Gary's Cycling Tips

Various cycling tips from our longtime and former ride leader, Gary Johnson.

Riding tempo
You hear this term being used in professional racing especially when there is a breakaway of riders and the main group wants the gap between them and the breakaway to remain the same, or come down in order to set up their sprinters for the win.

So, tempo usually is a speed between 28mph-35mph. The speed is consistently 1-2mph. on a flat road. It slows down slightly going uphill, and will pick up speed going downhill before returning to the original speed.

This consistent speed eliminates an accordion effect, slowing and speeding up. Here's a good example that we use on our rides in the spring when there is a cross wind.

You've heard me call out to the group referring to the magic number being 17mph. For rider safety and consistency this is the speed not only to control the mph., but the most efficient way a group of riders can go from point A to B without going into the "red zone" as far as heart rate and wattage used.

Drafting and echelons
Here's an excellent video explaining drafting techniques used by the pros.

Keep that spare bike
Here's a helpful tip that I have lately experienced. Always keep a spare bike in the stable just in case something happens to your regular machine. On Memorial Day my Ridley got sick on a Flanders ride at 19mph. 5 broken rear spokes, and my front derallieur some how being yanked off my seat tube with frame damage. Adrian who is the wrench at Flanders Cycle told me it will be at least a month before hearing about a possible new frame set. Now, I have discovered a new appreciation for my Serotta back up and life goes on with a smile!!

Staying comfortable on longer rides
Simply changing your riding position by gearing up 2-3 gears, and standing out of the saddle as if you were climbing a hill even when the road is flat will help promote blood flow to other parts of your body. Be careful to add extra leg power to the cranks when doing this so your bike doesn't go backwards. Don't know if you've noticed that I do this at least once every ride. Even 10 seconds feels good before you hit the saddle again.

Also switching your hand position on the bars often from riding the tops, to on top of the brake hoods to going into the drops will help with the pressure you can get to your ulnar nerve in the palm of your hand which causes that numb feeling you get especially early in the riding season.

Navigating roundabouts
Roundabouts are becoming more popular as you know. They can also mean a more dangerous situation for bike riders. I'm going to give the one on Hwy. 3 just a few miles south of Rosemount as an example. Since it's a single lane one you need to pay attention to vehicles behind you just before entering the circle. Look over your left shoulder and if there's a vehicle coming up on you you have 2 choices to make in a hurry. Either slow down and let them enter the circle 1st, or single with your hand that you are taking up the whole lane. The reason for this is to not get pinched between you and that car with no escape route. Remember that "two objects can't occupy the same space at the same time". The two lane roundabouts are much safer. Be careful out there.

Staying hydrated
With the heat and humidity brings proper preparation as far as fluid intake. If competing tomorrow your extra fluid intake should start now at least 24 hrs. before your event. During the race under these conditions means drinking every 10 minutes when racing. Another thing to consider, is to have a person set up in the "feed zone" usually at the top of a hill to hand you a water bottle.

Don't try a new product in your water bottle without tying it well before hand. I tried straight Gatorade once before a race and regretted it ever since. Now I dilute it with 50% water, 50 % Gatorade. Adding a product like Saltstick caps which is a buffered electrolyte salt to your intake during and after competition can also help with cramping if you sweat a lot.

Buy Local
With the popularity of buying online comes a "big hit" to our local bike shops especially the smaller independent ones. Yes, we've all been lured at least one time or another to let our fingers do the shopping. As an example, one of the biggest complaints I've heard from shop owners is that people will come into the shop to try on a pair of shoes. They get the feel and size of the shoes they like and walk out the door never to come back and make that purchase. This is also true of a bike purchase after taking a certain model out for a test ride.

So here's my take on this subject. It's called customer satisfaction knowing that if there is a problem with the your purchase or a warranty issue your bike shop can handle the complaint with a quick response. I'm sure this makes sense if you think about it. To save you money especially on a large ticket item like a bike you should check to see if being a club member of the Saint Paul Bicycle Racing Club which Grand Performance sponsors. This might save you a little more than what we receive. Having a good relationship with a local bike shop can also pay extra dividends in customer service like the possibility of going to the front of the line to have a simple fix done while you wait.

Mid-season maintenance
I have 24 places on my machine to check to make sure nothing is loose. You might be surprised at what has loosened up that can be a problem out on the road. Don't forget your cleat bolts on your shoes. Check the hub bearings on your wheels by spinning them between your thumb and forefinger. You shouldn't feel any resistance or roughness. Also there should be very little play in the bearings.

Staying upright when you touch wheels
Wheel touches occur when your front wheel makes contact with the rear wheel of the rider in front of you which unfortunately happened to Tony Martin the Tour de France leader in yesterday's stage. I'm a little surprised that the commentary crew never mentioned what to do if this happens to you because it happens a lot in close contact racing. A wheel touch causes you to loose your balance. You panic, and usually fall to the left if the touch happens on the right side of the wheel in front of you. Just the opposite if the touch happens on the left. So, here's an answer that will help you avoid this most of the time.

If you loose your balance you have a "split second" of reaction time. Simply steer your front wheel into the riders rear wheel on the right side if falling to the left. Most of the time it will straighten you back up. Just the opposite if falling to the right.

Why do cyclists ride two abreast? - good article from bikewalknc.org

Paceline tips
Paceline tips (with visuals) from Bikebarn.com
Tips from the New York Cycle Club

Base Training
Global Cycling Network has many videos regarding our sport. This one about base training was recently posted is one in my mind that is so very important. This is why when we first hit the road in the spring we keep the speed a little slower and the mileage less until your form starts to improve.

I would like you to consider commuting to work on the bike if you don't already. Even if it's just a couple times a week 2x per day rides will change your fitness dramatically. Something to consider this coming spring.

Off-season training
Weather you belong to a health club or not here is some important information that many ignore for winter workouts.

We as cyclists think that we are in great shape physically because we ride 3,000-6,000 miles in the summer right? Well, yes and no. 15 years ago a friend of mine who has been riding lots of miles since the 70's had an issue with bone breakage on two separate rides. To make a long story short, he was diagnosed with "brittle bone disease". His doctor suggested that he needs to also include LOAD BEARING exercises into his routine. This is especially important the older we get. Since then, I have worked on this during the winter months, and I know it has had a positive effect on my health.

With a little research into what bike related exercises I can do, this is what I found that works best for me. They include:
The treadmill for 1 mile at 3.5-4.3 mph as a warmup.
Bicep curls
Leg extensions
Reverse leg extensions
Lat pull downs
Sit ups
Roman Chair (reverse sit ups)
Dips
Pull ups
Leg press machine
Push ups
Stretching and flexibility.

Using good form, focusing on high reps 15-20 done slowly, times 3 sets each, and 3 times a week. I prefer to use machines vs free weights which is simply a personal choice. Both types will give you positive results going into the new riding season. Just doing simple sit ups, push ups and pull ups at home can achieve better than nothing results.

Cold weather riding
Going with more layers is always best because you can shed them as the ride progresses with the temperature and stuff it in your jersey pockets. Booties and long finger gloves are a must. Remember this simple tip: If you are a little chilly for the first 2-3 miles you should be good to go as your body temp slowly rises. Of course sunny days versus cloudy windy ones will also effect your clothing choice.

Simple leg strengthening exercises
Here is a simple leg exercise you can do even at work in your spare time. Warning, your co-workers might give you some funny looks.
Simply back up to a chair. Raise your left leg and put the top of your foot arch down on the seat. Standing on your right foot with it about 2 feet out from the edge of the chair your knee cap should be over the center of your foot when looking straight down. Use your body weight to do a simple squat not letting your quads go deeper than horizontal from the floor. I clasp my hands together behind my lower back and start my reps. You might have to make a few slight adjustments in your stance to feel comfortable. The nice thing about this is, no equipment needed. Your body weight will provide all the resistance needed and you will improve your balance which is also important. Start out with 30 reps on the right leg, then switch over to the left leg. Soon you will be up to 50 reps times two for each leg. Also notice how your heart rate responds!! This is my secret, and now it's yours.

Cleaning your shifters
Here is some good advice I received from Jay Henderson of Hollywood Cycles. Keeping your shifting mechanism clean is, I'm guessing something you never think about. All it takes is a few minutes and is so simple. Pull back your hoods on your brakes, tip the bike upside down and use a few Q-tips between all the moving parts to maintaining good shifting. Jay says the cheaper Q-tips work better than the brand name because they are more likely not to leave behind any cotton. Additionally, it's a good idea to occasionally clean the cable guides under your bottom bracket. Warm, soapy water will take care of the sticky residue that can be left from your water bottles.

Wider is better?
Alot of the guys who I know that have racing for a long time are switching from riding 23c's to 25c's and here's why. Yes, 25's are a little heavier, but I want you to put away your lighter is better attitude here because 25's not only provide a larger foot print on the road, but provide a more racing tire (tubulars, sew ups) effect that you can feel on the road. And with the combination of some wheel sets like the Hed Ardennes you can also ride with a little lower air pressure than the typical 100-110lbs. without sacrificing rolling resistance. I'm also impressed with the fact I have not had a flat in 3,000 mi. which has never happened in the past. And with the wheel set and a pair of Continental Grand Prix 4000 or 4000S my rear tire mileage has increased to 3,000 miles with my body weight at 165. Even though they are pricey at $ 70.-75 per tire I think you will like the change. Of course Dan Casebeer at Grand Performance has prices on these to Rosemount Cycling members cheaper than you can find them on line a lot of the time.

Avoiding flats
I have noticed that some riders do not take an extra 10 seconds to wipe off their tires after going through glass. This takes a little practice especially for the rear tire. It's a real "bummer" when your feeling great on the bike and having a flat as you all know too well. Also after washing your machine check the tires for embeded glass that can eventually work it's way to the tube. A sharp tool like an awl or large needle works great. I average 2-3 flats every year riding 5,000 miles.

If you get into an accident
This is a subject that everyone who rides a bike does not want to think about, but is very important. If you ever get into an accident with a car when out riding it's always a good idea to call 911 and get a police report no matter how insignifigant you might think it is at the time. 30 years ago I was hit from behind by an 83 year old man that was not paying any attention to me. A friend of mine at a local well know law firm gave some great advice on what to do said, whatever you decide, never sign a release form from an insurance company until at least a year later. Hope you will never find a need for this!

Calling out a flat tire
To avoid any confusion when experiencing a flat tire, try and remember to raise your hand and come to a coasting stop. This can eliminate a possible crash by letting everyone around you know what's happening in a group setting. In the Pro peleton a right hand means a rear flat, and a left means a front tire. But for us any hand will work.

Ride etiquette
All group rides experience new riders that show up and ride like they have something to prove as far as their speed and aggressive riding. As recently as last Wed. on the fast Penn Cycle ride, this happened and PO'd a few people. Even Paul Inkala's ride is a group ride in which he tries his hardest to make it enjoyable for everyone including group up spots on the route and stopping for flats. So here's a helpful tip that will keep you out of hot water when riding other group rides. Leave your Superman Cape behind and check your ego. There is an old school saying that goes like this: Do As They Do, Not As You Do!

Climbing tips
This simple tip which I have mentioned before deserves it again. Most every rider has a weakness in all 3 riding disciplines. Time trialing, sprinting or climbing. You all have been in the position of being the last rider to get to the top of a climb at one time or another, only to be gapped when that heart of yours at between 150-180 bpms says please stop. And of course catching back up to the group at this point is nearly impossible. So, I've got the remedy that can help. Before you get to the climb position yourself if not at the front, close to it. That way as you drift back being passed by other riders hopefully you won't be at the back when the climb ends. For steeper ascents try and not look at the top. Concentrate on what's 10-30 ft. in front of you. Also standing if possible as long as you can, and keeping a smaller gear vs. a larger and higher rpm's will also help you improve this weakness. Practice, practice when you are out on a solo ride!

Drafting
Either the wind can be your friend or foe. Even the Pro's can misjudge the effects it can have in a race from time to time. The name of the game is conserving energy. That's what I do on the Wed. night Penn Cycle rides which usually average 22-23 mph. Knowing which direction it is from, and getting into position especially prior to taking turns that can quickly change a tailwind into a severe crosswind is paramount to surviving til the end. On our rides that's why you might here me say ride further to the right or left in order to benefit everyone in back of the lead rider. Keep this tip on your mind all the time and you to will be a better more accomplished rider because of it.

DIY Repairs
If you would like the challenge and self satisfaction of fixing your bike yourself visit parktool.com for lots of videos on do it yourself repairs, and tons of other helpful info. Means more $ to spend at Starbucks.

Removing a stuck seat post
Here is an interesting article in Velo News regarding Stuck Seat Posts. If you fail to do some maintainance of cleaning and loosening at least once a year, you might become stuck with this same problem which could be big. Every year at the end of the season I take mine out, clean it, and add a light coat of high quality grease to the post. I also put a fine bead of silicone where the post itself meets the seat tube. This will help prevent water from running down the post into the tube itself. Simple but, effective. I have never had a problem.

Osteoporosis in cyclists
There have been studies that have shown that cycling alone without some sort of cross-training can cause low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue over time. This is because cycling is considered a low impact sport. One study compared the bone densities of cyclists, runners and weight lifters, and found the cyclists had the lowest. I personally know of a couple riders from our area who in the past have been evaluated with brittle bone disease. Of course this can come as a surprise to a rider that logs at least 5,000 mi. per year. Consider doing some sort of weight training, at least in the off season, and increasing your calcium intake to at least 800 mg daily, and women about 1,200 mg. Vitamin D is also essential to bone health, and while sunshine is an excellent source, wise use of sunscreen can block vitamin D production. Many multivitamins contain anywhere from the daily value of 400 International Units (IU) up to more likely effective and appropriate dose of 800-1,000 IU daily.

Chamois cream
For those of you who are fairly new to our sport, and are doing a long ride that involves more than 2 hrs. of saddle time, I highly recommend some sort of chamois cream to protect you from chaffing and the dreaded "saddle sore" which in the past has kept even the pro's off the bike for a few days. The brand Chamois Butt'r Eurostyle is a good one that is formulated to create a cooling and soothing effect.

What's in your bag?
Everyone carries a saddle bag right? In yours you should have 2 tubes, 2 CO2 cartridges (16 gram) unless you carry a frame pump. A patch kit, tire irons, 10 bucks preferably in case you need to bribe a driver for a ride home. This $10 bill can also be used as a boot for the inside of your tire casing if you get a cut to big for a patch. But most importantly, is the need to have some form of ID and a contact # in case of an emergency. Hopefully you will never need the last item.

How to check carbon frames for damage
From VeloNews' Lennard Zinn:
"Inspect all tubes for cracks, gouges, buckles, dents, and paint stretching or cracking, especially near the joints where stress is highest. With a carbon frame, use the "coin test" to check for damage to underlying carbon layers. Tap on the tube with a quarter in the questionable areas and compare it with the sound on other tubes, in surrounding areas, and on the opposite side. If you have delamination or cracking in underlying carbon layers, especially in central areas away from the joints, you'll be able to hear the difference; the damaged fibers deaden the nice "clack" sound you hear when tapping on an undamaged tube. If in doubt, take it to an expert for advice. Carbon structures that look good on the outside shouldn't get softer unless the layers start delaminating, and the coin test may be able to detect such areas."

Use the correct brake pads for your wheels
When using full carbon wheels without a machined brake surface, make sure you use the correct brake pad to make sure you have adequate stopping power, not to mention so you don't ruin your investment! Many times these brake pads use cork instead of the rubber compound you are more familiar with.

Keep those tires aired up
Always air up your tires before every ride. Tires can loose up to 7 lbs. of pressure in 24 hrs. On the side wall of your tires you can find suggested psi info. You can safely add 10 lbs. to this number without any worry but, will give you a little harsher ride. I ride Continentals 4000 tire and always inflate my rear to 120, and front to 110. Having the correct psi will give you less rolling resistance while eliminating pinch flats from hitting something sharp and hard especially if you are a heavier rider.

Avoiding "man's best friend"
I got an idea for a TOTW from riding on a rural road in Iowa. Just a couple miles from my turn around 300 meters up the road stood 2 of "mans best friends" in the road. I have encountered many dogs in my years of riding of all different sizes but, this I could sense was not the time to test out an all out adrenalin rush and use my best sprinting abilities to get by them. What is it about mans best friend when he or she is on a bicycle? In the past we had a rider that had Fido wrapping his jaws around his calf. Jeff Thompson, in the mid 90's crashed hard breaking his helmet and ended up with a concussion. So here's what you do if Fido sees you coming and it's too late to sprint, and too late to turn around. First of all unclip your foot from the pedal on the dog side. Try yelling "NO" as loud as you can. A squirt from your water bottle in the face might buy you a couple seconds to make your escape. If you have a frame pump, a gentle rap on the snout might do the the trick. As a last resort that I used once for a Chow was to get off my bike and keep it between you and him. After what seemed to be an eternity but was only 3-4 minutes' the Chow lost interest in me and left leaving my heart red lining.

Chain maintenance
I always check my chain for excess stretch at around 2,000 miles. I laid out my old one, and laid the new one along the side of it to see how much the old one had stretched out. You should lay them together to make sure you break the new one at the same length as the old. The old one was 3/16th of an inch longer. This might not seem like a lot but, it is when you start talking about the extra wear it can put on your front chainrings and your cogset in the rear. I currently have over 20,000 mi. on my chainrings and my cassette. A new chain every 2,000 mi is cheap compared to what you will pay for the other drivetrain components. That 2,000. mi is based on aggressive riding, so if your riding is more laid back you might be able to get 3,000 mi. Of course with the new 11 speeds the chain plates are thinner, and you know what that means.

Ride Right
While on the Grand Performance Sprint ride, at the intersection of Cliff and Johnny Cake Rd. Joe Christian, who leads Mello Velo tours was hit from behind by a pickups passengers mirror on the left shoulder. Lucky for him, and he told me so, that the big mirror was ducked taped on so it broke away very easy. Dan Casebeer said that the pickup came very close to him while riding behind Joe. I was right behind Joe and to the right so I could see the whole thing. The driver sped away knowing what had happened. If Joe would have been just 1 ft. or less further to the left we would have been making a 911 call. The driver of the pickup had alot of room to avoid all this but he was the 1/10th of 1 % of the drivers who have this mentality towards bike riders on THEIR road.

Night Riding
Everyone who has tried riding the trainer knows what I'm talking about when I say, every minute on the trainer can seem like 5 min., unless you are one of the exceptions who can turn off your brain for an hour or two! To make the time go faster I recommend having a TV with the sound off, some rippin good music and a fan blowing on you, all at the same time. There is another solution, and that is check into buying a good light for night riding. I'm not talking about your average $40-60 models. Today your serious night rider is sporting a unit that will cost $200-$400 and I believe they are rated in candle power.

Sluggish Shifters
Bob McEnaney gave me an idea for another t.o.t.w. on last Sat. ride. When we were riding side by side, he said his bike wasn't shifting very well. I suggested that we stop and turn his rear derailleur adjuster half a turn counter clockwise. That did the trick! The problem is that shifter cables stretch out, especially if it is new. One way to avoid some of that is to pre-stress the new cable once it is on the bike. Grab the cable with your fingers at the chain stays and pull it away from the stays. That will stretch it out a little, but you will probably have to use the barrel adjuster for a fine adjustment later on when the cable stretches out again. Usually that will be the end of the stretching out. Just remember counter clockwise, and just a half turn at a time.

I received an email from Jay Henderson owner of Hollywood Cycles regarding my tip on pre-stressing your shift cables last week. He said that if you own a carbon fiber frame you do not want to stretch the cable by pulling on it at the chain stay. The hand pressure could pull the cable guide right off your frame. Thanks Hollywood, for the advice.

Cold Weather Clothing
I mentioned this little tip before and thought it worth while to mention again. Most of you drive to our ride on Saturday and you have a complete wardrobe of bike clothes with you. For those of us who ride to Dunn Bros. it can be a guessing game as far as how much to wear without overheating. I have more than once been under-dressed leaving the house only to turn back a mile later for something more. The rule of thumb that will help you is, you should be slightly uncomfortable for the first 3 mi. If you are OK after that then you are dressed just right.

Car Doors
Out here in Dakota County, we don't have to worry about this the way city cyclists do. I'm talking about riding by cars that are parked on the street. It is my experience that a lot of drivers that park on the street do not look into their side view mirrors before they open up their door. The best way to avoid an ugly end-o is to get used to looking for a head behind the wheel of the car, and always try and give yourself a little clearance of 3 ft. if possible without getting too far out in the traffic lane. Cleve Petersen, who I raced with and against had this happen to him on the Minnehaha Pkwy. in Minneapolis a long time ago. He found out something that not many cyclists know about. In a case like this, it is automatically the fault of the driver because technically it is illegal to open up your car door on the traffic side of the street.

Here is a web site that covers the "door prize" and other common bike/car collision senerios - bicyclesafe.com

Sunrise and Sunset
This is the time of the year in which we have to think about another safety factor, the sun. We have all experienced driving in our own cars, driving along and then turning to go east in the morning, our turning to go west at night. You can't flip that sun visor down quick enough, right?? This can be a dangerous thing especially if you are riding into that bright light on a road with no our very little shoulder. I personally have witnessed this twice since riding with a group. Luckely no one was seriously hurt. So take in consideration that the driver of any kind of vehicle can be blinded by the sun and not be able to see you.

Wheel Care
After a wet ride, do you happen to notice that whenever you apply the brakes you hear a sort of grinding sound coming from the brake pads? That’s because your rear and front wheels pick up a lot of fine grit, and when you brake it gets embedded in the brake pads and leads to rim wear. So to protect those expensive rims here’s some simple maintenance. As soon as you can, remove the wheels and take a piece of sandpaper in the 120-180 grit range and sand the face of the pads that make contact with the rim. Just a few passes will remove this grit and give you a lot longer wheel life.

Intersections
This tip of the week is a simple one that is a must. When entering an intersection where you do not have to stop, make sure you make "eye to eye" contact with that car or truck, and don't take for granted that they see you. You can also look at their front tire to see if it is moving. People out here in Dak. Co. are used to looking for something bigger than you and your bike. If in doubt, cover your brake levers.

Patches, Glue or Glueless
After Jerry's record of three flats in one ride two weeks ago I came up with this tip. Glueless patches are very convenient, but they have a higher failure rate when used with the high pressures of 100-120 psi. So if you have some of these glueless patches save them for your off road machine!

Bike Stand
I gave some information on this last year, and thought it needed mentioning again. I've had a bike stand for a very long time now, and before that I relied on leaning my machine against an outside wall, or even tipping it upside down on the grass to do periodical maintenance. If this sounds familiar to some of you and I know it does, it's time to "pony up" and buy a stand. Believe me once you have one you too will wonder why you didn't make this purchase long ago. Park Tool I believe has two or three different models. I suggest getting one that clamps onto your seat post rather than the top tube. The season is that now that a lot of bikes that are titanium and carbon fiber, you could damage your machine easily buy clamping on to these materials. If you do use one of these, be careful and use some wax paper between the clamp and the tube. One of these stands with your bike clamped on it, can be rotated 360 degrees, and locked in any position. If you go to ParkTool.com you can view the different ones. Does it seem like every time I give you a tip it involves $$$$$$?

Tire care
This is the most over looked areas on our bikes, and alot of the times it shows on alot of our rides involving flat tires. As far as I'm concerned, you get what you pay for when buying them. I ride Continental Grand Prix 4000. Last yr. I managed to put 2,300 miles on a rear tire, before changing it out. These have a Kevlar protection that seems to help prevent glass and other objects you might run over. Their price has gone up a little from last yr., and now sell for about 55 bucks. There are also other brands on the market, and all the top of the line tires are in the 45-55 dollar range. Inspect them often, and if you see something that looks like it might be a shard of glass, dig it out. An awl works great. Another thing you can do so your ride doesn't leave you stranded for 10-15 minutes is, always wipe off your tires with your hand when going over, or even close to glass in the road. It takes 5 whole seconds, and all your riding buddies will be happy you did. Wiping the tires off with your fingers takes a little practice, especially the rear. Be careful that your hand doesn't get caught between your tire, and the seat tube. Once you have practiced this a few times, you will be doing it like the Pro's.

Holding the bars
If you like to ride with your hands on the "tops", meaning the top of the bars alot, always make sure at least one thumb is wrapped under the bar. That way if you happen to hit a hole or deep crack unexpectedly, and it will happen if you ride alot, your hands won't slide off the bars which would more than likely cause you to crash, and possibly others.

Pivot points
I learned this from Scott Flanders many yrs. ago, and for those of you who know him, know that he is meticulous about his race bike being race ready at all times. At both the front and rear derailleurs there are points where, if you work the shift lever can see where a part will move against another part that won't. That is the pivot point, and it makes sense to give that point just 1 drop of light weight lubricant once in a while. The rear derailleur has 4 points, and the front also 4 points. I use the smallest plastic bottle of Triflow I can find. I inserted one of those spray tubes into the top, that way I can see that I'm using just a drop. Then wipe off the any excess.

How to help eliminate pinch flats
About 65% of your body weight is over the rear wheel. So if you encounter a rough set of railroad tracks, or even a pothole, getting off the saddle and leaning forward will transfer your weight more evenly between the front and the back wheel can prevent these.

Keep your head up
While riding in a group, especially at a fast speed, keep your head up and look beyond that rider in front of you. Remember drivers ed, and how they taught you to scan ahead and get the whole picture? The same holds true with us, in that looking ahead to see what's going on 4-5 riders ahead will give you more reaction time in case there is a crash. It will also be helpful in telling you when the speed will increase, or decrease, or if there is something in the road that doesn't get pointed out for some reason.

Is Your Water Bottle Toxic??
This article has all cyclists and hikers concerned. The U.S. government is expected to release a report on the safety of certain plastic water bottles containing the chemical compound bisphenol-A or BPA, which some scientists consider a health concern. Recent lab tests indicate that exposure to BPA may raise the risk of certain cancers, effect both male and female fertility and possibly enhance the risk of developing Type II diabetes at certain exposure levels. Look for a small triangle on the bottom of your bottles. The number inside the triangle indicates the category of plastic that is used to manufacture the bottle. Bottles that contain the number 3, 6, or 7 have either BPA or other chemicals that should be avoided. Most cycling bottles are made with No. 4 plastic.

Long Slow Distance
I know alot of you are so pressed for time to ride, and juggling family life makes your time on the bike even more important that you want to see results in your fitness. But for those of us who have more riding and training time available, I want to recommend LSD (Long Slow Distance) riding from time to time. One of my most memorable rides this year was with Brian Guitar. We did a 40 miler at an average speed of 18 mph. To sit along side of a riding partner and talk about a little of everything and also enjoying the scenery for a change instead of the wheel in front of you can bring rewards both to the fast rider, and the casual rider. Even the Pro's will fit a LSD ride into their training schedule every week.

Changing your cleats
The easy way of making sure your new cleats match up with the position of your old ones, and this is very important, is to use masking tape on the outside edge of the cleat in different places, or better yet scribe with an awl, or pen around the whole outside edge. I use both tape and an awl. But before your loosen things up, get on your bike and clip in both shoes while leaning up against something. Now, rotate backwards and when the inside of your shoe gets next to the chainstay, and with the heel itself in towards the stay as far as it will go, remember the distance between the two. For me it is 1/4 inch, and both should be close to equal. Now, one shoe at a time remove the cleats, and install the new one, and snug down the mounting bolts. Get back on the bike and repeat that measurement of the old one. If it is the same and your fore, aft, (front and back) was marked correctly, you should be good to go. Loosen up one bolt at a time, and apply a drop or two of blue threadlocker made by permatex to each bolt. Threadlocker can be purchased at any hardware store, but make sure it is the blue one, because the red one is not meant to be loosened again. After you do this to all the bolts, do the exact same thing to the other cleat. Hope all this makes sense to you! The ( toe in and toe out) are more important than the fore, aft position which should be the ball of your foot directly over the pedal spindle, or close. Don't panic if this position gives you just a little discomfort for a ride or two. But if this discomfort lasts for more than a couple of rides you'll have to recheck the cleat position.