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Daily Archives: August 2, 2012

Can You Ride Long Distances On A Hybrid?

The Hybrid

I found an interesting search this morning when checking out the site’s vitals:  Can you ride long distances on a hybrid?  Specifically a Specialized Sirrus…  I figured I’d give that question a stab because it’s a good one, and the actual answer is a more nuanced than some would think.

At $400, hell yes you can.  To tell you the truth, I’d dump $60 on some decent clip-less pedals first, but you ‘can’ get a century out of that bad boy, sure enough.  You want the right size and you absolutely need to spend a good deal of time setting it up (saddle height, handlebar reach, etc.) but I’m sure I’ll see a few in Fenton Saturday at the Tour des Lacs century.

The proper question is would you want to ride long distances on a hybrid?  I’ve got a Trek 3700 that I outfitted with road tires, effectively making it a hybrid (though with front shocks).  Last August, a couple of weeks before I bought my 1990 Cannondale SR400 I went on a 33 mile trip with the mountain bike…  I was just getting into longer rides back then and with Mrs. BigDaddy Jim away on vacation with the kids, I thought I’d stretch the legs a little bit.

That was my last long ride on the mountain bike (road or knobby tires).  When I bought my road bike the necessity of riding a hybrid, or my mountain bike with road tires, long distances went out the window for good.

Here’s a picture of both of my bikes…  My mountain bike is set up with the saddle higher than the bars, unlike the hybrid photo above, but I still catch the wind full in the chest when riding that bike.  If you look closely, even though the saddle heights are the same on both bikes, the bars on the road bike are a good 1-1/2 – 2″ lower, allowing me to cut into the wind better, and when I get into the drops, it’s not even close to a contest.  Also, the hybrids and mountain bikes tend to come with saddles that are quite a bit more cushy…  The saddle on the road bike might look more painful, but after you’ve put the proper time into getting it the right height (and you put on a pair of cycling specific shorts), it’s way more comfortable on the long trips – we’re talking an order of magnatude here, several times more comfortable.  Also, with a road bike, you’re running 23 mm tires instead of the 28-32 mm tires you’d find on a hybrid at a greater pressure of 30-45 psi depending on the tires – which decreases rolling resistence.

That said, there are people out there who like their hybrids, there are a couple of guys in our club who ride hybrids on our Tuesday night ride and I posted a comment from another guy the other day.  I can tell you for a fact, the hybrid guys in our club can only hang with the group for a couple of miles though.  They end up off on their own because the bikes are less efficient.  That ends up being the deciding factor when looking at hybrids or road bikes.  Do you want efficiency, or not.

The reality is, we do according to our training and we train to what we know (or like).  If you put in the miles on a hybrid, there is no doubt you can crank out long rides on them.

The question is, do you want to ride a hybrid long distances?  If that’s what you’ve got, then by all means, have at it and enjoy yourself.  If you’re shopping and have the cash, and are looking for long road rids, drop the coin on proper a road bike.  They’re far more comfortable than commonly thought, if set up correctly.

Under Pressure – Road Tires Vs. Knobbies

I entered cycling last year as a 41 year old vir- err, noob.  I rode a lot as a kid to get from point A to point B, but put the bike in the garage when I got my driver’s license.  I bought my first real bike that I rode on a regular basis since then late last spring because I wanted to do a sprint triathlon.  I ended up doing two Olympics on my Trek 3700 mountain bike before purchasing what turned out to be Mrs. BigDaddy Jim’s Cannondale last September (my first road bike).  Four months later I purchased my Trek 5200 and it’s been off to the races since.

While my cycling story has some neat aspects to it, starting so late in life and finding out how much I absolutely dig it, cycling brought with it a wide range of hurdles – namely that I knew nothing about bikes and how they work.

Mountain bikes are pretty simple – especially if you have a decent one.  They don’t require a whole lot of maintenance, and they’re pretty much point and pedal.  Put some air in the tires once every couple of weeks and you’re good.  If they lose some air over those two weeks, it’s really not that big a deal.

This is not so, as I expensively found out, with road bikes.  If you go more than a couple of days without topping off the tires (I run at 125 psi), you end up with a nice flat surface on your once rounded $75 tire.  Once you attain that nice flat surface, rocks aren’t kicked to the side of the tire as efficiently and every once in a while you hit a pebble just right that can break through even kevlar lining to cause a flat.  I went through two rear tires before one of the guys at Assenmacher’s let me in on the secret – you’ve gotta fill the tires before every ride.

Where I got into trouble was the fact that, to a noob, a tire won’t “squish” with the thumb check very much differently at 90 psi than it does at 120 – but rolling far enough at the lower pressure will flatten out the rounded center section of the tire.  Also, with the lower pressure mtb tires they won’t lose as much air with the larger volume tube.  The point is that you can get away with inflating your fat tire tubes once a week where that causes problems with the skinny 23 mm tires.

Since I started filling my tires every day my rear tire maintains its shape much better and I haven’t picked up a rock since.


Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is…

In my post, Humble Beginnings, I wrote: “If I wanted to go out for a 100 mile ride tomorrow I could do it without worrying about whether or not I’d finish.”

I decided I’d put my money where my mouth is and I signed up for a Century on Saturday, the Tour des Lacs in Fenton.   I had known about the ride but thought about riding a shorter distance with Mrs. BDJ but a few of the guys at the club ride on Tuesday asked if I’d be riding at the Tour and the misses hadn’t expressed any interest since our fist conversation about it (and we didn’t have a sitter lined up) so I figured what the heck…  Just to make it tough, I’ve got a time limit too.  On my 2012 Goals page I’ve got a time of 6-1/2 hours to complete the Assenmacher 100.  My wife has a party to attend to at 3:00 so I’ll have the kids, and 5-1/2 hours to complete the 100 miles and have enough time to get home.

The way I see it, I’ll be shooting for 19 mph for the full hundred with 15 minutes for water refills and nature stops.

I am contemplating breaking a serious cycling rule by removing my water bottle cages and opting for a backpack H20 system.  If I go that route, I’m assured that I won’t run out of water (I’m only good for 40 miles with two water bottles) and I can keep all of my repair equipment in the backpack so I’ll be able to lose the saddle bag.  The upside is better drafting potential in a group – it’s a well-known fact that when drafting, the bike carries the largest amount of drag.  As well, taking a drink from a Camelbak is a lot easier than reaching down whilst pedaling, grabbing a bottle and taking a swig, especially in a group of riders that I won’t know ahead of time.  The downside is that I’ll be carrying a lot of weight on my back that I normally wouldn’t and that will be a huge stress on my arms and back that I’m not accustomed to – not to mention my bruised kidney which has been quite on the mend, but is still sore from time to time.  I’ll have to see how that one plays out in my head.  I have used my backpack once before on a 50 mile ride.  I hated it for the first 20 miles and loved it for the last 30.  On my 90 mile 4th of July ride I stuck with the water bottles.

Either way, here goes nothing.