in our Bookstore, including Dr. Alan Bragman's Cycling Pain Treatment and Prevention 3-article bundle.
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you if you’re suffering from knee pain -- or at least ensure you don’t think you’ve had a stroke if something goes afoul on your next ride.
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 6,995.
A few years ago, my wife and I drove from Colorado to Ohio to visit relatives. I was lusting badly for a ride after 2 long days in the car. When I finally got on the bike, I felt like hammering. I chanced upon some curvy pavement and let it rip.
Big mistake. I underestimated the severity of the corners and overshot one especially tight bend, heading straight for the trees, poison ivy and a barbed wire fence. With my tires chattering in a full-fledged 2-wheel drift, I saved it just before catapulting over the rusty wire and into the itchy undergrowth.
Sooner or later, you’ll probably make this mistake, too, and overcook a corner. What should you do if it feels like you won’t make it through?
Lean, lean, lean! Generally, it's better to increase your cornering angle even though you may lose traction and fall to the inside. Consider the options: Either slide down or ride off the outside of the road and hit things like guardrails, trees or big air (for a while). Assuming a motor vehicle doesn't stop you first.
Of course, if the shoulder is smooth and carpeted in plush grass, running off the road makes good sense. But you'll rarely have time to check and decide. In most cases, the normal reaction — to stay upright for as long as possible — can lead to worse injuries. Lean!
For some additional targeted video tips from our video partner, Cycling Secrets, on the topic of cornering, click Cornering. You can view all of our Skills videos on our Riding Skills page: http://www.roadbikerider.com/riding-skills)
Stand hard. Give your tires the best chance of maintaining their grip by standing heavily on your outside pedal. Virtually all of your weight should be on it. Press hard and push your bike into the turn. When you're doing it right, the machinery will be angled more than your body.
Brake, then don't. Take off as much speed as you can before the turn, then release the levers. This is another technique that goes against instinct. But braking in a turn makes a bike want to straighten, the opposite of what you need it to do.
That said, you can usually feather the rear brake without dire consequences. It may slow you just enough to make it through. But be ready to let up if the wheel grabs, chatters and threatens your control.
Tip! Don't even think about using the front brake while turning. This goes for normal riding, too, not just panic conditions. Front braking when the bike is leaning will point you anywhere but where you're aiming. It can even cause the front wheel to wash out abruptly — and down you go.
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.
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.
A few years ago, when Jens Voigt (now yet 40, but now he is!) snagged the leader's jersey at the prestigious Paris-Nice race, he joked that there should be a maillot gris (gray jersey) for the top rider over age 35.
We all love bike racing's classification jerseys -- yellow for Tour de France leader, red polka dots for best climber, pink for the Giro d'Italia's top rider -- but why stop there? How about special jerseys for the rest of us, too?
First, let's expand on the age/hair-color theme by adding a white jersey for 50+ cyclists. Yes, white is currently awarded to the Tour's best young rider, but by now the Millennial Generation should be used to getting ripped off by Baby Boomers.
We also need a jersey for riders who are always complaining: "The weather's too cold/hot," "You're going too fast/slow," "The route's too hilly/flat." Introducing the coveted burgundy jersey, symbolic of their fine whine.
Next, a jersey for dangerous cyclists -- the ones who run red lights, overlap wheels and bomb sketchy descents. They can vie for the bright orange jersey, which both honors them and warns the rest of us to steer clear.
The green jersey traditionally adorns the Tour's top sprinter, but I say give him a black-and-white checkered jersey. Use green for the envious riders, those who could beat you if they had your fancy bike, your understanding spouse, your piece-of-cake job. . . .
Finally, the brown jersey should go to the cyclist with the dirtiest bike. It could even come with greasy chainring marks. Or the winner could add these later.
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I'm 59, play hockey twice a week and ride a Lemond Revmaster. In my indoor training (the only kind available here this time of year) I'm experiencing abdominal pain, usually the day after, for 12 hours or so. I've had an angiogram and my heart is fine. I have some of the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but this only seems to be initiated by aerobic activity. Does this make sense? -- Dale S.
Dale, the shoulder/arm pain, in someone 59, certainly suggests some degenerative disk disease or arthritis in the neck, or a problem in the shoulder. Some tweaking of your riding posture might make a difference.
Further evaluation would consist of shoulder and cervical spine X-rays, though they probably can't confirm or rule out the neck or shoulder as the cause. An evaluation by an orthopedist who specializes in shoulder problems would be worthwhile.
The abdominal pain is more difficult to understand. It is possible that your riding position is exerting enough pressure on the stomach to cause some acid reflux, but this should resolve within 1-2 hours after cycling.
It is also possible to have arterial blockages to the GI tract that can cause abdominal pain, but this is very uncommon and also should not last nearly this long.
Another condition to consider is acute intermittent porphyria. This can cause intermittent episodes of abdominal pain precipitated by stress and/or low glucose levels. It is relatively uncommon, and typically by age 59 you would already know you have this, but it's easy for an internist to check for this.
Beyond these possibilities, a general evaluation of abdominal pain is the best way to arrive at a diagnosis, so that is what I recommend.
In sum, see a shoulder orthopedist and an internist.
Richard Ellin, MD, FACP, is a board-certified specialist in Internal Medicine who practices in Alpharetta, Georgia. He received his medical degree and completed residency at Emory University, and has been in practice with Kaiser Permanente for 26 years. He is also an avid cyclist.
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