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Implement these group riding guidelines on your next ride

Group riding provides cyclists with enjoyment, exercise, training, support from other cyclists, and safety. Whether you’re riding to lunch with co-workers or completing a 50-mile Kerrville Triathlon Festival training ride with your crew, the following group riding guidelines will come in handy. Knowing these basic group riding guidelines will also make the ride more enjoyable and safer for everyone involved.

* Complete a quick, pre-ride safety check.

* Obey all traffic laws.

* Operate bike in such a manner as to not offend or endanger motorists, pedestrians, etc.

* Wear a helmet for safety (and be a good model for children).

* Activate all lights on bikes.

* Wear reflective gear that makes the group more visible, even in the daytime.

* Ride single file except in areas where it is safe to ride side-by-side.

* When riding in a pack, look at “shoulder level” of cyclists in front of you. This allows you to see what is happening further up the road and not focus on the cyclists in front of you. Fixing your gaze on the back tire of the person in front of you doesn’t give you enough time to react should the entire group slow down.

* It is the responsibility of the lead rider to notify the cyclist behind them of approaching issues by saying, “jogger up, cyclist up.” This includes any potential danger that may lie ahead. It is the responsibility of each cyclist to pass the caution back to the person behind them.

Important hand signals

* Hand signals, instead of words, are used to warn riders of potential danger on the roadway. In a pack, oftentimes, the only cyclist who has enough visual warning is the front cyclist. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the lead rider to warn the cyclists behind them. If the lead cyclist (or the cyclist in front of you):

  • shakes their hand to the right = there’s a pothole, branch, or some obstacle to the right
  • shakes their hand to the left = there’s an obstacle to the left
  • puts hand behind their posterior = follow right behind them as there might be obstacles on both sides
  • puts right hand down with the flat of the hand facing you = lead cyclist is slowing down or coming to a stop

* Avoid slowing down abruptly or making any other sudden moves.

*Ask experienced riders questions when you’re not sure what is occurring.

Know the signs of chain wear and how you can check at home

Most people do not replace their chain often enough. This leads to the gears not shifting correctly and excessive wear on your chainrings and cassette. Chain wear is affected by a few things: riding conditions, riding style (masher vs spinner), and shifting technique.

Know the signs of chain wear and how you can check your bike at home.When the conditions are wet the chain is going to wear out faster due to the dirt that gets in the rollers of the chain. Wet weather also tends to wash the lube off of the chain much faster. Cleaning your drivetrain can extend the life of your chain. If you ride at a low cadence you will wear the chain out faster than someone who rides at a higher cadence. The last major thing that affects wear is shifting technique. If you tend to cross chain a lot (riding in the big ring, big cassette cog or small ring, small cassette cog) then you will put more wear on the chain and chainrings.

The easiest way to check for chain wear at home is to measure 12 links of your chain. A new chain measures 12 inches per 12 links. Anything over 12 1/16 inches is too long. This bike tool measures it quickly and costs less than $10. A ruler also works just fine. You should expect to get anywhere from 1500 to 2500 miles out of a 10-speed chain and about 2500 out of a 9-speed chain. You can help your chain last much longer if you take good care of it, keep it clean, shift correctly, and ride at a higher cadence.

Check out our other blog post to see when other parts need replacing.

Don’t allow this year’s training to disappear during the offseason

Offseason to a lot of triathletes means taking time off from October to March to help re-energize for the following season. Others focus on different sports to get out of the winter elements. The rest just simply take time off.  How can you train during the offseason and keep triathlon fun on a year-round basis?

The goal should be purposeful training — focus on a few key elements with your training.  A great place to start is working on your physiology and the changes you can make over the winter months.

During #triathlon offseason, two key components to altering your physiology include increasing power-to-weight ratio and improving your cardiovascular network. Click To Tweet

Some athletes start the tri season in February in good cardio shape, but have added some extra holiday weight. Some have gone to a few too many holiday parties. They’ve ignored the fact that they are going to rev things up next season and start from square one. It is best when your body weight doesn’t fluctuate up and down. Keeping it constant is best for your cardiovascular system.

Running

Continuing to run can help maintain body weight during the offseason.

Add a half marathon to your winter calendar and continue training in the offseason.

The best way to keep the weight off is to run, but not like Forest Gump! Have a plan to continue running by entering a half marathon in the early part of next year. There are two great events coming up: 3M Half Marathon and the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. The key to improving your physiology and keeping the weight off is to work on your stride rate. This means faster, possibly shorter strides during your long runs to improve the cardiovascular development in your legs. Try to pick up the stride rate without increasing your pace per mile or effort. A faster stride rate will help you develop capillaries deeper in the muscle. This will help fuel the legs better and flush lactic acid quicker. A good 3-6 weeks of this technique will help you keep the weight off until its time to work on the strength building phase of your training plan. Maximizing your power-to-weight ratio will allow you to find greater efficiencies across all three sports in triathlon.

Swimming

In addition to working on a faster stride rate in running, there are other ways to increase the cardiovascular network using the other sports.  In swimming, you can incorporate longer, aerobic sets with shorter rest intervals. A good example would be 4-6 x 800s as a workout. Of course, you may say “how boring can that be?” So working on your technique during these sets is a must. Try taking a technique clinic to make sure you learn the proper forms of efficiency swimming.  Long sets with bad technique can set you back rather than move you forward.

Cycling

Cycling in the offseason can improve your cardiovascular system.

Cycling in the offseason can improve your cardiovascular system.

With regards to your cycling, keeping a heavy emphasis on high cadence work will also aid in increasing your cardiovascular network. This may keep you in smaller gears than you are used to and maintaining your cadence at 90+ rpms for 70% of the ride time. If you don’t have a cadence meter, a good substitute is to count one leg for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get your rpms. During the winter months, we find ourselves riding indoors and on a trainer more often. Focusing on high cadence in these indoor sessions will give more purpose to your training. Spin classes are a good place to work on this. However, using your own bike with a trainer is best as you keep your body position constant to how you will be riding on the road.

Setting goals and having a purpose for your offseason training will help you stay motivated and focused during the winter training.  Best of all, these few tips will help you have a much more successful racing season in 2019.

Introducing the Official Bike Mechanic for Kerrville Tri – James Balentine, owner of City Limit Cycles

Tune-up your bike and know how to change your own flat tire before race day. If you arrive in Kerrville and something occurred to your bike during transit, James and his City Limit Cycles van will be at your service during bike check-in on Friday and Saturday. James is also turning wrenches race morning (both days) should last-minute issues arise. He’ll set up shop at the southeast corner of T1 (off Guadalupe St.) Saturday and Sunday morning.

For more than two decades, James worked as a bike mechanic at bike shops, including a decade as Head Mechanic for Jack & Adam’s Bicycles in Austin. For the past 14 years, James has traveled the world volunteering as the mechanic at Triathlon World Championships for Team USA. He has also helped Olympians for Team USA Paratriathlon in Brazil and continues to volunteer for Team USA Paratriathletes.

James likes bikes. He likes to see and hear them running perfectly because he likes to see you riding them with a smile. His service experience is built around a lifetime passion for all things cycling. He’s been a pro racer, a pro mechanic, and pro-level bike geek.

Through it all, James brings a high level of professionalism and attention to detail. He has cared for all kinds of riders from recreational to pro and literally every kind of bike on the planet! Click To Tweet

City Limit Cycles is James’ mobile bicycle repair company. Now a world-class bike mechanic comes to your door so you can focus on what you love most – more saddle time. We’re lucky to have someone of his caliber at Kerrville Tri for the entire weekend. Follow City Limit Cycles on Facebook. and follow his bike cleaning advice!

Be prepared for the inevitable, learn how to change your tubular

Changing a tubular. Get ready for fun. Seriously! Many factors can lead to the need to change your tubular. Regardless of what happens, the fact remains, you still need to learn how. Make sure you have the materials below before beginning this process. Follow the directions and you’ll be cycling again in no time.

Materials needed:

  1. tubular tire (and wheel)
  2. clear glue, Hutchinson Tubular
  3. pump
  4. patience
  5. valve extender
  6. Teflon tape (used in plumbing)

Directions:

Before you begin to change your tubular, be sure to stretch out the new tire before trying to mount it on the wheel. You can do this by stepping on the inside of the tire and pulling the rest of the tire up towards you. You’ll hear it stretch. Using the Teflon tape, wrap the top of the Presta valve (after unscrewing the top of the valve) with Teflon tape. Now screw the valve extender onto the valve stem, making sure to leave the valve open. Take the glue and leave a bead of glue around the rim about 1/4 inch thick. Insert the valve through the valve stem hole. As you pull the tire down over the wheel be sure to stretch it and the tire should slip on the wheel. Inflate the tire to about 50 or 60 lbs. so the tire takes it shape. Let the wheel dry for 24 to 48 hours before riding. BE SURE TO INFLATE TIRE TO MAXIMUM PSI, for most conditions 140 is sufficient. Failure to inflate tires before riding could result in a race day crash. No one wants that.

You should strive for a clean drivetrain

While you’re hanging around this summer, why not try your hand at making sure you have a clean drivetrain? With these simple steps, you’ll be the grease monkey you always dreamed of being! Not only that, but keeping your drivetrain clean and lubed extends the life of your bicycle and helps maintain proper shifting performance and pedaling efficiency.

Steps:

1. When riding primarily on roads, you should clean and re-lube your chain at least once every three or four rides, depending on the conditions (rain, excessive road grit, etc.).

2. Run the chain backward through a clean cotton rag until the chain is fairly clean and dry. Lube the chain with your favorite lube, making sure that some lube gets on each link. Run chain back through the rag once more to remove excess lube. Don’t have a favorite chain lube? Check out 2 of our favorites White Lightning Clean Ride or Bike Medicine Purple Extreme.

3. Clean the cassette or freewheel. You can “floss” the cassette or freewheel with a clean rag to remove built-up gunk. If it is really dirty, you may want to scrub the cassette or freewheel cogs with an old toothbrush and some de-greaser.

4.  Wipe off your front and rear derailleur. Afterward, spray the derailleur pivots with a light, penetrating lube.

5. Wipe off your chainrings from time to time with a clean rag. If they are really dirty, you may want to scrub them with an old toothbrush and some de-greaser.

6. Clean the rear derailleur jockey wheels from time to time with a clean rag to prevent the build-up of gunk.

Tips:

If your chain is really dirty, you may need to remove it to clean it properly. However, if you regularly follow the steps above, you will not need to do this. You can buy chain cleaning kits which run the chain through a solvent bath. You can also use a wide mouth soda bottle, Gatorade bottle, or old water bottle as a chain bath. Again, following the recommendations above should keep your drivetrain clean.

You should generally replace your chain every 2000 miles. If you wait longer than that, your old chain may begin to put undue wear on your cassette or freewheel. Don’t forget to wash your bike!

Happy cleaning!

James Balentine, owner of City Limit Cycles