1 12 2008

Folks, thanks for visiting this site but it’s now come time for me to completely move over to my new domain   Please update your bookmarks.  This is where I’ll be posting all content from now on.




How to Win Bike Races Even if You Are Out Numbered!

28 11 2008

Thanks to David Heatley from Cycling-Inform for this excellent tip. At Cycling-Inform they can help you set out a training plan that can incorporate where you are at in your cycling career with specific attention to the style of riding and racing you intend to do. It can be done remotely and is specifically geared for a busy cyclist that has to fit their training around family and work commitments.

Cyclists frequently face situations where
coming into the last closing kilometers of the race they are outnumbers by far better sprinters. It’s the scenario of a the little climber coming into the final lap of a criterium with a bunch of burly sprinters, or the big guy trying to figure out what to do a few kilometers out from an uphill finish. The best way to improve your chance of winning is to look for an opportunity to attack at a time that doesn’t suit the other riders around you. If you’re with sprinters, go early. They won’t want to waste their sprinting power chasing you so they’re likely to look around to see who else will go after you. If they wait too long, you win.

For the big guys trying to win uphill finishes, use your power advantage on flat ground before the climb to push the little climbers over their limits. Keep attacking them, because they know they’re only hope is to stay with you until the climb, where the advantage shifts to them. But if you break them before they even get to the hill, you’ll have a time gap to exploit and hopefully they’ll be so spent that being lighter isn’t enough to help them beat you.

What if you are not an extremely fast sprinter? The best plan get to get to the line with as fewer riders as possible. The least people to content with in sprint to the finish line the better. But it’s still almost as difficult as winning a bunch sprint as winning from a small breakaway group. Even though your competition is much reduced in number, you’re still going to need a rapid jump and nerves of steel to play out the final few kilometers of the race. No sense in getting to the finish after managing a wicked breakaway only to not have a plan for the sprint and end up being beaten by the handful of riders you broke away with.

Whether you’re part of a small breakaway or part of the bunch your ideal scenario is one where you get to contest the finish alone and that means dropping all the other riders that you are with. This will be hard if you’re still in the bunch as it speeds to the finish because the pace will likely be extremely high! Winning a race like this can be done though. What you need to be able to do is to hold an extremely high speed for over a kilometre and then launch your winning attack.

Your goal of course when beginning your attack is to go like a bullet so that no one has the chance to hold your wheel and draft you. Make your move as smoothly as possible to disguise your speed as much as you can. You’ll need a little luck on your side as well.

Electronic Dura Ace

28 11 2008

I’m sure you’re read all the reviews about the new Electronic Dura-Ace.  I’m not going to repeat those reviews, but I was lucky enough the other week to get to take it for a test-drive.  Let me tell you I was damn impressed.  I had all the usual questions like “how long does the battery last”, “what happens when the battery dies”, “how do you adjust it”, “how much more does it weigh”, “what happens when it rains”, etc.  I’m sure they have had all these questions a hundred times before and had a logical and satisfactory answer for each.  The true test was how it actually worked.  Amazing is all I can say!  The ergonomics of it were much improved over the old Dura-Ace, the shifting was spot on and quick, only 30g heavier than the traditional Dura-Ace and it was very modular from a maintenance point of view (and all cables were connectorized for easy replacement).

A couple cool features that they don’t advertise much.  First, the front derailleur automatically trims slightly while the rear derailleur is shifted so that you’ll never get any chain rub.  Second, there are some quick easy adjustments you can make if you put another rear wheel on and you need to fine tune the rear derailleur to that cassette.

From their answers regarding battery power, it seems that they’ve thought this through.  They claim that the battery will last approx 1000hr of heavy use, but more than likely 3000km of regular use.  You’ll be able to notice that the battery is running low by a slower response of the front derailleur.  There is also an LED indicator showing approx 500kms left of battery life.  If by chance the batter does get very low on power, the front derailleur functionality is the first thing that it drops.   People seem to be worried about the battery dying all at once leaving them in their 53×11.  This isn’t any more likely than it is now on your traditional cabled system.

Everyone I spoke with who tried the new groupset was extremely impressed with how it rode.  My only concern is the price – ~$4000.  Mind you, this is the typical outrageous Aussie price they were quoting, but it will be expensive nonetheless.  I don’t imagine that busting a shifter/brake or a rear derailleur will be a cheap replacement exercise either.  Most bike shop mechanics aren’t really going to know what to do to do if it is malfunctioning because of electrical problems.  The obvious fix will be to replace. That could get ugly.

I would also suggest to Shimano to have a second release come out in about a year or two.  Doesn’t have to be major overhaul. This would be more of a marketing strategy for them.  Cyclists are not early adoptors of new techology (those would be the triathaletes).  Cyclists are always cautious and skeptical about first releases.  SRAM Force is a good example.  Releasing RED a year later was very intentional from a product management perspective.

I hope this works out for Shimano and that SRAM and Campy follow suit.  It’s time for some real innovation in this space instead of just throwing more carbon into the mix.

Sorry – not much of a Cycling Tip in there, but I just had to talk about it!

26 11 2008

Folks, just a quick reminder that I’ve transferred all content to  This is the site that I’ll regularly update, put widgets on and continue to evolve.  I’ll keep updating this  site for the next while, but if you haven’t already please updates your bookmarks.

Thanks for reading…

Dealing With Road Rash

26 11 2008

Stinging showers,  rolling over in bed and nasty pussing aching hip sticking to the sheets and wakes you up in agony.   I’ve been quite fortunate throughout my cycling career not to have had too many crashes. Therefore I’m happy to say that I’m no expert on dealing with road rash.  I am familiar with the pain of it and have my own way of dealing with it that may or may not be medically sound.  It does work though and here it is.

The first thing to do is take two to four 200mg ibuprofen with food 45 minutes prior to cleaning you wound. The maximum dose is 800mg every six hours and no more than 2400mg in 24 hours.  It’s especially helpful right before bedtime so you can get some sleep.  (I got this information on ibuprofen dosages through various internet searches.  Once again, I’m not a doctor so you may want to confirm with your GP what your personal tolerance is.)

Clean the wound with mild antibacterial soap and a washcloth and plenty of water.  Only scrub hard enough to get the gravel out to prevent it from tattooing your wound. Abrasive scrubbing is unnecessary because you risk damaging tissue and delaying the healing process.  After the wound is clean, gently pat your road rash damp-dry.

In terms of covering the wound up, I use this second skin product called Opsite.   It’s breathable, quite resistant to showering, and heals wounds in about 1 week.    You just need to place it over the wound without putting any ointment on it and let the wound heal inside.  It will get disgustingly moist and smelly underneath, but it “retains wound contact with the natural wound exudate which contains vital nutrients for growing cells, and white blood cells to prevent infection“.   It’s like like miracle skin.  You never get a scab with this, so you can be out riding the same day, if you aren’t too sore.

Check your wounds daily for increasing redness, swelling, pain, pus or foul smelling drainage. These are all signs of infection and you should seek medical attention. If it’s been 5 years since your last tetanus shot, go to the ER. There’s no glory in dying of lockjaw.

There is also good article from a qualified emergency medicine physician here on how he likes to handle road rash.  In the experience of qualified road rash victums that I’ve tried myself, the Opsite method above is the best for superficial wounds where just the top layers of skin are taken off as in most road crashes.

Inside vs. Outside

25 11 2008

It’s no secret to anyone who took high school geometry that the smaller the circle, the shorter the distance.  Did you know that the difference between riding in a 250m velodrome on the black line versus the red “sprinters” line is 8m per lap?  That’s only over a distance of 250m!  That means that if you’re riding on the red line (outside) for the entire lap you’ll need to be riding faster than the rider on the black line (inside) since he/she has not as far to go.  (sorry, I have very limited internet access right now and can’t remember the math of this to figure out “how fast” off the top of my head)

The same thing obviously applies to any course you’re doing laps on.   Why does this help me you ask?  If you’re in a break away move in a crit over a 1km course for example, take the inside part of the road as much as possible.  This can save you approximately 20-30m per lap! (this is just a quick calculation based on the 250m velodrome example above. This can vary depending on the shape of the course you’re riding on).  Of course you’ll need to account for the quickest line to get around those corners at high speed.  Many times the large bunch who is trying to chase you down is not taking the optimal line around the course and not taking those corners as quick as your small group in the break can, so not only will your average speed be higher, but you’ll also be travelling less distance.  This will increase your chances on getting to the finish line before you’re caught!  Every little bit helps…

Getting It Past The Boss

24 11 2008

I’m sure that I’m not alone here when I state my conundrum.  I go to a bikeshop and make a impulse purchase on a new set of wheels or whatever my cycling related need of the month is.  The problem is getting that bike part that you got a such great deal on home and past the wife.  Here are the following techniques I’ve come up with to help soften the blow:

– Buy online and get the goods shipped to work.  This way you can ride to work and slowly, one by one, put those new parts on the bike and ride home like nothing ever happened.  Then you can bring those old junky parts home one day and when your wife says “where did those come from?”, you can say “ahh…just some old crappy stuff that John gave me”.

– Say you successfully smuggle the new parts back home and camoflauge them in with the rest of all your bike junk in your spare bedroom.  This may not be the end of it.  What do you do when the credit card statement comes in and there’s that damn $1000 purchase on there. Having a secret credit card for this has obvious advantages, but not worth the risk if you’re caught.   I sometimes try to get a friend to order the stuff for me to save on shipping costs and to avoid this problem all together.  Alternatively, you can blame most of the charges on a riding mate saying to your wife “most of the purchase were Andy’s.  Just a couple tyres are mine and we went in together to save on shipping“.  Blaming a riding buddy can come in handy on many occasions, such as why you were home 3hrs later than you said you’d be.

– Plant the seed early.  Tell your wife that the new set of wheels that you want are gonna be $5k, so let’s start saving.  This initially sets off an explosive reaction, but you’ve done nothing wrong, so you’re not in the doghouse quite yet.  At this point she’s stressing about this extremely expensive set of wheels that you’re going to whine about until you get.  When you finally go and spend $2k on a set of wheels, this looks like an amazing deal.  This technique can work magic sometimes.  Use sparingly.

– Sometimes desparate measures need to be employed.  This is when you buy the wife a gift that’s just as expensive and lavish as the new Calnago frame that you just bought.   This will now cost you $12k, but if you can find one of them at a really good bargain you might be a bit ahead of the game.  A vacation to Cuba where you both can go and you can use your new purchase would be a good choice.

These are just a few of the ways I’ve come up with to get those stupidly expensive bike parts past the accountant of the house.  I’d be interested hearing your strategies and tactics in the comments section.  😉