AOH :: BIKES-5.FAQ|
Bicycles FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) 5/5
[Note: The complete FAQ is available via anonymous ftp from
draco.acs.uci.edu (18.104.22.168), in pub/rec.bicycles.]
Studded Tires (Nancy Piltch firstname.lastname@example.org)
[A summary on studded tires compiled by Nancy. A complete copy of
the responses she received, including some that give directions for
making your own studded tires, is in the archive.]
Studded tires do help, especially on packed snow and ice. On fresh snow
and on water mixed with snow (i.e. slush) they're not significantly different
from unstudded knobbies.
On dry pavement they are noisy and heavy, but can be used; watch out for
cornering, which is degraded compared to unstudded tires.
Several people recommend a Mr. Tuffy or equivalent with them; one
respondent says he gets more flats with a liner than without.
In the U.S. the IRC Blizzard tires are commercially available. They
can also be made.
Following are various myths about cycling and why they are/aren't true.
Myth: Wearing a helmet makes your head hotter than if you didn't wear one.
Actual measurements under hard riding conditions with ANSI standard
helmets show no consistent temperature difference from helmetless
riders. Part of the reason is that helmets provide insulated
protection from the sun as well as some airflow around the head.
(Les Earnest Les@cs.Stanford.edu)
Myth: You need to let the air out of your tires before shipping your bike
on an airplane - if you don't, the tires will explode.
Assume your tire at sea level, pumped to 100 psi. Air pressure at sea
level is (about) 15psi. Therefore, the highest pressure which can be
reached in the tire is 100+15=115psi. Ergo: There is no need to
deflate bicycle tires prior to flight to avoid explosions.
(Giles Morris email@example.com)
Addendum: The cargo hold is pressurized to the same pressure as the
(Tom ? firstname.lastname@example.org)
Myth: You can break a bike lock with liquid nitrogen or other liquified gases
Freon cannot cool the lock sufficiently to do any good. Steel
conducts heat into the cooling zone faster than it can be removed by a
freeze bomb at the temperatures of interest. Liquid nitrogen or other
gasses are so cumbersome to handle that a lock on a bike cannot be
immersed as it must be to be effective. The most common and
inconspicuous way to break these locks is by using a 4 inch long 1
inch diameter commercial hydraulic jack attached to a hose and pump
(Jobst Brandt email@example.com)
[More myths welcome!]
Descending I (Roger Marquis firstname.lastname@example.org)
Descending ability, like any other skill, is best improved
with practice. The more time you can spend on technical descents
the more confidence and speed you will be able to develop. A few
local hot shots I know practice on their motorcycles before races
with strategic descents. While frequent group rides are the only
way to develop real bike handling skills descending with others
will not necessarily help you descend faster alone.
The most important aspect of fast descending is relaxation.
Too much anxiety can narrow your concentration and you will miss
important aspects of the road surface ahead. Pushing the speed to
the point of fear will not help develop descending skills. Work
on relaxation and smoothness (no sudden movements, braking or
turning) and the speed will follow.
A fast descender will set up well in advance of the corner
on the outside, do whatever braking needs to be done before
beginning to turn, hit the apex at the inside edge of the road,
finally exiting again on the outside (always leaving some room
for error or unforeseen road hazard). The key is to _gradually_
get into position and _smoothly_ follow your line through the
corner. If you find yourself making _any_ quick, jerky movements
take them as a sign that you need to slow down and devote a
little more attention further up the road.
Use your brakes only up to the beginning of a corner, NEVER
USE THE BRAKES IN A CORNER. At that point any traction used for
braking significantly reduces the traction available for
cornering. If you do have to brake after entering the curve
straighten out your line before applying the brakes. If the road
surface is good use primarily the front brake. If traction is
poor switch to the rear brake and begin breaking earlier. In auto
racing circles there are two schools of thought on braking
technique. One advocates gradually releasing the brakes upon
entering the corner, the other advises hard braking right up to
the beginning of the curve and abruptly releasing the brakes just
before entering the curve. A cyclists would probably combine the
techniques depending on the road surface, rim trueness, brake pad
hardness and the proximity of other riders.
Motorcyclists and bicyclists lean their bikes very
differently in a corner. When riding fast motorcyclists keep
their bikes as upright as possible to avoid scraping the bike.
Bicyclists on the other hand lean their bikes into the corner and
keep the body upright. Both motorcyclists and bicyclists extend
the inside knee down to lower the center of gravity. To _pedal_
through the corners make like a motorcyclists and lean the bike
up when the inside pedal is down.
One of the most difficult things about descending in a group
is passing. It is not always possible to begin the descent ahead
of anyone who may be descending slower. If you find yourself
behind someone taking it easy either hang out a safe distance
behind or pass very carefully. Passing on a descent is always
difficult and dangerous. By the same token, if you find yourself
ahead of someone who obviously wants to pass, let them by at the
earliest safe moment. It's never appropriate to impede someone's
progress on a training ride whether they are on a bicycle or in a
car. Always make plenty of room for anyone trying to pass no
matter what the speed limit may be. Be courteous and considerate
and you'll be forever happy.
Remember that downhill racing is not what bicycle racing is
all about. There is no need to keep up with the Jones'. This is
what causes many a crash. Compete against yourself on the
descents. Belgians are notoriously slow descenders due to the
consistently rainy conditions there. Yet some of the best
cyclists in the world train on those rainy roads. Don't get
caught pushing it on some wet or unfamiliar descent. Be prepared
for a car or a patch of dirt or oil in the middle of your path
around _every_ blind corner no matter how many times you've been
on a particular road. Take it easy, relax, exercise your powers
of concentration and hammer again when you can turn the pedals.
If you're interested in exploring this further the best book
on bike handling I've read is "Twist of The Wrist" by motorcycle
racer Keith Code. There is also data out there (Cycle Magazine)
on eye exercises designed to train depth perception adjustment,
peripheral vision and concentration. If you know where I can
find this information please send it to:
NCNCA District Coaching Office
782 San Luis Rd.
Berkeley, Ca 94707
Descending II (Jobst Brandt email@example.com)
The Art of Descending (an assessment)
Descending on a bicycle requires a combination of skills that are
more commonly used in motorcycling. Only when descending does the
bicycle have the power and speed that the motorcycle encounters
regularly, not to say that criterium racing doesn't also challenge
these skills. It requires a combination of lean angle and braking
while selecting an appropriate line through curves. Unlike
motorcycle tires, bicycle tires have little margin and even a small
slip on pavement is usually unrecoverable. Understanding the forces
involved and how to control them is more natural to some than
others. For some these skills may have atrophied from disuse at an
early age and need to be regenerated.
How to Corner
Cornering is the skill of anticipating the appropriate lean angle
with respect to the ground before you get to the apex of the turn.
The angle is what counts and it is limited by traction. This means
you must have an eye for traction. For most pavement this is about
45 degrees in the absence of oil, water or other smooth and slick
spots. So if the curve is banked 10 degrees, you could lean to 55
degrees from the vertical. In contrast, a crowned road with no
banking, where the surface falls off about 10 degrees, would allow
only 35 degrees (at the limit).
Estimating the required lean angle for a curve is derived from the
apparent traction and what your speed will be in the apex of the
turn at the current rate of braking. Anticipating the lean angle is
something humans, animals and birds do regularly in self propulsion.
When running you anticipate how fast and sharply you can turn on the
sidewalk, dirt track or lawn on which you run. You estimate the
lean for the conditions and you control your speed to not exceed
that angle. Although the consequences are more severe, the same is
true for the bicycle.
These are reflexes that are normal to most people in youth but some
have not exercised them in such a long time that they don't trust
their skills. A single fall strongly reinforces this doubt. For
this reason, it is best to improve and regenerate these abilities
gradually through practice.
Once the nuts and bolts of getting around a corner are in place the
big difference between being fast and being faster is another
problem entirely. First it must be understood that braking is a
primary skill that is greatly misunderstood. When traction is good,
the front brake should be used almost exclusively because, with it,
the bike can slow down so rapidly that the back wheel lifts off the
road. When slowing down at this rate the rear brake is obviously
useless. Once you enter the curve, more and more traction is used
by the lean angle but braking is still used to trim speed. This is
done with both brakes because neither wheel has much additional
traction to give. It is good to practice hard front braking at a
low and safe speed to develop a feel for rear wheel lift-off.
You may ask why you should be braking in the turn. If you do all
your braking before the turn you will be going too slowly too early.
Because it is practically impossible to anticipate the exact maximum
speed for the apex of the turn, you should anticipate braking in the
turn. Fear of braking usually comes from an incident caused by
injudicious braking. How you use the front and rear brake must be
adapted to various conditions. When riding straight ahead with good
traction, you can safely allow substantial transfer of weight from
the rear to the front wheel allowing strong use of the front brake.
When traction is poor, deceleration and weight transfer is small, so
light braking with both wheels is appropriate. If traction is
miserable, you should use only the rear brake because, although a
rear skid is permissible, one in the front is not.
Take for example a rider cornering on good traction, banked over at
45 degrees. With 1 G centrifugal acceleration, he can still apply
the brakes at 0.1 G. The increases in side force on the wheels is
given by the square root(1^2+0.1^2)=1.005. In other words, you can
do appreciable braking while at maximum cornering. The centrifugal
acceleration is also reduced by the square of the speed by which the
lean angle rapidly reduces. Being aware of this relationship should
leave no doubt about why racers are often seen pulling their brake
levers in max speed turns.
Beyond lean and braking, suspension helps immeasurably in
descending. For bicycles without built-in suspension, this is
furnished by your legs. If the road has fine ripples you needn't
stand up but merely take the weight off your pelvic bones. For
rougher roads, you should rise high enough so the saddle does not
carry any weight. The reason for this is twofold. Your vision will
become blurred if you don't rise off the saddle, and traction will
be compromised by momentary overloads while skipping over bumps.
The ideal is to keep the tire on the ground at uniform load.
Some riders believe that sticking out their knee or leaning their
body away from the bike, improves cornering. Sticking out a knee is
the same thing that riders without cleats do when they stick out a
foot, it is a useless but reassuring gesture that, on uneven roads,
actually works against you. Any body weight that is not centered on
the bicycle (leaning the bike or sticking out a knee) puts a side
load on the bicycle, and side loads cause steering motions if the
road is not smooth. To verify this, ride down a straight but rough
road standing on one pedal with the bike slanted, and note how the
bike follows an erratic course. In contrast, if you ride centered
on the bike you can ride no-hands perfectly straight over rough
road. When you lean off the bike you cannot ride a smooth line over
road irregularities, especially in curves. For best control, stay
centered over your bike.
Where you look is critical to effective descending. Your central
vision involves mostly the cones in the retina of your eye. These
are color receptive and images generally are more time consuming to
interpret than information received by the rods in the peripheral
vision. For this reason you should focus on the pavement where your
tire will track while looking for obstacles and possible oncoming
traffic in your peripheral vision that is fast and good at detecting
motion. If you look at the place where an oncoming vehicle or
obstacle might appear, its appearance will bring data processing to
a halt for a substantial time. You needn't identify the color or
model of car so leave it to the peripheral vision in high speed
black and white because processing speed is essential.
Picking the broadest curve through a corner should be obvious by the
time the preceding skills are mastered but the line is both a matter
of safety and road surface. Sometimes it is better to hit a bump or
a "Bott's dot" than to alter the line, especially at high speed. In
that respect, your tire should be large enough to absorb the entire
height of a "Bott's dot" without pinching the tube.
Mental speed is demanded by all of these and, it is my experience,
those who are slow to grasp an idea, do not have good hand-eye
coordination, or are "accident prone", should be extra cautious in
this. In contrast, being quick does not guarantee success either.
Above all, it is important to not be daring but rather to ride with
a margin that leaves a comfortable feeling rather than one of high
risk. At the same time, do not be blinded by the age old
presumption that everyone who rides faster than I is crazy. It is
one of the most common descriptions used by a slower observer. "He
descended like a madman!" means merely that the speaker was slower,
Trackstands (Rick Smith firstname.lastname@example.org)
How to trackstand on a road bike.
With acknowledgments to my trackstanding mentor,
Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice, ....
1. Wear tennis shoes.
2. Find an open area, like a parking lot that has a slight grade to it.
3. Put bike in a gear around a 42-18.
4. Ride around out of the saddle in a counter-clockwise circle, about
10 feet in diameter.
Label Notation for imaginary points on the circle:
'A' is the lowest elevation point on the circle.
'B' is the 90 degrees counterclockwise from 'A' .
'C' is the highest elevation point on the circle.
'D' is the 90 degrees counterclockwise from 'C' .
D B Aerial View
5. Start slowing down, feeling the different sensation as the bike
transitions between going uphill (B) and downhill (D).
6. Start trying to go real slowly through the A - B region of the circle.
This is the region you will use for trackstanding. Ride the rest of
the circle as you were in step 5.
The trackstanding position (aerial view again):
The pedal are in a 3 o'clock - 9 o'clock arrangement (in other
words, parallel to the ground). Your left foot is forward, your
wheel is pointed left. You are standing and shifting you weight
to keep balance. The key to it all is this:
If you start to fall left, push on the left peddle to move the
bike forward a little and bring you back into balance.
If you start to fall right, let up on the peddle and let the
bike roll back a little and bring you back into balance.
7. Each time you roll through the A - B region, try to stop when
the left peddle is horizontal and forward. If you start to
lose your balance, just continue around the circle and try it
8. Play with it. Try doing it in various regions in the circle,
with various foot position, and various amounts of turn in your
steering. Try it on different amounts of slope in the
pavement. Try different gears. What you are shooting for is
the feel that's involved, and it comes with practice.
The why's of trackstanding:
Why is road bike specified in the title?
A true trackstand on a track bike is done differently. A track
bike can be peddled backwards, and doesn't need a hill to
accomplish the rollback affect. Track racing trackstands
are done opposite of what is described. They take place on the
C - D region of the circle, with gravity used for the roll
forward, and back pedaling used for the rollback. This is so
that a racer gets the assist from gravity to get going again
when the competition makes a move.
Why a gear around 42-18?
This is a reasonable middle between too small, where you would
reach the bottom of the stroke on the roll forward, and too big,
where you couldn't generate the roll forward force needed.
Why is the circle counter-clockwise?
Because I assume you are living in an area where travel is done
on the right side of the road. When doing trackstands on the road,
most likely it will be at traffic lights. Roads are crowned - higher
in the middle, lower on the shoulders - and you use this crown as
the uphill portion of the circle (region A-B). If you are in a
country where travel is done on the left side of the road,
please interpret the above aerial views as subterranial.
Why is this done out of the saddle?
It's easier!! It can be done in while seated, but you lose the
freedom to do weight adjustments with your hips.
Why is the left crank forward?
If your right crank was forward, you might bump the front wheel
with your toe. Remember the steering is turned so that the back
of the front wheel is on the right side of the bike. Some bikes
have overlap of the region where the wheel can go and your foot
is. Even if your current bike doesn't have overlap, it's better
to learn the technique as described in case you are demonstrating
your new skill on a bike that does have overlap.
Why the A - B region?
It's the easiest. If you wait till the bike is around 'B', then
you have to keep more force on the peddle to hold it still. If
you are around the 'A' point, there may not be enough slope to
allow the bike to roll back.
What do I do if I want to stop on a downhill?
While there are techniques that can be employed to keep you in
the pedals, for safety sake I would suggest getting out of the
pedals and putting your foot down.
Other exercises that help:
Getting good balance. Work through this progression:
1. Stand on your right foot. Hold this until it feels stable.
2. Close your eyes. Hold this until it feels stable.
3. Go up on your toes. Hold this until it feels stable.
4. If you get to here, never mind, your balance is already wonderful,
else repeat with other foot.
Front Brake Usage (John Forester email@example.com)
I have dealt for many years with the problem of explaining front
brake use, both to students and to courtrooms, and I have reached
some conclusions, both about the facts and about the superstitions.
The question was also asked about British law and front brakes.
I'll answer that first because it is easier. British law requires
brakes on both wheels, but it accepts that a fixed gear provides the
required braking action on the rear wheel. I think that the
requirement was based on reliability, not on deceleration. That is,
if the front brake fails, the fixed-gear cyclist can still come to a
In my house (in California) we have three track-racing bikes
converted to road use by adding brakes. Two have only front brakes
while the third has two brakes. We have had no trouble at all, and we
ride them over mild hills. The front-brake-only system won't meet the
normal U.S. state traffic law requirement of being able to skid one
wheel, because that was written for coaster-braked bikes, but it
actually provides twice the deceleration of a rear-wheel-braked bike
and nobody, so far as I know, has ever been prosecuted for using such
The superstitions about front brake use are numerous. The most
prevalent appears to be that using the front brake without using the
rear brake, or failing to start using the rear brake before using the
front brake, will flip the cyclist. The other side of that
superstition is that using the rear brake will prevent flipping the
bicycle, regardless of how hard the front brake is applied.
The truth is that regardless of how hard the rear brake is
applied, or whether it is applied at all, the sole determinant (aside
from matters such as bicycle geometry, weight and weight distribution
of cyclist and load, that can't practically be changed while moving)
of whether the bicycle will be flipped is the strength of application
of the front brake. As the deceleration to produce flip is
approached, the weight on the rear wheel decreases to zero, so that
the rear wheel cannot produce any deceleration; with no application
of the rear brake it rolls freely, with any application at all it
skids at a force approaching zero. With typical bicycle geometry, a
brake application to attempt to produce a deceleration greater than
0.67 g will flip the bicycle. (Those who advocate the cyclist moving
his butt off and behind the saddle to change the weight distribution
achieve a very small increase in this.)
A typical story is that of a doctor who, now living in the higher-
priced hilly suburbs, purchased a new bicycle after having cycled to
med school on the flats for years. His first ride was from the bike
shop over some minor hills and then up the 15% grade to his house.
His second ride was down that 15% grade. Unfortunately, the rear
brake was adjusted so that it produced, with the lever to the
handlebar, a 0.15 g deceleration. The braking system would meet the
federal requirements of 0.5 g deceleration with less than 40 pounds
grip on the levers, because the front brake has to do the majority of
the work and at 0.5 g there is insufficient weight on the rear wheel
to allow much more rear brake force than would produce 0.1 g
deceleration. (The U.S. regulation allows bicycles with no gear
higher than 60 inches to have only a rear-wheel brake that provides
only 0.27 g deceleration.) I don't say that the rear brake adjustment
of the bicycle in the accident was correct, because if the front
brake fails then the rear brake alone should be able to skid the rear
wheel, which occurs at about 0.3 g deceleration. The doctor starts
down the hill, coasting to develop speed and then discovering that he
can't slow down to a stop using the rear brake alone. That is because
the maximum deceleration produced by the rear brake equalled, almost
exactly, the slope of the hill. He rolls down at constant speed with
the rear brake lever to the handlebar and the front brake not in use
at all. He is afraid to apply the front brake because he fears that
this will flip him, but he is coming closer and closer to a curve,
after which is a stop sign. At the curve he panics and applies the
front brake hard, generating a force greater than 0.67 g deceleration
and therefore flipping himself. Had he applied the front brake with
only a force to produce 0.1 g deceleration, even 100 feet before the
curve, he would have been safe, but in his panic he caused precisely
the type of accident that he feared. He thought that he had a good
case, sued everybody, and lost. This is the type of superstition that
interferes with the cycling of many people.
My standard instruction for people who fear using the front brake
is the same instruction for teaching any person to brake properly.
Tell them to apply both brakes simultaneously, but with the front
brake 3 times harder than the rear brake. Start by accelerating to
road speed and stopping with a gentle application. Then do it again
with a harder application, but keeping the same 3 to 1 ratio. Then
again, harder still, until they feel the rear wheel start to skid.
When the rear wheel skids with 1/4 of the total braking force applied
to it, that shows that the weight distribution has now progressed as
far to the front wheel as the average cyclist should go. By repeated
practice they learn how hard this is, and attain confidence in their
ability to stop as rapidly as is reasonable without any significant
Slope Wind, the Invisible Enemy (Jobst Brandt firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wind as well as relative wind caused by moving through still air
demands most of a bicyclists effort on level ground. Most riders
recognize when they are subjected to wind because it comes in gusts
and these gusts can be distinguished from the more uniform wind caused
by moving through still air. That's the catch. At the break of dawn
there is often no wind as such but cool air near the ground, being
colder and more dense than higher air slides downslope as a laminar
layer that has no turbulent gusts.
Wind in mountain valleys generally blows uphill during the heat of the
day and therefore pilots of light aircraft are warned to take off
uphill against the morning slope wind. Slope wind, although detectable,
is not readily noticed when standing or walking because it has
negligible effect and does not come in apparent gusts. The bicyclist,
in contrast, is hindered by it but cannot detect it because there is
always wind while riding.
Slope wind, as such, can be up to 10 mph before it starts to take on
the characteristics that we expect of wind. It is doubly deceptive
when it comes from behind because it gives an inflated speed that can
be mistakenly attributed to great fitness that suddenly vanishes when
changing course. If you live near aspen or poplars that tend to fan
their leaves in any breeze, you will not be fooled.
Reflective Tape (Jobst Brandt email@example.com)
Reflective tape is available in most better bike shops in various
forms, most of which is pre-cut to some preferred shape and designed
for application to some specific part of the bike or apparel. The most
effective use of such tape is on moving parts such as pedals, heel of
the shoe or on a place that is generally overlooked, the inside of the
First, it is appropriate to note that car headlights generally produce
white light and a white or, in fact, colorless reflector returns more
of this light to its source than ones with color filters or selective
reflection. Red, for instance, is not nearly as effective as white.
Placing reflective tape on the inside of the rims between the spokes
is a highly effective location for night riding because it is visible
equally to the front and rear while attracting attention through its
motion. It is most effective when applied to less than half the rim
in a solid block. Five inter-spoke sections does a good job. One can
argue that it isn't visible from the side (if the rim is not an aero
cross section) but the major hazard is from the front and rear.
Be seen on a bike! It's good for your health.
Nutrition (Bruce Hildenbrand bhilden@unix386.Convergent.COM)
Oh well, I have been promising to do this for a while and given the present
discussions on nutrition, it is about the right time. This article was
written in 1980 for Bicycling Magazine. It has been reprinted in over 30
publications, been the basis for a chapter in a book and cited numerous
other times. I guess somebody besides me thinks its OK. If you disagree
with any points, that's fine, I just don't want to see people take exception
based on their own personal experiences because everyone is different and
psychological factors play a big role(much bigger than you would think)
on how one perceives his/her own nutritional requirements. Remember that
good nutrition is a LONG TERM process that is not really affected by short
term events(drinking poison would be an exception). If it works for you
then do it!!! Don't preach!!!!
BASIC NUTRITION PRIMER
Nutrition in athletics is a very controversial topic. However, for
an athlete to have confidence that his/her diet is beneficial he/she
must understand the role each food component plays in the body's
overall makeup. Conversely, it is important to identify and understand
the nutritional demands on the physiological processes of the body
that occur as a result of racing and training so that these needs
can be satisfied in the athlete's diet.
For the above reasons, a basic nutrition primer should help the athlete
determine the right ingredients of his/her diet which fit training and
racing schedules and existing eating habits. The body requires three
basic components from foods: 1) water; 2) energy; and 3)nutrients.
Water is essential for life and without a doubt the most important
component in our diet. Proper hydrations not only allows the body to
maintain structural and biochemical integrity, but it also prevents
overheating, through sensible heat loss(perspiration). Many cyclists have
experienced the affects of acute fluid deficiency on a hot day, better
known as heat exhaustion. Dehydration can be a long term problem,
especially at altitude, but this does not seem to be a widespread
problem among cyclists and is only mentioned here as a reminder(but
an important one).
Energy is required for metabolic processes, growth and to support
physical activity. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National
Academy of Sciences has procrastinated in establishing a Recommended
Daily Allowance(RDA) for energy the reasoning being that such a daily
requirement could lead to overeating. A moderately active 70kg(155lb)
man burns about 2700 kcal/day and a moderately active 58kg(128lb) woman
burns about 2500 kcal/day.
It is estimated that cyclists burn 8-10 kcal/min or about 500-600
kcal/hr while riding(this is obviously dependent on the level of
exertion). Thus a three hour training ride can add up to 1800
kcals(the public knows these as calories) to the daily energy demand
of the cyclist. Nutritional studies indicate that there is no
significant increase in the vitamin requirement of the athlete as a
result of this energy expenditure.
In order to meet this extra demand, the cyclist must increase his/her
intake of food. This may come before, during or after a ride but most
likely it will be a combination of all of the above. If for some
reason extra nutrients are required because of this extra energy
demand, they will most likely be replenished through the increased
food intake. Carbohydrates and fats are the body's energy sources and
will be discussed shortly.
This is a broad term and refers to vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates,
fats, fiber and a host of other substances. The body is a very complex product
of evolution. It can manufacture many of the resources it needs to survive.
However, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids(the building blocks of
proteins) and fatty acids cannot be manufactured, hence they must be supplied
in our food to support proper health.
Vitamins and Minerals
No explanation needed here except that there are established RDA's for most
vitamins and minerals and that a well balanced diet, especially when
supplemented by a daily multivitamin and mineral tablet should meet all
the requirements of the cyclist.
Proper electrolyte replacement(sodium and potassium salts) should be
emphasized, especially during and after long, hot rides. Commercially
available preparations such as Exceed, Body Fuel and Isostar help
replenish electrolytes lost while riding.
Food proteins are necessary for the synthesis of the body's skeletal(muscle,
skin, etc.) and biochemical(enzymes, hormones, etc.)proteins. Contrary
to popular belief, proteins are not a good source of energy in fact they
produce many toxic substances when they are converted to the simple sugars
needed for the body's energy demand.
Americans traditionally eat enough proteins to satisfy their body's
requirement. All indications are that increased levels of exercise do
not cause a significant increase in the body's daily protein
requirement which has been estimated to be 0.8gm protein/kg body
Carbohydrates are divided into two groups, simple and complex, and serve
as one of the body's two main sources of energy.
Simple carbohydrates are better known as sugars, examples being fructose,
glucose(also called dextrose), sucrose(table sugar) and lactose(milk sugar).
The complex carbohydrates include starches and pectins which are multi-linked
chains of glucose. Breads and pastas are rich sources of complex
The brain requires glucose for proper functioning which necessitates a
carbohydrate source. The simple sugars are quite easily broken down to
help satisfy energy and brain demands and for this reason they are an ideal
food during racing and training. The complex sugars require a substantially
longer time for breakdown into their glucose sub units and are more suited
before and after riding to help meet the body's energy requirements.
Fats represent the body's other major energy source. Fats are twice as
dense in calories as carbohydrates(9 kcal/gm vs 4 kcal/gm) but they are
more slowly retrieved from their storage units(triglycerides) than
carbohydrates(glycogen). Recent studies indicate that caffeine may help
speed up the retrieval of fats which would be of benefit on long rides.
Fats are either saturated or unsaturated and most nutritional experts
agree that unsaturated, plant-based varieties are healthier. Animal
fats are saturated(and may contain cholesterol), while plant based fats
such as corn and soybean oils are unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are
necessary to supply essential fatty acids and should be included in the
diet to represent about 25% of the total caloric intake. Most of this
amount we don't really realize we ingest, so it is not necessary to heap
on the margarine as a balanced diet provides adequate amounts.
WHAT THE BODY NEEDS
Now that we have somewhat of an understanding of the role each food
component plays in the body's processes let's relate the nutritional
demands that occur during cycling in an attempt to develop
an adequate diet. Basically our bodies need to function in three
separate areas which require somewhat different nutritional considerations.
These areas are: 1) building; 2) recovery; and 3) performance.
Building refers to increasing the body's ability to perform physiological
processes, one example being the gearing up of enzyme systems necessary
for protein synthesis, which results in an increase in muscle mass, oxygen
transport, etc. These systems require amino acids, the building blocks of
proteins. Hence, it is important to eat a diet that contains quality proteins
(expressed as a balance of the essential amino acid sub units present)fish,
red meat, milk and eggs being excellent sources.
As always, the RDA's for vitamins and minerals must also be met but, as with
the protein requirement, they are satisfied in a well balanced diet.
This phase may overlap the building process and the nutritional requirements
are complimentary. Training and racing depletes the body of its energy
reserves as well as loss of electrolytes through sweat. Replacing the
energy reserves is accomplished through an increased intake of complex
carbohydrates(60-70% of total calories) and to a lesser extent fat(25%).
Replenishing lost electrolytes is easily accomplished through the use
of the commercial preparations already mentioned.
Because the performance phase(which includes both training rides and
racing)spans at most 5-7 hours whereas the building and recovery phases
are ongoing processes, its requirements are totally different from the
other two. Good nutrition is a long term proposition meaning the effects
of a vitamin or mineral deficiency take weeks to manifest themselves.
This is evidenced by the fact that it took many months for scurvy to
show in sailors on a vitamin C deficient diet. What this means is that
during the performance phase, the primary concern is energy replacement
(fighting off the dreaded "bonk") while the vitamin and mineral demands
can be overlooked.
Simple sugars such a sucrose, glucose and fructose are the quickest
sources of energy and in moderate quantities of about 100gm/hr(too much
can delay fluid absorption in the stomach) are helpful in providing fuel
for the body and the brain. Proteins and fats are not recommended because
of their slow and energy intensive digestion mechanism.
Short, one day rides or races of up to one hour in length usually require
no special nutritional considerations provided the body's short term energy
stores (glycogen) are not depleted which may be the case during multi-day
Because psychological as well as physiological factors determine performance
most cyclists tend to eat and drink whatever makes them feel "good" during a
ride. This is all right as long as energy considerations are being met and
the stomach is not overloaded trying to digest any fatty or protein containing
foods. If the vitamin and mineral requirements are being satisfied during the
building and recovery phases no additional intake during the performance phase
Basically, what all this means is that good nutrition for the cyclist is
not hard to come by once we understand our body's nutrient and energy
requirements. If a balanced diet meets the RDA's for protein, vitamins
and minerals as well as carbohydrate and fat intake for energy then everything
should be OK nutritionally. It should be remembered that the problems
associated with nutrient deficiencies take a long time to occur. Because
of this it is not necessary to eat "right" at every meal which explains
why weekend racing junkets can be quite successful on a diet of tortilla
chips and soft drinks. However, bear in mind that over time, the body's
nutritional demands must be satisfied. To play it safe many cyclists
take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement tablet which has no adverse
affects and something I personally recommend. Mega vitamin doses(levels
five times or more of the RDA) have not been proven to be beneficial and may
cause some toxicity problems.
"Good" nutrition is not black and white. As we have seen, the body's
requirements are different depending on the phase it is in. While the
building and recovery phases occur somewhat simultaneously the performance
phase stands by itself. For this reason, some foods are beneficial during
one phase but not during another. A good example is the much maligned
twinkie. In the performance phase it is a very quick source of energy
and quite helpful. However, during the building phase it is not necessary
and could be converted to unwanted fat stores. To complicate matters, the
twinkie may help replenish energy stores during the recovery phase however,
complex carbohydrates are probably more beneficial. So, "one man's meat
may be another man's poison."
This term refers to the quantity of nutrients in a food for its accompanying
caloric(energy) value. A twinkie contains much energy but few vitamins and
minerals so has a low nutrient density. Liver, on the other hand, has a
moderate amount of calories but is rich in vitamins and minerals and is
considered a high nutrient density food.
Basically, one must meet his/her nutrient requirements within the
constraints of his/her energy demands. Persons with a low daily
activity level have a low energy demand and in order to maintain their
body weight must eat high nutrient density foods. As already
mentioned, a cyclist has an increased energy demand but no significant
increase in nutrient requirements. Because of this he/she can eat
foods with a lower nutrient density than the average person. This
means that a cyclist can be less choosy about the foods that are eaten
provided he/she realizes his/her specific nutrient and energy
requirements that must be met.
Now, the definition of that nebulous phrase, "a balanced diet". Taking into
consideration all of the above, a diet emphasizing fruits and vegetables
(fresh if possible), whole grain breads, pasta, cereals, milk, eggs, fish and
red meat(if so desired) will satisfy long term nutritional demands.
These foods need to be combined in such a way that during the building and
recovery phase, about 60-70% of the total calories are coming from carbohydrate
sources, 25% from fats and the remainder(about 15%) from proteins.
It is not necessary to get 100% of the RDA for all vitamins and minerals
at every meal. It may be helpful to determine which nutritional
requirements you wish to satisfy at each meal. Personally, I use breakfast
to satisfy part of my energy requirement by eating toast and cereal. During
lunch I meet some of the energy, protein and to a lesser extent vitamin and
mineral requirements with such foods as yogurt, fruit, and peanut butter
and jelly sandwiches. Dinner is a big meal satisfying energy, protein,
vitamin and mineral requirements with salads, vegetables, pasta, meat and
milk. Between meal snacking is useful to help meet the body's energy
All this jiberish may not seem to be telling you anything you couldn't
figure out for yourself. The point is that "good" nutrition is not
hard to achieve once one understands the reasons behind his/her dietary
habits. Such habits can easily be modified to accommodate the nutritional
demands of cycling without placing any strict demands on one's lifestyle.
Nuclear Free Energy Bar Recipe (Phil Etheridge firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nuclear Free Energy Bars
Comments and suggestions welcome.
They seem to work well for me. I eat bananas as well, in about equal quanities
to the Nuclear Free Energy Bars. I usually have two drink bottles, one with
water to wash down the food, the other with a carbo drink.
You will maybe note that there are no dairy products in my recipe -- that's
because I'm allergic to them. You could easily replace the soy milk powder
with the cow equivalent, but then you'd definitely have to include some
maltodextrin (my soy drink already has some in it). I plan to replace about
half the honey with maltodextrin when I find a local source. If you prefer
cocoa to carob, you can easily substitute.
C = 250 ml cup, T = 15 ml tablespoon
1 C Oat Bran
1/2 C Toasted Sunflower and/or Sesame seeds, ground (I use a food processor)
1/2 C Soy Milk Powder (the stuff I get has 37% maltodextrin, ~20% dextrose*)
1/2 C Raisins
2T Carob Powder
Mix well, then add to
1/2 C Brown Rice, Cooked and Minced (Using a food processor again)
1/2 C Peanut Butter (more or less, depending on consistency)
1/2 C Honey (I use clear, runny stuff, you may need to warm if it's thicker
and/or add a little water)
Stir and knead (I knead in more Oat Bran or Rolled Oats) until thoroughly
mixed. A cake mixer works well for this. The bars can be reasonably soft, as
a night in the fridge helps to bind it all together. Roll or press out about
1cm thick and cut. Makes about 16, the size I like them (approx 1cm x 1.5cm x
* Can't remember exact name, dextrose something)
Powerbars (John McClintic johnm@hammer.TEK.COM)
Have you ever watched a hummingbird? Think about it! Hummingbirds
eat constantly to survive. We lumpish earthbound creatures are in
no position to imitate this. Simply, if we overeat we get fat.
There are exceptions: those who exercise very strenuously can
utilize - indeed, actually need - large amounts of carbohydrates.
For example, Marathon runners "load" carbohydrates by stuffing
themselves with pasta before a race. On the flip side Long-distance
cyclists maintain their energy level by "power snacking".
With reward to the cyclist and their need for "power snacking"
I submit the following "power bar" recipe which was originated
by a fellow named Bill Paterson. Bill is from Portland Oregon.
The odd ingredient in the bar, paraffin, is widely used in chocolate
manufacture to improve smoothness and flowability, raise the melting
point, and retard deterioration of texture and flavor. Butter can be
used instead, but a butter-chocolate mixture doesn't cover as thinly
1 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seed
1 1/2 cups dried apricots, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup shredded unsweetened dry coconut
1 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
2 teaspoons butter or margarine
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups chunk-style peanut butter
1 teaspoon orange extract
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 package (12 oz.) or 2 cups semisweet chocolate
4 ounces paraffin or 3/4 cup (3/4 lb.) butter or
Spread oats in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Bake in a 300 degree
oven until oats are toasted, about 25 minutes. Stir frequently to
Meanwhile, place sesame seed in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over
medium heat. Shake often or stir until seeds are golden, about 7 minutes.
Pour into a large bowl. Add apricots, raisins, coconut, almonds,
dry milk, and wheat germ; mix well. Mix hot oats into dried fruit
Butter the hot backing pan; set aside.
In the frying pan, combine corn syrup and sugar; bring to a rolling
boil over medium high heat and quickly stir in the peanut butter,
orange extract, and orange peel.
At once, pour over the oatmeal mixture and mix well. Quickly spread
in buttered pan an press into an even layer. Then cover and chill
until firm, at least 4 hours or until next day.
Cut into bars about 1 1/4 by 2 1/2 inches.
Combine chocolate chips and paraffin in to top of a double boiler.
Place over simmering water until melted; stir often. Turn heat to low.
Using tongs, dip 1 bar at a time into chocolate, hold over pan until
it stops dripping (with paraffin, the coating firms very quickly), then
place on wire racks set above waxed paper.
When firm and cool (bars with butter in the chocolate coating may need
to be chilled), serve bars, or wrap individually in foil. Store in the
refrigerator up to 4 weeks; freeze to store longer. Makes about 4 dozen
bars, about 1 ounce each.
Per piece: 188 cal.; 4.4 g protein; 29 g carbo.; 9.8 g fat;
0.6 mg chol.; 40 mg sodium.
Calories burned by cycling (Jeff Patterson email@example.com)
The following table appears in the '92 Schwinn ATB catalog which references
Bicycling, May 1989:
(mph) 12 14 15 16 17 18 19
110 293 348 404 448 509 586 662
120 315 375 437 484 550 634 718
130 338 402 469 521 592 683 773
140 360 430 502 557 633 731 828
150 383 457 534 593 675 779 883
160 405 485 567 629 717 828 938
170 427 512 599 666 758 876 993
180 450 540 632 702 800 925 1048
190 472 567 664 738 841 973 1104
200 495 595 697 774 883 1021 1159
(flat terrain, no wind, upright position)
Road Rash Cures (E Shekita firstname.lastname@example.org)
[Ed note: This is a condensation of a summary of cures for road rash that
The July 1990 issue of Bicycle Guide has a decent article on road
rash. Several experienced trainers/doctors are quoted. They generally
- cleaning the wound ASAP using an anti-bacterial soap such as Betadine.
Showering is recommended, as running water will help flush out dirt
and grit. If you can't get to a shower right away, at the very least
dab the wound with an anti-bacteria solution and cover the wound with
a non-stick telfa pad coated with bactrin or neosporin to prevent
infection and scabbing. The wound can then be showered clean when you
get home. It often helps to put an ice bag on the wound after it has
been covered to reduce swelling.
- after the wound has been showered clean, cover the wound with either
1) a non-stick telfa pad coated with bactrin or neosporin, or 2) one
of the Second Skin type products that are available. If you go the telfa
pad route, daily dressing changes will be required until a thin layer
of new skin has grown over the wound. If you go the Second Skin route,
follow the directions on the package.
The general consensus was that scabbing should be prevented and that the
Second Skin type products were the most convenient -- less dressing changes
and they hold up in a shower. (Silvadene was not mentioned, probably because
it requires a prescription.)
It was pointed out that if one of the above treatments is followed, then
you don't have to go crazy scrubbing out the last piece of grit or dirt
in the wound, as some people believe. This is because most of the grit
will "float" out of the wound on its own when a moist dressing is used.
There are now products that go by the names Bioclusive, Tegaderm,
DuoDerm, Op-Site, Vigilon, Spenco 2nd Skin, and others, that are like
miracle skin. This stuff can be expensive ($5 for 8 3x4 sheets), but
does not need to be changed. They are made of a 96% water substance
called hydrogel wrapped in thin porous plastic. Two non-porous plastic
sheets cover the hydrogel; One sheet is removed so that the hydrogel
contacts the wound and the other non-porous sheet protects the wound.
These products are a clear, second skin that goes over the cleaned
(ouch!) wound. They breathe, are quite resistant to showering, and
wounds heal in around 1 week. If it means anything, the Olympic
Training Center uses this stuff. You never get a scab with this, so you
can be out riding the same day, if you aren't too sore.
It is important when using this treatment, to thoroughly clean the
wound, and put the bandage on right away. It can be obtained at most
pharmacies. Another possible source is Spenco second skin, which is
sometimes carried by running stores and outdoor/cycling/ stores. If
this doesn't help, you might try a surgical supply or medical supply
place. They aren't as oriented toward retail, but may carry larger sizes
than is commonly available. Also, you might check with a doctor, or
university athletic department people.
Knee problems (Roger Marquis email@example.com)
As the weather becomes more conducive to riding and the
racing season gets going and average weekly training distances
start to climb a few of us will have some trouble with our
knees. Usually knee problem are caused by one of four things:
1) Riding too hard, too soon. Don't get impatient. It's
going to be a long season and there's plenty of time to get in
the proper progression of efforts. Successful cycling is a matter
of listening to your body. When you see riders burning out,
hurting themselves and just not progressing past a certain point
you can be fairly certain that it is because they are not paying
enough attention to what their body is telling them.
2) Too many miles. Your body is not a machine. It cannot be
expected to take whatever miles you feel compelled to ride
without time to grow and adapt. If you keep this in mind whenever
you feel like increasing your average weekly mileage by more than
forty miles over two or three weeks you should have no problems.
3) Low, low rpms (also excess crank length). Save those big
ring climbs and big gear sprints for later in the season. This is
the time of year to develop fast twitch muscle fibers. That means
spin, spin, spin. You don't have to spin all the time but the
effort put into small gear sprints and high rpm climbing now will
pay off later in the season.
4) Improper position on the bike. Unfortunately most
bicycle salespeople in this country have no idea how to properly
set saddle height. The most common error being to set it too low.
This is very conducive to developing knee problems because of the
excessive bend at the knee when the pedal is at, and just past,
top dead center.
Make sure your seat and cleats are adjusted properly by following the
adjustment procedures found elsewhere.
If after all this you're still having knee problems:
1) Check for leg length differences both below and above the
knee. If the difference is between 2 and 8 millimeters you can
correct it by putting spacers under one cleat. If one leg is
shorter by more than a centimeter or so you might experiment with
a shorter crank arm on the short leg side.
2) Use shorter cranks. For some riders this helps keep pedal
speed up and knee stress down. I'm 6 ft. 1/2 in. and I ride 170mm
cranks for most of the season.
3) Try the Fit-Kit R.A.D. cleat alignment device and/or a
rotating type cleat/pedal like the Time pedal.
4) Cut way back on mileage and intensity (This is a last
resort for obvious reasons). Sometimes a prolonged rest is the
only way to regain full functionality and is usually required
only if you try to "train through" any pain.
Cycling Psychology (Roger Marquis firstname.lastname@example.org)
Motivation, the last frontier. With enough of it any
ordinary person can become a world class athlete. Without it this
same person could end up begging for change on Telegraph ave.
Even a tremendously talented rider will go nowhere without
motivation. How do some riders always seem to be so motivated?
What are the sources of their motivation? This has been a central
theme of sports psychology since its beginning when Triplett
studied the effects of audience and competition on performance in
the late nineteenth century. Though a great deal has been written
on motivation since Triplett it is an individual construct. As an
athlete you need to identify what motivates you and cultivate the
sources of your motivation.
* One of the best sources of motivation is setting goals. Be
specific, put it down on paper. Define your goals clearly and
make them attainable. Short term goals are more important than
long term goals and should be even more precisely defined Set
long term goals such as training at least five days a week,
placing in specific races, upgrading, etc.. Set short term goals
for things like going on a good ride this afternoon, doing five
sprints, bettering your time up Wildcat, etc.. DO NOT STRESS
WINNING when defining your goals. Instead stress enjoying the
ride and doing your best in every ride and race.
* Do it together. Going to races with friends, training
together and racing as a team is great for motivation. This is
what clubs should be all about.
* Do it frequently. Regularity makes difficult tasks easy.
If you make it a point to ride every day, or at least five times
a week (to be competitive), making the daily ride will become
* Cycling books and videos are tremendously motivating as
are new bike parts, new clothing, new roads, nice weather, losing
weight, seeing friends, getting out of the city and breathing
fresh air, riding hard and feeling good and especially that great
feeling of accomplishment and relaxation at the end of every ride
that makes life beautiful.
While high levels of arousal (motivational energy) are
generally better for shorter rides and track races, be careful
not to get over-aroused before longer, harder races. Stay relaxed
and conserve precious energy for that crosswind section or sprint
where you'll need all the strength you've got. Learn how psyched
you need to be to do your best and be aware of when you are over
or under aroused.
It's not uncommon, especially for novices, to be so nervous
before the start that they are already fatigued on the line. This
much stress is dangerous and should be recognized and controlled
immediately. If you get too stressed before a race try counting
to ten, breathing deeply, stretching, talking to friends, finding
a quiet place to warm-up, or a crowded place to warm-up,
depending on your inclination, and remember that the stress will
disappearas soon as the race starts. Racing takes too much
concentration to spare any for worrying.
Every athlete needs to be adept in stress management. One
new technique used to reduce competitive anxiety is imagery.
Mental practice has been credited with almost miraculous
improvements in fine motor skills (archery, tennis) but its
greatest value in gross motor sports is in stress reduction.
Actually winning a race can also help put an end to excessive
competitive anxiety. But if you have never won nervousness may be
keeping you from winning. If you find yourself getting
overstressed whenever you think about winning, or even riding, a
race try this; Find a quiet, relaxing place to sit and think
about racing. Second; Picture yourself driving to the race in a
very relaxed and poised state of mind. Continue visualizing the
day progressing into the race and going well until you detect
some tension THEN STOP. Do not let yourself get excited at all.
End the visualization session and try it again the next day.
Continue this DAILY until you can picture yourself racing and
winning without any stress. If this seems like a lot of work
evaluate just how much you want to win a bike race.
Visualization is not meant to replace on the bike training
but can make that training pay off in a big way. Eastern European
research has found that athletes improve most quickly if visual
training comprises fifty to seventy-five percent of the total
time spent training! Like any training imagery will only pay off
if you do it regularly and frequently. My French club coach
always used to tell us: believe it and it will become true.
(C) 1989, Roger Marquis (see also Velo-News, 3-91)
Mirrors (Jobst Brandt email@example.com)
> Mirrors are mandatory on virtually every other type of vehicle on
> the road. Competent drivers/riders learn the limitations of the
> information available from their mirrors and act accordingly.
I suppose the question is appropriate because no one seems to have
a good explanation for this. In such an event, when there is much
evidence that what would seem obvious is not what is practiced, I
assume there are other things at work. I for one don't wear glasses
to which to attach a mirror and putting it on a helmet seems a
fragile location when the helmet is placed anywhere but on the head.
These are not the real reasons though, because I have found that when
looking in a head mounted mirror, I cannot accurately tell anything
about the following vehicle's position except that it is behind me.
That is because I am looking into a mirror whose angular position
with respect to the road is unknown. The rear view mirror in a car
is fixed with respect to the direction of travel and objects seen in
it are seen with reference to ones own vehicle, be that the rear
window frame or side of the car. I find the image in a head mounted
mirror on a bicycle to be distracting and a source of paranoia if
I watch it enough. It does not tell me whether the upcoming car is,
or is not, going to slice me.
I additionally I find it difficult to focus on objects when my
eyeballs are distorted by turning them as much as 45 degrees to the
side of straight ahead. You can try this by reading these words with
your head turned 45 degrees from the text.
I believe these two effects are the prime reasons for the unpopularity
of such mirrors. They don't provide the function adequately and still
require the rider to look back. I do not doubt that it is possible to
rely on the mirror but it does not disprove my contention that the
information seen is by no means equivalent to motor vehicle rear view
mirrors to which these mirrors have been compared. It is not a valid
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