Road Cycling (2)
Riding in the pack or the “bunch” can be fun and sociable, and it certainly conserves energy. However, there are some points to follow that will make your riding experience safer and more enjoyable for you and the other cyclists around you.
First, pay attention to your surroundings. While it is important to stay on the wheel in front of you, it is more important to stay aware of what is happening two or even three bikes in front of you. Being able to anticipate the changes in the speed of the bunch will ultimately help keep everyone safe, including you.
Therefore, while being aware of the wheel in front of you, focus just ahead and use your peripheral vision to watch what is happening two to three bikes in from of you. In addition, anticipate changes in speed due to hills, narrow roads, and corners. Finally, don’t make any sudden moves! These are sure to cause chaos behind you.
Article from “Health 24”
For a beginner nothing can be as daunting than choosing the correct gear. It always seems like someone yells something to you as they fly past you up a big hill. Here is my advice for the flats and the hills; the beginner and the more advanced rider.
I like the terms “smaller” and “larger” to talk about gears. The smallest gear is what you get when you use the small chainring and largest rear cog. The largest gear is the large chainring and smallest rear gear.
- The Flats
The first thing you want to know about is the pedal stroke. Just think about “spinning” the pedals rather than pushing them, and you’ve got the pedal stroke down. What you want to do is keep constant pressure on the pedals by “spinning” them. From the top of the stroke, you’ll want to push down the pedal ½ way, then pull back (like your scraping mud off your shoes) then pull up, then push forward to return to the top. Try pedaling with only one foot to really get a feel for this. This will be easier on your legs.
When you are on the flats, find a gear you can pedal and maintain at a cadence (rotational speed) of 90-95 RPM.
- The Hills
Going up a long hill, your cadence will slow down to around 60-80 rpm although this is really going to depend on you. If you are in great shape, but your legs are not really, really strong, you will want to pedal faster in an easier gear up the hills. Going down hill, you might try pedaling at a higher cadence, 100+ rpm, and try to pedal smoothly without putting a lot of pressure on the pedals. This will help keep your legs fresh, and it’s a good way to practice your pedal stroke. Just remember that pedaling more quickly makes your heart work harder, pedaling more slowly makes your legs work harder.
A word about powering up hills. Pushing hard will get you up the hills, but spinning the pedals a little faster will save your knees from arthroscopic surgery!
Another thing that many people find helpful is to use a gear a little easier than they need when going up a hill. That way, by the time you start getting towards the top of the hill, your legs will still have something left.
- Where to start
Before you push yourself too hard and injure yourself, you should get about 750 kilometers (or less if you’re already strong) of riding — start counting at the beginning of each cycling season. So, the easiest way not to push yourself hard is to keep the chain on the small chainring and only use the rear shifter to change the cogs. Once you get some good mileage in, feel free to push yourself harder once or twice a week.
- Other Hints
As far as what gear to be in on a group ride, the best way to do it is to look at some of the good riders. If their feet are moving faster than your feet, shift to an easier gear. If their feet are moving more slowly, shift to a harder gear.
- Avoid bad chain angles
That is, avoid the large chainring/large cog as well as the small chainring/small cog combination. If you get the chain at too much of an angle, it can put a lot of stress on the chain. Plus, it adds friction, which might slow you down a little. And, worst of all, in the large/large combo, you are putting stress on the rear derailleur, which you really do not want to hurt. And, in the small/small combo, there may be some slack in the chain, which could cause “chain slap” — the chain will slap your frame’s chain stays (the part from the crank to the rear wheel) chipping the paint and scratching up your bike.
Well, now that you know all of that, the best advice I can give you is just to ride with others and copy their pedaling speed.
Mountain Biking Info and Skills (2)
- Black Valve First
Riders weight X 2.2 less 20 = pressure in PSi
ie : 90kg X 2.2 – 20 = 178 psi
- Red Valve last. (SPV)
70 PSI is ideal pressure for medium SPV setting.
Lowering pressure makes it more sensitive
Higher pressure more rigid
The key to technical down-hilling is to relax your upper body. The steeper and rockier the down-hill, the more tightly the rider grips the bar. A rider will slow down as they approach an obstacle, say a rock, applying both brakes as they go. However the rock will try to stop your wheel. If you have your brakes on, the brakes will try to stop your wheel, (I know this is obvious but hang with me for a while ok?) between them they will almost certainly stop the wheel. This is not good! If the riders arms are stiff the front wheel won’t be able to move up over the rock. So any remaining momentum in your body will move your balance forward and over the bars you go in a neat arc. This can be very painful and off-putting (Duh!). The next time the rider approaches a similar obstacle they’re more afraid (fair enough) this makes them grip more tightly and brake harder. The result is they either crash again, or get off and start pushing
A relaxed rider won’t slow down quite as much, the combination of a little extra momentum, no front braking at the crucial moment and relaxed arms, allow the wheel to bump up over the rock and onward with little effort. So if you’re going slowly, it’s essential to let go of your brakes as you approach an obstacle. This may mean going just a little faster, but the result is much less painful.On a steep bumpy trail going really slow makes things very difficult indeed. An exception to this is a very tight switchback turn. If a trials style hop is out of the question (it is for me!) you’ll need to slow right down to allow the smallest turning circle. If it’s very steep you’ll also need to hang way off the back. This kind of stuff takes practice.
Track Cycling Information (6)
The first track racing world championships was held in 1895. Early track races included bizarre high-speed events in which riders slipstreamed four-and six-man pace bikes. These were replaced by motorbikes after the turn of the century, and ‘Derny’ racing still plays a part in some European six-day festivals.
Currently the top track nation is France, closely followed by Germany, with Australia and Great Britain in the next tier. In addition, the USA, Spain, Switzerland, Russia and Belgium have several standout riders or teams.
Velodromes can range from less than 200 metres (with very steep banking) to over 450 metres on outdoor, concrete tracks. However, Olympic standard velodromes need to be 250 metres in length, completely covered, and made of wood. Wooden velodromes need to be hard, straight and hold their shapes as they age. For this reason, most are built from Baltic Pine which often comes from a plantation in Finland that has supplied virtually every recently built velodrome. A 250 metre track has 60km of 40mm x 40mm x 6m planks and is held together by 360,000 nails.
Track surfaces last for decades, and get better as they get older: as the wood hardens the track gets faster.
The area infield of the track accommodates team support staff such as coaches, managers, mechanics, and masseurs; the press; officials and timing and in the case of the track at Atlanta, event office space. Offices are usually underground, but the Atlanta track was temporary so no no underground facilities were dug. The track was purchased by the Quebec governement in 2000 and is now a part of the Bromont Canadian Cycling Traning Center.
Track bikes are minimalist. There are no brakes, no gears and no freewheel; if the back wheel is turning, so are the pedals. Speed is controlled by pedalling and by pushing back on the moving pedals.
Match sprint and points race bikes are usually made of simple steel tubes; they’re strong and cheap and their poor aerodynamics don’t really matter. A good one costs about $2,000.
Pursuit bikes are the exotic carbon wheeled fish everyone gets excited about. The development budget for Brian Hayes’ Australian Superbike project stands at $1.4 million.
Disc wheels are used for aerodynamic reasons even though they are heavier, weaker and far more expensive than wire spoked wheels. Front discs are only used indoors as the slightest breeze sends a bike with one blowing up the track. Three and four spoke wheels have most of the aerodynamic advantages of discs without the problem of instability in a sidewind and are therefore commonly used up front.
Track bikes use one-piece tyre and tube assemblies called ‘tubulars’ or ‘singles’ that are glued on to the rim. A very thin, smooth rubber tread covers a silk tyre case holding 150-200psi of pressure.
Riders are firmly attached to the bikes using step-in pedal systems, or standard pedals with two sets of straps. It’s vital that riders can’t accidentally pull out of the pedals, and that power transfer be as efficient as possible, so riders use shoes with extremely stiff soles. Over the years many pedal and shoe systems have been tried, including ones that build the pedal axle and bearings into the sole, so the rider has to be laced into the bike.
Probably the greatest stuff-up in recent track racing history was Shane Kelly pulling out of the pedals at the start of the Atlanta Olympics 1,000m sprint. Kelly was using pedals with straps and believes he simply failed to prepare properly and tighten them hard enough.
One-piece Lycra skinsuits are standard dress. They’re skin-tight, aerodynamic and don’t impede pedalling. Rubberised surfaces and other coatings have been tried to improve aerodynamics, but don’t seem to make enough difference to justify the cost and sweatiness.
Hard helmets have replaced the old-style leather strips, which were as much use as a curly perm if you crashed. Some helmets – known as ‘sperm hats’ – are shaped to improve airflow over the back of the head.
Gloves are essential protection against a palm full of splinters if you crash.
Track racing is aggressive and crashes are common, but rarely serious. One of the worst in recent Australian racing was Craig Milton’s now legendary spill in Launceston in 1985. Milton went down when a tyre blew out on him, and as he landed his pedal dug up a splinter of the then-new track surface. A 33cm long, 1cm wide spike entered his torso just under the armpit, puncturing his lung and stopping 1cm from his heart. The spike had to be broken off the track surface so Milton could be removed and he spent 8 hours under the knife as surgeons pulled bits of wood out of the wound. Milton got back on the bike a week later to win the Australian 10 mile and team pursuit championships. His effort in the team pursuit tore open the stitches and he finished the event with his blue NSW track squad strip dyed red, and had to immediately return to hospital. The spike is on display in his bike shop in Cronulla.
Track racers need excellent fitness, usually expressed as a high VO2 Max measurement which indicates the rider’s ability to use oxygen efficiently. Sprinters need lots of ‘fast-twitch’ muscle fibres, and one coach was famous for refusing to even look at riders who can’t jump to reach a point a certain distance above them. The hugely-muscled anaerobic animals that infested sprinting in the 80s are less common now, though, because sprinters typically have to do slightly longer events as well, and so cannot afford the extra mass that comes from training specifically to go like a nutter over 200m.
While this doesn’t cover the complete variation of track disciplines, most are covered and can be broadly classified into “sprint” and “endurance” events. For the newcomer to the sport, or even experienced observers, certain track cycling events can be a complete mystery. The following is a potted description of the races.
- Match Sprint (Men/Women)
Traditionally held over 1000m, this event captures the essence of track cycling, although it is the most mysterious. Although it is normally a one-on-one event, earlier rounds can feature three or more cyclists on the track at the same time. One rider is designated to lead for the first lap (usually by a coin toss), and can not relinquish it unless those behind take it from him/her. The competitors typically eye each other off for the first 6-700 metres, trying to maneuver each other into an unfavourable position, before launching an explosive sprint for the last 200 metres, which is the only part of the event that is timed. The first across the line wins the race.
Tactics are the key to this race, and many people wonder why it is so slow for the first two laps. The main reason is that unless you can surprise your opponent early, you will waste too much precious energy in starting your sprint from lap one. If the other guy is on your wheel, it’s all over.
An important rule is that of ‘possession’ underneath the sprinter’s line, a line marked 80 cm from the pole line near the base of the track. A rider who positions themselves below this line in the final 200 metres is not allowed to be forced out by another rider e.g. pushing in from the inside. This is one of the most often broken rules causing reversals in sprint results.
- 1,000 m Time Trial (Men)
Probably the most painful of track disciplines, the “kilo” as it is known commonly is raced as a time trial over 1000 metres. To do well in this event you have to have an explosive start, good top speed, and endurance to carry you through the last few hundred metres where the lactic acid buildup in your legs becomes almost intolerable.
The current record is 58.875 seconds, by Arnaud Tournant of France, recorded on October 10, 2001. Tournant was the first rider to break the one minute barrier, lowering his own previous record of 1.00.148.
In this event, two riders often start on opposite sides of the track although it is essentially an individual event.
- 500 m Time Trial (Women)
Held over half the distance of the men, the women’s 500m time trial requires explosiveness as well as good top speed. Typically, the fastest 200m rider is also the best over 500, although this is not always the case. It is different to the men’s race with respect to the endurance required.
- Olympic Sprint (Men)
A three man time trial held over three laps of the velodrome, with teams starting on opposite sides of the track. After the end of each lap, the leading rider pulls off completely, leaving the next to fight the wind. Therefore, the first rider has to do one laps, the second, two laps, and the last rider three laps. Hence, rider number three typically has the best endurance: A good kilometre time trial rider e.g. Arnaud Tournant or Shane Kelly is chosen for this position.
- 2000 m Keirin (Men)
The keirin is a motorpaced event that is very popular in Japan where it originated. In that country, huge amounts of money are bet on races and professional keirin riders command impressive salaries. It is similar to the match sprint, but features 6-8 riders on the track. A derny motorbike paces the riders from 25 km/h up to 45 km/h for the first few laps. During this time, riders jostle each other for the best position and this is often the roughest part of the event. With two and a half laps to go, the derny bike pulls off and the sprint is on. Team tactics are important here, as the leadout is often quite long. If one team can get two of their riders in the final, then they are at a distinct advantage.
- Individual Pursuit (Men/women)
Held over 4000 metres for elite men and 3000 metres for elite women (shorter for masters riders), this is considered an “endurance” track event, although the speeds are still extremely high. Two riders start on opposite sides of the track and try to set the fastest time over the allotted distance. Normally, a qualifying time trial is ridden that determines who is eligible for the semi finals and finals. The fastest ride is often produced here, as in the finals, the only important criterion is to beat your opponent. If one rider catches the other, i.e. puts half a lap into them, then the race is over.
An explosive start is not critical (but it’s handy to have), however the ability to ride at a consistently high speed is far more important. Many riders who go out too hard can look to be well up on their opponent, only to fade in the last 1000 metres. This has typically the greatest “cross-over” to the road. i.e. good pursuiters make good road riders and vice versa. Stuart O’Grady, Vjatcheslav Ekimov, and Chris Boardman are a few examples of top pursuiters who have had successful road careers.
- 4000 m Team Pursuit (Men)
This event is raced by the men only, and held over 4000 m. Faster than the individual pursuit, although it is still an endurance event, the team pursuit is about clockwork precision as well as high speed. Two four man teams start on opposite sides of the track and try to set the fastest time over the distance as with the individual pursuit. The time taken is on the third rider to cross the line.
Riders must follow each other at a few cm difference to gain the maximum drafting effect from the rider in front. Following a wheel closely is a vital skill, but stuff-ups still happen, as the Ukrainian team showed at the 1997 Worlds in Perth. A wheel touch in the final brought down the whole team down and cost them the event.
Turns of pace are often half a lap, although the stronger riders can do full lap turns. The world record for this event was set by Germany in 2000 and is over 60 km/h!
- 60 km Madison (Men)
This race is named after Madison Square Garden in New York where the event was first held (also called “Americaine” in French. Two man teams contest the event, which is typically 50-60 kilometres. After a mass start where all riders are on the track, only one rider from each team is allowed in the race at a given time, meaning that teams must take it in turn each lap (or more) to have a rider in the race. Changeovers are quite dangerous, but impressive to watch when done well – one rider circles around waiting for his teammate, who joins hands and imparts his momentum to the slower rider.
To win the madison, the team must score points by sprinting every 20 laps for bonuses (5, 3, 2, 1 points). The last lap usually counts for double points, but the winner of this does not necessarily win the event. Also, if a team can gain a lap on the field, then they are in the leading position of the race no matter how many points they have.
- Points Race (Men/women)
This is a solo event, scored similarly to the madison and raced by both men and women. Again, a rider scores points in intermediate bonus sprints every 10th lap (5, 3, 2, 1) with double points usually awarded on the last lap. If a rider can lap the field, then they get 20 points, which can be enough to secure the win – but not always. If a rider drops back a lap, they will have 20 points deducted from their total, so you sometimes see riders with negative scores..
- The Hour Record (Men/women)
One track event stands outside and above typical track events: the hour record. This is a simple test of ability to cover distance in 60 minutes and both UCI and Absolute records are currently held by Brit Chris Boardman. In 1996, Boardman rode 56.375 kilometres around Manchester velodrome using the now outlawed “superman position”. In October 2000, he rode 49.441 kilometres on a UCI standardised bike: a steel tubed triangular frame with spoked wheels and no aero helmet.
Traditionally, only great riders at the peak of their careers attempted the hour record. Eddy Merckx’ 1972 record stood for 12 years until being broken in 1984 by Francesco Moser: both were international superstars at the height of their powers. This all changed in 1993 when Graeme Obree, an unemployed Scotsmam riding a home-made bike in a bizarre, folded-up riding position added 400m to Moser’s record. Over the next three years the record fell six times. Boardman’s record was set in the radical, highly aerodynamic ‘Superman’ position, invented by Obree when his tucked position was banned. The ‘Superman’ position was later banned also.
The women’s hour records are held by French great, Jeannie Longo, who rode 48.159 kilometres in 1996 (Absolute Record) and by Leontien Zijlaard van Moorsel, who rode 46.065 kilometres in 2003 (UCI Record).
General Cycling and Bike Info (3)
Once you ride in a pair of cycling shorts, you’ll never ride without them again!
Chamois pad is primarily designed to quickly absorb and evaporate sweat, but also provides a layer of padding between your crutch and the saddle.
Au Natural. The only thing you wear under cycling shorts is your birthday suit. Underwear seams and elastic leg openings can chafe sensitive crotch-area tissue. Besides which, underwear is usually made of cotton, which retains moisture and defeats the purpose of having a moisture-wicking chamois.
Snug fitting design eliminates loose, bunched-up clothing between you and your saddle that can chafe skin. Smooth/stretchy fabric reduces saddle friction.
Padded palms reduce the amount of road shock transmitted to your hands and minimize pressure on median nerve in palm which can cause numb or tingling fingers.
Tough fabrics help you avoid “hamburger hands” when the inevitable happens and more than rubber meets the road. “Grippy” fabrics provide you with a better grip and more control than bare sweaty palms.
Fingerless design exposes your fingertips to give you a greater “feel” for the road and increased dexterity for shifting gears and adjusting your clothing.
In cold weather, use full-fingered gloves.
When buying a bicycle the three main things to look for are:
- Frame Type and Quality.
- The Components on the bike.
- The Size of the bike.
Frames vary in strength and weight depending upon the materials used:
- “Hi-Tensile steel” is a very strong frame material, however it is a fairly heavy material and is used mainly on bikes that are for only riding on weekends.
- “Cro-moly” is a stronger material and is much lighter. Many people that race or are wanting a light but reliable frame mainly will use cro-moly.
- “Alloy” is becoming much more popular now, in that the frames are ultra light and are usually very strong. Most top end MTB and ROAD bikes are now using Alloy. Those people who want a nice strong but light bike to commute with.
- “Carbon Fibre” has been used successfully in the construction of bike frames for many years. However 2005 will be the year that we will see more carbon bikes. The reason more people are on carbon bikes is that they have become cheaper, lighter and stronger as well as being able to boast a softer and more comfortable ride especially on those rough roads.
Components on your bike are exceptionally important to get right.
For example if you are participating in cross country riding where your bike is constantly bouncing of rocks, logs and trees and the components on your bike are not designed for it they will need to be replaced pretty quickly. The same applies to the road / Triathlon cyclists their components if not suited to the riding will wear quickly and change poorly and will need to be replaced a lot sooner. The smart thing to do is when beginning to look for that new bike have a good understanding of the riding you are doing and also the riding you aim to be doing in the future. The bike you are looking for may suit you NOW but what happens when those legs and lungs grow stronger and you are ready to ride with the big Boys and Girls. Understand the parts hierarchy, talk to friends, people in the know and shop keepers, but remember there are good and bad shops out there and information can vary a lot.
Sizing of a bike can mean the difference between winning and losing. However it needs to be understood that there are different methods of sizing bikes. Road, Mountain and Hybrid bikes should be looked at a lot differently.
- Road: In most cases a road bike is being ridden to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Thus the bike should be set to an aggressive position where rider is comfortable but also very aerodynamic, allowing for maximum speed and maximum output without putting unneeded pressure on the rider.
- MTB: There are many people riding MTB for many differing reasons. Comfort is becoming more and more desirable, thus for this tip we will angle this towards the comfort rider and will discuss more aggressive/off road later ( if you are wanting some tips on sizing/positioning for off road email the store and we will help where we can.)
When you are getting a comfort MTB you need to look for a bike that has a raised handle bar and steep rise on the head stem. The bike should have a minimum of 1 inch when you stand over the top tube.(this is the tube you don’t want to fall onto if you have to stop suddenly.) Your leg extension when pedaling should be , when your at the bottom of your pedal stroke there should be a very slight bend in your leg, nearly to the point of a straight leg but not fully. Your back should also be in a similar position, meaning not fully straight but with slight bend.
This is also the common position required for a Hybrid bike.
Fitness and Training for Cycling (2)
When you exercise, your muscles contract and relax, contract and relax. The repeated contraction can lead to shortening up of the muscles. Stretching helps prevent this. Many injuries are caused by poor flexibility.
Stretching should be done before and after exercises. When you stretch before exercising, you need to warm up the muscles first, follow this with stretching, and then proceed with your exercise routine.
Cycling regularly is great for lower body strength, but short changes upper body muscle groups. Bikes with high handlebars, such as downhill mountain bikes or consumer-oriented cruisers, also put little weight on the hands, cutting out the endurance muscle that roadies can get from riding on the drops. And this can be a major liability – not only for giving you that extra edge in road competitions, but definitely for mountain bikers who are often required to lift, jump, or just plain muscle heavier bikes over rough terrain and obstacles.
A successful program should focus on building strength in winter and maintaining it during the peak riding season.
Why “Muscle Up”
1. The upper body, including abs, is an integral part of the pedal stroke in technical single track riding – just watch mountain bikers pulling and rocking their shoulders and handlebars through a tough course. This motion actually levers the bike and adds to the power of the legs on the pedals.
2. Muscle strength in the quads and legs can mean the difference between walking and riding up a short (10 to 15 pedal stroke) hill.
3. A strong upper body gives additional protection for those falls that are part of the sport.
4. Muscle strength and endurance help prevent the fatigue of the constant jarring and correction that are part of a long descent – and in turn this freshness helps to maintain sharp reflexes and technical
Recommended Exercise Plans
There are two approaches to resistance or weight training. The first is the “keep it simple” approach one can put together at home and on the bike, and the other is the more “traditional” using free weights. Both should be done 3 times a week (2 times at a minimum) to maximize benefits.
Most coaches recommend a program of strength building (higher weights, fewer reps) in the winter and then a shift to lower weights (perhaps 50% max) and more reps (3 sets, 50% max.weight, 25 reps OR 2 sets, 25% max.weight, 50 reps) as the cycling season approaches to mimic the ways you use your muscles on the bike and to decrease the possibility of injuries.
Keep It Simple
- Shift down 2 cogs on your bike during a long endurance ride, and concentrate on pushing and pulling through the pedal stroke at 60 – 80 RPM for 30 seconds. Repeat 6 times. A second set can be done after a 5 minute rest. An alternative to squats.
- Dips on the back of two sturdy chairs.
- Crunchers for the abs and low back.
- Upright rowing-strengthen deltoid and shoulder for extra protection in a fall.
- Pull up-reproduces the pulling up you use on a steep uphill.
- Squats – upper thigh parallel to the ground-for that quad strength for steep climbs.
- Bent over rowing-to stabilize the handlebars when pedaling hard.
- Step ups on a platform with weight on shoulders – one leg at a time-for quad strength.
- Push ups-mimics the push on the handlebars used during technical rides through dips and on uneven terrain.
Bike Maintenance and Repairs (1)
Like most mechanical machines regular maintenance is better than waiting for something to fail as I’m sure the honourable Mr Murphy would indicate that failure will occur at the most inconvenient time.
At Cyclesphere we have different levels of service to meet the requirements of the state of the bicycle namely:-
Basic service that ensures that the bicycle is safe and comprises of the following:-
1. Frame and Forks check for safety.
2. Wheels cones and check for true-ness.
3. Brakes adjust and check.
4. Gears adjust and ensure correctly engages.
5. Bearings check and tighten.
6. Headset/Stem check and tighten.
7. Tyres/Hubs inspect and check correct pressure.
1. All of the above.
2. Replace bearings in the bottom bracket
3. True wheels.
4. Clean and lubricate chain.
5. Clean derailleur
6. Road test
1. All of the above.
2. Replace all bearings, bottom bracket, wheels and headset.
3. Clean all components and replace where necessary.