3 minutes to a better bike ride

All of us have forgotten something when heading out for a bike ride. If we haven’t forgotten something then we’ve overlooked something on our bike that’s caused our ride to not go so good. I had one of those rides yesterday hence the reason for this post (big surprise). If each of us would take just a few short minutes to run through a quick checklist before heading out we could save a lot of heart ache (and feelings of inadequacy in my case). Here’s a few things to check: Make sure you’ve got your water bottle(s). I forgot mine several weeks ago and didn’t notice until about 10 miles into a 30 mile ride. Not good. They were still sitting on the car bumper when I got back. Tires are pressurized properly. I used to be very bad about this but now make it a point to check them, and usually touch’em up, before each ride. Your seat bag is stocked. Open up that seat bag and make sure you’ve got a spare tube, tire irons, multi-tool and whatever else you carry in there. If you’re with a group somebody is bound to have something you need but you don’t want a reputation of being a bum either. If you’re solo and don’t have what you need you’re screwed. Your clothing is in order. Shorts/bibs and jerseys are no-brainers but some of the other assorted articles you may need are easily forgotten. I’ve forgotten socks, sunglasses or a headband on more than one occasion. Your bike is mechanically sound. The real reason for this article today. I had...

An open letter to my bicycle

Dear Bicycle, I purchased you over 15 years ago to help me raise money for children. You supported me well during that ride and have ever since. Recently, though, I don’t think I’ve given you the credit you deserve. After that initial charity ride I shunned you and relegated you to a life of collecting dust, rust and cobwebs. I kept you inside, out of the elements, but you were always kept hidden behind the couch or in a dark shed. Over the next 12 years you only saw the light of day once or twice but never complained. Sure, you developed flat tires and rusty gears but you always remained faithful. Ready to be ridden when called upon. Several times you’ve been ungraciously knocked to the ground due to my poor riding abilities. Scratches formed in your beautiful paint but you wear them with pride like battle scars. Over the last several months I’ve exposed you to riding your designers would have never thought you capable of. Bearing my weight you’ve powered on like a champ completing each ride and eagerly wanting more. The static and dynamic pressures I’ve placed on your frame have pushed you to the limit but you’ve responded with grace and poise. I’ve ridden you through water, mud and dog crap and you never complained aside from an occasional squeaky spoke. Even though you’ve remained faithful to me after all these years, I must admit that my mind and hands have wandered with yearns for aero wheels and dura ace. Sleeker, younger models dressed in carbon fiber and titanium have caught my eye. I’ve...

Century Training Series: Days 26, 27, 28, and 29 (Week 4 Re-Cap)

Day 26 – I was traveling out of town so this day is an off day. Day 27 – A 3 hour endurance pace ride was scheduled for Day 27 but it had to be canceled due to severe thunderstorms. I had no desire to get caught in heavy rains, hail or lightening. Day 28 – This was supposed to be a 1.5 hour endurance pace ride but I ended up only doing 1 hour. I could have easily done the 1.5 hours but decided to take it easy and only do the 1 hour (more on why below). Here are the numbers: Total Time (h:m): 1:00 Total Distance: 15.1 miles Avg Speed: 15.1 mph Week 4 Re-cap I have to be honest and say that I was very disappointed in my performance this past week. I struggled on the bike all week and it really showed in my measurements and mileage. Why did I struggle? I was lethargic. I felt really, really tired all week and even thought I might have been getting sick in the first part of the week. My legs were very heavy on every ride and even though my time/distance/avg speed numbers were there I didn’t feel like I was performing well. I was uncomfortable in the saddle. I got to the point on my Thursday ride last week that I had to quit after only about 30 minutes in the saddle. I was just too uncomfortable in my nether regions and couldn’t ride more than a few minutes without having to stand on the pedals to take pressure off. I have been riding...

Cycling Desktop Wallpaper Calendar: August 2009

I actually struggled with a design this month and am not sure it turned out as good as it could have. Most cyclists will recognize the UCI World Champion rainbow color bars. Those mirror the design of my new header but are also there simply to add some color to the wallpaper. The rider in the background is Dave Zabriskie. He hasn’t won a UCI World Championship but I wanted a time trial pic in the wallpaper this month and I liked the angle the shot was taken. Maybe DZ will get that elusive TT World Champions jersey soon. Resolution is...

Century Training Series: Days 23, 24 and 25

Like I said in my last Century Training Series post I’m only going to be posting about my century training on Monday’s and Thursdays. Reading about my training is probably boring enough as it is but asking you to do it everyday would be like me asking you to sit through reruns of Al Trautwig doing Tour de France commentary on Versus. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Today’s re-cap will cover Days 23, 24 and 25. Day 23 – 1.5 Hour Overall Endurance with 4×8 Intervals I’m finally getting the hang of the intervals and actually enjoy doing them. With the 9 mile (or so) loop around White Rock Lake I can get two eight minute intervals in per lap with each followed by an eight minute recovery. I haven’t felt too great over the last few days and it kind of showed in my workout because I wasn’t able to ride the intervals too hard. I probably averaged about 17-17.5 mph on each interval and 13 mph during the recovery. My last interval was pretty good but I had to deal with a big Hummer that was in front of me that couldn’t pass a rider it was following. That caused me to slow down a couple of times but I was able to pick my speed back up soon after. The numbers were: Total Time (h:m): 1:30 Total Distance: 23.21 miles Avg Speed: 15.47 mph My biggest problem on this ride was my new bibs or rather my discomfort in my new bibs. After an hour I was totally uncomfortable with what felt like...

Juan Pelota VS El Pistolero: A fistful of words

Sounds like some kind of old school western showdown doesn’t it? With the 2009 Tour de France now over the war of words between Lance Armstrong (Juan Pelota) and Alberto Contador (El Pistolero) has already heated up. Everyone who watched this years TdF knows that Team Astana wasn’t sitting around the campfire singing Kum Ba Ya everynight with both LA and AC fighting for control of the team. While both showed at least a little restraint while the race was ongoing they’ve both come out swinging in the last few days starting with El Pistolero’s deragatory comments and then Lance firing back on Twitter. I love it. Personally, I’m not a fan of Contador. I think he’s got a lot to learn before he comes a great cycling champion (I really just don’t like his grin). The sport of cycling needs a good rivalry like this and, even though Contador is nearly 12 years younger than Armstrong, next year is already shaping up to be a great year of cycling. Now toss in the fact that Armstrong will be racing on the newly formed Team Radio Shack and it gets even better. Who will make the switch to the USA’s newest pro team to help Lance dethrone Contador? Who knows but I’ll bet El Pistolero’s pea shooter that they’ll be gunning for him come July 2010. I’m glad too because somebody needs to wipe that cheesy grin off Contador’s face. What do you think? Is this rivalry good for cycling? Am I too hard on AC? Am I a LA fan...

How to make 2 million dollars in the bike industry

This guest post was written by Jeremy Smith (@jeremybsmith). Currently a web strategist for several industries, including bicycles, outdoor, architecture and planning, and apparel, Jeremy has been in and out of the bike industry for over a decade, with experience at the shop, vendor, and brand levels. I became acquainted with Jeremy last week after publishing my post on The Fleecing of Cyclists. Because of his experience I asked him to write a guest post from the industry perspective and he graciously accepted. Thanks Jeremy. A little about me and bikes. I’ve been working in and around the bike industry for over 10 years, on the both the retail and corporate side of affairs. I’ve also been a plain old bike consumer, struggling with pricing and value. It costs a lot of money to make the niche products that we consume as cyclists as a manufacturer, brand, or vendor. There simply isn’t the volume there to drive down wholesale costs enough to the level of other consumer goods. There’s always going to be the floor of wholesale pricing which is the cost of materials, labor, lights, rent, and so on for the manufacturer. Before I get too far into the specifics of the bike industry, let’s talk general consumer goods retail and pricing. The model varies, but if you take out the razor/cartridge and printer/ink nonsense, in general, when you go into a store, you are going to pay 2x what the store paid for the item. That 100% mark-up is there to pay people, rent, utilities, other marginal costs, and finally, to make a profit. That profit is...

Century Training Series: Day 22 (Week 3 Re-cap)

Yesterday marked the completion of my first three weeks of training for my first century and since Mondays are a rest day it’s weekly re-cap time. For those that are new to this series I’m following the Century Training Plan from the June 2009 issue of Bicycling Magazine to train for my first century ride the last Saturday of September. Along the way I thought I would document the effort to see what changes my body would undergo and to, perhaps, provide a little inspiration to others who might be looking to cycling as a way to lose weight or improve their fitness. Even though the Century Training Plan in Bicycling Magazine is 10 weeks in duration I decided to modify it to a 12 week plan by performing the first two weeks of the plan twice. This week was a repeat of Week 1. I felt I needed the two extra weeks because, basically, I’m not Lance Armstrong on a bicycle. I’m way overweight and out of shape and wanted those two extra weeks to help prepare. I had been riding before the start of this program so it wasn’t like I just decided on Day 1 that I wanted to start training for a century. I firmly believe that if someone decided to start this program cold turkey on Day 1 that they would end up quitting because it is a lot of riding. This past week was tougher than I expected it to be especially since it was a repeat of Week 1 of the Century Training Plan. Perhaps I was lured into a false sense...

Century Training Series: Day 21

Before I could ride today I had to replace my cut tire. I picked up a new yesterday at a local bike shop. The one I picked it up at wasn’t my first choice but the first one I went to didn’t have a single road tire hanging up so you could browse through them. I wasn’t going to play a 1000 question game with an employee to find what I was looking for. So I left there and headed to a shop where I knew they had tires I could browse through. Putting the new tire on was a snap. Today called for a 1.5 hour endurance ride. Normally I would have ridden in the morning but I wanted to watch the final stage of the Tour de France live. Plus I wanted to sleep in some because I was tired and had been fighting a head ache since last night. I was pulling for Farrar to get the win but I think Garmin started too early and with Renshaw’s perfect leadout of Cavendish he didn’t stand a chance. Sad it’s over but looking forward to Team Radio Shack next year. I headed down to White Rock Lake at about 4:30 so I could finish up my ride a little early. Turns out I was smart to go early (raining as I write this) but it was a lot hotter than I thought it would be and the wind was a killer. I checked the weather before going out the door and Weather Channel online said the wind was 2 mph out of the South. As soon as...

Century Training Series: Days 19 and 20

Day 19 – Rest Day Day 20 – Today the century training plan called for a two hour endurance pace ride. I was anxious to ride so I could try out my new bibs. I was up and at the trail riding away from my car at about 8:30. While putting my bike together I saw many cyclists riding up and down the trail so it looked like it might be a busy day. Upon setting out I noticed an immediate difference with the new bibs. I picked up the Performance Ultra II at the local performance store and was happy so far. We’ll see how it feels 2 hours from now. Once the warm up was complete I settled into my 15 mph pace and felt really good. I didn’t ride yesterday so my legs felt fresh and I easily maintained the set pace even on the hills. I again stayed in the small chain ring to keep my cadence high and it felt good. I completed three full loops of White Rock Lake plus a little extra to get my 2 hours in. The ride wasn’t without a problem though. I was sitting at a stop light getting ready to do the last couple of miles to my car and only needed a few seconds to complete the two hour ride. Once the light turned green I got up to speed, checked my computer and pulled it off when it rolled over to 2 hours and tucked it into my jersey pocket. Not ten seconds later my rear wheel didn’t feel right so I take a look...
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