Other Interest


The Crucial First Ride

Make Sure a Newcomer Returns for a Second Ride!

By Ed Pavelka of www.RoadBikeRider.com

If you’ve been in this sport for long, you’ve probably seen it happen. An enthusiastic person shows up for his (or her) first ride with the local club. He’s a bit intimidated by the lingo he overhears, but that’s nothing compared to his anxiety about what to do and how to do it once the ride gets underway. Before long he’s trailing behind, spooked by the interplay of bike wheels and feeling as wanted as an IRS agent in a Super Bowl pool.

Do you think this guy will be back for another ride next weekend? Not likely.

It’s unfortunate, but experienced cyclists are often pretty tough on newcomers. It may be intentional because of the risks that an unskilled bike-handler creates for everyone, but more often it happens because we forget how much a novice cyclist doesn’t know. If you think about it, riding a bike isn’t all that easy.

Gero McGuffin has thought about it. She was 30 years old before she climbed onto a bike the first time, so she vividly recalls how intimidating beginning can be. Now a polished cyclist and the wife of cycling author Arnie Baker, M.D., Gero enjoys helping new riders get started in a way that ensures they’ll have a great time and come back for more.

Gero’s recommendations can be used anytime we’re riding with a newcomer. If you’re a beginning rider, these tips can help you have a more positive experience as you learn the sport.

Be Gentle

Gero’s core advice is useful when helping any new rider: “Treat them kindly, go slowly, and keep your expectations low. Give it your best shot, and you will help a person become a cyclist for the rest of their life.”

Now, here’s a digest of her specific tips.

Now We’re Rolling

Make It Good for You, Too

One problem: Too many rides like just described can take some of the fun out of cycling for you. Here is Gero’s advice for how an experienced rider can get some training while riding with a newcomer. She saw her husband use these techniques while he was helping her get started. Don’t do these things during the initial rides. Wait till the newcomer has basic skills but still lacks speed.

The stronger rider can…

Way to Go!

After a ride, always congratulate the new cyclist on his progress and welcome comments. As Gero notes, “They will have questions that you can hardly imagine, because you have been cycling for so long.”

Finally, encourage the person to ride on his own between rides with you. This will give him the chance to practice skills and gain fitness with absolutely no pressure. Just make sure he doesn’t go off the deep end and turn cycling into a physical and mental chore. This can happen when enthusiasm causes a person to boost their riding too fast. Firmly recommend an increase in time or distance of about 10 percent per week, with at least two rest days.

(A portion of this material was adapted from the coaching manual for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, copyright 1999 by Arnie Baker, M.D.)

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How to Solve Saddle Sores

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com

A saddle sore can ruin a ride. Even a tiny zit can begin to feel like you’re perched on a golf ball. Nearly as painful are crotch abrasions caused by shorts that bunch or have an irritating seam.

Even the pros, hardened by thousands of miles in the saddle, fall victim to what cycling author Arnie Baker, M.D., calls “crotchitis.” Fabled tough guys like Eddy Merckx and Sean Kelly had to abandon races when the pain became too great.

Most medical experts say that saddle sores are actually boils caused by skin bacteria that invade surface abrasions. Remedies have come a long way from the era when riders would put slabs of raw steak in their shorts to cushion the abraded area.

Of course, avoiding saddle sores is better than curing them (or ruining a good sirloin). Here’s how:

If You Get a Saddle Sore

If You Must Continue Riding

Sometimes you can’t take time off. For instance, you may be on a tour or at a cycling camp.

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How to Solve Painful 'Hot Foot'

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com

In cycling, it’s known as “hot foot” -- a burning pain in the ball of the foot, perhaps radiating toward the toes. Severe cases feel like some sadistic demon is applying a blowtorch.

Hot foot occurs most often on long rides. It may develop sooner or more intensely on hilly courses because climbs cause greater pedaling pressure. The pain results when nerves are squeezed between the heads of each foot’s five long metatarsal bones. These heads are in the wide part of the foot (the “ball”) just behind the toes.

My worst case of hot foot occurred on a 3,400-mile, 24-day transcontinental ride. With an average distance of 140 miles per day, no rest days and more than 100,000 feet of vertical gain, my dogs were smoking by the third week.

My RBR partner, Ed Pavelka, remembers being in agony near the end of one 225-mile ride early in his long-distance career. It was his first experience with hot foot, and the problem plagued him that season until he changed to larger shoes. Feet always swell on long rides (more so in hot weather), causing pressure inside shoes that normally fit fine.

“Hot foot” is actually a misnomer. It’s not heat but rather pressure on nerves that causes the burning sensation. You’ll sometimes see riders squirting water on their pups in a vain attempt to put out the fire.

Besides tight shoes, another risk factor is small pedals, especially if you have large feet. Small pedal surfaces concentrate pressure on the ball of the foot instead of spreading it the way a larger pedal will. If your cycling shoes have flexible soles like most mountain bike shoes, they’ll be less able to diffuse pressure.

Before Ed figured out his shoe-size problem, he tried to solve the pain with cortisone injections. That’s an unnecessary extreme in most cases -- and it’s not fun to have a doctor stick a needle between your toes. Here are several better solutions.

For more information on hot foot, orthotics and other foot-related issues, see "Andy Pruitt’s Medical Guide for Cyclists," available as an eBook or paperback from the online bookstore at RoadBikeRider.com.

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How to Choose Cycling Shorts

By Fred Matheny and Ed Pavelka of www.RoadBikeRider.com

You should choose road-cycling shorts based on the quality of materials and construction. But also crucial is how well they conform to your unique anatomy. Sometimes a relatively inexpensive pair may work better for you than a high-zoot model.

Shorts, like saddles, are tough to recommend because of differences in butts, crotches, seats and riding positions. Every rider has to try on shorts, buy the model/size that fits snugly but comfortably, then hope for the best on the bike. It's hit or miss, and some luck is involved. Just as with saddles, there is no universal answer.

That said, here are guidelines that'll point you toward better choices.

How to Find a 'Safe Saddle'

By Ed Pavelka of www.RoadBikeRider.com

Since the late 1990s, saddle design has seen major innovation.

A big impetus came from a prominent doctor's contention that sitting on a bike seat might lead to damaged nerves or blood vessels in some men. This risk, plus the occasional bout of temporary genital numbness that many riders experience, put designers into action.

The result is a new generation of saddles with special shapes, padding or cutouts to reduce crotch contact and pressure. As a side benefit, riders have found that they experience fewer saddle sores on these seats.

Saddle selection is highly individual. Despite how effective a saddle might look or how highly praised it might be by a riding buddy, there's no guarantee that it will be comfortable for you. You need to ride it to tell.

Here are some selection guidelines, followed by two things you must do to further reduce risks and discomforts: (1) develop a good riding position, and (2) use smart riding techniques.

Saddle Selection

Width. Squat and sit on a low stool or curb. What you feel supporting your weight is your ischial tuberosities, the points of the pelvis that are commonly called the "sit bones." These are what should support your weight on a saddle.

A seat that's too narrow will place your weight on the soft tissue between your sit bones -- for men, on the perineum where the penile nerves and blood vessels are located. Women also need to put a high priority on width because, on average, they have wider sit bones than men. Anatomically designed women's saddles are a bit wider in the main sitting area.

Curvature. Looked at from the rear at eye level, a seat should be flat or only very slightly domed. A significant curve causes your sit bones to be lower than the saddle's center, contributing to crotch pressure.

Dip. Looked at from the side at eye level, a seat should be nearly flat from nose to tail. A slight dip (say six degrees or less) is helpful to give you a feeling for the saddle's center while riding. More dip creates positioning problems. That is, when the nose is set level, the tail sticks up and may be uncomfortable to sit on; when the tail is set level, the nose goes up and exerts pressure right where you don't want it.

Padding. Some is good, more is not better. You want enough foam or gel to cushion your sit bones for comfort. Thick padding can actually increase crotch pressure because as your sit bones sink in, this has the effect of making the center press upward.

Special sections. These are what set the new generation of saddles apart. These sections range from gel-padded areas, to wedge-shaped cutouts, to holes through the top. Rider reactions to these innovations are all over the board. Do they lessen contact or pressure? No doubt. Do they absolutely, positively prevent numbness or worse problems? No saddle maker can guarantee that. Are they comfortable? It depends on whom you ask. The saddle that one rider swears by will be the same saddle the next rider swear at. There's simply no way of knowing until you ride on a given design. Some bike shops have a test ride program or will allow you to return a saddle that you simply can't stand.

Saddle Position

Please check our guidelines in the article, How to Perfect Your Riding Position & Technique. You'll find advice for setting saddle height, tilt and fore/aft location. Of course, don't stop at the saddle. Go though all of the steps to get an overall well-balanced riding position. If your saddle position is right but your handlebar position isn't, you still might run into problems.

For many guys, a saddle that's slightly off center (compared to the top tube) feels more comfortable. If the nose keeps pressing you in the wrong spot, try a bit of left or right angle. According to Andy Pruitt, Ed.D., who has refined the positions of many top cyclists, the right approach is always to make the bike fit your body instead of making your body fit the bike.

Riding Techniques

The rule is simple: Don't sit statically in one place for more than a few minutes. When you keep moving on the saddle, as well as on and off the saddle, you avoid constant pressure and compression. Blood keeps circulating, nerve transmissions keep flowing, and the risk of numbness is greatly reduced.

This is pretty easy to do off-road, where terrain changes and body English keep your crotch from locking into a set position. It's harder on a road bike unless you cultivate some good habits.

For example, get out of the saddle for at least part of every hill. Stand when exiting every turn or any other time you need to accelerate. Even just a few seconds is helpful when repeated often. On a ride in flat terrain, shift to a higher gear so you can stand and pedal out of the saddle for at least 30 seconds every 20 minutes. When sitting, keep your butt far enough back for your sit bones to be supported by the seat's wide rear section. Beware of the tendency to creep forward onto the nose and dwell there, especially when pushing hard or riding in a low position.

Other Pointers

If you use an aero bar, you'll tend to lock into a low, forward position for minutes on end. It's a nuisance, and it takes effort, to break this position to stand. But it's risky if you don't. Also, try to stay back on the wide area of the saddle. Tilting the nose down 1 or 2 degrees can reduce crotch pressure, but more will tend to make you slide forward onto the skinny nose.

Ride like a jockey when you come to anything rough. By leveling the pedals, flexing your knees and holding your butt an inch above the saddle, you'll avoid impacts that can cause bruising and pain. A shock-absorbing seatpost is another way to reduce the risk, but don't let it lull you into remaining seated all the time.

Carry stuff on your bike, not on your body. This isn't always possible, but realize that when you ride with a backpack, fanny pack or hydration system, you are adding weight to your seat. This makes a wide, supportive saddle even more important. The same goes if you're overweight.

Be smart when riding indoors. With no terrain changes or other natural opportunities to move your butt, you need to invent some. Pedal out of the saddle for one minute in every five. Consciously move to a different sitting area every couple of minutes. Keep sessions short and varied rather than long and steady. Using bigger gears lightens saddle pressure because your feet must push harder.

Wear high-quality, lightly padded cycling shorts. These, plus a skin lubricant such as Chamois Butt'r, increase comfort and reduce the risk of developing raw or tender spots. These can stop you from shifting position to all parts of your crotch and the saddle.

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How to Choose a Cycling Club

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com

Cycling can be a solo sport. Long rambles through the spring countryside, hard rides in the hills, weekend tours to scenic areas—all can be enjoyed with only your own thoughts for company.

In fact, many cyclists prefer to go alone. Then they can choose their own route and are free to ride hard or stop and smell the flowers, as their fancy prefers.

But cycling is also the perfect group sport. Here are just five good reasons for riding with others:

To get these benefits, it’s a good idea to join a bike club even if you ride alone much of the time due to preference or your schedule.

But if there are two or more clubs in your area, how do you know which one to join? It depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it. Are you interested in recreational rides or racing?

Get to know area cyclists and ask why they joined the club they did. Go to club events to watch the organization and feel the atmosphere. Sit in on a club’s monthly meeting to hear about issues and see what kind of people are at the helm.

Participate in club rides and tune in to the tenor of the group. Is it supportive or critical of other riders? Remember, if you enjoy cycling, you should enjoy it even more in the company of fellow riders. It pays to pick your club carefully.

Recreational/Touring Clubs

Most clubs are geared to promoting fun rides and tours. Here are some ways you can identify a club that’s doing it right.

Racing Clubs

Some recreational/touring clubs have a racing division, while other clubs are strictly racing organizations. They exist to help talented cyclists achieve competitive goals. If you want to race, joining a good racing club is a key step toward realizing your potential.

Some clubs are geared to junior riders, some to masters, and others concentrate on Category 1-5 riders. If you find two or more clubs that seem meet your needs, make your choice using this criteria:

This may mean the coach is certified by USA Cycling (the governing body of U.S. bike racing), but many fine coaches don’t have formal certification.

Good coaches have time to work with young or inexperienced cyclists. They have the patience to bring beginning cyclists along slowly, letting them develop at their own rate without undue pressure.

Good coaches aren’t slaves to one coaching system. They don’t blindly follow some formula but instead devise training and racing strategies geared to individual cyclists.

In the winter, riders meet for weight training and stationary bike work. They train together in the early season, doing long base-building rides. They practice team tactics on training rides and use them in races. They travel to events together, sometimes in a team van.

There’s usually a local time trial series and a weekly evening criterium in which members hone their skills for the real races on the weekend. These practice races are a good measure of the club. Look for events that start on time, are well organized and take place on safe-but-challenging courses.

Cycling is a relatively expensive sport, so good clubs work hard to secure sponsorships from non-cycling companies as well as from the industry and bike shops. These sponsorships help cover the cost of clothing, equipment and travel. Shops also may offer parts and service discounts to club members.

Team members encourage each other with advice and consolation. (One sure sign of a poor club is people yelling at each other on training rides, dispensing criticism instead of support.) Training rides should be designed to help everyone improve. Race strategy should be based on teamwork rather than on showcasing star athletes.

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How to Hold Your Own on Fast Club Rides

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com

The major activity of any cycling club, racing or touring, is the group ride. As a result, it’s important to know how to hang tough on a given ride and make yourself welcome on the next one. Success is often due to more than fitness.

Here’s a club cycling primer!

Some clubs like to start all rides, no matter how fast they’ll eventually become, with 20 or 30 minutes of easy warm-up. If you’re impatient early, you can cause hard feelings by chafing at the bit to go faster. When you know the pattern, it’s easier to be patient.

Will it be a fast training ride? A leisurely spin? Paceline practice? It’s disruptive when most of the group is thinking one thing while one or two cyclists are on a different agenda. If an easy recovery ride is scheduled, but you're out for hard training, people are going to get angry. Be certain of the ride’s goal before the start.

If you're having trouble taking your pulls at the front, get off quickly and slide back to get maximum draft in the paceline. It's far better to sit on the back and let others do the work than to slow everyone with valiant but sluggish turns at the front.

As a climb begins, be nestled in the front third of the bunch. Get as much draft as possible. If you can’t hold the pace, don’t blow up trying. Let yourself slide back through the group but still be in contact at the top.

Stronger cyclists may give you a helpful push as they ride by. Don’t be embarrassed by their help. They probably got towed up climbs when they were starting, too. A short push often allows you to regain your breathing and climbing rhythm so you can continue on your own.

If you're really having difficulty keeping the pace, get on the wheel of a good rider and mirror his (or her) technique. Use the same gear, stand when he does, take a drink as soon as he reaches for his bottle, and so on. This teaches you good cycling habits. Plus, emulating his movements takes your mind off your own effort and helps you past the hard spots.

It’s a good bet that other cyclists feel the same way but are reticent to speak up—or can’t, because they’re breathing too hard to talk! Perhaps even the riders who are setting the pace are having difficulty, but they continue to go hard out of vanity or because they think everyone else expects them to. A little communication goes a long way in making a group ride a more pleasant and productive experience.

Find one closer to your ability level. There’s no shame in rationally assessing your strength and choosing cyclists who share it. You’ll actually improve faster if you ride with a group that you are on equal terms with. You’ll be able to practice paceline cycling, following a wheel, riding in close quarters, cornering in a group, and other important skills. 

Frequently riding with a too-fast group will make you tired. You won’t improve as rapidly as you might with more rest. A pace that’s too fast will hurt you mentally, too. You’ll begin to associate cycling with pain, misery and disappointment. Don’t let your ego overpower your better judgment. An appropriate dose of humility now will pay dividends later.

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How to Survive Road Hazards

By Fred Matheny and Ed Pavelka of www.RoadBikeRider.com

Cycling is a unique sport because its arena is the open road. That’s the same place frequented by traffic, potholes, snarling dogs and absentminded pedestrians.

But sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. Inattention and poor technique can put us on the pavement as fast as any hazard. Use these tips and you’ll be less likely to take a tumble.


It’s every rider’s fate to flat. But it’s relatively easy to limit the frequency.


Hitting potholes can bend your rims beyond repair. If the chasm is deep enough, it will send you hurtling over the handlebar when you bury the front wheel and the bike suddenly stops. Here’s a primer on pothole evasion.

Railroad Tracks

Unlike most dangers, tracks can’t be ridden around. You can suffer an instant crash if your tires slip on the shiny steel rails. Ride with extreme caution and follow these safety tips.

Additional Slick Spots

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How to Deal With Bad Dogs

By Fred Matheny and Ed Pavelka of www.RoadBikeRider.com

Dog attacks are high on the list of cycling fears. Maybe you can’t stop Fang from giving chase, but you can outsmart him if you know how dogs think—assuming that stinkin’ mutt even has a brain! 

Some riders swear by Halt pepper spray that they clip to their handlebar. This stuff works great—if you hit your target. That’s a big if when you and Spot are going different speeds, the air is moving, and you’re trying to stay on the road. Pepper spray stings a dog’s eyes, nose and mouth, but it doesn’t cause lasting damage. It also works on human attackers, but that’s a different story.

If the same dog accosts you every time you ride the road, report this to the authorities, too. You have a right to use public roadways free from fear for your life, liberty and pursuit of cycling happiness. Keep following up with calls to make sure steps are taken to put PupPup on a rope.

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How to Perfect Your Riding Position & Technique

By Ed Pavelka of www.RoadBikeRider.com

Cycling is full of prodigious numbers—the distances ridden, the calories consumed, the tires trashed. Another statistic that can seem astounding is the number of pedal strokes made.

Let’s suppose it takes you six hours to ride a century and you pedal at the rate of 90 rpm throughout. As you cross the finish line, you will be making pedal stroke number 64,800.

Whoa, that’s a lot! But it barely registers on the scale of what happens during a full season. For example, during the year in which I had my biggest mileage total, I figure that I got there by pushing the pedals around approximately 13,340,000 times.

Can you say, repetitive use injury? You can see why cyclists are good candidates, especially if we aren’t pedaling from a nearly perfect position.

Your body and bike must fit together and work together in near-perfect harmony for you to be efficient, comfortable, and injury-free. The more you ride, the more essential this is. If even one thing is out of whack, it’s a good bet that it will cause a problem during thousands of pedal strokes.

Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to arrive at an excellent riding position. But it does take time and attention. You need to be careful with your initial bike set-up, then conscientiously stay aware of your body and the need for occasional refinements. As time goes by, your position will stabilize and you’ll be riding in a smooth groove.

The following guidelines come from my experience and the advice of various experts. One is Andy Pruitt, Ed.D., the director of Colorado’s Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. Andy has probably solved more position problems than anyone during his years of work with elite cyclists.

As you work on your riding position, always remember Pruitt Rule No. 1:

“Adjust your bike to fit your body. Don’t force your body to fit the bike.”

Begin by standing on a hard surface with your shoes off and your feet about 6 inches apart. Using a metric tape, measure from the floor to your crotch, pressing with the same force that a saddle does. Multiply this number by 0.883. The result is your saddle height, measured from the middle of the crank axle, along the seat tube, to the top of the saddle.

Add 2 or 3 mm if you have long feet in proportion to your height. If you suffer from chondromalacia (knee pain caused by damage to the underside of the kneecap), a slightly higher saddle may feel better. However, it should never be so high that your hips must rock to help you reach the pedals. If this formula results in a big change from the height you’ve been using, make the adjustment by 2 or 3 mm per week, with several rides between, till you reach the new position. Changing too fast could strain something.

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How to Hydrate for Better Performance 

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com 

If it’s the summer cycling season, it’s probably hot where you live. Cyclists and other outdoor athletes are the first to notice rising temperatures. And the hotter it is, the faster you lose fluids when you ride.

Fluids are crucial to your performance and sense of well-being. We’re really just big bags of fluid—our blood contains about 50 percent water. Because water helps keep us cool, a loss of only one percent of our bodyweight as sweat means a significant loss of speed and endurance.

I know you’ve heard it before—drink, drink, drink! But it’s amazing how few cyclists heed this advice. They forget to drink because of the excitement of the ride, then they wilt before the end.

But proper hydration is easy. Here’s how: 

Most riders need one big bottle (about 28 ounces) per hour but it’s highly variable depending on temperature, intensity of the ride, and other factors such as body size. Experience will help you judge your fluid needs.

Weigh yourself before and after the ride. Compare the figures. If you’ve lost weight, drink 20 ounces of fluid for each pound of bodyweight you’re down. Keep drinking until your weight has returned to normal and your urine is pale and plentiful.

Your sports drink should contain at least 100 mg of sodium per 8 ounces (check the label). It may also help to salt your food when you’re riding frequently in hot weather.

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How to Eat for Endurance

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com  

The key to riding long distances is food and drink.

Sure, training is important—but nutrition and hydration are even more vital. According to ultramarathon rider and coach John Hughes of Boulder, Colorado, “Nutrition, not necessarily training, is the limiting factor in endurance cycling.”

The reason? Even the best-trained riders pack only enough muscle fuel (glycogen) for a couple of hours of hard cycling. Fluid stores vanish even faster.

For everything from century rides to multi-day tours, remember these time-tested tips: 

Three hours before the start, eat about 60 grams of carbohydrate if you’re an average-sized woman, 80 to 100 if you’re a man. (Cereal, skim milk, a banana, and a bagel with jam equals about 90 grams of carbo.) Many riders find that adding some protein and fat, like scrambled eggs or an omelet, keeps their stomach satisfied longer.

On unsupported rides, use a backpack-style hydration system and carry food in your pockets. Stop at convenience stores along the way, if necessary. Most organized rides have aid stations every 20 miles or so, but always carry food and fluid just in case.

How do you know you’ve caught up? Your urine will be pale and plentiful, and your weight will be back to normal. Rehydrating is especially vital during multiday rides. If you get a little behind each day, by the end of the week you’ll be severely dehydrated, feeling lousy, and riding poorly.

The re-fueling process becomes progressively less efficient as time passes. Eat or drink a high-carbo snack while chewing the fat with your riding buddies.

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Three Essential Techniques for Roadies

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com

Pro athletes develop simple techniques that become automatic. A three-point shooter’s follow through or a golfer’s silky stroke are techniques they’ve honed until they no longer think about them.

Pro cyclists, too, develop characteristics that separate how they look on a bike from the rest of us. It’s not simply a matter of appearance. Unlike golf, when you’re riding, you can get scuffed up out there. Looking like a pro means safety as well as style.

Want the look? Master these three techniques and you’ll be on your way. 

1. Relax. Great athletes in any sport let it flow, making impossible moves and extreme effort look easy. Here’s how to be loose as a goose on the bike: 

2. Pedal Smoothly. It’s easy to spot the smooth pedal stroke of a pro compared to a novice’s lumpy plodding. Here’s how to get supple stroke: 

3. Recover Fast. Pro riders can do a three-week race and go just as hard on Day 20 as in the prologue time trial. Here’s how to recover like a stage racer: 

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Three Advanced Techniques for Roadies

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com

Got your basic riding techniques well in hand? Now learn three advanced moves that come in handy and raise your skills to a new level.

1. Ride No-Hands

Pro cyclists can ride no-hands in the middle of the pack on a twisty descent. Don’t try it! Sometimes, however, you’ll need two hands free to peel an energy bar or peel off a vest. Here’s how: 

2. Remove Arm Warmers While Riding

Now that you can ride no-hands, it’s easy to remove arm warmers without stopping. The only problem might be losing one while stuffing them into your jersey pocket. Here, courtesy of seven-time Tour de France rider Ron Kiefel, is how to keep them together. 

1. Pull down warmers. Riding with one hand on the bar, pull down that arm’s warmer to your wrist. Switch hands on the bar, then do the same with the other warmer.

2. Remove first warmer. Ride no-hands. With your right hand, grasp the cuff of the left warmer and pull it off so it hangs from your right hand.

3. Remove second warmer. Use your left hand to pull off the right warmer while still grasping the left arm warmer in the right hand. Voila! One arm warmer is neatly tucked in the other. Fold the resulting sausage in thirds and tuck it in your jersey pocket.

3. Hop Over a Pothole

Ever get trapped near the curb by a passing car or other riders—and there’s a gaping pothole right in your path? The only escape is up and over. Here’s how pro roadies fly above obstacles (including fallen riders). 

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How to Ride in a Group

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com 

Pacelines are organized. They have specific rules. But in big groups like you find in centuries or charity rides, things will be disorganized. This can intimidate even experienced riders.

Sooner or later you’ll find yourself in a big group amid some riders with sketchy skills. It pays to learn how to survive (and also make yourself welcome) in a crowd.  

To avoid being the one who causes such a crash, pull your bike forward as you leave the saddle. Don’t lunge and make a hard pedal stroke. Keep your speed steady. When sitting again, push the bike forward a bit. 

Cycling isn’t a contact sport, but it’s not uncommon to have your arm brushed when riding near others in a group. It pays to learn how to bump into other riders without swerving or falling. It’s easy when you practice this drill used at the Carpenter-Phinney Bike Camps.

First, go with a cycling friend to a large grassy area like a soccer field. Ride side-by-side at a walking pace. Keep both hands on your bar. Start by gently touching elbows, then shoulders. As you gain confidence, lean more vigorously on the other rider. Soon, you’ll be bumping each other with abandon and throwing in a few head butts for fun, all without going down. (Of course, always wear your helmet just in case.)

Riding relaxed is the key to absorbing contact without swerving. Have slightly bent elbows, a firm-not-tight grip on the bar, and loose arm and shoulder muscles. If you’re relaxed, your body can absorb the shock before it gets to the handlebar.

Receive a FREE copy of the eBook “29 Pro Cycling Secrets for Roadies” by subscribing to the RoadBikeRider Newsletter at www.RoadBikeRider.com. No cost or obligation!

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Sports Medicine Tips from an Expert

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com

Andy Pruitt’s name has become synonymous with sports medicine for cycling. As director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Boulder, CO, Pruitt has made a career out of treating world-class riders such as Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie. In 1996, Pruitt served as chief medical officer for the U.S. Olympic Cycling Team.

Pruitt is an elite athlete in his own right, too. He lost his lower leg in a hunting accident at age 14 but still wrestled and participated in track, eventually winning 12 high school varsity letters. When he took up cycling he earned a category 2 ranking in able-bodied racing and was twice a world champion in disabled cycling.

But the Boulder Center isn’t reserved for elite clients. Pruitt wanted to develop a sports medicine center equal to any university or Olympic training facility but available to recreational athletes of any age. That’s what he has accomplished

Here’s a sampling of Pruitt’s sports medicine wisdom. 

Receive a FREE copy of the eBook “29 Pro Cycling Secrets for Roadies” by subscribing to the RoadBikeRider Newsletter at www.RoadBikeRider.com. No cost or obligation!

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How to Find Time for Cycling

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com 

We shouldn’t feel excessive admiration for pro racers who log 600-mile weeks. They have plenty of time to ride and recover—that’s their job. The real heroes are people like you, who find time to ride while still having a life away from the bike.

Full-time work, family commitments and cycling can be efficiently interwoven into your busy day. All it takes to schedule everything into 24 hours is maximum use of time-budgeting techniques.

Here’s where to look for time slots that can accommodate your love for riding:


Riding your bike to work or school and back may be the best way to create time cycling time.

When you commute by bike, time normally spent sitting in a car is used productively as part of the training day. An eight-mile ride to work or school takes about 30 minutes each way. Even if you do no other riding, that’s still an hour of cycling each weekday. The trip home can be lengthened as much as time, daylight and energy allow.

Another benefit is arriving at your job refreshed and alert. It may be tough to get up earlier for the ride in, but the physical and mental lift of exercise will carry you through that 10 a.m. letdown that your sedentary colleagues experience. Then you ride home, clearing cobwebs and blowing away job-related frustrations. You’re refreshed and ready for evening responsibilities or family fun. 

Commuting Logistics 

If commuting simply won't work for you, here are two popular options:

Early Bird Special 

Consider an early-morning workout. By the middle of March it’s usually light enough to get in a ride before work. At dawn there are few cars on the road and the day is brightening every minute.

Getting up in the pre-dawn hour may be the ultimate test of whether you really want to ride. Roll out of bed the minute the alarm rings and don’t think about anything. The longer you lie there moaning about how early it is, the harder it is to extricate yourself from the sheets.

Sleep loss is the biggest risk. Make up the deficit with an earlier bedtime because it’s vital to get enough rest. Lack of sleep can lead to deep fatigue and poor performance in everything you do. 

Evening Rides 

If your schedule prohibits riding most of the day, try from 9 to 10 or 10:30 p.m. For most people, the kids are in bed, the chores around the house complete, and you’re probably wasting time watching TV.

To make this work, eat a moderate dinner at 6 or 7 p.m., allowing the food to digest by riding time. As an additional benefit this provides motivation not to overeat.

Riding in the dark used to be dangerous because lights were poor. You couldn’t see road hazards clearly, and motorists couldn’t see you. Modern lighting systems make night riding safer, but it’s still smart to use lighted parks or suburban streets if they’re available. 

Receive a FREE copy of the eBook “29 Pro Cycling Secrets for Roadies” by subscribing to the RoadBikeRider Newsletter at www.RoadBikeRider.com. No cost or obligation!

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How to Ride in a Paceline

By Fred Matheny of www.RoadBikeRider.com 

Solo rides are a great part of the cycling experience. Nothing beats cruising along and looking at the scenery, or attacking a climb at your own pace and intensity.

But riding with a small group can be even more fun. You cover ground faster, meet people, and experience the thrill of shared effort.

Paceline riding isn’t difficult to learn. Here are the basic skills: 

1. Riding a Straight Line 

Start by learning to ride like you’re on a rail. Practice by holding your line during solo rides. Put your wheel on the road’s white edge line and keep it there. Relax your upper body, keep a light grip on the handlebar, and fix your peripheral vision on the line. Keep your actual focus 20 or 30 feet in front of the bike. Remember, the bike will go where your eyes go.  

2. Following a Wheel 

Drafting another rider saves you at least 15 percent in energy output. It’s foolish to be bucking the wind all the time when you’re with other riders. Share the work by drafting them and letting them draft you.

Position your front wheel 1 to 3 feet behind the rear wheel you’re following. The closer the better, in terms of the draft, but closer also requires a lot more attention. When necessary, turn the cranks without putting pressure on the pedals (“soft pedal”) to maintain correct spacing.

Use the brakes sparingly. Jerky braking creates chain reaction problems for riders behind you. If you need to brake, feather the levers lightly instead of clutching at them.

If a gap opens, don’t make things worse by accelerating too hard, overrunning the wheel in front, then grabbing the brakes. Instead, ease back up to the rider in front. If you don’t become proficient at following a wheel, you can waste more energy than you save by constant yo-yoing.

Look past the rider directly in front. Don’t stare down at his rear wheel or you won’t see things that may cause him to brake or swerve. 

3. Paceline Pointers

First rule: Be predictable. Close riding demands that everyone be on the same wavelength. There must be a basic understanding of what is and is not expected behavior in a given circumstance. Experience helps.

Don’t accelerate when it’s your turn at the front. Note your cyclecomputer’s mph and maintain the group’s speed when the lead rider pulls off.

After your own bout against the wind, pull off to the side agreed upon and stay close to the others as you soft pedal and slide back to the rear of the paceline. This enhances the drafting effect for the whole group. It also keeps everyone as far out of the traffic flow as possible, making paceline riding possible even on busier roads.

As you come abreast of the last rider in the line, pick up speed and then slide over behind his wheel as he comes past. When done correctly you won’t need an energy-wasting acceleration in order to latch back on. Once in the caboose position you can take a drink or stand to stretch without disrupting the paceline’s smoothness.

Protect your front wheel. If your rear wheel is struck a fall is unlikely because it has nothing to do with steering the bike. However, if your front wheel is contacted it will often be twisted off line faster than you can react. You’ll almost certainly go down. Help prevent this by never overlapping someone’s rear wheel.

Receive a FREE copy of the eBook “29 Pro Cycling Secrets for Roadies” by subscribing to the RoadBikeRider Newsletter at www.RoadBikeRider.com. No cost or obligation!

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