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
16:10
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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
16:15
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Stage 3: 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Short, Steep Hills!

Stage 3 Short Sharp Hills Tour de France 2015

As the Tour de France winds it's way around France and several neighboring countries, the terrain frequently dictates the challenges the riders and teams will face.

Today's stage is all about short, steep hills. These hills probably resemble some of your more local terrain. They're maybe 1/4 to 1 mile long, but they're anywhere from 4 to 12% steep. To overcome them, you have to apply some strategy.

The first thing to realize is that you're going to need to pre-shift in to an easier gear. Practice this on flat terrain first - you don't want to drop a chain off cogs, get them tangled, or shift in to a harder gear when you were intending to shift in to an easier gear.

Once you're in an easier gear, don't focus on the hill right in front of you - it will resemble a wall, and might be intimidating. Instead, keep your chin up, and focus on the FURTHEST POINT OUT on the road - often called the "Event Horizon".

With your chin up and your eyes focused on the end, arch your back, open up your chest, and pedal as if the bike was a front-wheel drive. PULL yourself up the hill, don't force it by pushing. When you pull, you'll use more muscles in your legs, and your power output will be more evenly distributed.

As the slope increases, you'll tend to tilt further forward, but this results in more fighting the terrain. Instead, think about how light you can make the imprint of the front tire on the pavement. Don't lift it up and pop a wheelie, but do think about how you can glide up the hill in a steady pace and cadence, without putting too much pressure on the front of your bike.

Eventually, you may need to stand, especially if the slope gets too steep, or the hill is just too long. But remember - climbing out of the saddle is inefficient, and you're doing it on borrowed time. Your cadence will slow down, and unless you're really powerful, or you're getting to the point where the slope may begin to ease up, then you may end up "hacksawing" (pedaling, but feeling like you're standing still between pedal strokes) your way up the hill, or blowing up completely, and being forced to dismount and walk.

Most of the hills in today's Tour de France stage are between 1 and 3 minutes long, but they'll be steep and hard enough to separate the riders. If your local hills are too much of a challenge right now, then you really should consider a training block of intervals at Cycling Center Dallas. Hills require some strength, and a lot of practice. We can show you how to be a stronger cyclist, on hills, and everywhere else you ride!

We hope you're enjoying the Tour de France, and your own cycling. If you want to improve your ability to climb hills, don't hesitate to give us a call or just drop by before an evening class. We'll see you out on the road!

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