If the plan is to ride 45 minutes on the trainer, I ride my 45 minutes. I may go over but I’ve never, not one time in six years and some change, did I cheat and cut it short.
And I hate riding the freaking trainer.
Cutting my trainer time short, spinning an easier gear than I know I should be in, spinning at a slower cadence, or taking too many days off…
I would only be cheating myself. Cheating in the off-season makes my in-season harder (especially early spring), and why would I ever do that?!
Just a thought.
Ride hard my friends.
We were just out for a short, friendly Saturday ride, a bunch of friends, my wife and I. You may or may not be aware that my friends and I enjoy a sprint for City Limits signs. We sprint for almost every sign on a ride…
We started out at an easy but spritely pace into the wind. Quick enough, but nothing crazy – our first outdoor ride in a month and a half. I was humming along up front, talking to my buddy Phill because we hadn’t spoken in so long and here comes my wife and buddy, Mike blasting by us, just a mile into our first outdoor ride of 2018… I think my Mike took the sign. Phill and I didn’t bother going, we just kept talking… Later, and this is where this little post gets important for me, we were cruising along (still into the wind) and I decided to start my sprint for the next sign early. I took that sign by a huge margin… but I noticed that I was bouncing quite a bit when I started my sprint – the 28mm tires, pumped to 70 psi, were flexing a lot under the effort.
Several miles later my wife caught me napping at two more signs (a County and City Limits). I had to try to make up a huge gap just to have a shot at the second. Again with the bouncing… It happened again at the next and the last signs of the day, which I took.
I’m limited for tire width because my road bikes are a little older (1999 for the Trek and 2013 for the Venge), to a max tire width of 26mm for the Venge and 24mm for the Trek. Now, I’ve actually got 26’s on the Venge and I while I do notice a positive difference in ride quality, I haven’t noticed the bounce under power that I do with the 28’s and I’m a lot harder on the Venge than I was on my gravel bike the other day.
If I had experienced that bouncing sensation on the 26’s, I’d be riding 24’s.
So here’s what I noticed is happening when I put the hammer down: when I get out of the saddle to sprint, on the first through the fourth pedal strokes, I can feel the tires “squish” and I don’t like it. It’s not quite like putting the brakes on but the ride quality isn’t that much better under normal power that I’d live with 28’s in a sprint.
There’s been a lot made of wider tires lately, the suggestion being they’re as fast or even faster than the narrower 23-26mm options. That relies on using wider tires at lower air pressure to absorb some of the chatter in the road… It appears I may have found a hole in that hypothesis.
On the other hand, I have to admit, I really love the 26’s at 90 psi against the old 23’s at 110 and 115 psi. There’s definitely something to be said for riding wider tires… but if you’re going to be doing any sprinting, the tire width will have to be within reason.
That’s my two cents on the subject.
A fine YouTube post from a friend of mine, and fellow Michigander. Please give it a look.
Tandemonium 2018 – Starting the New Year Right with 30 Miles on the Tandem Road Bike; The Tale of Two Halves.
Mrs. Bgddy and I took the tandem out for a spin yesterday and I learned a lot on that ride – I learned that my reasons for getting angry at my wife for not pedaling hard enough are of my own doing. It’s my own fault that I get angry. Talk about an eye-opener…
I’d taken the computer off the tandem and put it on the gravel bike so I was blind as to how fast we were going. I don’t do well not knowing. My default is “we’re not going fast enough”. 20 mph feels like 15, so I’m always on the gas, pushing just a little harder than my wife.
We started out a little fast, 18-19 mph into a bit of a breeze and I was doing my normal “push harder than my wife”. We were doing well, up at the front of the group for ten of the first fourteen miles. It was on the twelfth mile that I started feeling the effects of my effort. I am a rare bird when it comes to cycling. I pay attention to the smallest detail, an attribute gained because I write this blog, so I can write about it later. As my energy level dropped I decided I probably didn’t have to push so hard on the pedals, that I could even out the pushing on the pedals just a little bit. So when I laid off just a little bit, so did my wife. Now, as I’m getting tired, this is usually the point where I freak the f*** out. I didn’t though. I paid attention. I pedaled harder, and my wife responded. I laid off, and so did she… That’s when I realized that she’s gauging how hard to pedal based on my over-effort. She’s expecting a certain feel on the pedals… and my extra effort was being interpreted as my “normal” effort. We made a go for the Byron City Limits sign but Mike pipped us, smiling, by a half a bike length. Such is the life of a tandem couple.
We pulled into the local gas station to use the restroom and I used the break to devour the banana I had stowed in my back pocket. I decided to change how I attacked the second half of the ride as I was taking a swig of water.
We got after it. This time I gave it a sustainable effort rather than hammering it to get up to speed. It’s hard to put it into writing, but when you’re on a tandem you can feel how hard your partner is pushing on the pedals, so when I’m pushing too hard I can feel it’s just not right. On the other hand, I can also tell when I’m doing it right, when we’re working together as a team. Three or four miles later it was like the cartoon lightbulb over my cycling helmet… My problems with my wife, are my own doing. “Fault” is too strong a word, really. “My own doing” is better, technically correct. I explained to my wife what I’d learned and, as one could imagine, she was pretty excited at hearing the news.
The rest of the ride was freaking amazing. We kept our speed up and I didn’t over-cook myself. We’re going to be much better on the tandem this year. From wamer times:
We’ve been stuck indoors for the last month and a half – just ridiculously cold. I’m good down to 18 or 19° (-7C) but I don’t like it. On the plus side, the second the temps rebound to something like the normal average (barely below freezing) it feels like a heatwave…
I set up our first outdoor ride in more than a month on Friday. We were due for a whopping 38° and sunshine. The ride was set for 2.
21 glorious, sunshiny miles, a little more than an hour, on the gravel bikes and we actually rode fairly hard. I felt awesome and Mrs. Bgddy showed signs of her hours spent on the trainer paying off. She’s getting strong. It was just a perfect, awesome ride with some good friends.
On pulling into my driveway we were all high-fives and smiles. Anyone who cycles or runs knows the feeling, after we’d been cooped up for a while. Once you’re done with that first ride and you’ve got some endorphins running around the system, it’s hard to describe how good you feel. It’s simply special.
And we’re going back out again today… on the tandem this time. I spent an hour getting it tuned up and ready to go yesterday. It’s as good as it gets.
The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: How You can tell if a Road Bike is too Big or Small with just a Simple Glance
I was perusing photos of miscellaneous Trek 5200’s and about 30 photos in I started doing the “right size”, “wrong size” game with the photos. At that point, I thought back on bringing my Cannondale to the bike shop for the first time and the owner just looking at it and knowing it was too small. I couldn’t believe it. “How did he know just by looking at the bike?”
I’ll start with what’s right with my bikes, then I’ll drop in some photos of the 5200’s I was looking at so you can see what I’m seeing.
First, my 5200 is perfectly sized for my height (a 58 cm standard frame – I’m 6’0″ tall [182 cm] 80mm stem):
Ok, so here’s what you’re looking for: Look at the amount of visible seat post sticking out of the frame. That is the low-end of perfect right there. The high-end, say you were a bit taller, would be maybe a centimeter more than that unless you’re purposely buying a bike one size too small so you can peg the saddle height, throw a 120mm stem on that chica and slam it.
My Venge is exactly what I described above: One size smaller than standard but still perfectly sized for what I wanted (56 cm compact frame), 100mm stem, slammed, and the saddle height is exactly the same as the Trek (36-3/8″). The compact frame, while tied to several over-the-top bike industry conspiracy theories having to do with throwing the customer under the bus to save a buck, is the quintessential aggressive road cyclist’s frame:
Now let’s look at too small, my Cannondale (54 cm frame standard Criterium):
Put simply, that bike is made for someone about 5’6″, or six inches shorter than I am. Look at the seat post, I’m just shy of the safety limit mark. Look at the stem (that had to be ordered special to give me enough reach). That’s a stark example of “too small” but imagine if the standard (shorter) stem was on the bike. Imagine if the set-up was off… What gets tricky here, is that this set-up can also be technically correct. In fact, if I were a pro, you’d expect something like that. I’m not, though. In fact, I’m so not a pro that riding in that position was extremely uncomfortable – that’s too much drop.
Now let’s look at too big and a bad set-up – this is a little easier to spot:
Let’s start with a bike that has the hoods (handlebar) a couple of inches above the saddle – whoever picked that bike had absolutely no idea what they were doing (keep in mind before you fake indignation that I bought a Cannondale that was too small because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing – it happens). Folks, there’s a lot wrong with that bike set-up. Another interesting thing to look at is the handlebar. Actually, the whole bike is entirely wrong but the bar is likely rotated upwards to correct for too much reach to the hoods but in doing that, they put the drops further out of reach. The right way to correct for this is to simply buy a shorter stem for $30 (or so).
Here’s another example of too big:
On this one, the saddle is obviously too low but rather than contort the handlebar as was done on the previous bike, on this example they simply shortened the stem (which is the right way to do it). For this bike, they have the drops rotated a little too far forward which causes the end of the drops to point up slightly. They should be level to the ground, but that might be a touch too nitpicky.
Let’s look at one last telltale way to pick out a bike that doesn’t fit the rider… Look at the position of the saddle on this 5200:
If the saddle is sitting that far back on the rails (which means the saddle is too far forward), something is very wrong. I won’t comment on the pedals – although they help explain the double-stacker stem adapter. Ahem.
My friends, the purpose of this post is to help you understand, not only what can go wrong in a bike set-up but to highlight what it looks like when that happens. While bike fitting isn’t an exact science, it’s most definitely a close science. Normally I’d say, “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but it counts in bike set-up as well. Many of the “bad” examples in this post aren’t even in hand grenade range. Call them “good enough for government work” because I assume they can be ridden, by someone, but let’s not get too cocky either.
Now, if you need help figuring out what size bike you should be buying, try this post – it’s got a link to a calculator. It’ll get you close enough – a little better than “hand grenade” and a lot better than “government work”.
There’s one last detail that truly makes a bicycle personal to the cyclist. I took my bike in to have my name put on the top tube of the Trek.
I’ve gone back and forth over the last several years about whether or not I should have my name put on the top tube of the Trek. What if I sell it? What if I grow tired of the bike and want to get rid of it?
I was on the trainer the other day and it finally became crystal clear to me – there’s no way I’m ever selling that bike, I’ve got too much into making it mine. Custom paint job, new components – not to mention I’ve done so much work on that bike, I could darn-near take it apart and put it back together blindfolded… Add to that, it’s only 19 pounds when I put my good wheels on it, with a triple crank? Why would I ever want to get rid of it?
I called Matt, the owner of our local shop, and got everything figured out. He printed the decals and I had them installed yesterday. Once we got the location right, we set it aside to dry. It gets clear-coated today.
All it needs now is a -17° stem, but that’ll be for another day.
If, by chance, you’re wondering why I didn’t do the Venge also, I can’t. The paint, possibly the best paint job Specialized ever put on a Venge, won’t take a clear coat and I’m not about to put a sticker on that bike without clear coating it in.