Thursday, February 9, 2023

Cycling is Good for Your Brain

 This is no surprise whatsoever to anyone who rides regularly; however, it is validating when our self care practices become evidence based.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Ode to the Underappreciated: A New Chain

Sigh.  It's time to replace my chain.  First was the fact that when I started pedaling hard in my most popular gear combination, the chain is beginning to slip and skip a little.  Further confirmation came from using a chain checking tool.  Yup, it's now beyond spec.

Needing a new chain is no big deal, in the grand scheme of things, but I like to remind myself whenever this happens that I stretched a steel assembly with my legs.  At this point, the discussion could veer off into whether I actually stretched the plates of the chain or rather have worn down the connections between the links so that there is now lateral play in them.  Regardless of which of these scenarios has resulted in my chain skipping and being beyond spec, the fact remains that it is now longer than it should be.

The metaphor here is hard to miss, but I'm going to spell it out for future reference when I'm feeling down.  Consistent work over time enables us to do things that we would not consider possible, a little bit at a time.  If I were to go into a bar and tell my new friends that I could stretch steel with my legs, they would regard me dubiously.  But there it is, out there on my bike, the one that needs a new chain.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Ode to the Underappreciated: This F***ing Headwind

What is it with this wind, why do I feel like it's always pushing me back, no matter the direction I take on my ride?  Why are my legs feeling like jelly, it must be this f***ing wind.  These are questions that sometimes come to mind on a ride.

The best, cheapest, and easiest to access indicator of wind speed, although it is completely subjective, is the volume of wind noise in one's ears (for those not hearing impaired). If the volume increases, I am either going faster, or the headwind has increased, or some combination of the two. Of course, the inverse is also true. Comparing the wind noise level with my cadence helps to isolate if it's my speed or the wind that's changing. If I'm pedaling the same gear at the same cadence, and the wind volume increases, then I have isolated that the wind has increased.

Different volume levels in each ear also help me ascertain which direction the wind is coming from relative to my vector, ie the volume in the upwind ear will be higher. This is useful for anticipating the wind conditions ahead if the course direction is changing.

After years of riding, I've developed an intuitive sense that above a certain level of wind noise, I should be in the drops and small to the wind or I'm just throwing away watts needlessly (and I don't have any extra to spare).

And herein lies the underappreciated aspect of this f***ing headwind.  I can, in the moment, crouch down and get as low as possible to reduce its affects, so I at least still have some small measure of control of the situation in the here and now.  A similar dynamic is at work with climbing and trying not to be so heavy, but this is much less immediate, relying as it does on not having that extra scoop of ice cream, or several beers with friends, or that extra helping of jerk chicken weeks in advance.

Monday, May 2, 2022

An Ode to the Underappreciated - Horizontal Dropouts

 I love horizontal dropouts, to me, they are the epitome of design tweaks over the life of a longstanding product resulting in multiple benefits.

They aren't really horizontal, but the angle of them has evolved to be tangential to the rear brake pad mounting bolt. This minimizes as much as possible the amount of both angle and reach adjustment needed at the brake pads when moving the wheel through the range of the dropout.

The additional benefit of their long evolution is that the ride characteristics promoted by the position of the wheel within the dropout are complementary. If I have smaller, lighter tires on the bike and move the wheel to its most forward position, the wheelbase will be shorter, which generally will promote a quicker handling ride. Again, due to the angle of the dropout, this position also results in the rear end of the bike moving up several mm, both raising the bottom bracket and effectively steepening the head and seat tube angles - all characteristics that will make the bike respond faster to inputs.

Conversely, if I wanted to soften the ride, the first things to do would be to mount bigger tires on the bike and move the wheels back, which will increase the wheelbase, lower the rear of the bike (assuming same size tires front and back), slacken the head and seat angles, and provide for a bit more clearance around the rear brake and behind the seat tube. If keeping similar sized tires, this position also allows for more room for fenders for converting a bike to winter training. Again, changing all of these attributes simultaneously is complementary to the desired result.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Kyphosis Exercises

 Here's a link to 5 simple exercises to prevent kyphosis, 2 of which I've already been doing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Single Leg Training

There was recently an article in Cycling Tips that points to evidence that single leg training can be beneficial.  Since the outbreak of COVID-19, I've been spending more time on the rollers and am working this back into the routine.  The feeling when switching from doing each leg independently to pedaling with both legs is that the legs feel weightless as they turn the pedals more fluidly.