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An Excellent Video for Fitting Road Bike Cleats

This video has a lot of excellent cleat fitting pointers – especially for getting the cleat properly under the ball of the foot.

I’m going to use a couple of the pointers myself, especially the “ball of the foot” tip.

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Better to Make Due with what I’ve got than Long for what I haven’t.

For the last five years I’ve taken my trainer to the office and ridden there, during lunch, in the off-season.  

This year things haven’t quite worked out as they had in the past.  Sadly, I just can’t easily fix what’s keeping me from my normal trainer time… so I improvised.

No more noon rides, I put in my 45 minutes on the trainer after I get home, around 5.  

That’s my commitment to fitness.

I can whine and lick my nuts on the couch, or I can get busy making use of what I’ve got – and let’s be clear, I’d need a whole lot of yoga to… well, let’s stay on track here.

I thought it would be interesting to break that down fully.  There are 168 hours in a week.  I only need seven of them to stay fit through the off-season.  Only twelve in-season.

Digging further, I need 50-ish for work and 42-46 for sleep.  Call that 101 on the high side.  That means I’ve got 67 hours left to fit in my seven hours for fitness (and sanity).


I can make that work.  For me, it’s fit and happy or…. not.

Muck, Mud, a Little Slippy, and Cycling with the Crazy Crew on a Tuesday Night

The Weather yesterday was outrageously beautiful.  Not exactly warm, but it wasn’t anywhere close to freezing either, and that’s something to be grateful for this time of year.  I sent out the text in the morning:

Dirt road night ride tonight at 5:30 – my house.

I ended up changing the time to 6 for my wife and Matt, both of whom needed the extra half-hour, but ten till six people started showing up.  I love it when my driveway fills up before a ride, getting a good bunch of us together always means a good laugh is only a mile or two away.

We are the crazy kids – when everyone else is sitting home, warm in their homes, we’re out cruisin’ the dirt roads in the dark:

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It rained Sunday but with the glorious weather during the day, I was certain the back roads would have dried out.  I was very wrong.  We dealt with a lot of mush, especially if you were unlucky enough to get out of the tire tracks.  I found my lane and stayed in it so I didn’t get all that muddy – a couple of friends of mine weren’t so fortunate.

Even though it was a squirrely ride at times, I had that “I’m fourteen years old, riding my bike with my friends” grin on my face the whole time.  No matter how stressful life is, give me a ride with my buddies and all of that crap fades to the back for an hour or two.

I love that about cycling.

Are eBikes (Electric Pedal Assist Bikes) the Wave of the Future?  I Certainly Hope not.

A friend told me he read that Focus bikes believes they will, eventually, migrate to making only eBikes.

I know the City of New York doesn’t like the idea.  Bill de Blasio and the fun-hating commies in the New York bureaucracy have already banned them…  They’re actually confiscating them 

On the other hand, apparently there are actually idiots who ride them on sidewalks.  From that perspective, how do you fix that much stupid?

I am not personally impressed with eBikes either.  I have no desire to own one – and I enjoy owning a fairly diverse bunch of bikes.  

That said, I am not lost on the fact that there are plenty of people who could benefit from the electronic assist.  Sadly. I can imagine that many who would need the help would be, how do we say this, technologically challenged.  One could imagine an old-timer cruising down the sidewalk and being afflicted with a case of whiskey throttle.

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Beyond that, the reason for my dislike of the bike is the concept itself.  While nobody could be against someone who needs an eBike riding one responsibly…  My God, I’ve been watching that whiskey throttle .gif over and over again – just makes me laugh out loud…  Anyway, what I don’t like is the idea of the lazy using them as a means of weight loss.  How long will it be before we hear of complaints that cycling is a lousy way to lose weight because some dolt is tracking calories based on real cycling but is riding an eBike?

Next will be class-action lawsuits against bike manufacturers, fast food joints, and calorie tracking apps.  “Did you gain 50 pounds whilst riding an eBike to lose weight?  Call Dewey, Cheatum & Howe because you may be entitled to a cash settlement based on the fact that you’re stupid and couldn’t figure out that an eBike that does half of the pedaling for you doesn’t count the same as riding a bike that doesn’t.

Insanity, I tell you!

Next you’ll have STRAVA KOMs being taken with an eBike….  Monkeys will start riding them – hell, at that point you’re only a matter of years away from Planet of the Apes!

On the other hand, those who can’t keep up with the fast groups anymore, all of a sudden would again.  Imagine drafting a dude on an eBike rolling down the road at 25 mph.  That would be awesome!

Hey, on second thought….

Cycling and Speed; A 22 Mph Average is a Commitment and Reachable.  In a Winter.  On a Trainer.

I’m came up with this topic, and began writing the post, atop my steed, on my trainer, pushing the second hardest gear (52/12) in the hardest setting (7) on my trainer.  I started the 45 minute session in third hardest (52/13).  A person commented on one of my posts yesterday, and it got me thinking about being as fast as I want to be.

I’ve got a towel on my handlebar to mop up the sweat in between sentences and scenes from Mission Impossible:  Rogue Nation.  You can have your Zwift.  Give me a good movie and 45 minutes and I’m a happy guy.

Last year, when I came up with my off-season plan, I could only muster a few minutes in 52/13.  I’d have to spend much of the ride in 52/15 and shift up to the harder gear in intervals.  Before the end of the winter I was spending most of my time in 52/12 and dabbling in the sacred 52/11.  The week before March I was spinning in 52/11…

When the new season hit I was more than ready.  I was stronger than I’d ever been going into a season and I had fun with it – all season long.  I’ve managed to maintain that fitness to where I don’t have to take the time to work up to the harder gears this year.  So next year, as long as I remain committed, I can enter the season even stronger.

Going fast is, and always has been, a commitment.  I have been willing to work hard enough to be pretty fast.  I also have to keep this in perspective – the A guys in our group are a lot faster than I am… I’m simply not willing to push hard enough to be that fast.  I could be that fast but for the willingness.  A friend of mine put it best after completing a 4:15 minute century this summer:  “I just rode a hundred miles and I didn’t enjoy one of them”.  I ride a hundred and don’t enjoy five.  Maybe.

The key to cycling at a 20+ mph pace is being able to push on the pedals hard enough.  If you’re waiting for a magic pedalstroke or better, a magic bike to get you there, it’s not going to happen.  Well, if you pick up an eBike….  Let’s not get too deep into the weeds though.

The key to pushing harder on the pedals is to force yourself to actually push harder on the pedals – and this is the commitment because pushing harder hurts.  This is where most people get lost and where the winter trainer season is the perfect place to begin.

On most trainers, smart trainers excluded because they offer up to 2,000 watts of resistance (I’m just talking about the cheaper turbo trainers – mag and wind) if you can use the hardest setting and ride in the three hardest gears in the back (with the big chain ring up front), you can build up the fitness over a winter off-season to be fast enough come Spring to hang with the 20 mph crowd.

I’ve got a Giant Cyclotron ($160-$180) and that provides enough resistance that I can not only keep up with my group in March, I can spend a good deal of time up front.

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There are limits, of course.  If one is overweight, a winter on the trainer won’t fix that and extra weight always has an adverse affect on speed (a season on the bike and some excellent eating habits will probably do the trick though).  Speed also doesn’t accommodate “cheating” very well.  If one were to challenge oneself once a week, that won’t bode well.  Once a week isn’t enough.  It’s a nice start, but we’re talking about three hard days a week – it’s a full commitment, not half.  In fact, I was going to get into the HGH doping topic as well, but let’s face it, if you’re not willing to work hard enough to make doping work, well we needn’t consider it.  The main point is, you either have the willingness or you don’t.  Don’t be ashamed that you don’t, but do be honest about it.

If you truly have a desire to get faster, it just takes a little commitment, and a whole lot of pushing on the pedals.  There’s no better time than right now to start.

The Last [Paved] Tuesday Night Club Ride of 2017

If, in a group, you want to feel like you’re riding a lot faster than you really are, ride in the dark.

It was dark before the one mile warm-up.  And cold!  Good Lord, it was 35° (1 C), but thankfully there was barely a breeze.

For once, I was looking to take it a little easy on a Tuesday night.  I haven’t been training all that hard, so I was expecting to work harder than normal, but I underestimated – until I loosened up, about ten miles in.

It felt like we were rocketing down the road.  Maybe it was the dark, or the extra concentration required to look beyond the blinking light in front of me.  In fact, and I’m going to do another post on it’s own for this, but blinkie placement made a huge difference.  I had more trouble focusing riding behind those who rode with their blinker on the seat post rather than on the seat stay.

I rode behind on of the “seat post” guys for more than a dozen miles last night and I grew tired of trying to focus, I broke out of my place and fell back to ride behind a “seat stay” cyclist.

We pulled into the parking lot after a 29-1/2 mile ride with an 18.3 mph average (29 km/h).  I was shocked we weren’t closer to 20.

While I was comfortable the whole ride from the shins up, my feet were frozen when I got off the bike.  Wool socks and toe covers weren’t enough.  I should have gone with fill foot covers.  I quickly changed out of my jersey and jacket and into something dry.  We packed everything away and headed off to the last dinner for the season where made tentative plans for the Christmas dinner party and the ride card dinner (December 10th and January 7th respectively for those Wanderers who read this blog).

It was a nice capper to a good year.

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Do Away with Drop Bars?  The Other Side of the Story: Sadly, You can’t Fix Stupid (or Clickbait).

A fella who goes by the name of Eben Weiss recently wrote a wrong-headed article for Outside Magazine that gives examples ranging from poor to silly as reasons bicycle manufacturers should do away with drop handlebars; Presumably, so we can all ride the kinder, gentler flat-bar bikes which he approves of.  Put simply, if flat bars become the only option, I’d simply stop buying new bikes (or I’d be the one to retrofit drop bars and sell the components to others).

From his article:

Clearly [the drop handlebar] has stood the test of time.

Nevertheless, just because something’s been around for as long as we can remember doesn’t mean we shouldn’t scrap it…

So… because something works well enough to stick around, in an industry known to change things faster than my teenage daughter changes clothes, for decades, we should just change it because this wahoo says it’s time to change?!  

Dammit, I am easily infuriated by egomaniacs with superiority complexes (I’m different my friends – possibly an egomaniac, but I have an inferiority complex – big difference).  I digress…

His next claim is that the drops are underutilized.  Because?!  The people he rides with don’t use them, presumably because they’re either too weak or fat to bend down far enough to use them.  Honest, you can’t make this up:

Before your next group ride, surreptitiously put some ink on your palm and shake everyone’s hand. If by the time the ride is over even one of those riders displays so much as a smudge on their drops, I’ll give you $100.*

I don’t have to use ink… and he owes me, let’s see, $2,700 A WEEK for, let’s see, the length of the season… 35 weeks, carry the… $94,500.  I won’t even use my Wednesday ride (which has been designated “drop day”) or Friday, Saturday and Sunday rides with my friends.  That number, for a season would get me a shiny, new Colnago with Campy EPS… for me (and all of my friends – all 27 of us).

Most cyclists, in the group I ride with, use the drops every time they’re up front, because riding 24 mph into a 15 mph headwind is hard.  The drops allow one to ride a mile or two an hour faster than one would sustain on the hoods.  In fact, in those conditions, the first two or three cyclists in the pace-line are in the drops.  The drops are necessary for a 22-24 mph average on open roads.  Alas, Mr. Weiss disparages “fast” cyclists, one would assume, due to envy or ignorance.

Then it gets fun…

The upshot of all of this is that the typical road bike is set up for maximum comfort while riding on the hoods, and the entire drop zone of the bar has become vestigial. This is why you’ll often find them set up so askew, with the bars canted upwards in a manner that brings the levers closer to the rider and completely obviates the presence of the drops—now pointing fang-like at the floor and wrapped in unsullied bar tape that has never known a rider’s touch.

Askew, HUH?!

Well, surely that’s just my race bike.  My other road bikes must be askew, because we often ride like that…


Surely the tandem!

Nope, maybe Eben is simply a cranky butthole in this case.  Moving along, ahem, Mr. Weiss attacks those who don’t ride like ninnies as “delusional” and claims the ninny crowd should be riding drop bars because they can ride on the bar tops which he presumes is “more comfortable” (?).  Apparently he forgot, this is ironically exactly why he claimed drop bars should go the way of the dodo, earlier in his article.

Another tidbit that caught my eye:

…and it’s only riders who fancy themselves fast who position their handlebars virtually beyond their reach.

Wait, virtually beyond their reach, what?! 

Vestigial?!

This photo was taken on day four of a 385 mile, four-day tour.

To end my critique on a fun note, Eben writes:

Now you’d be hard-pressed to find a rider who doesn’t keep her hands on the hoods pretty much all the time.

Mr. Weiss needs to put on his big boy shorts and ride with my wife.  She’ll show him, in one 30 mile ride, how a woman rides in the drops and why he needs them too, as he’s trying to suck her wheel.

In the meantime, we road cyclists like our drop bars just fine, Mr. Specialized, Mr. Bontrager, Mrs. Giant, Monsieur Cervelo, Señora Bianchi.  We use them.  We train on them.  We love them when the wind is whipping and we’re heading dead into it.  We need them to be fast and efficient whilst pulling for our brothers and sisters.

Please leave them be.  Don’t listen to that crank.  He either has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about, or he’s just putting out clickbait – which is just as bad as being ignorant.  Those of us who use them and appreciate them, vastly more than 10% of us, rely on the increased aerodynamics.  Those in the know understand how important that is when the speed cranks up.

I should also clarify:  I am a 47 year-old cyclist.  Drop bars and an aggressive position on my bikes fixed my lower back pain that once made life uncomfortable at best, ugly at its worst.  The group I ride with has a range of cyclists from 30 to 70 years-old.  We are fast.  We are respectable.  We certainly don’t make apologies for those who choose to discriminate against us because we like to ride our bicycles fast.  My God, does that sound silly anyway!