Question: I think I was recently reading that the best cyclists havea cadence of 110 rpm. This seems very fast (at least for me). I am probably in the 70-90 range. Do most riders do better at higher rpm? Is there benefit to sometimes powering up hills at lower rpm? I asked a question earlier in the year about maintaining cycling shape while doing bouts of backpacking. The … [Read more...] about High Cadences, Used Appropriately, Can Save Your Legs
By Coach Fred Matheny After 39 years of writing about bikes, I'm riding off into the sunset, retiring from RBR. I wrote my first cycling article for the now-defunct magazine Bike World in 1977. (I hope my article didn't hasten its demise.) That was followed by a stint writing for Velonews when it was located in Brattleboro, Vermont. Ed Pavelka was the … [Read more...] about Coach Fred Matheny: Riding Off Into the Sunset
Question: In three weeks I will ride my first 300K (186-mile) brevet. A friend told me that the rule for pacing long rides is: Never go anaerobic. Sounds like smart advice, but how can I tell when I'm in danger of doing it? – Bud S. Coach Fred Matheny Replies: You're talking about the "anaerobic threshold," a phrase used for many years. Nowadays, the more common term is … [Read more...] about What’s the Danger Pace on Long Rides?
Question: I'm 38 and in the best shape of my life. But I wonder if I'm about to start losing it as I near 40. How long can I maintain my present cycling fitness? – Barry N. Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I began riding seriously in my 20s and managed to keep improving into my 50s. In fact, I set personal records after passing the half-century mark, as did some friends. So you … [Read more...] about At What Age Will My Cycling Decline?
Question: In the last month I’ve set a record, being caught in the rain on seven bike rides. I don't want to ride my fender bike and wear a rain jacket if the weather looks okay, but storms have been blowing in without warning. What non-bulky clothing can I carry in my jersey pockets for protection against these spring rains? – Shandra P. Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Assuming … [Read more...] about Which Emergency Rain Gear Should I Carry Cycling?
Question: I've ridden Colorado's Triple Bypass several times and churned up and down the Pyrenees and Alps. But last August in the Raid Pyrenees (28 passes in 10 days) I had to stop due to severe exhaustion – a combination of 112F-degree (44C) heat, dehydration, overtraining and apparently a mild bug picked up on the airplane. What a surprise and disappointment. I want to … [Read more...] about How Can I Avoid Exhaustion on a Hard, Hot Ride?
Question: While riding, I sometimes feel my left leg drop off significantly in its contribution to powering the bike. Is there a training technique for dealing with this? – Don B. Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Yes, try one-leg pedaling on an indoor trainer to increase the strength of your weaker leg. … [Read more...] about How Can I Remedy a Weak Leg?
By Coach Fred Matheny It’s easy to ride with a couple of like-minded friends. But it gets more complicated when you’re with a big group of people you don’t know, maybe fighting a strong crosswind. And in a cycling racing pack or the random groups that dominate centuries, it often seems like there are no rules at all. We’ll finish our 2-part series today on how to handle … [Read more...] about Echelons and Racing in a Pack: How to Avoid Getting Dropped
By Coach Fred Matheny Cycling can make your hands buzz like a beehive or, worse, put your fingers to sleep. Hand discomfort is usually caused by improper bike fit. But poor riding technique also plays a role. Gripping the bar in one position for long periods is a sure way to make hands and fingers feel like an electrical current is running through them. Give These … [Read more...] about How to Deal With Numb or Tingly Fingers Cycling
Question: I don't mind bicycle riding in cold weather, but I can't keep my face warm. Shoe covers work for my feet and heavy gloves keep my hands toasty. But my chin and cheeks freeze. I wear a "skull cap" under my cycling helmet. Any ideas? — Barry M. Coach Fred Matheny Replies: You need more than a skull cap, Barry. You need a balaclava – one of the handiest pieces of … [Read more...] about How Can I Keep My Face From Freezing During Winter Cycling?
By Coach Fred Matheny In the past, I've coached at Carpenter-Phinney Bike Camps, run by Olympic road race champion Connie Carpenter and her husband, Davis Phinney, the 2-time Tour de France stage winner. Their U.S. camps were based in Frisco, west of Denver, nestled in a high mountain valley. All rides started at 9,000 feet (2,743 m) above sea level and went up from there … [Read more...] about How to Climb Well on a Bicycle at High Altitudes
By Coach Fred Matheny Your fast friends go downhill in strange postures. One tucks low over the top tube and holds the handlebars close to the stem, his nose nestled between his knuckles. Another puts his hips behind the saddle, resting his stomach on the seat. And you’ve seen pictures of pros sitting on the top tube in front of the saddle, chin almost touching the front … [Read more...] about How to Descend Safely on a Road Bike
By Coach Fred Matheny Test rides are usually short, and you have so many things to think about that getting an accurate impression can be difficult. First, remember that a new bike will feel different from an older bike. These differences are most apparent to your contact points -- hands, feet and seat. Saddles, for one thing, have changed dramatically over the years. … [Read more...] about How Should I Test Ride a New Bicycle?
Question: I do 40-km (24.8-mile) time trials and the occasional road race. How far should I ride in training? I’m wondering if long (4- or 5-hour) rides are necessary? -- Patrick A. Coach Fred Replies: Good question. It's one that I’ve heard discussed at the various meetings for coaches. … [Read more...] about Are Long Training Rides Necessary for Cyclists?
By Coach Fred Matheny Remember when you were a kid and “Look Ma -- no hands!” was a rite of passage as you learned to ride? But that was years (decades!) ago, and for some reason it seemed a lot easier back then than on your lightweight road bike today. Now when you try to ride no-hands, the bike wanders or veers. You need to quickly grab the handlebar to prevent a … [Read more...] about Riding No-Hands on a Bicycle an Important, Useful Skill