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Our fifth and finale Blog in Our Year In Review Series

Saddle Bags

Saddle bags: Fit nicely under your saddle and come in a variety of sizes. The most popular use for these are for fix a flat kits. Your spare tube, tire levers, inflation device, patch kit, tire boot, multi tool.

If you use a saddle bag have you checked the contents to make sure they are ready if you need them? Is everything there? Is the glue in your patch kit dried out? Are your tire levers worn out? Do you have a spare tube in good shape and CO2 cartridges if needed?

Enough space to carry your stuff?

Having places to stash your stuff is key. When you need something you need it. Of course having too much just weighs you down.

The good news is there are lots of ways and bags to carry your gear. Cell phone bags are very popular, perfect to carry your phone on your handlebars and a few credit cards.

Top tube bags are also super handy. They mount on the top tube of the bike right behind the handlebar. An ideal place to stash nutrition. Which is what the bags were originally designed for. Often referred to as Bento boxes by triathletes to keep enough fuel on hand during their event.

While they work great for food they are also well suited for tissues, lip balm and just about anything else you can imagine.

Have larger items to bring along? A rack trunk is an ideal bag and after the saddle bag is our most popular bag. This sits behind your saddle and on top of a rear rack. Rack trunks come in all

Rear Rack Trunk Bag

different shapes and sizes with different pocket options. Pockets make it nice to keep stuff sorted and easy for you to find. Many of these have straps on the outside to stash items of clothing under it. With a shoulder strap option you can easily take the bag along for your explorations.

Rack trunks can also offer expandable pockets when you just need more space. Top expanders are popular or even a side pocket that opens to a side pannier.

Many of the bags like this are soft padded making safe areas to store a camera or slide in an ice pack or two for a picnic lunch along your adventure.

Handlebar bags

One of the best features of a handlebar bag is the access it offers you while riding. Many of the designers were thoughtful and have the bag zipper open in the direction of the rider. These bags generally have a clear plastic area on the top for your cue sheet or anything else you need to see while riding.

Most will come with a shoulder strap so you can bring it along with you off the bike. A basic handlebar bag may only have a single area to store stuff, where others may have side pockets, front pocket and an extra top pocket. Often they have mesh pockets on the side to stash your trash.

One of my favorite bags is the Topeak TourGuide….

Car Rack – Does what you want, easy to carry your bike?

Making your bike easy to transport means you’ll be more likely to want to take your bike different places to ride. A car rack is the best way to transport your bike. It protects your car and your bike.

Dragging your bike in and out of your car can not only damage your car’s interior but also your bike. We’ve seen damage to rear derailleurs that leads to shifting issues and damage to other areas of the bike.

A good car rack with protect both your car and your bicycle. Making it easy to get your bike on and off your rack and to all the great areas there are to ride in the area.

With today’s cars it is more important than ever to make sure the rack you are using is a recommended fit for your car. With all of the plastic on today’s cars it is super important to make sure your rack and bike are securely fastened to your car.

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We continue our Year In Review with Part Four. Please check out the other posts if you are just joining us.

Shorts

Did you have some shorts that aren’t quite as comfortable as others? Maybe they work for shorter rides but not the longer rides. Cycling shorts do wear out. Their chamois breaks down and leads to less support and even chaffing. How you clean and care for your shorts greatly affects their life span. The most expensive shorts are designed to last five years or so but the average short has a year and a half to three year lifespan depending on the amount of riding you do. Once you start to hit six or seven thousand miles of riding you could see your short wearing out. Yet if you still ride frequently just in much shorter rides the cleaning of the shorts could reduce the life of the shorts. Wear a pair four or more days a week and you still may see lifespan issues at a year and a half or so.

One of the biggest threats I see to cycling shorts are saddle bags. Sounds odd doesn’t it?  Well it is the Velcro strap that attaches the bag to the seatpost. The Velcro tab rubs on the inside of the thigh on the short and pulls at the material causing it to wear and possibly tear.

Helmet

If you purchased your helmet in the last three to five years or more it is time to replace it. The materials that the helmet is constructed with breaks down over time from, sun, heat and your perspiration. Not sure how old it is? Most helmets have a date stamp/sticker on the inside indicating the manufacture date.

Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve checked over your bike now it is time to check over your accessories.

Do you have everything you need in one in place? Can you find everything? Are they working properly?

Keeping all of your cycling gear in one place makes it easy for when you want to ride. I’ve arrived to a ride missing something and it is no fun. It also reduces stress on ride days knowing everything is in one place a ready to go.

Floor Pump

Are you having any issues with your floor pump? The head is staying securely on your valve during inflation. Is there any air leaking from the house or any other areas of the pump? Is the gauge working properly? Is it easy enough for you to get your tires to the proper tire pressure?

Lights

Bontrager Daytime Lights

If you have lights are they working? Are the mounts secure? Are the batteries charged? Did they provide you with enough light for your rides last year? Do you use daytime lights for your rides?

Daytime lights provide increased visibility of the cyclists by cars and other road users. Motorcyclists and cards have been using them for decades, cyclists should be too. Learn about the ABC’s of cycling here.

Computers/Electronics

Check the operation of your computers. When was the last time you changed your batteries? If you have a wireless system there is a battery in the head unit and the transmitter. If you have a wired one is there any damage to the wire?   Is it securely fastened? Are your magnets securely fastened and lined up with the sensor?

Sensors not properly lined up are the number one reason we see for computers not working properly.

It’s always a bummer to lose your computer during a ride. Taking a few moments will ensure that you have a functioning computer for navigation and to record your rides.

If you have other electronics like GPS units or Power devices make sure you have updated them to the latest firmware to ensure they keep working up to there potential.

Always bring enough hydration with you.

Hydration

Did you have enough ways to carry hydration with you last season? Cyclists should be consuming a bottle of water an hour during a ride. Many bicycles have places for two bottles but if yours doesn’t or you need more there are more options to attach bottle on the handlebars or behind the saddle.

Are your bottle cages intact? We see lots of broken cages. A functional cage will hold your bottles securely and ensure you have plenty of hydration for your ride.

Our Next Blog Continues on with Accessories & Clothing

 

Addressing maintenance issues before they become an issue will reduce hassles for you and save you money. Having a ride destroyed because of a mechanical issue that could have been prevented is no fun.

So before your first ride of the year it is always a good idea to review your bike and accessories to make sure that everything is working properly and you have everything you need to enjoy your

A Clean Drive Train is a Happy Drive Train

first ride of the year.

First you want to check over the major systems of your bicycle.

Braking and Shifting.

First run through the gears and make sure your bike is shifting properly. Think back to the last time you rode. Did your bike shift smoothly and properly? Or does it need a little attention?

Next you’ll want to look at the brakes. Are they working properly? Do the brake pads line up on the rims? When you pick up the bike and spin the wheels do they spin smoothly between the pads without rubbing the pads? Do the brake levers stop before touching the bars so that you have enough to actually stop the bike?

Read the rest of this entry »

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“There are no poor cycling days, just poor clothing choices.” Ernest Freeland

Cycling clothing has come a long long way. No matter the type of riding you like to do there is a piece of clothing that is going to keep you comfortable while you are riding. Less is more these days when getting dressed for your ride. By carefully thinking about the conditions you want to ride in you can build a very versatile closet of clothing for your cycling without a huge investment. Buying quality pieces will also offer you greater durability and comfort. One of the biggest mistakes we see is people wearing out their cycling shorts and continuing to use them. A good quality cycling shorts is designed for a season and a half to two season for someone who rides several times during the week. If you ride less you may certainly increase the life of the short but they don’t last forever. Also the way you care for your shorts is going to have a big impact on how they hold up for you. While tops and jackets may last longer cycling short and anything else with a chamois is going to need to be replaced with some frequency.

Here are some links to other articles about cycling apparel.

Dressing for Cooler Weather

The Cycling Jersey

Dressing for Colder Weather

Note – This is the final part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

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The cyclist today is not limited to the traditional; Speed, Max Speed, Average Speed, Trip Distance, Odometer, Cadence, Time Ridden and Clock, there is so much more out there. If there is a metric you want to track there is a piece of equipment that will allow you to do so. You could dive deep into your cycling data and get lost in it if you so choose. The upside is it makes it super easy to track the riding you have been doing. If you are interested in improving your riding there are tons of tools and information to assist you in that. Many of these tools will allow you to improve your riding on your own. Yet if you really want to take it to the next level a coach is the right person to help you. A coach armed with the right data could improve your cycling to level you’ve never imagined. It wasn’t that long ago that this sort of information was only available to the elite cyclist with money to spend, not the case anymore. Now you have the ability to compare yourself to your riding buddies by viewing there data or even comparing performance over specific segments of your riding. (the Strava app) You can even track your performance over certain segments to see if you are improving as time goes on. If you so choose you can share all of this information with your friends in the app or over social media so your non riding friends can see what you are up to. Don’t have anyone to ride with but want to be motivated? You can virtually ride against your best time of the route you are on. If this isn’t what you enjoy about cycling and you are more about the riding, technology can help you plan routes and then guide you along the way. (a Garmin with maps and if you want use of an app like Ride with GPS) No more paper cue sheets needed. Visiting a new area and looking for a 30 mile ride to do? No problem. Joined a group ride and got lost and need to find your way back to your starting point, there is a solution for that. Bad weather approaching you while you ride, no worries there is an alert for that. (just link your phone to your Garmin) Want to go for a ride but afraid you may miss that important call or text from someone. If you want it will show up on your cycling computer so you won’t miss it, but if the call didn’t come in you didn’t miss your ride.  Then when you are home, on a preferred WiFi network or linked to your cell phone you can log your ride and share it with the world. Heading out for a ride alone and want your spouse or your friends to know where you are, send them link to follow your ride live. (Garmin Livetracking) As the roads get a little busier and automobiles more quiet there is technology there to let you know how many cars are behind you and how far. (Garmin Varia radar) Heaven forbid something happens to you and you need assistant there is an alert that will sent an emergency notice to your “in case of emergency” contact with your location.

You can even document your favorite ride and save it for a rainy day to ride on your smart trainer. Got video on the front of your bike, take a video linked to your ride data and you can ride your ride on a trainer with video. Participating in a ride or race far from home but you want to “pre-ride” the course or train for certain segments. You can do it virtually from your home. Modern technology has literally opened up a whole new world for cyclists today. No matter what your passion is in cycling there is technology that will improve your ride. Not to forget all of the ride information that is available on the web that has been shared by thousands of cyclists like yourself, helping you to plan your next great ride.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

Pedals play an important role because they are where the power from your pedal stroke is transferred into the bike. Certainly the frame, crank and wheels all contribute, but it starts with the pedals. As I mentioned in my post about shoes, there are two types of attachments for cleats to the shoes but a number of different variations of cleat shapes. When selecting pedals you need to consider the type of riding you want to do but also

Alice Bike Fit

Andrew Sink Fitting Alice

issues related to fit. Do you have any injuries that will affect the foot, cleat, pedal interface? These could be knee injuries that would require you to have a certain amount of float from your cleat. Maybe you have feet that will require you to have a unique placement of the cleat so that your feet are comfortable. Will you need shims to address alignment issues with your foot? Does your body require pedal spindles that are a little longer or of varying length to improve your pedal stroke? If you don’t know the answer to these questions a professional fitter will be able to assist you in determining your needs. Do you need pedals with easier release settings for you to exit the pedals?

Like many other things there is a lot that you can talk about in what makes the pedals different. They include the way the release systems work, are they adjustable? How close your foot is to the pedal spindle. From a component construction standpoint of the pedals the pricing generally is driven by features such as what the spindle is made out of, the quality and type of the bearings and the material of the pedal body.

Riding with clipless pedals and shoes is a game changer and really essential to being able to achieve a strong fit. This is the foundation of your fit and by utilizing a clipless pedal system you start with a strong foundation to build the rest of your fit from. Many riders are initially intimidated by clipless pedals but for most when they get used to them they can’t imagine riding without them.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

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Want to upgrade your bike and gains some speed? Wheels are a great place to do it. Plus they make your bike look really cool, or at least more personalized to you. Another great thing about wheels is that in many cases they can move to your new bike when you decide to make an upgrade. There are a ton of factors when selecting a new wheel for your ride. So 07936_A_1_Race_XXX_Lite_TLR_Disc_29.pngmany you could spend hours and hours discussing and learning about it. Your riding style is going to play a huge factor in the type of wheel that is going to be best for you. A person who is interested in climbing faster would benefit from a lighter wheel in most cases but not necessarily all. Yet a road cyclist who wants to go fast may benefit from a heavier wheel then they currently ride but one that is more aero. The advantages of the aerodynamics will offset increased weight. Something else that one needs to consider and look at when selecting a wheel is the speed that you will be riding at. Many of the numbers that you see reported are at speeds that many of us can’t maintain for an extended period. While there is a lot to consider wheels are always a great item to upgrade because the performance benefits are huge.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

Car racks are important to protect your car and your bike. Plus they make it a lot easier for you to get to the many great places there are to ride around here. Loading a bicycle in and out of your car is just not a lot of fun. It increases the likelihood of damage to both your bicycle and your vehicle. It may be something as basic as knocking your brakes out of adjustment. Maybe worse you bend your rear derailleur hanger unknowingly. That could result in a shifting your derailleur into your rear wheel and causing even more damage to the bike and possibly you as a result. Grease stains on your interior are no fun to remove from carpet or worse yet damage to the vehicles interior, like a rip or tare.

As design of vehicles change and lighter materials are used in building them it is important to make sure that the rack you select is designed to work with your vehicle. If it is, make sure to read all of the notes about how to properly mount the rack to your vehicle. Many of them have specific instructions to make sure the car and bike are safe when being transported. Most rack companies offer fit guides to assist in selecting a rack for your vehicle. Of course we are happy to help and will help you install your rack the first time while educating you on the proper way to do so and mount your bicycles. A good quality bike rack will last a long time and offer protection for both your bicycle and your vehicle. Allowing you to focus on the ride.

It just makes sense to carry the bike on the outside of the car leaving more room to bring your fellow cyclists and their gear along for another great adventure on your bicycles. You, your bicycle and your car will be happier.

Upcoming Rides and Events

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

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Cycling shoes are an important piece of your equipment from a comfort standpoint as much as what many would have thought of first, power transfer during your pedaling stroke. When I think about comfort on your bike, your position and fit is essential but so are contact points. Contact points are your hands, which include your gloves, handlebar shape and bar tape/grips. Your rear end, so saddle selection and cycling shorts and chamois cream are all essential here. Then this brings us to your feet, pedals, shoes, insoles and socks all play a factor. When I mention these areas they are also all affected by your position on your bike. An adjustment to your fit can address one problem area but possibly lead to needed changes in another area. A properly fit pair of cycling shoes offers consistent support for your foot while you are pedaling. This will reduce pain and fatigue as a result of the pedaling process. Most cyclist are pedaling 80 – 90 times a minute or about 4,800 revolutions per hour.

Think about the act of pedaling. You start the pedaling process as your foot presses down on the insole of the shoe, once you apply enough energy you compress the outer sole into the pedal and then the pedal starts to move. In a non-cycling specific shoe you have several things happening. First the insole and inner sole of the shoe deforms from the pressure of the foot pushing, then the outer sole deforms from being pushed into the pedal. You have two surfaces that are not consistent in support to your foot during the pedaling process. This can lead to hot spots, fatigue, toes that “fall asleep” etc.. Not to mention the energy lost in the process of all of that happening. A cycling shoe offers consistent support for your foot without a change in the shape. Some cyclist will exert the same amount of impact that a marathon runner does. You want your foot supported during the pedaling process.

Cycling shoes aren’t like running shoes in the sense that you are going to go thru four or five pairs a season. They are going to last for a bunch of seasons offering you thousands of miles of riding comfort.

Cycling shoes come in two types as far as the cleat/pedal interface goes. A “three hole” which has the cleat mounted to the bottom of the sole causing you to walk with your toes in the air. Generally considered road shoes. Then there is a “two bolt” style (generally called SPD’s) where the cleat sits flush with the outer sole allowing you to walk with your fleet on the ground normally. Yes some shoes will accept a two bolt cleat that leaves it external but most are a recessed or flush mount. This style was originally designed for mountain biking but is becoming popular with road cyclists, touring cyclists and is the shoe used in spinning.

The “three bolt” pattern offers a larger pedal cleat interface and a lower foot position to the pedal spindle. The two bolt pedals have a smaller cleat pedal interface with a pedal design that is generally more open in design for shedding dirt and such around the cleat. Now there are “two bolt” style pedals that have a larger body/cage around them giving the foot more support. For cyclist that select this style of pedal and shoe that is going to have a higher volume of riding miles we recommend buying a shoe that has a firmer sole to offer more support for your foot while pedaling. Some shoes that are geared for spinning or casual riding will be designed with a softer sole more conducive to walking in.

Thinking about how you are going to be using your shoes and your riding style will help us help you select a perfect pair of shoes for your cycling adventures. If for some reason they don’t do the trick most of our shoes come with a comfort guarantee that allows you to return them.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.