How to Prevent Sunburn When You’re Cycling

The signature ‘cyclist’s tan’ may help you recognise fellow roadies, but long days cycling in the sun can have a more serious impact. Studies from Cancer Research UK found the amount of men and women dying from skin cancer has increased in the last three decades, suggesting that we fail to treat our skin with the respect it deserves when it comes to sun damage.

Source: How to prevent sunburn when you’re cycling

The article fails to mention that there are sweat-proof sunscreen lotions available.  The jury is still out on whether sunscreen even helps with respect to skin cancer, as roughly a third of reported cases occur in non-exposed portions of skin (potential indication of genetic predisposition).

Why It’s Faster to Ride Hard into a Headwind Than With a Tailwind

Is it faster to push hard when the riding is easy, or when the going gets tough? Should you expend extra watts when you’ve got a strong tailwind (or a long downhill), or when you’re battling a stubborn headwind? The answer may surprise you…

Source: Why it’s faster to ride hard into a headwind than with a tailwind

A large of the the equation is knowing what you’re capable of, and how that relates to the course.  Which requires knowing the course…

How to Lose 90 Pounds and Turn Pro – One Man’s Story

In his senior year of high school in small-town Texas, Mitchell Sides weighed 250 pounds (113kg). Today he is racing as a professional on Elevate Cycling, weighing just over 160 pounds. His main advice for losing weight by riding bikes? Consistency.

Source: How to lose 90 pounds and turn pro – one man’s story

To be fair, the story is impressive but it’s not going to be the outcome for most of us.  But it is possible to make positive life choices, and easier if the choice involves doing exercise you enjoy.

Skip Insane Airline Fees When Traveling with a Bicycle with the “Bananas Box and Chop” Method

The video is quite low budget, but the airline fees for bikes are crazy.  More than crazy, I’ve heard numerous stories about fees being inconsistently applied.  Little to no cost for one flight, $300+ for the next – all the stories suggest that the fee is entirely discretionary by the attendant you are dealing with.

Another issue with putting a bike on a plane is the nightmare when there’s damage.  So as much as the packing tip is interesting, I’d be really hesitant to use it for sake of needing to claim damage.

The most interesting tip I got recently was a friend shipped their bike.  A shop broke the bike down and packed in a box for a fat bike.  For those who don’t know what a “fat bike” is, they’re a recent  fad in cycling intended for bombing around in snow.  No suspension, but enormous tires (which provide suspension of a sort).  So there’s lots of space in a fat bike box that can be packed to really minimize damage to the frame and parts…  I don’t know the cost, but it might be worth shipping separately if that is possible.

Why a Softer Bicycle Seat Won’t Help Your Sore Butt

If your butt or crotch is hurting you when you’re riding you bicycle, you might be surprised to learn that your seat (or saddle) is probably not the problem. That’s right! For most people experiencing butt or crotch pain when cycling, buying a new saddle is usually a last resort.

Source: My Butt Hurts When I Ride My Bicycle. What Kind of Saddle Do You Recommend?

I was really lucky – the saddle I got fit perfectly.  It was what allowed me to move to a full carbon saddle (all of it, not just the rails) without any issues.  With the measurements, I was able to shop with confidence.

Finding out about your hip bones is very important.  Once that is out of the way, adjusting the saddle is easy to do yourself – it generally requires an allen/hex key and some trial-and-error.  Saddle height for most means pain in the legs, not butt.  Just make sure it’s in line with the top tube when you tighten things down.

Review: Pearl Izumi Race RD III cycling shoes

I bought the Pearl Izumi Race RD 3 shoes a little over a year ago.  Since then, I’ve ridden 1,000’s of KM in both local group rides, over 10 triathlons, and other excursions.

When I started riding, I recall that velcro was generally the only option available.  Which is still the defacto (to my knowledge) for elite triathletes…  I don’t know if it was Shimano that made the strap & buckle (they currently employ) popular, but Shimano has never deviated from the strap & buckle.  Moving to the strap & buckle was nice because for me, it meant a better, tighter fit at the ankle.  Which translated into more power to the pedal vs velcro.  The buckle setup has two buttons – one for tightening, and another for releasing so you can get out of the shoe quickly.  But what I encountered over the years with the strap & buckle was that the strap degraded over time.  Some more quickly than others, and more importantly – I haven’t found anywhere that sells the strap so I could take the shoes to a cobbler & replace the old strap.  So with eventual wear, strap & buckle was eventually par with velcro (if not worse).

Pearl Izumi Race RD III

I’d seen BOA setups on various cycling shoes but mostly the Specialized brand.  I read a little, but never remembered to ask the people I’d seen wear shoes with BOA laces as I didn’t see these people ride with the shoes for a long time.  But it didn’t stop me when I saw the BOA design that Pearl Izumi has started using since 2014.  A big complaint I’d heard from others was that the BOA dial has “traditionally” been to the left/right of the tongue on the respective shoe, which made it prone to damage in the event of a crash.  It’s much less likely to happen when the dial is in the middle of the tongue.

Another complaint I’d heard about “traditional” BOA setups was that getting slack could be a problem.  The BOA on the Race RD 3 appears to be the L5 (Low Power Reel) system, meaning it only supports one direction – you turn the knob in one direction to tighten the laces.  If you need slack, your only option is to pull up on the knob to release the clutch before fiddling with your foot & shoe to get slack.  Then you push the knob back down to engage the system & tighten as desired.  I personally never had a moment on the bike where I needed to do this, but compared to any other shoe retention system – there’s no concern for laces or straps getting caught in the drivetrain/etc, leading to problems for yourself or anyone close to you.  I also had no problems getting slack to get my foot out of the shoes in transition – you just pull up the knob until it clicks, and remove your foot.

Compared to the Shimano R087’s I previously wore, I found the Race RD 3 fit to be light years better.  I only ever felt the strap of the R087 across the top of my foot at the ankle.  When I wear the Race RD 3’s, I feel securely wrapped from just behind the ball of the foot to the end of my arch/start of my heel.  This means my shoes are free to move with the confidence that the sole goes where I want it.  With respect to speed in transition at T2, I went a size up because getting out required a lot of work – hands had to be used because I couldn’t get the heel-toe trick to work.  I’ve been very happy with that decision, but admittedly it would not have been an issue to me if I was solely using these shoes for road riding.

Compared to strap & buckle, I don’t think there’s any difference to time with respect to getting in or out of the shoes.  Getting out, both setups have a means to instantly release tension.  But I give BOA the higher score because you’re unlikely to engage the BOA for tightening than the button on the strap & buckle (which only works for as long as you hold the button down).  Neither exposes you to danger either.  Getting the shoes dialed once your foot is in – again, roughly equal time.  Sometimes you can speed up the strap & buckle by pushing from the strap, but fine tuning still requires using the ratchet.  BOA, you push down the knob (if not already engaged) and turn.  There’s no speeding up the BOA, but you could preset a tension once your foot is out of the shoe.  However, this would potentially complicate getting your foot in as there’d be less slack.  Neither requires strength or a lot of dexterity, but with strap & buckle – you can loose time if the strap comes out of the buckle.  Which will never happen with the BOA…  It took a little while to get the hang of releasing the BOA knob, but either I’ve broken it in or just figured it out.  It’s easy to work with, but I would not suggest BOA to someone with bad arthritis.

While the sole on the Race RD 3 is not the carbon fiber of the higher up Pearl Izumi models, I have not noticed flex.  That’s speaking from sprinting to speeds upwards of 60 KM/h.  I am also what cyclists call a “gear masher” – my spin is significantly slower than the optimal 80-100 RPM (or higher) cadence that everyone religiously tells others to do.  So my pedaling style would be more likely to see flex than others.

The Race RD 3’s provide holes for both 3 bolt (road) and two bolt (mountain) cleats.  I use Speedplays when road riding, which requires the three to four bolt adapter plate.  I did break the shoes in on my commuter, using egg beater pedals.  I would not recommend the Race RD 3 as a commuter shoe, because there is no cleat protection whatsoever.  Which also makes walking difficult…  There’s also no means of removing the two bolt mount plate, or filling the holes.  I have no idea why Pearl Izumi decided to include the two bolt mount.

I did eventually speak to others who’ve had BOA shoes for a long time.  What they told me was that when it goes, it goes fast.  I didn’t get an idea of how long the lifespan was for the BOA (which would depend on riding anyways), but that replacements are available at roughly $5/shoe online.  There’s quite a few videos on youtube about replacing a BOA system, and generally only requires a small hex key (to remove & install the ratchet) and scissors (to trim the lace).  It’s been a year, and I average about a century (100 miles) a week – no issues to date.

For me, it’s the retention system (laces, velcro, etc) that generally what motivates moving to a new pair of shoes.  The uppers and the sole generally aren’t a problem, and it’s more common now that the heel is replaceable.  So I’m anticipating having these shoes for a very long time, making the investment worthwhile.  I don’t see myself ever buying a replacement that is not BOA equipped.

You Won’t Believe the Things Women in the Bike Biz Get Asked

As crazy as it sounds, sooner or later you’ll encounter a woman working in a bike shop. We offer some hints on how to communicate with this rare species, because 1) it’s just polite and 2) they’re happily becoming a whole lot less rare.

Source: You won’t believe the things women in the bike biz get asked

Some even race!  Get sponsorships…

I believe women participating in building my cyclocross bike, welding and such.

Penny In Yo’ Pants Launches Indiegogo Campaign

Penny In Yo’ Pants, the concept that became an internet sensation in 2014, is back with a new product and a crowdfunding campaign to get it into production.

The original concept was simple: combine a penny and an elastic band and you have a novel way of transforming a skirt into shorts when cycling. The idea and the associated video quickly went viral online, with coverage in the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, BBC World News and Cosmopolitan magazine.

Source: Penny In Yo’ Pants launches Indiegogo campaign

19 days left!

I thought I’d covered the original approach, but it seems that I might have only mentioned it in a post rather than dedicated one. 😦

Cycling: About Women Specific Bikes

It’s rubbish – there is no such thing.  Here’s why –

There is a variety of body types, shapes and sizes.  And that has nothing to do with gender.  Some will have a longer inseam (legs) than others, just as torso and arms.  Height simply does not tell the entire story.

Important Measurements

The one of two measurements that matter on a bike is the effective top tube length.  I mention “effective” for a reason – on some bikes, the actual tube is sloped.  On bikes with a step-through, the top tube is extremely low and sometimes curved.  The reason this is important is because if too small, you’ll be hunched over – uncomfortable.  You can make this work by compensating with a longer stem, but it will impact steering.  If the effective top tube is too long, there’s not really anything that can be done – you’ll be overextended.

The second important measurement is your inseam length.  There’s no connection/correlation of torso length to inseam length, on anybody.  But the inseam length will give you a starting point for what frame size to be trying.

The length of the crank arm (where the pedals attach) is useless.  There are studies to demonstrate that there is no value in having a longer crank arm.  In reality, a longer crank arm means:

  • more material, thus more weight
  • less distance between the tip of the crank arm and the ground when the arm is at the 6 o’clock position – less clearance.

Road crank arms are typically 170 mm, and increment by 2.5 mm.  The impact of changing cranks arms that are different lengths?  Your seat/saddle needs to be adjusted.

Bike Fitting

I can not stress how important it is to get a bike fit.  Some are incredibly equipped for this – sensors to indicate which leg is dominant when you pedal, and your hip orientation/weighting on the seat/saddle.  Someone should be watching you ride to tweak where necessary – the experience must be more than using a plumb bob.  A bike fitter should be able to give you information that you can then use to shop for bikes in the future.

What is Women Specific about Bicycles?

The saddle?  In reality this is as personal a choice as any component, including the bike.  Something that fits your seat bones is the primary concern, but beyond that – some like/want cushion (gel padded seats were once the rage), some don’t.  Some prefer something minimalist, like the Adamo.  I have a full carbon race saddle.  When I say “full carbon”, I mean – it is entirely carbon fiber.  I love it – it’s incredibly light at ~100 grams, and I’ve always been comfortable on it (stop wincing).   My only complaint is the saddle likes to catch on my cycling bib material when I’m out of the saddle, and has torn the material.

I’ve seen some complaints that women’s bikes should be lighter.  Sorry, but clearly these people aren’t aware that everyone wants a lighter bike.  It’s a privilege you have to pay for.  That said, components don’t get lighter.  The reality is that if there were lighter alternatives, men who cycle would buy it too.  Even if you put pink on it…  One would think that kids bikes would have benefited from crossover with women’s bikes, but that’s yet to be the case.  Part of the issue with kids bikes is that kids likely outgrow the bikes…

It’s not that the industry pushed this on the consumer.  The reality is that women in general assume that there is something inherently male about bicycles, so the branding was necessary to attract them.  Admittedly, the colour options aren’t great.  Cycling isn’t as bad as golf, but the spandex/lycra aspect puts it pretty close.

That said, like anything – a custom order will be a better idea for anyone.  Which is possible, but again – you will pay more for this vs an off-the-shelf model.  On that note, I would never buy someone’s custom bike for the fact it would likely not be good for me.

What Bike Would You Recommend?

For your first “real” bike?  Cyclocross (CX).

A CX frame falls between a road and touring for setup.  Meaning, it won’t be as aggressive as a road bike, but more aggressive than a touring style bike.  That translates into comfort…

Next, a CX frame typically has eyelets/mounts for fenders and a rear rack, and supports wide tires.  Road frames typically do not have any of these features.  You can Gerry-rig something, but it’s not ideal.  There’s nothing that can be done for tire clearance, and most find smaller tires to provide a harsher ride…

It’s apparent why I recommend a CX bike.  If you aren’t a pro cyclist, you still have a bike that can do pretty much anything: commuting, touring, road, offroad…  If you’re inclined – you can do road racing on a CX frame.  But no one recommends riding a road frame on a CX route.