Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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Coach Wharton
17:51

A Quick Preview of the September and October 2015 Program at Cycling Center Dallas!

Get more out of every workout with the best trainers and coaches in the Metroplex!

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Coach Wharton
16:24

Stage 21: 21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Set a Goal!

Ascent

Well, it's over. The 21 stages have finished, the jerseys awarded, the elation, the heartbreak, the countryside, the millions of spectators... and now comes the Champagne.

These riders, their teams, directors, and sponsors, share a passion for this sport, and show that passion on the world's most beautiful stage. France in summer is like no place else, and if you ever get the chance to view it, or participate in a tour, give it a serious thought.

Most of these riders and teams are goal-oriented. When you ride, think about where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. Think about the elation, the challenge, and the struggle as you accomplish those goals. If you find one goal is just a little too far out of hand, well, that's what Cycling Center Dallas is for - we live to help people become better, more accomplished cyclists and triathletes. It can't be done with your legs and lungs alone. It takes heart, soul, spirit, and a holistic approach. It takes good equipment, knowledge, and reinforced passion.

There's sort of a let-down in the last week of July and early August, when the Tour de France has ended. But in North Texas, we do have one incredible goal to look forward to and prepare for - the Hotter 'n Hell! Think you're up for the challenge? Register today and come see us - we'll help you get there!!!

We hope you've had a wonderful July, full of rides, sun, road, recovery, and revitalization. We've got a great program for August, and we'll be introducing several new training themes and ideas in the remainder of 2015. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and come visit!

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Coach Wharton
16:22

Stage 20: 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Why do you Ride?!

ZEN

Why do you ride? I'm sure there are lots of reasons, but it's something you should reflect on frequently. Here's a short story about a Monk and his students. I hope you enjoy the parable!



One day a Zen teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students,  "Why are you riding your bicycles?" 

The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!" The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do." 

The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path." The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world." 

The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo." The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel." 

The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings." The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming." 

The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle." Upon hearing THIS, the teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."

 

The Tour de France is about MORE than just a single winner. It's about strain, stress, teamwork, individual pursuits, and survival. When you ride, think about where you've been on your two-wheeled journey, today and in the past, where you are, and where you're going, with the goals you've set. 


Cycling Center Dallas is here to help ALL cyclists achieve their goals and get more out of every single ride.  

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Coach Wharton
16:17

Stage 19: 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July - Keep Your Cool!

Spray

Wow - it's July in Texas, and here and at the Tour de France, it is HOT HOT HOT! But are there any ways we can ride outside and KEEP OUR COOL!?

It's not easy, but it IS possible.

Start off with a mantra that's dear to me - HYDRATE! Drink early, drink often, drink your sports drink, and avoid the caffeine or diuretic medications. You just need to keep drinking a light-carb/smart salt solution, like OSMO or Skratch. I like them both.

Second, sunscreen is a Godsend. I'm more of a fan of having lighter sunscreen, like SPF15, and re-applying it every 90 minutes or so, but that can be cumbersome. Talk to a dermatologist about the pros and cons of seasonal protection and higher vs lower SPF values.

Third, lots of new kit fabrics come pre-treated with SPF protection, as well as Infra-Red ray protection. The kit at CCD reflects UVA and IR rays, thus keeping the skin about 8 degrees cooler. The kits are also built to help sweat evaporate instead of coagulating on the skin, thus helping with a cooling microclimate.

Finally, don't hesitate to use ice bags in your jersey pockets, under your jersey and on your back. We've seen it a lot in this year's Tour, and one thing I've noticed is that the riders, when given fresh ice bags at feed zones, will 'Pop' them with their fists, and then stuff them in their kit. When the ice begins to melt, it saturates the clothing, providing the user with a 'Swamp Cooler', that feels great!!!

Another trick along these lines is to take a ziploc of any size, snip the corners with scissors, and fill the bag with ice. Again - it'll melt and leak all over you, but it's reusable.
Be safe, stay hydrated, and keep your cool these next few weeks as summer wanes.

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Coach Wharton
16:10

Stage 18 - 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! "What's in YOUR Pocket?"

Pocket

Cycling is a pretty minimal activity. You just throw a leg over a bike, and start pedaling. However, most people want to stay connected, or have a way to get out of trouble if something should occur when out on a ride. That's why bike jerseys have pockets, and bike shops sell saddle bags!

Let's take a look at what's inside my jersey pocket/saddle bag.

Currently, I keep the following on my person:

  • Phone (Charge it, but don't necessarily look at it! Keep it protected from sweat and moisture).
  • Tire Tube Patch Kit - the new superpatches work great!
  • Tire sidewall patch kit. Park Tool makes something that will get you home.
  • Tire Tools (I carry three, since these tend to snap in two at times).
  • One extra tube (make sure it's the right size (650c, 700c), and that the nipple is long enough to fit in any of the new, aero wheel rims).
  • TWO Co2 cartridges (always carry a backup just in case - cartridges can be finicky).
  • A "Cool-Tool", with allen wrenches, maybe a philips head and regular head screwdriver on there, maybe even a chain-breaker...
  • Money - I usually carry two $10 bills.
  • Business Cards. Because, well, you never know...

You can add or subtract from this list, but it's always a good idea to be prepared. Take a maintenance 101 class at your local bike shop as well, because you'll end up with a good idea of what to do if you experience something when cycling.

Remember - the vast majority of your rides will be event-free: Cycling should be mundane. But it never hurts to be prepared, mentally, physically, and equipment-wise!

Being prepared means knowing what causes events and anomalies to occur, and riding in a way that those events are much less likely to happen in the first place. Being fit and improving through our classes will help you be more prepared.

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Coach Wharton
17:06

Stage 17 - 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling: Tire Pressure.

Tire Gauge

Tire pressure in the Tour de France is a hotly debated topic, and it pits the age-old accepted protocols for inflation against new evidence that has come to light through science and technology in recent times.

Remember that these cyclists are on their bikes, are working hard, and get paid to ride. They have cars full of extra wheels that allow for quick exchanges. Flats are an inconvenience, not a major affair. After 3 weeks of racing, the difference can come down to mere seconds.

You, on the other hand, don't get paid to ride (neither do I, really...), and probably have no follow vehicles when you head out. You want your tires to do three things really well:

  • Allow for safe control of your bike in most conditions.
  • Allow for safe braking, cornering, and acceleration.
  • Allow for comfort without sacrificing too much performance, and vice-versa.
  • But on the question of tire pressure (for a standard road bike), go with this formula. It's provided courtesy of Dr. David Nayer, who built wheels under the name of Nimble, in Austin, for several years:

Start with 110 PSI in your tire:

Add 10psi if you're a Large rider (>170lb rider) - wider tires (25mm) also recommended.

Add 10psi if you're riding track or TT narrow tires (20mm clincher, 19mm tubular)

Add 10-20psi if you have a specialty suspension frame (beam seat, suspension fork)

Remove 10psi if you're a Small rider (<140lbs)

Remove 10psi if conditions are wet - this is also a case where we advise the use of wider tires.

Remove 10psi for Rough terrain - also advise wider tires.

Remove 10psi Challenging handling (mountains, cornering, Crits, etc.).

Remove 10psi for Less experienced riders (improves handling, comfort)
So for a cyclist like me, weighing in at 160lbs, I'll start at 110psi. But my route has a lot of chip-seal on it, so I'll take 10psi out. If it's raining, I'll take another 10psi out. That would leave me with 90-100psi, depending on my route and needs.

My wife Tracy, on the other hand, would start at 110psi, take 10psi out for her weight (125lbs), and another 10 for rough roads.

Again - you can adjust it for your own skillset and needs, but NEVER inflate your tires to maximum pressure. It's not necessary, it doesn't help, it's less comfortable, and it can be dangerous. I once overheated a tire when descending the Alpe d'Huez, and the explosion not only destroyed my rim, it echoed across the canyon like a cannon blast. I was MUCH more careful after that.

Tire pressure should focus on safety, comfort, braking, cornering, and acceleration. There is no ideal tire pressure, just the knowledge that comes from experience. We hope this helps!

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Coach Wharton
16:57

Stage 16: 21 Days, 21 Tips: LONG RIDES!

LOng Rides

While the riders of the Tour de France are used to being in the saddle for 3 to 7 hours every day, day after day, that's a luxury you and I can probably not afford. Instead, we have to plan our long rides accordingly.

North Texas is lucky, in that we have great routes that leave from popular bike shops every weekend, and we're also fortunate enough to have a FANTASTIC bicycle rally calendar! I prefer the rallies, but you'll certainly get something out of every event, local, regional, or otherwise.

Preparing for a long ride requires some logistics. Here's an example:

On Friday night of last week, in order to prepare for a rally on Saturday, I did the following:

ABC Quick Check - Checked the air pressure on my tires, made sure the brakes were touching the rims in the right places and not rubbing the tires, lubed and cleaned the chain, and then checked the bike over for cracks, dings, rips in the saddle, etc. If you do this the night before, you can always fix it at home, instead of scrambling at the start of the ride.
Checked to ensure that my shoes, helmet, gloves, glasses, and sunscreen were in the car. Honestly, since I'm a cycling coach by trade, I always carry an extra helmet and shoes, just in case.
I prepared and chilled my bottles and Camelbak (YES, I drink a Camelbak as a fast road cyclist, and I'm not ashamed of it. My safety and health are more important than a verbal jibe). ALWAYS BE PREPARED. I carry extra fluids, and I drink on a schedule.
I also checked my saddle bag to make sure I have tubes, Co2 cartridges, cool-tool, tire tools, patch kits, and some cash. Because you never know.
Before the ride itself began, I repeated my ABC-Q check, made sure my Camelbak was working (clogged hoses are bad, really bad), and made sure I had some food in my pocket as well, just in case.

Car keys - well, find a spot to put them, because I think they're better served closer to the car, in case, well... just in case you get sidetracked. Do NOT lock your keys in the car!!

For the ride itself, whether you're alone or with others, remember these three rules:

BE VISIBLE, both to oncoming traffic and upcoming traffic.
SIGNAL YOUR INTENTIONS. I don't care if it's dorky, use your hand signals and communicate with all the other road users.
CONTROL YOUR POSITION IN THE LANE. I know it's controversial, but you're safer in the lane than on the shoulder, and if you're visible, upcoming motorists can always prepare to pass safely, or wait until that is possible. If you're slogging it out at a slow speed, and you can 'sense' a queue of motorists behind you, well, do the courteous thing and pull over. It's an easy way to avoid conflict. Let them pass.
If you're solo, make sure you know the route, and make sure that others know where you're going, how long you'll be, and when they might expect your return. Something as simple as a note on a fridge or windshield can make a difference if others are looking for you, and you're out on the side of a road with a broken bike that can't be fixed on the spot.

ALWAYS drink early, drink often, and drink on a schedule. Any rides over 90 minutes, go ahead and eat a bar or waffle. It's far better than bonking, and dragging yourself or others home at a delayed pace. And finally, PLEASE consider cycling without earbuds. I'm convinced that hearing is a great way to plan for and avoid pending events, and I just see too many looks of surprise when I pass cyclists with earbuds, even after I've been announcing myself for the past ten or fifteen seconds, clearly.

There's no concrete definition to the term "Long". A long ride can be an hour, a morning, a day, or a voyage of many days. Work within your limits, train smart and hard, and watch that definition change as your body adapts and becomes more powerful!
Long Rides are one of the most enjoyable aspects of cycling, and the reward is looking back at what you've accomplished with satisfaction. If you have questions about how we can help you accomplish a longer ride, be it a rally, or even the Hotter 'n Hell 100, come by the studio some evening, and introduce yourself. We'd love to help - after all, that's what coaching is all about!

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Coach Wharton
16:55

Stage 15: 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July: CORE Conditioning!

Push UPs

Watching the Tour de France, you get the opinion that for most of the riders, training is all about long rides, hard intervals, varied terrain, and suffering to make not just the cut, but to drive all the way on each stage, legs churning and searing, lungs busting, until they reach the Champs Elysee in Paris.

It may have been that way in the past, but no more. Cyclists perform better when they train the entire body, and the best way to do that, is with resistance training.

There are many ways to train the muscles that stabilize the torso, but the absolute simplest, most minimal set of activities you can do are the following:

  • Push-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Sit ups or crunches
  • Back raises
  • Leg curls
  • LOTS of this can be done at home, or with something as simple as an inflatable exercise ball, but resistance training is arguably best practiced under the watchful eye of a professional trainer. Coach Tracy's specialty is TRX and body weight suspension, which is fun, helps with balance as well as muscle development, and doesn't require lots of equipment.

There's no way to quantify just how important resistance training is, but anything that helps increase efficiency, power, and stamina, will help propel you down the road, up the hill, and through the next corner. You won't gain weight, and in fact, you may lose some. You won't increase or decrease flexibility - that's something else. Instead, you'll develop muscles and control that improve your overall ability. Try it year-round, twice a week, in different modes and manners. It doesn't take long, maybe 30-50 minutes, it burns a lot of calories, and it complements cycling activities perfectly.

Oh - it'll also reduce the likelihood of injury.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions about this tip or how resistance training at Cycling Center Dallas can improve your cycling, give us a call or just stop by! We're here to help!

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Coach Wharton
16:07

Stage 14: 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling: Cadence!

Cadence

You watch these cyclists, alone and in groups, and they're all pedaling with the most graceful pedal stroke and revolution possible. Then, you think about your own pedal stroke, and how you can make yours, look like theirs.

It starts with knowing your gears. I tell cyclists to shift early, and shift often, in the hunt for the 'Perfect' cadence. Cadence is about understanding how you're using the bike to go forward, how much energy it takes to climb, accelerate, and pedal steadily, and what your "happy cadence" might be. The less fit you are, the lower that cadence will be, and as you gain experience and become stronger, that cadence will go up.

The range of cadence between gear shifts is usually about 7-9rpm. Too slow, and you'll feel like you're grinding away, which is uncomfortable. Too fast, and you'll bounce all over the saddle, which is also not very fun, and can be dangerous. Think about finding the gear and cadence combination that will help you ride aware, and will feel automatic. As you go faster or start a climb, you'll need to shift, so start a little early.

The SPINNING phenomenon and some popular books left many people believing that a higher cadence was always better. In reality, it's more nuanced than that. Spinning can be beneficial, but pedaling revolutions in the right gear, at the right time, at a speed that is comfortable, will get you further down the road.

Letter-style emails are best used for addressing a single topic. Write in a professional yet friendly fashion, and be as specific as possible about what you're trying to communicate.

Our studio offers features and testing that can accurately diagnose your pedaling efficiency, and help you develop a smoother pedal stroke more quickly. Come by some evening and watch a class, or call us to set up a demonstration.

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Coach Wharton
15:49

Stage 13: 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July!! Cornering!

Cornering 1

I thought I would follow up with yesterday's post about descending, and go over one of the most critical elements of cycling at speed - Cornering on a bike, and how to handle it.

Just like descending, cornering is really fun, but it's a bit of an advanced maneuver, and it definitely takes some practice. You might start at slow speed, and in a closed parking lot, just to get more comfortable with your bike.

Begin by setting up a slalom-like obstacle course. Set the cones probably 20' apart, and instead of running them along one line, walk the cones out maybe 5' from the centerline in an alternating pattern, so you are forced to turn a bit more when you're slaloming. Place a cone at the end, a ways out, that is more prominent. You'll be staring at that cone the entire time.

Cornering is about swinging your bike out a bit from underneath you, in a lean. You may be concerned about slipping, so try this. Stand facing your bike from the side, and put a hand on the brake, and another hand on the saddle. Then, step back, and keep the bike where it is. The bike will tilt. Then press against the bike, and see if it slips. No? Take another step back. The bike will tilt even more. Press against it, and see if it slips. Most bikes and tires can go well beyond 45 degrees, before they slip, as long as the outside pedal is down.

Now, look at this photo:
Cornering 2

As these cyclists make their corner, notice that all of them have their heads up, and vertical, while their outside legs are down. They're looking INTO the turn. Most of them are in their drops, which is my preferred position, and where I ask cyclists to be when learning. The bikes are steering themselves through the corner, as the riders pick the point where they're going to place themselves in the turn.

Back to the drill: Practice the slalom course you've built by riding to the outside of each cone, and leaning your bike in to the corner. ALWAYS keep your head swiveled towards the far cone at the end. As you approach each cone, give yourself a 1/2 pedal rotation so that the outside leg is again at the bottom. Don't stare at the cone you are approaching. Instead, already anticipate the NEXT cone, which you'll set up for momentarily.

The key is, like I've said many times before this month, Keep your CHIN UP, and your CHEST OUT, and look DOWN THE ROAD toward the end. With practice, your confidence and competence will improve, and you'll have a LOT more fun out there, while riding more safely as well.

This drill and others are taught through our Bicycle Driving course, which is hosted by www.cyclingsavvydfw.org. Every cyclist, no matter how much experience they have, can learn something from this course.

Register today for our Autumn class!


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