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It’s Amazing what a Little Fresh Air will do for One’s Attitude and Outlook on Life…

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.

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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):

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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 (35-3/8″).  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:

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Now let’s look at too small, my Cannondale (54 cm frame standard Criterium):

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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”.

New Report goes beyond just saying Cycling doesn’t Pose a Threat to Men’s Health;  It says Faster is Better.

A new study, reported on by Newsweek and published in the Journal of Urology shows cycling doesn’t affect a man’s “sexual and urinary health” any more than running or swimming does (which one would assume is none at all – at least this one).

In the past, reports existed that supported the notion that cycling could cause erectile dysfunction.  While those reports were discredited as “lacking scientific rigor”, the myth persisted amongst the, well, let’s call them “the information deprived”.

In any event, this new study shreds the notion and goes one better to say that any negative attributable to cycling is vastly outweighed by the benefits.  Better still, the study split cyclists into two groups based on intensity, those who rode more than three times a week and 25 miles per ride and those who rode less… and:

Higher-intensity cyclists, somewhat counterintuitively, had better erective function compared to low-intensity cyclists

Hang on a second and let that sink in just a little bit.  I know I almost had to pick my jaw up off the floor – it’s a rare day a study bares that out, let alone the point actually makes a report about the study.  In a world where seemingly everything that comes out looks at how little one has to do, it was nice to see the hotrods get a nod and a pat on the helmet for once.

The only problem they did come up with for cyclists came in the form of genital numbness, or in less technical terms, numbnuts.  Scientists did find, and I really don’t want to know how, that spending approximately 20% of the time out of the saddle helped immensely.  I can, of course, corroborate this finding – and to tell the truth, I really don’t plan on explaining how.  Just know it’s good to jumble the jewels now and again with a quick shake out of the saddle.  What is important here is the why.  Numbnuts are caused by a saddle that restricts blood flow to the chestnuts so that’s why riding out of the saddle helps – it gets the blood flowing in the nether region again.  So, either get a harder saddle or spend some time climbing peaks out of the saddle.

Other than cranky cajones, which we know are fairly common, cyclists have every reason to rejoice.  We still have things like saddle sores and chafing to be aware of, but the big problems appear to be a worry of the past.

Now, before you ask (or comment), yes.  I was aware of every double-entendre.  They were all on purpose.  ‘Cause we all need a little laugh from time to time, especially about a topic that begs for a chuckle.

Ride hard, my friends.  Heh.

Cycling:  Because when You Love what You do to Stay Fit….

Why do I choose cycling?  When you love what you do to stay fit…

You don’t have to rely on silly quotes to get off the couch, you can’t wait to get out the door….  And only then do you understand why those quotes never really stuck in the first place.

Passing a Horse and Buggy on a Bike…

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Cycling: It’s Like Walking, Only Better…

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How I Keep Fitness a Priority, without Failing after the Newness of the New Year’s Resolution Wears Off….

People are going to start dropping their fitness resolutions like a dirty shirt in 3… 2… 1…

I’m on my fifteenth year of my fitness journey, with only a few short breaks in the action for injuries at the beginning of running, then a few more at the beginning of cycling.  In all, we’re talking about four or five weeks off in fifteen years.  Sure, there were a few vacations too, but you get the gist.

I have a few tricks and tips that keep me on the straight and narrow path.

  • I know my happiness and sanity are both linked to my fitness.  The fitter I am, the happier I am.  The less fit I am, the more miserable I am.  It’s quite simple.
  • I know pain is linked to a lack of fitness; the less I move, the more I hurt.  I realize this may seem counterintuitive, but exercise only hurts until you get used to the muscles.  I came to find that laziness is vastly more physically painful than exercise.
  • Unfortunately one must stick with a fitness regimen long enough for that last bullet point to work.  The initial pain of building muscles can be a little off-putting at first.
  • I actually enjoy my activity of choice.
  • It’s a lot easier to keep at something if you literally can’t wait to get back out there.
  • A friend of mine just yesterday laid down this nugget that fits:  It’s a lot harder to fall off the wagon if I’m sitting in the middle of the crowd riding it…
  • I surround myself with a pile of friends who enjoy riding just as much as I do.
  • Now, here’s the big one:  Perpetual motion….  A Jim in motion tends to stay in motion.  Those days you just want to sit down on the couch?  Yeah, unless I’m really feeling down, I give it all I’ve got on those “sit on the couch” days.  If I’m really feeling down, I’ll pedal easy and remember why I love riding so much.  Either way, I move when I don’t want to.

If your resolution is to get fit or lose some weight, stick with it till it takes hold.  Don’t try to do it alone.  Relax and have some fun – you may as well enjoy the time you’ve got, there isn’t a one of us getting out of this alive.