Making the most of what cycling has to offer
We hope to use our experience in cycling to offer you the knowledge and know-how to be able to help yourself or merely get more enjoyment out of your bicycle.
General Information and Bike Assistance
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.