Whatevering 101, Ride Numbero Uno

Original Whateverists. Vintage racing in France. You know it’s serious when you need googles. We should start selling those.

It’s time for some continuing education.  We’re going to be offering hands on classes in whatevering this spring, summer and fall.  There will be 101 course, senior level courses and even doctoral level courses.  Locally epic is the theme.  Finding a road you had no idea existed.  Exploring a forgotten piece of single track.  Swimming in a pond hidden in the woods.  Taking a picture of a fleeting black bear.  Going way too fast on a skinny tire on a sketchy dirt road.  We keep talking about it, now we’re going to show you what whatevering is all about.  We’ll prep you, give you the syllabus here and on the blog.  You’ll show up to class all ready to rock.   The classes will vary in difficulty, but the idea is inclusiveness.  That said, not everyone wants to be a whateverist, and that’s ok.

Our first class will be on May 4th.  Everyone’s invited, but class size is limited.  Sub 25 miles.  Plenty of dirt and climbing in that span, so bring your legs.  The good stuff is always hard to get to.  These are some of the more mellow dirt roads, and some of the easier climbs to be had, making this route about as intro as you can get.

We’ll have a roughly mid ride stop where we nosh on some food.  Bring a sandwich, something real to eat.  The shop will have basic refreshments at that mid point.  Some easy eats, some drinks.

The start of ride will be a Q and A, and cover how to ride on dirt, what to do in corners, etc.  We’ll take the first dirt road slow, and then show you just how little there is to be scared of.

Nutshell info:

Where: sub 25 mile Middletown Valley loop, leaving from Middletown Recreation Park, off of Route 17.  Here’s an unfinished route map.

When: Saturday May 4th, 10am until whenever it’s over.  Block off a good chunk of hours.

How much: $5, payable at the shop in advance, or if tickets are still available, the day off.  Limit 15 riders.

Prerequisites: the desire to check out whatevering, a roadish bike or cross bike in good working order with at least 25mm tires, and a handful of spare tubes + a working pump. The ability to ride 25 miles with lots of little hills.

What we’ll provide:  Some grub and water half wayish thru, and some more at the end.  Help fixing flats and basic mechanicals.  No sag wagon, no crazy mechanical support.  If your bike breaks in half, or you get 15 flats, you gotta have someone come get you.  This is ultra low budget.  Not a Grand Fondue.

Email w/ Questions: bikedrfrederick (at ) gmail (dot) com

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A few more bits of news:

There are two functioning weekly shop rides, as of this week.

Brian’s Wednesday night climbing ride, which, believe it or not, happens on Wednesday.  Wheels down at 5.30 from the shop. Fastish hill climbing ride.  Popular with those who like the pain.

Sunday night whatevering rides.  Join James, Andre, Dan the Younger, and whoever else on a 30-45 mile ride thru the local backwoods.  Dirt, climbing, pain, but at a slow, semi conversational pace.  Might be some singletrack, dirt roads, etc.  We’ll stop, chat, swim, whatever.  Roadish bike.  Bring tail light and a good head light, too.  Good means you could go down a black tunnel covered in dirt at night with it.  Meet at 5 at the shop, wheels down at 5.30.

Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder with a Healthy Dose of Underbiking

Brian and James underbiking in the Frederick Watershed, shot by Matt Delorme.

 

Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder with a Healthy Dose of Underbiking.

Also in this post: dubious connections between art and riding, youtube videos you can click on at work (if you have headphones), upcoming clinics, changes at the shop, shop rides that you need thick socks for, and more, maybe. Scroll down to get to the news stuff.

Life is about addition. New friends, new connections, linking in, moving up, promotions, new children, new hobbies, new exercise regimes. Buy more, do more, electronically schedule life so it’s broken down into life bites to optimize time. Time however, can not be optimized. It proceeds at it’s own pace, and it is only your actions within time that can be changed. We often buy advice on how to reverse our overlife habits. Subscribe to Real Simple magazine (it’s all about buying more stuff, not getting rid of stuff, contrary to it’s title), subscribe to the ‘O’ channel, reading time management books, the list goes on. Our overlife culture is deeply ingrained. Instead of getting the time management book from the library, we buy it, don’t read it, and add it to our shelf, where it collects dust and looks self important. Overlife habits are hard to break. Probably impossible. Hence all of the capitalism being introduced in formerly communist countries. More is always better.

Agnes was fond of a quick cocktail napkin doodle.

Or is it? Reduction actually does have its merits. Let’s look for example, at the work of Agnes Martin. Martin was a Minimalist artist (in form if not in spirit) whose work aimed to elevate the core elements of painting and drawing through the process of distillation. Strip away the content: no more traditional subject. The subject is line and color and light. The surface of the painting is the entire content. Martin viewed the work as meditative, a refuge for the eyes and mind. By removing the concept of a traditional subject, Martin arrives at pure expression, simultaneously reducing potential readings and enlarging the readings into the realm of the infinite. You can read a Martin anyway you want, with no subject to hang a preconceived notion on. Martin conveys a sense of openness with exceedingly simple materials. She does not rely on gimmicks, mind games, illusions, metaphor, virtuosity or history. Martin’s sublime work is based on distillation and reduction, her goals reached in the simplest way possible.

Pablo Casals only smoked strawberry flavored pipe tobacco, claiming it brought him closer core of Bach’s soul.

Maybe Minimalism isn’t your bag. It is certainly best viewed in person, where the picture can take up your whole visual plane. So let’s move on to something you don’t need to take a road trip to experience. Music. You can listen anywhere, with some headphones. So plug in, put this You Tube video on as something to listen to (not to watch) and read on. The concept of reduction in music is as old as music itself. Even during the height of musical elaboration, composers were looking at how to get more with less. Could the emotional heft of a Chamber Orchestra be carried by just 3 players? Just one? J.S. Bach tested the waters. His works for Solo Cello convey the full range of human emotion with an instrument that is often viewed as a supporting instrument. It’s like rewriting a book to only focus of the supporting characters, and realizing we know more about the protagonist because we have seen him through the eyes of those around him. Or like making a magnificent house out of stones, but no mortar, windows or wood. Pablo Casals made the Cello Solo work his life, practicing them every single morning from his early teens on. Here he is, channeling the emotions of the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, and the Cold War in this recording from 1954. To take an instrument with a relatively limited range and reveal it’s capacity for empathy is to unlock the power of reduction and distillation.

There are of course contemporary versions of this concept. Brian recently told me about Bill Orcutt, who makes challenging, compelling music with a guitar stripped of most of it’s strings. His reduction of the strings has forced him to compose music in a nontraditional, inventive fashion. The sound of the missing strings is as important as the sound of the remaining strings. Here’s a track of him playing a two string guitar. This reduction of the capability of the instrument as a key to creativity plays an important part in Morphine, a band based around a 2 string slide bass guitar. It also features heavily in the Rolling Stones’ mid-career output, where Keith Richards had custom built 5 string guitars made to facilitate his new style of gut bucket blues guitar. Listen to Exile on Mainstreet for a prime example of that sound.

Rock garden plus 28mm tires. Yes

Underbiking is the cycling equivalent of this bare bones approach. Take a bike designed for a narrow purpose and use it for something it clearly was not designed for. By using one bike for almost all of your cycling needs you are expanding your riding abilities, and rediscovering what it means to ride in the first place. Riding a road bike on mountain bike trails forces you to look at the trails in a different light. Rocks and soil have a different dimension. Trail elements normally eaten by suspension are amplified and must be reconsidered under thin tires and a total lack of suspension. Being under prepared for the conditions ahead allows you to re-read your riding, and rethink what it means to go fast, to handle a bike, to maintain traction, to know the landscape. Technology that is specifically designed to make our ride easier also alienates from the very trails we are trying to experience. Many mountain trails are rideable on a road bike with some patience and skill. Lines must be carefully considered, traction becomes a superfluous luxury, braking is a concept more than an absolute.

There are other ways to go underbiking. Ride a townie on a group road ride, take a slow mountain bike on a casual ride with the family, so you have to work harder to keep up on a cruise around the ‘hood, take a fixed gear on an overnite tour. Explore beyond, and find something in riding you didn’t even know existed.


Shop news!

3 dollar American Made Koozies with your favorite cycling hero ever.

We’re gearing up for the Holidays. Check out our new Bike Doctor epic koozies, which at 3 bucks are a great stocking stuffer.

Join us this Wednesday for a class on how to make some cool recycled bike part jewelry and or tree ornaments. The class, which is taught by a local art teacher and former professional crafter, will be two hours of inventive hands on crafting. We’ll supply everything. If you have some old weird small bike bits you want to bring, great, but we’ll have lots of stuff, and all the tools needed. 10 bucks gets you in. RSVP on our wordpress blog at: www.bikedoctorfrederick.wordpress.com under the clinics / classes link at the top of the page.

Check out that same link for other upcoming clinics, and be sure to watch our facebook page for breaking deals and sales.

Don’t forget that we have a big clearance section going right now, with great deals on shoes, clothes, socks, tires and more. Everything in the clearance section is at least 20 percent off, and some is way more! Lots of great shoes for over 50% off.

A Good Fondue Kit is a Good Frederick Whatevering Kit

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The log lady donated her eldest for this display.  Apologies for the slightly blurry picture.  James gets the shakes when he has to handle a smart phone.

 

A Good Fondue Kit is a Good Frederick Whatevering Kit.

also: more Grand Fondue news, upcoming clinics for October, Shop rides…

This is the second in a series this month on what kind of gear we use for riding in Frederick.  In part duece, we’ll check into what kind of stuff to jam in you saddle bag.  On a long unsupported ride, such as the Bike Doctor Frederick Grand Fondue, you need to be prepared.  99.9 miles of riding means you have to pack most  of the food you want to eat, and bad roads and long miles means you need to be able to make field repairs.  The kit outlined here will serve you well for big and short rides.

We’ll be hosting clinics all winter, covering how to use most of this stuff.  The class on how to peel a banana though, has been postponed until we find a suitable primate.

Most people carry most of this stuff, and some people even know how to use most of it.  But having it and using it are both keys to being a prepared cyclist.  The silver thing on the left is a mini pump.  I prefer a little pump to C02, which always seems to fail on me, aka I mess it up and end up shooting cold air everywhere but in the tire.  Also, pumps never run out of air.  The Lezyne is a good small pump that uses a hose to attach to the tube, so when you are yanking it all around trying to get it up to 100psi, you won’t yank the valve out.

The pink thing up top is tire levers, which you use to yank your tires off the rim in case of a flat.  They might have one more use, but I don’t know what it is.  Bright colored Pedros levers are my favorite, easy to use, hard to lose.  The blue box is filled with patches.  A quick bit of advice on patches: wait for the glue to dry before applying the patch, and don’t peel the thin clear plastic off the back of the patch after you apply it.

Two tubes isn’t a bad number to have.  If you have just one, you will be less likely to lend it out to someone in need.  Above, Dan is installing a tube I lent him, after his replacement tube flatted.   Also, sometimes you’ll randomly double flat.  The silver and black thing that vaguely looks like a tool is a multitool, with all of the basics you need to tighten something after a crash, or to raise Dan’s seatpost so his knees stop hurting.

Food wise, we have a banana (always good to have some real food along, andBananas have a nice case built into them, plus potasium, which I hear is  good for something.), a ‘Probar’, some drink tablets, and a caffienated gel food like product.  Have a nice mix of solids and super easy to digest ‘magic food’.  If you are bonking hard, you need something to get you out from under the man with the hammer.  Agel will do that.  A banana, probably not.  Conversely, just eating gels is gross and bad for you and a good way to ruin your stomach.  Probars are great, they are what you would make at home if you had time.  A bunch of seeds, nuts and dried fruit mushed together with very little filler.  The drink tablets (these are sugarless Nuun brand tabs) turn any gas station water refill into a good drink for riding.  Electrolytes are your friend!

Just two more things, and we’ll wrap this up. Lip balm is a great thing for colder rides, and having a tin of it means you can share.  The hankerchief is the do it all addition that you really should make room for.  Clean you hands after a flat fix.  Honk your nose in it.  Tourniquette.  Placemat for tools when making repairs.  Sweat rag.  Best 1.89 you will spend.

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The Bike Doctor Frederick Grand Fondue is coming up here at the end of the month.  There are two rides, for those who don’t know yet.  99.9 miles and 35ish miles.  The 99.9er will have loads of climbing and plenty of dirt roads (about 20 miles worth).  The shorter ride will have way less climbing, and only 3 short dirt sections, which are really well groomed.

ye ole poster

The big guy will have a bailout at roughly 65, if you are dead by then.  The ride is the last Sunday in October, which is the 28th.  Both rides are only 15 bucks, plus a block of cheese for the communal fondue at the end.  That 15 bucks gets rudimentary sag support, basic mechanical support, a few glasses of wine or mead at the end, and access to the communal dinner plus a few blazing fire pits.  We’re starting and ending at the beautiful Orchid Cellar Winery in Middletown MD, where part owner Andre (also a mechanic at the shop) will be hosting us.  Also, great local band “The Galt Line” just signed up to play, and they are a ton of fun.  We figure that’s quite a bit of goodness for just 15 bucks.  The other ride that is happening that month, the Grand Fondo, which sounds suspiciously like our Fondue, is 100 bucks, and no band and no wine!

Preregister (we need head counts sooner rather than later) even if you don’t know which ride you want to do.  Send us an email at bikedrfrederick (at) gmail (dot) com to do paypal, or just stop by the store with cash money.  Please have exact change, it will make our lives easier.  If you just have a 20, we’ll give you a Frederick Bicycle Coalition waterbottle, but no change.

Way more details here.


Clinic season is upon us.  Sign up in advance for individual classes (some have size limits).  Almost all are free.  We have a big listing of all of them, here.  This Wednesday, we’ll be doing our popular fix a flat clinic, which is a comprehensive look at how to fix flats, cut tires, and how to use moss as a tube.

Here’s the rest of the month’s breakdown, but really, go here to see the full deal. 

10/17:  Touring and Bike Camping basics.  We’ll talk about need vs want, where to get stuff, and how to use it.

10/24: TBD

10/31:  Winter Riding Clinic: clothing and equipement to stay warm and safe.  Learn about practical layering, embrocation, and hydration.

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Well, it’s finally happened.  The Wednesday Night climbing ride, after making thefront page of the paper, decided to call it quits for the season.  Not enough light.  We’ll start it back up in the spring.

Tuesday Mornings, join James and Andre for a ride into the hills.  We’ll hit whatever roads we have the legs for, and be back in the early afternoon.  We meet at the 7th street Starbucks at 8 am, eat some food, drink some coffee, and then head out.

Sunday mornings, meet Tracy at the westview shopping center’s Starbucks at 8am for the Women’s road ride.  Welcoming environment, good place to learn how to road ride!

Sunday evenings, join James, Andre and Dan the Younger for an epic whatevering ride.  Wheels down at 5.30, but get to the shop at 5.  You have to bring real lights for this, we return in the dark.  150 lumen minimum for your headlight!  30-50 miles.

For all rides, check facebook to see if they are on or not, due to weather.

Fall Clinics, Demo Bikes and Shop Rides

Clinics & Classes for Fall and Winter…

also: new shop demo bikes and shop ride schedules

We’re gearing up for a big season of cycling related clinics this fall.  The shop is running clinics Wednesday evenings from October thru early March.  Most will be free, some will have materials fees associated with them.  Classes will be taught by riders, employees and industry insiders.  We’ll have clinics ranging from product previews to hydraulic brake bleeding, classes about how to make bike jewelery, and talks about how to tour, and stories about epic tours.

View the schedule under the clinics/classes/talks link.   Sign up in advance by using the comments section of the blog.  Some classes are a limited size, so plan ahead and sign up accordingly.


It’s pretty hard to figure out if you like a bike by spinning it around a parking lot.  Does it climb well?  Eat bumps? Accelerate like Cippolini being chased by a rabid cheetah?  Hard to tell when you are dodging cars and stopping at every intersection for a stop sign.  We’re aiming to fix that this fall.  We have six rad rides for you to demo out on the trail and open road.  The latest/greatest road offerings from Trek: a Madone 5.9 Di2, a Madone 5.2 WSD and a Domane 5.2.  The flipside: steel steeds from Gunnar and Soma.  We also have an endurance ‘dual sus’ 29er from Salsa, the ‘Spearfish’.  You can check any of these bikes out for a nominal fee, which is applied to the bike you eventually end up with.  For example, rent the Domane for $50, return it and buy one, the fifty bucks gets taken off the final tab on the bill.  Easy, right?   Give us a call if you want to check one of these cats out.

56cm 5.2 Domane
52cm 5.2 Madone WSD
Medium Spearfish
Shop rides are still on.  Sunday evening shop rides will continue until it becomes bitterly cold.  Lights are an absolute necessity.  Winter riding is fun, but it gets dark fast and you need to see and be seen.  We’ll have long term tests of lights in a future rendition of this newsletter, but for now, stop by the shop and we’ll talk lighting options.

Shop ride schedule:

Sunday mornings, meet up with Tracy for the women’s road ride.  Casual pace, easy roads.  Come on out and meet some new people to cruise with.  Bring the essentials: road bike, stuff to fix a flat, some food.  15-25 miles.  Wheels down at 8ish from the Westview Starbucks.  Watch facebook for weather cancellations.

Sunday evenings head out with James and some other reprobates for an amble thru Frederick’s forgotten roads.  We’ll do some dirt roads, but nothing to be scared of.  Bring the road bike, good lights, and some grub.  30-45 miles of hard riding at an easy pace.  Wheels down at 5.30 from the shop.

Tuesday mornings join Andre and James for 40ish miles leaving from Starbucks on 7th street at 8am.  Casual pace, big hills.

Wednesdays join Brian and the crew for the climbing ride.  This will be off for the season soon, so get it in while the light lasts.  Fastish pace, but no one gets perma dropped.  Wheels down at 5.30 from the shop.

Our mailing address is:
Bike Doctor Frederick
5732 Buckeystown Pike Unit 10
Frederick, MD 21704
301 620 8868
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Bike Racing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

big crowds in downtown Frederick

This past Saturday saw downtown Frederick packed with people.  They were mushed together on the sidewalk, shoulder to shoulder.  Jammed together as if some great spectacle were about to unfold.  And indeed, 25 cyclists were about to race around downtown Frederick, in a criterium style race.  For those not in the know, a criterium, or crit for short, is a timed, hour long race.  The racing takes place on a small closed course, often in an urban environment.  There are plenty of hard corners, sprint points, little hills, and usually, a few crashes.  It is, in short, a great spectator sport.  You can see the racers go by a number of times, and if you stand in the right location, one can usually see a fair amount of the course.

These 25 brave cyclists lined up at the start line sporting unique outfits and unique mounts.  The look was 1880, and the bikes were vintage and reproduction high wheelers, also known as penny farthings.  Big bikes with huge front wheels and tiny rear wheels.  At best a rudimentary front brake.  Solid rubber tires.  Hard to handle, harder to race.  A bike made for history buffs who live on the edge.

1886 in LA. Obviously they are on their way for a No Whip Soy Latte with extra vanilla.

The crowds were huge.  The weather was perfect.  There was cheering, clapping and laughing.  The tone race was fun.  Riders catered to the crowd, with tricks, outrageous outfits and big smiles.  Each lap went by quickly, and there was always something to see.  I am sure downtown Frederick pulled in a bunch of money, as the race ended dinner time.  I was watching with a knot of cyclists, and all of us were saying how this boded really well for future races in Frederick City, something that has only ever been tried out, on a much smaller scale in Baker Park.  We knew that we could point to this event with pride, a prime example of how a race should and could be run.  It was ammo for our future arguments!

Eric Rhodes, on the left there, organized the event.

Then tragedy struck.  Final lap, racers exhausted but pushing it.  Two wheels touched, and Alison Tropey, a racer sporting a flashy green jockey outfit was on the ground, having fallen from her high perch onto the curb in a high speed corner.  Assistance was immediate, but the injury severe.  She was flown out to a shock trauma center in Baltimore.  Condition Critical.  I heard today that she was going to be released with the next few days, after a few tests, but the general outlook is positive.  Seeing Alison on the ground made my heart wrench.  I watched from 20 feet away as she was loaded onto a stretcher.  She was perfectly still, to the point where we assumed she had been knocked cold by the impact.  She was, for the record, wearing a contemporary helmet.

Alison is an experienced rider.  Her antique bike is a hard beast to handle, but we watched her ride it with aplomb for a solid hour.  Her accident was just that, an accident.  In any race situation there is the possibility for such an incident to occur.  Racers have to sign wavers to that end.  They know what they are getting into, 100%.  But none of this allays the pain we feel on a human level.  And none of it will matter when we bring up all of the good things about the race to the city in the future.  The crash is a moral black spot on a grand day, and an otherwise highly successful race.  When future races are proposed, anyone could shut it down, just by bringing up that crash.  It doesn’t matter that people are killed on route 15 or I-270 on a semi routine basis.  It doesn’t matter that you can trip on the sidewalk and get a very similar injury as Alison.

Every time someone gets creamed on a bicycle by a car, it scares 20 people off of the roads.  A week doesn’t go by when we hear about someone who is afraid of the road because they saw X or Y article about a bike fatality.  Bicycle crash stories are blown way out of proportion.  They are different than car crashes, and it’s easy for people who don’t ride to get riled up about them.  Statistical context is everything however, and bicycling is statistically way safer than walking, running, boating, hiking or driving.  In Maryland, 1.3 people out of every million are killed on a bike each year.  In 2010, nationwide, 32,885 people died in cars.  618 died on bikes.   The majority of those injuries happened at rush hour, in urban environments.  The riders typically were in their early 40’s.  Commuters, in other words.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not tell you whose fault the accident was, just that it happened, leaving you to make your own guesses as to who was on their cell phone when the accident went down.

I hope city and county officials are going to be able to look behind Alison’s unfortunate wreck.  We wish her the best, and we have our fingers crossed for the future of cycling events in Frederick as well.

Who you jivin’ with that Cosmik Debris?

Zappa clears the room of Cosmik Debris

If you were going to get a friend who only listens old time country into rock and roll, you would not make them a Frank Zappa mixtape.  It would be hard to listen to, confusing, annoying, and cheezy, often all at once.  You would not lend them your stack of Lou Reed’s wandering 70’s output, nor would you let them borrow your treasured tarnished copy of King Crimson’s In the Wake of Poseidon.  You don’t convert people to your cause by giving them the most outrageous, over the top intro you possibly can.  You slowly indoctrinate them, and when they are hooked, well into the indoctrination process, that’s when its ok to pull out all the stops.

I’m talking about lyrca.  Flashy helmets.  Carbon bikes, click in shoes.  Long horrible climbs in the heat of summer.  Heart Rate monitors.  When you want someone to get into cycling, get them into the fun part first, so they get to know how enjoyable a bike can be.  Here’s how:

-Dress down.  Looking like a cyclist might make you feel fast, but it also makes the ride seem like it’s all business, and will be conducted at a fast uncomfortable pace.  Dress like you are going to a barbeque.  Wear normal shoes and use normal pedals.  Tell them to do the same, the tight pants can come later, if ever.

DSC01092

Sander rocks the BBQ picnic look on an old, decrepit Trek single speed with horrible brakes.

-Pick a low traffic, super scenic route, without a ton of hills.  People seem to love covered bridges, so that’s an idea.  The ride, traffic wise, has to be as non-threatening as possible.  And if it just goes by a bunch of boring stuff, it will be blah.

-Rest at the top of hills.  Look at the sky, the cows, the flowers.  Don’t stare at your slow friend as they suffer up the hill.  When they get to the top, don’t shove off immediately, give them a few minutes to get their heart rate into the low 200’s.  Offer them a snack, not magic food like a gu, but a snack.  A cookie, or half a banana.  Magic food comes later.

DSC01114

takin’ a break by the river. who doesn’t like an abandoned building?

-Have a cool destination that is cheap and fun, ie Ice Cream, or an overlook, or a picnic table by a river.  Take 20 minutes and eat a sandwich, let your friend cool down.

-Let them borrow your better bike, and you ride the old crappy hybrid covered in cobwebs.  If you are riding say, a Cervelo R3, and they are riding a crappy steel French 10 speed with a mattress saddle, they are going to suffer horribly, and you are going to be riding with no effort.  Reverse that, so they can see the value of a good bike, and how easy a good bike is to ride.  If you have a bike with a basket, and one gear, perfect, that’s your bike for this ride.

DSC01105

Jay rocks a handlebar bag presumably filled with cookies and heavy cameras. Andre sports huge work out shorts that he stole from the 1990’s, a cotton t shirt, and a huge custom wooden box that brings the total weight of his UNLOADED bike to 35 lbs. But the pace was casual, and everyone did well.

-Tell them it’s ok to walk, and when they get off to walk, walk with them.

-Don’t talk about training, puking, sweat, chamois butter, lactate thresholds, hill intervals or cadence.  These are applied to cycling when people get serious.  People don’t start with race ambitions, and talking about it just makes people nervous.

Not an inviting look.

-Teach them how to shift, with patience.

-Don’t watch them descend, just lead by example.  Don’t constantly look over you shoulder at how slow they are.

-Tell them how good they are doing.  Take pictures and brag about how well they did on Facebook or whatever it is you use.

-Invite them back, repeat.

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Bike Doctor Shop Rides:

Sunday evenings:  If it isn’t raining horribly, meet at the shop at 5pm.  We’ll hit the road around 5.30 for a 30-45 mile road ride at a decidedly casual pace.  We occasionally hit dirt roads, but it’s a road ride so you can bring a road bike, we promise.  The terrain will be hilly to downright mountainous, but done at a pace that won’t leave you gasping for air.  We even take breaks.  Bring these things with you:  Bright Lights (front and rear), spare tube (at least one), pump/co2, some food, some money for soda or whatever along the way. 

Tuesdays:  8am road ride from Starbucks on 7th street.  45 miles or so right now, by the end of the summer we will be doing 80ish.  This is a long ride, with no fixed schedule, and ridden at ‘James touring pace’ which is to say slow.  Climbing, back roads, stuff you maybe haven’t seen. Bring: food, money, tubes.

Wednesdays:  Hill ride with Cory, Brian is on Vacation!.  Meet at the shop around 5, wheels down at 5.30 in the evening.  Fast (but not insane fast) road ride up into the mountains, back down again, back up again, and down again.  Back before dark but bring a rear blinkie in case of mechanicals.

hittin’ the trails

Thursdays:  Mountain ride with Team Flying Dog.  Meet at 5.30 at the foot of the dirt section of Mountaindale Road, by that big maintenance shed.  Hilly, technical watershed mountain biking, but a relaxed pace. Back before dark.

Sunday Mornings: Women’s beginner road rides from the Starbucks in the Westview Shopping center.  8AM 12-18 miles on low traffic roads.  Rides will be led by Tracy, who works here, and know the roads well, and all that good stuff.  These rides are starting to get a good turn out, but the mileage will go up soon, so get in on it before it does, so you can start easy.

Slammed bars, sad bulldogs and the suitcase of painful paychecks.

The tour rolls around once a year and makes everyone who isn’t a pro Euro racer look like a slouch. The rolling soap opera that is the Tour speeds around France, with super fit riders riding tiny bikes in impossible aero positions.  John S., who works here, told me that Cadel Evans’ saddle to bars drop on his time trial bike was 23 centimeters.

Cadel’s position is crafted in a wind tunnel. How does it feel? See below.

That’s 9 inches, or 7.5 inches more than we would recommend to anyone in our fitting process.  He wears a skin suit so tight that riders often complain of difficulty breathing, like Victorian ladies on warm summer days.  He uses a water bottle that just has enough liquid in it so that it can be counted as a water bottle, not a liquid aero faring.  Read that again.  It’s not for drinking, its just there to make him go faster.  The man is paid to suffer.  That’s why he looks like a sad bulldog all the time.

Sad Bulldog Cadel Evans

Pros are not paid to look at the view, or to talk with their friends, or really to do anything that makes cycling enjoyable.  Often, to get more aero, they look at their front hubs, not even the road in front of them!  They are paid to go as fast as they can, no matter what.  If they go numb, or suffer tendonitus or have horrible hand pain at the end of a tour, but they won, that is what matters.  Saddle sores and foot pain are nothing compared to a paycheck and glory.

Don’t discount peer pressure.  When racing, even stateside, there is a desire to copy the fastest guys, and if they have an ultra agressive position, everyone else wants it too.  The fastest guy might do 300% more yoga, and have a lower back that is ‘strong like bear’, but there is also a copy cat environment in the peloton.  If rider A is riding a really aggressive bike, and wins, other riders will copy the position, even if it isn’t right for them.  They want to look the part, even if it means being less biomechanically efficient.  This of course makes no sense, except from a psychology standpoint. It’s all about feeling fast, apparently, not actually going fast.  There is a good amount of solid data showing that fatter tires are faster than skinnies, but loads of people still reach for the narrow tires, citing personal weight concerns, or just saying ‘it’s what i am used to’, which is like saying I am used to riding bricks around, and wish to continue, even if its less comfortable, less safe, not as fast, and harder on my race wheels.  Skinnies look fast.

So do slammed bars, and stiff aero wheels, and tons of exposed seatpost.  There are tons of blog posts and articles and comments in forums on how bad *** it looks.  Case in point, SLAM THAT STEM, a blog devoted to destroying your Ulnar Nerve.

Tom Boonen’s Spring Classics rig, taken from SLAM THAT STEM*. Do you think he won because of the position or the huge 30mm custom tires at 60psi? I’m guessing the latter. *caps lock from the blog’s title, repeated to illustrate the mentality of the author of said blog.

The sad thing with this phenomenon is how it shuts down a great place to ride: in the handlebar drops.  The vast majority of pro riders spend most of their time on the ramps and top of the bar, or hanging over the front, in a fake time trial position (needed because their bikes are too small).  When bikes are sized correctly, a few things happen.  One: you can breath better.  If you are in a horrible, crunched up position, with your diaphram completely compressed, breathing becomes a chore.  Two: the bike handles better.  Bikes are designed around certain stem lengths, and 140mm-150mm stems are outside of the projected range of what the manufacturer designed the bike around.  Wanna know why there are so many crashes in the tour?  They are going really fast and their bikes handle like a scared rabbit on crystal meth.  This does not make the bike faster, in fact, fighting the bike to keep it stable saps critical energy.

Eddy lays it out in Mexico with some long chainstays, aero Brylcreem and hand knit white socks. Gloves? Not Aero!

Eddy Merckx’s hour record bike had long, touring bike length chain stays, so he could go as fast as possible without fighting the bike, thereby putting all his energy in to going fast.  Three: you have less pressure on your soft bits. If you are crunched over, you hips are rotated and you are barely sitting on your sit bones.  We need to sit on our sit bones, not soft tissue, so that we can use our bone structure to put power to the pedals.  Soft bits are soft, and they squirm around, hardly a solid foundation to lay down some speed.  Lastly, Four: Little bikes and big riders make riders look like they are on clown bikes.  Like their parents couldn’t afford to get them the next size up.  Do we really want our heros riding circus bikes?

All of this of course relates to fitting, and if you are a regular reader of the blog, you know I don’t often plug stuff here at the shop, mainly because I am bad at it.  We do fits at the shop, we’re pretty good at it, Brian and I having done literally hundreds of them.  If you think your bike fits well, but could be a little more comfortable, or more aero, or you have an injury you are working through and want to adapt the fit, we can help you with that.  Check out our article on fitting, which is 87% complete, basically lacking in pictures and scientific looking diagrams.

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Shop rides:

It’s a huge summer o’ shop rides!

Riding thru the Wtfacolfsville valley, often visited by the Wednesday nite crew, and the Sunday nite crew.

Sunday evenings:  If it isn’t raining horribly, meet at the shop at 5pm.  We’ll hit the road around 5.30 for a 30-45 mile road ride at a decidedly casual pace.  We occasionally hit dirt roads, but it’s a road ride so you can bring a road bike, we promise.  The terrain will be hilly to downright mountainous, but done at a pace that won’t leave you gasping for air.  We even take breaks.  Bring these things with you:  Bright Lights (front and rear), spare tube (at least one), pump/co2, some food, some money for soda or whatever along the way. 

Tuesdays:  8am road ride from Starbucks on 7th street.  45 miles or so right now, by the end of the summer we will be doing 80ish.  This is a long ride, with no fixed schedule, and ridden at ‘James touring pace’ which is to say slow.  Climbing, back roads, stuff you maybe haven’t seen. Bring: food, money, tubes.

Wednesdays:  Hill ride with Brian.  Meet at the shop around 5, wheels down at 5.30 in the evening.  Fast (but not insane fast) road ride up into the mountains, back down again, back up again, and down again.  Back before dark but bring a rear blinkie in case of mechanicals.

Thursdays:  Mountain ride with Brian and Team Flying Dog.  Meet at 5.30 at the foot of the dirt section of Mountaindale Road, by that big maintenance shed.  Hilly, technical watershed mountain biking, but a relaxed pace. Back before dark.

Sunday Mornings: Women’s beginner road rides from the Starbucks in the Westview Shopping center.  8AM 12-18 miles on low traffic roads.  Rides will be led by Tracy, who works here, and know the roads well, and all that good stuff.  These rides are starting to get a good turn out, but the mileage will go up soon, so get in on it before it does, so you can start easy.

The women’s ride is geared toward most ages and most abilities.  It’s still a road ride, not a casual family saunter though, so bring a road bike, please!