Tips & Tricks Archive

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How to Treat Sore Legs

We originally addressed this concern on Quora ( for those unfamiliar with the site: ”Quora connects you to everything you want to know about”) and thought this was relevant enough to include on the RoadBikeMike site.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (“DOMS”) is an inevitable side effect to any multi-day tour/race, any early training program, jumping into the sport as a newbie and/or any hard climb/ride. While the “delay” in DOMS varies by individual and exercise, the “soreness” increases in intensity in the first 24 hours after exercise and peaks between 24 and 72 hours post-exercise.  The soreness should disappear completely by five to seven days post-exercise.

If you’re riding a multi-day tour or race or following a structured training program, chances are that you will be forced to ride with DOMS.  The following are best-practices for reducing the effect of DOMS:

  • Keep Riding - Somewhat counterintuitively, subsequent riding can temporarily suppress DOMS in what is known as exercise-induced analgesia.  Ever felt terrible on day 2 of a multi-day tour, only to bounce back in days 3 and beyond?
  • Increase Blood Flow - Any measure that increases blood flow to the legs will increase “healing” to the region. This includes massage, sauna, low intensity work (i.e. cool downs), hot baths, whirlpools and compression tights.

The following practice for reducing the effect of DOMS is somewhat unproven:

  • Ice Bath - Medical studies have both proven and disproven the advantages in DOMS recovery utilizing ice baths. Interestingly, the proven study utilized water temperatures of 13°C for 20 minutes (http://journals.lww.com/acsm-mss…) while the disproven study utilized water temperatures of both 5°C and 24°C for three 1 minute immersions (http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/41/6…).  Perhaps the answer is in the disparity of temps and duration.

Lastly, these practices appear to be wholly unproven in reducing the effect of DOMS:

Personally, I’m a firm believer in experimenting with what works best for you, your body, and your schedule within the multi-day ride

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How to Map a Cycling Route

Finding new bike rides and routes in your local area can be intimidating for beginner road cyclists. Lucky for modern road cyclists, gone are the days of pre-driving an unkown route to get a feel for the mileage, elevation or conditions; gone are the days of stalking other local riders to learn new climbs, shortcuts or scenic routes.

 

With today’s satellite imagery, mapping technology and gps devices, cyclists can plan routes down to the 1/10 of a mile and exact elevation profile before ever clicking into their pedals. Further, today’s cycling websites have brought a social aspect to the somewhat soloist sport that allows riders to see where, what and how others are riding. So what are you waiting for? Crank up that modem, dial-in to AOL and jump on the world wide web!

 

Here are our top websites for gathering ride intel. These sites go beyond just mapping rides and begin to help cyclists understand their performance, and others’ performance and facilitate the exchange of data, information and socialization the likes of which road cycling has never seen.

 


Strava
http://www.strava.com/ - The ultimate in ride/data logging, Strava has developed a community based not only on tracking rides/routes, but also on tracking/comparing the data behind the ride.  Utilize the “explore” and “activity search” functionality, you can find rides based on similar datapoints utilized by connect.garmin and go one step further to search by competitive features such as KOM (King of the Mountain, or fastest climb).

 

Garmin Connect

http://connect.garmin.com/ - You don’t need a Garmin device to utilize Garmin’s online community.  Similar to mapmyride, connect.garmin allows users to “explore” rides and routes posted by other community members based on activity type, dates, distances, keywords, georgraphy, elevation gain etc.

 

Map My Ride

http://www.mapmyride.com/ - Map my ride allows you to not only log your gpx. and .tcx files/rides but also allows users to “draw” or “map” rides on streets and paths. Further, the “search” feature allows you to search by geography, keyword, distance, etc and find other community members’ ride files and mapped rides.

 

 

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What Size Road Bike Do I Need?

Your local bike shop will tell you that sizing a road bike is part science part art.  Further, a slick-selling local bike shop will try to convince you that road bike fitting is more art than science; forcing you to trust the shop’s “years of experience” and unique fitting process. Given the steep discounts on road bikes online, the local bike shops are desperately perpetuating the frame fitting mystery in hopes that consumers are too afraid to go it alone on the ‘net.

 

Fear not.  At Road Bike Mike, we could write a book on what size road bike to buy.  But why bother?  Books have been written and if you had infinite time and extreme focus, you could probably read them all and become an ‘expert’ on road bike fit.  To save you time (and save us from having to sit down and write a book), we suggest all of our readers refer to the one online calculator that we believe is the most precise, thorough and trusted road bike fit calculators on the internet.

 

Competitive Cyclist Fit Calculator

Utilizing 8 core pieces of information in order to calculate your optimum frame size and initial position, the Competitive Cyclist’s Fit Calculator will arm you with the proper frame size and geometry to fit your body. You’ll need the assistance of another person to make the most accurate measurements possible. Take your time, be meticulous and don’t be afraid to take each measurement 2 or 3 times and average the measurements together.   Above all, rest easy knowing that at the end of the process you’ll have a more accurate measure and road bike fit than the “fit artist” at your local bike shop will provide as he shoehorns you into last year’s closeout Trek demo bike and tells you how great you look on it.

 

Based on the outputs provided by the Competitive Cyclist calculator, you can freely compare the ideal geometry and size to bikes in your price range.  Whether your budget is $600, $1,000, or $1,500 you can take this fit and trust that the bike that arrives will be a proper fit.  Don’t feel guilty about saving thousands of dollars and buying the best road bike for the buck!

 

Whether you assemble the online bike purchase yourself or drop it off at the local bike shop, we recommend setting an appointment with the local fit tech to tweak the setup to best fit your body.  This fitting won’t cost much in terms of money or time but will get you on the road with the right saddle position and bar position.

 

Once set, we recommend logging a few hundred miles on the road bike. After getting familiar with your new bike, revisit the fit tech and discuss any hot spots, sore areas of other points of discomfort.  Chances are, the biggest change you’ll have to make will be a slight tweak to the stem, saddle or handlebars.  Under no circumstances will you discover that your frame is the wrong size.  Trust us!

 

 

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Ten Steps for Buying Your First Road Bike

You’ve made the mental leap to sport the spandex. Congratulations and welcome to the Club!

Before you run out and buy a bike, consider these 10 steps when buying a new road bike:

1. Set a Budget – Few beginner cyclists have the coin or commitment to shop with an unlimited budget and even fewer beginning cyclists will see value in buying “too much bike.”  Instead, Road Bike Mike recommends that you settle on a budget you’re comfortable with ($600 – $1,500 should be plenty for your first bike) and get as much ‘bike’ as you can for the money.  Remember, bikes have specs and specs are easily compared.

 

2. Add $300 to Your Budget – A lot of good a road bike will do if you don’t have a helmet, pedals (yes, many road bikes do not come with pedals), shoes, clothes, tools, water bottles, etc.  If this extra $300 breaks the budget, revisit Step 1 with this in mind.

 

3. Determine the Frame Size – You can believe *almost* everything you’ve read and heard regarding bike fit.  Yes, it’s incredibly important to your comfort and enjoyment.  Yes, you should spend time getting the right size frame.  Yes, you should have a professional fine-tune the fit.  No, you should not be paralyzed by this step in the process.  Using Road Bike Mike’s most trusted fit source: Competitive Cyclist’s Fit Calculator will help you identify the appropriate geometry and frame size.  Armed with this information, you can safely buy a bike and ride it out of the box.

 

4.Research – Spend some time with your local bike shop, on eBay/Craigslist, reading online forums.  This research will help you understand the basics, know what questions to ask the shop/seller/vendor you ultimately buy from, and ultimately help you decide what bike best fits your criteria.  Research is more than just reading.  Ask questions of your roadbike friends.  Ask questions at the local bike store.  Heck, ask us questions!

 

5. Pull the Trigger – You’ve set your budget, checked it twice, determined the proper frame size and learned all you can about frame materials, bike components, pricing, used options, new options, etc.  Could you be more ready? Maybe.  Is it worth delaying your first ride to get from 95% comfortable to 100%? No.  It’s a bike, not a marriage.  Nothing against marriage, but in this deal, you can easily fix almost anything that doesn’t match your expectations.

 

6. Assemble the Bike – Since you’ve done your research and learned (from Road Bike Mike and others) that your budget goes further with online retailers and “non-brand name bike” you ended buying a Motobecane, Tommaso or other brand that gets you twice the bike for half the price; you’re now patiently waiting for a bike box to arrive.  If you’re mechanically inclined, the assembly is easy enough to do yourself.  If you’d rather trust the pros, drop it off at the local bike store and have them assemble and tune the bike.

 

7. Fit the Bike – Formally or informally, set an appointment with your local bike store to help with a preliminary fit.  From seat height to seat setback; stem rise to stem angle your local shop can get you in proper position to begin piling on the miles.

 

8. Ride – Log your miles.  Enjoy the bike.  After you’ve accumulated the miles and grown accustomed to your bike and the sport in general, move on to step 9.

 

9. Perfect the Fit of your Bike – After several hundred miles, you’ll be able to identify everything from minor nuisances to major discomforts.  Head back into your local bike store and share your experience.  Slight discomfort in the lower back?  Tell them, it could mean that your reach is too long and that a new stem could alleviate this discomfort.  Elbows feeling strained?  Let ‘em know, perhaps your handlebars need a slight adjustment.

 

10. Share the Love – Welcome to the Club!  You’ve gone from road bike newbie to road bike groupie.  Spread the love and get a friend, co-worker, sibling, parent, neighbor, etc. involved in the sport.  Share what you’ve learned, share what you love and let’s fill the streets with cyclists.

 

 

 

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What to Bring on Your Ride

If you’ve put more than a few hundred miles on your road bike, you probably already know what to bring on your ride and you either took the easy way and heeded a veteran’s advice or took the hard way and learned through trial and error.  In the spirit of choose your own adventure books, here’s a little story about what to bring on your next ride.

 

You’re a relatively new cyclist.  You have a bike, some spandex and a couple water bottles.  Before walking out the door, you think to yourself, “hmmmm, wonder what else I’ll need on this ride.”  Choose one:

The Easy Way (read the rest of this article)

The Hard Way (ignore the rest of this article)

 

For those cyclists new to the sport, allow Road Bike Mike to offer some sage advice that could save you some trial and some inevitably painful error.  Here’s a basic list of “must-haves” for any ride:

  1. One Spare Tube – Yes, you will have flats and yes, they will come at the most inopportune time
  2. One Ziplock Bag – Nothing worse than fixing a flat only to find that your spare was punctured prior to install
  3. Three Tire Levers – Yes, three
  4. Air – We prefer 2 c02 cartridges over a bulky, and ‘non-pro’ air pump
  5. Patch Kit – Either a kit or glueless patches for the not-so-fun-but-bound-to-happen double flat
  6. Cash – You never know when bribery, cab fare, or a bonk-breaking twinkie will be needed
  7. Identification – Like clean underwear, it’s there in case of emergency and you hope that no one has to see it