Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Solid Advice For Cyclists

There was a cool article in this month's Bicycling Magazine called 101 Ways to Transform Your Cycling Life.  It gave little tips on how to be better on the bike.  Many of these ideas seem elementary and basic, but I thought some were worth repeating.  Here is my short list of favorites:

1.  Move around on your seat to emphasize different muscle groups.  Moving forward accentuates the quads, while moving backward emphasizes the hamstrings and glutes.

2.  Handlebar width should equal shoulder width.  A wider bar opens your chest for breathing; a narrower one is generally more aerodynamic.  Pick the one that favors your riding style.

3.  As your effort becomes harder, increase the force of your breaths rather than the frequency.

4.  On descents, your bike is much more stable when you're pedaling than when you're coasting.

5.  Put your left foot down when stopping to prevent greasy chainring "tattoos" on your right calf.

6.  Always ride with your elbows bent and your arms and shoulders relaxed.  This prevents fatigue caused by muscle tension.  It also absorbs shock instead of transmitting it to your body.

7.  To build confidence in a paceline, start by staying one bike length from the rider in front of you, then gradually close the gap as your experience and ability increase.  Once you can ride comfortably within a wheel's length, you'll be getting most of the benefit of drafting, which can reduce by up to 35 percent the effort it takes to maintain a given speed.  Draft!  Draft!  Draft!

8.  When you cast a crisp shadow on the road, take the opportunity to check your position -- are your elbows bent, back naturally flat, knees slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke, head up without being torqued at the neck?

9.  After you grab your water bottle, don't tilt your head to drink.  Tilt the bottle and squeeze the water in.  You'll have more control.

10.  The key to smooth, reliable, nondamaging gear changes when you're pushing hard is to ease your pedal pressure at the instant you move the shift lever.  You need to lighten the load on the chain for about one revolution so it won't balk, crunch, or possibly break.  Then hit the power again.

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