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Daily Archives: February 18, 2016

Social Problems with Being a Cyclist: It’s not Only the Genes, It’s the Jeans too…

Being a cyclist, the days of putting on the socks after your jeans are over.  One must learn to dress from the ground up.


Well, unless you dress in sweat pants, in which case shame on you, getting your feet high enough to put on your socks after you’ve put a pair of blue jeans on is almost as difficult as trying to wrestle an alligator… but with no teeth trying to rip chunks of meat off of your bones.

If you’re a cyclist and haven’t run into this yet, pedal harder.  You will.

Being a cyclist presents one of those interesting social problems that most people simply aren’t prepared to deal with mentally.  You buy a bike thinking once you lose weight, it’ll be awesome because your clothes are going to fit better than they have in years.

So you get on your brand new bike and start pedaling.  You go from four miles being a major journey to forty being a walk in the park.  You drop weight like it’s going out of style and find that active dieting is a lot easier and more fun than dieting like everyone else has to.  You go out shopping for a new wardrobe, then you do it again…

Finally you hit that magic weight, your college or high school weight that you’ve been working for and you rejoice.

The celebration includes going out to buy a pair of skinny jeans.  You are pumped!

You head out to your favorite “I can’t shop there because I’m too fat” store, triumphantly take a pair of jeans that should be your size off the stand, march over to the fitting room, shut the door behind you with a “that’s right, bitches” attitude…  You’ve made it!

And you can’t get the leg over your calf muscle, let alone over your toned, enormous thigh.

That’s a worst case scenario of course… Still, if you think there’s a magic weight where everything will fit right and all will be wonderful, well just remember to put your socks on first.

Such is the life.  It works if you work it.  It won’t if you don’t.

*Disclaimer:  There is a way around this, especially for the ladies who don’t want bulk…  Easy gears and pedal fast.  All of the tone, less bulk.

Observations on Road Cycling: Stretched Out or Scrunched Up…

I went out for a ride with my friends a few weeks ago and was unceremoniously dropped, way too early with cramping quads.  As I’ve had some time to think about it, there were several factors at play that hampered my performance.

First, as I wrote shortly after it occurred, was a hydration issue.  I’d recently switched from Hammer to an upcoming brand and, put simply, it isn’t enough for heavy exertion cycling – it’s calorie free so there’s no easy fuel in it.  Second, I noticed, on the trainer, how much more stretched out I am on the Trek (and my Venge, they’re as close as I can get the two bikes) compared to the Cannondale I’d been training on while the Trek was getting its new paint job.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that your body adapts to what you train on.  The setup on the Cannondale, to put it mildly, is all wrong.  The crank arms are too short, the frame is too small, they don’t make a stem long enough and the saddle won’t go back far enough to give me a the proper setback to the pedals.  I knew this going into the winter, that I’d be stuck training on a bike that wouldn’t allow me to stretch out as I normally do, but other than the fact that I had to work a lot harder to push an easier gear, I became quite used to the setup.  Now that I’ve got my Trek back and I’m stretched out like I should be, it felt weird on the trainer getting started again.  I’ve since adapted quite a bit, to where it’s comfortable again (it took a couple of weeks).

I had a lot more power going to the pedals and I could breathe a lot easier but man, did I run out of gas fast.  I’ve been training for long enough on that tiny Cannondale that the new ride threw me for a loop.

With that backstory out of the way, It sure is nice being properly stretched out again.  I wonder if this doesn’t go back to the comfort vs. performance argument though.  Fitting in the tighter cockpit was actually very nice…  I wasn’t so scrunched up that it hampered my breathing or made me arch my back, it was just a little bit of a tighter fit.

As a general rule, call it more of a guideline, the idea when setting a bike up is that when you’re riding and your hands are on the hoods, the view of your front hub should be obscured from view by the handlebar or you should only be able to see part of the hub – maybe a couple of millimeters in front of the leading edge of the handlebar.

With the Trek, the hub is entirely obscured by the handlebar.  Same on the Venge (but that’s a guestimation because I have an aero/blade handlebar).  On the Cannondale however, not only can I see the entire hub, it’s a good 4-6 cm in front of the leading edge of the bar – and I have a 110 mm stem on it.  The Cannondale is a 54 cm frame, the Venge is a 56 cm and the Trek is a 58.  I’m 6’0″ tall so 56 is as small as I should go with a compact frame (sloped top tube) and 58 is recommended for a Standard frame.   In other words, to get the Cannondale to fit right, I’d need an offset seat post, a longer stem than they make and a new crankset with 172.5 mm crank arms… and then the geometry would still be a little messed up (but at least better).

Where this gets interesting is that the tighter fit in the cockpit, while terribly inefficient, is more comfortable. This will eventually work itself out with saddle time but getting used to being stretched out again has been a bit of a chore.  In other words, I’ve had to retrain my body to be comfortable stretched out again because I spent a month and some change getting used to the tighter fit of the Cannondale.

Of course, for posterity’s sake, everyone should be lucky enough to have my problems.

Stretched out…wp-1455670742243.jpg

Stretched out…wp-1455453399929.jpg

NOT Stretched out…wp-1452628755835.jpg