On May 9, Bicycling arrived in my email in box. Featured story was “Best Brewery Rides”, “Beer Here! Six Brewery Rides.” The appalling message is that it is OK to ride to a brewery, have a beer or more, then ride to another one and repeat the process.
It is stunning that in a magazine like Bicycling that such an article would be front and center. It was not followed up with stats about the number of cyclists who have been busted for BUI, who have been injured or killed due to intoxicated cycling, or who have been killed by drivers who were drunk.
One rider said it was safer than doing the brewery rounds while driving a car. For whom is it more safe? How about recognizing that it’s an all around bad idea.
If you and yours deem it necessary to visit breweries, or brew pubs, or “craft” beer houses, and drink the time away, you should absolutely stay out of your car and off your bike. Hire a service for the evening: cab, limo, anything with a stone cold sober driver behind the wheel.
While I don’t personally care if you manage to kill or maim yourself while you’re drunk or “impaired”, you have no right to endanger the rest of us.
Get a grip. Brewery bicycle, or car, tours, are simply stupid.
Ride to enjoy life, not to put it in danger.by papa
The reason it’s not worth it is all the doping, fantastical excuses, and outright inability of so many in the pro ranks to just fess up to what ever transgressions they have been involved in.
They probably won’t be the only ones. If, during the upcoming season, or as a result of a re-examination of past cases, the ranks are more drug infested than any one could prove prior to this, others will probably jump ship too.
Considering that the buy-in to sponsor a team is a minimum of $1 million, USD, it wouldn’t be overly surprising. There isn’t any reason to associate your brand with stupidity. What that does or doesn’t mean for the future of the sport is anyone’s guess. A crystal ball would be handy about now.
On the local level, it doesn’t mean much. Most of the riders I know just don’t care any more. What most of us want is a clean field, racing only on whatever training and talent they naturally have.
Those of us who ride do so for the joy of it, or because we have a competitive streak that needs to be fed. The hum of the tires, the wind whistling through your helmet, the sights and sounds of the road or trail, the satisfaction of a ride well ridden. That’s it.
The spring season is on us. Let’s just ride and enjoy ourselves. Pay more attention to the wonder that we can all do so after all the years that we’ve put on our own frames, let alone the bike frames. It’s just a kick. Ride on!by papa
The new issue of Velo landed in my mailbox today. Always an interesting read. The road season is upon us, and Velo makes a few predictions at the front end of each season. Last years predictions didn’t fare so well.
The continuing rattle about doping may or may not bring about any significant changes in the sport. Even with a program that doesn’t ban riders who step up and admit to past doping, it’s still a cruddy issue for the sport.
Velo thinks that this year, with riders, perhaps, stepping up to admit their past transgressions, the bottom will be reached, with up the only way to go from there. I’m not so sure. Anyone with a shovel can always dig deeper.
The other pro sports around the world probably aren’t any different than cycling. I would be amazed if pro football wasn’t seeded with steroids and whatnot. Baseball has already been busted for drug use.
I still will follow a certain amount of the upcoming cycling season, and I will watch as many football games as time allows. I can only hope that the younger participants in sports are much more honest and concerned about the issue of competing on their own merits than those who’ve preceded them.
I didn’t say “level playing field” on purpose. If everyone is doped up, it’s a level, if stupid and dishonest, playing field. I’d rather watch rust form on a nail though.
With some little bit of luck, the young guns in the field will do what we all did: Train, compete, have a good time. That way, they won’t have to hide what they did from anyone. At least when we got loaded it was off the field. The hardest part of that was finding someone old enough to buy the beer for us.
Enough of that crapage though. Get outside, Ride on! Stay healthy!
All winter long the pedaling hasn’t stopped. Well, maybe when there was too much ice, snow, rain, or gale force winds, we headed inside to the trainer, but it still counts as pedaling. Back on the road, or on the trails, though there’s been this little sound that you haven’t quite figured out.
It quits when you stop rotating the pedals. The next stroke and it’s back. You’ve checked everything you can think of that might be it. No deal.
Especially in winter after many rides and just not enough maintenance a few sounds can pop up, none of which is your old bones creaking.
First place to look is your chain, chain rings, derailleur, and gears. It’s pretty easy to ride on and on without lubing them. If the sound is somewhat of a constant, light whispering sound, chances are it’s coming from your drive trail
Clean it. Take a brush to it. Put the bike up on the rack, or at least support it in some way so that it is off the deck, and hand crank the pedals with one hand, while holding the brush against the chain with the other. Get all of the big chunks off. Next, hand crank the pedals backwards, and hold a soft rag around the chain as it exits the slave rollers. Now, take your bottle of chain lube, and while cranking the chain backward, apply the chain lube. Put enough on to thoroughly coat the chain, derailleur, gears, and slave rollers. Now, take a clean rag, and while still running the chain backwards, hold the rag around the chain to remove the excess. Not too difficult at all actually.
More than likely, you’ve solved your problem, which was a dry, dirty chain. Let that be a lesson to you: Take better care of your drive chain. At the very least, the components will last longer.
If the sound you hear is an intermittent click while you are pedaling, the issue just may be that one of your crank arms is a little loose. Easily fixed. Tighten it. Do it carefully, as stripping the threads can cost you a trip your local bike shop for a helicoil attempt, or a new assembly. Loose crank arms, believe it or not, can fall off, not such a good experience.
Keeping your ride in good shape over the winter, especially if you live anywhere where it is cold, snowy, or both, can be a challenge. Take the time to do the simple stuff though. You’ll enjoy your cold, windy rides on wintery streets much more.by papa
Winter and the riding is, well, at times, messy. Wet roads, tires flinging yuck up onto you and your ride. Puddles or mushy snow really putting the crud to use on your ride.
Back in the garage, hop off the bike, take off the helmet, turn off the lights on the bike–you do have them, yes?–and into the house you go, where the promise of hot coffee and bagels and cream cheese await. You’ll get to the bike later.
Later shows up, and it’s time to ride again. Honest, you’ll clean it after this ride. Jeeze.
Being a bit older and wiser, as we like to say, doesn’t always work, but cleaning your bike after a winter ride really is necessary. The added weight alone of the caked on crud will slow you down. Besides that, your chain and gears will start to wear faster. Any of that stuff invades your bottom bracket–the one on the bike–and you’ll shortly regret it.
Here’s what you do if you just don’t have time for a stem to stern cleaning:
If you live in the frozen part of the country, you may need to use a squirt bottle the bike down. Frozen water doesn’t work so well.
The main reason to do all of this is financial. New bikes are expensive. Cleaning your present bike is cheap. You choose. It’s your bike.
Safety enters into it too. A crappy chain, worn down gears, or brakes that have eaten through the wheel could cause you some problems that include band aides or stitches.
The coffee and bagels will still be there after you take the 15 minutes to do a quick cleaning of your favorite mode of transportation. Ride on!
Winter. No matter where you are in the northern hemisphere, it’s winter. In the US that means different things to different people. Cold is relative.
Cold in Florida may mean having to put on a sweater for a bit. In Michigan or New Hampshire, it may mean Bronco Nagurski long johns, heavily favored by Click and Clack on NPR. Gearing up for a winter’s ride can be simple, or complex. The more you look like the Michelin Man, the harder it is to ride.
Rule of thumb here is simple: if you are too comfortable, too warm, before you fling you leg over the top tube of your trusty steed, you are over dressed. Face it, after a few minutes of pedaling, you’re going to warm up. Think in terms of layers. A series of light weight but good under layers that are easily shed and stuffed into your jersey pockets, or saddle bags, is the best way to go, even in Florida. In North and South Dakota, you may not have to take anything off, for fear of freezing whatever is exposed.
There are all manner of layers that are suggested for different temperatures. What’s good for 0-10 degrees would be a bit much for 40-50 degrees. Look at Bicycling Magazine and you can find some very nice layers to accommodate a wide range of temperature gradients. You can also end up spending a few hundred green backs if you are keeping up with the cycling worlds elites. I don’t, so I’ll be keeping my money.
A good pair of long legged riding pants, a zippable long sleeved, long john top–synthetic of course–your jersey and a good wind vest or wind proof jacket, gloves should be all you need. If you live where it’s cold, odds are that you’ve got all that anyway.
Before getting all dressed up, check the roads. Ice puts my bike firmly in the garage. I don’t like unexpected meetings with the asphalt. Sissy, yes, but an unscathed sissy, and intending to stay that way. Being of a certain age, my bounce factor is lacking.
Ride the winter. It’s a kick. Suit up and get out there. If you can’t move your arms after all your gear is on, stay inside. It’s not worth it.
We are a few days away from the end of Daylight Savings Time. I’ve never fully understood the need for it, and don’t like it much. For this year though, it’s in the last of its days.
What this means for all of us who are outdoor recreation enthusiasts is simple. We have to make certain that our watches are working correctly, and have the correct time. On Saturday night, set all your time pieces back one hour.
Once that little task is complete, the next phase comes into play. It’s going to get darker sooner from now till the Winter Solstice. Pay attention.
The long, late afternoon rides in broad daylight are over. Start your ride at the same time and if you don’t adjust your route, you’ll be riding home in the dark. Here is one of the most important things to do, before Sunday.
Change the batteries in the lights on your bike. If you don’t have lights on your bike, reflectors too, get some. My bike is lit, front and back, year round. I have lights that will either stay on, or flash in two different modes. I still have the spoke reflectors too.
If you ride with old batteries you just won’t be seen as well. Considering what the driving public does most of the time, being somewhat hard to see at any time is quantum type bad thinking.
Since I’m not a purist, or an elitist, I’m not concerned with anyone else’s thoughts on what the lights and reflectors do to my image on my bike. I really don’t care. I want to be seen, and seen well, whenever I’m riding. Sticks and stones and so on.
There really is a correlation between twilight, darkness, and bike accidents. I’d like to keep riding for many more years. Being highly visible will help with that.
Get lit. Keep riding.by papa
Now what? Despite his protestations of innocence, Lance Armstrong was been stripped of his 7 TDF wins, roundly accused by former team mates and competitors of riding under the influence of performance enhancing substance. WADA, ICU, USADA all concur. Everyone wants their money back. The actual practice of using chemicals by cyclists isn’t a blockbuster though.
Apparently, riding on something other than raw talent hasn’t been in vogue for, let’s see, well, forever. If it’s true, Armstrong wasn’t doing anything that the rest of them weren’t doing as well. There is no surprise in any rider being accused of doping, a round robin term that could mean just about anything.
A cyclist I know rode around Europe for 3 months in 1966, a mere 46 years ago. He had conversations with some old cyclists at that time, in France. They just simply said that, in their memories, doping has always been there. Well, golly.
1998 was a supposed watershed year in the “let’s ride clean” saga. Police raids at the Tour de France, arrested doctors, disgraced riders, all led to a cottage industry of hoping that things would get better. That was 14 years ago. My how time flies.
What is clear is that things in the pro ranks haven’t gotten noticeably better. A heritage of riding on the strength of chemicals, a long one, is difficult to break.
With some determination, the cycle can be broken. With the current crop of busted but still riding, not yet busted but will be busted riders, getting long in the tooth and retiring or quitting before the ax falls, perhaps the youngsters can pull off the seemingly impossible.
If riders like Tejay van Garderen, Ben King, Taylor Phinney, Peter Sagan, Dave Millar, any one in that group, can avoid the stupidity of chemicals, cycling might just have a chance to go legit. Please let it be so.
Which brings up another question: what about the other pro sports? Football, baseball, anyone?
It’s that time of year when the cycling magazines land in our mailboxes exclaiming “Best New Bikes”, or “Best Rides”, “Newest New Gear” or some such thing.
One does have to admit that the new bikes are drool worthy. Shiny, new bikes, up to date components, electric stuff, less weight, more or less flexible depending on the bike, fine tuned machines for the discerning cyclist.
I love to read about them. Then, I look at the price. I make certain that I am sitting down when I do this. My interest seems to peak out at about the $2k range in price. After that, I can only muster a “Jeeze, really?”.
I am a cyclist, among other pursuits. Road bike and mountain bike. I fit into the category of “avid enthusiast”. Notice that no where in that description is the term “competitive”, or “race”, or “elite” or “superhuman”. It’s what most of us are.
I ride a lot. Mostly, it’s by myself or with my wife, and on occasion, a friend. I ride to keep the blood sugars down, the spirits up, and the smile on my face. On average, I’m out on the bike, for 50 minutes or more, 4 times a week.
When I’m not riding, or writing, my wife and I are likely to be hiking,walking, kayaking, snow shoeing, or cross country skiing. Or, just enjoying a day together, working about the house. Houses take a lot of work.
In a recent conversation with a respected local trainer and business owner, it was clear that his primary concern wasn’t with whether or not a rider was in the beginner, elite or pro ranks. To get the utmost joy out of riding, to ride with the most efficiency, he looks at bike fit and riding style, no matter who walks in the door.
He says that minor, or major, adjustments can make all the difference in the enjoyment level of riding. He will, at times, suggest a completely different bike to a client.
Considering a new bike these days is a complex deal. First, if you are able to trade your old ride in, the new unit becomes more affordable. Most of the time, if your present ride isn’t trashed, it is saleable. Again, this makes what ever you are looking more affordable.
The biggest question is how come you want a new one. If you’re a gear hound, that answers the question completely. Have you really outgrown your bike?
Maybe so. A bike with better gearing for those of us of a certain age can make a lot of pain diminish on steep climbs, and certainly could enhance the entire riding experience. It’s possible that your old ride wasn’t new when you got it, and, really, a new bike is an experience all of us should have.
It’s important to remember, especially if your ride is really old, that the new bike you might buy is much lighter, and much more responsive. Throwing it around a turn could put you into intimate contact with the asphalt. They really are that responsive.
Back to the reason for this post. I ride for the pure joy of it. I don’t have clipless pedals. The toe clips work just fine for me. I use so much sunscreen that the idea of a tan line on my uber white legs is preposterous. So what? I love to ride.
I won’t be buying a $5,000+ bike any time soon, no matter how pretty they are. I’d need the “elite” word somewhere in my riding description to justify that. “Avid enthusiast” is just fine.by papa
Is there a better time to ride than in Autumn? Maybe, after a long, cold, snowy, wet, winter, spring seems like it could trump autumn. But, let’s face it, fall is a prize winner every time when it comes to going out for a ride.
The weather, at least at the front end of fall, is just about right for riding–not too warm, not overly cold. The light filters down differently, a bit softer than the glare of the summer sun. In most places, nature’s color palette begins a chaotic change, as the trees put on their autumn finery.
The days are just different. It’s time to get the long rides in, to jam as much outdoor activity in as possible before the cold and rowdy winter shows up.
The smells of autumn bring a promise of apple cider, apple pies, and pumpkins. You know you have to put the miles in so that when Thanksgiving arrives, you’ll be able to indulge a bit without being relegated to the nearest couch.
While this is all coming, take the time now to check out your bike. Clean it, oil those things that require oil, change your tires if they are a bit long in the tooth (somewhat like us), tighten anything that needs it. Take your ride to your local bike shop for a tune-up if that’s not something that you are comfortable with. Refresh your flat tire kit, make sure your pump still works.
Treat yourself to a new helmet, or riding shorts (cushie tushies), or a brilliant fall jersey. Add to your arsenal of layers, as this is a time of year when you will begin to need them. Map out a new ride, mountain bike, road bike, or townie, makes no difference, just do something new.
Take advantage of the coming autumn. Wear summer out, and be ready when autumn rolls into town. Get out there. Ride on!