Cycling 101

As newbie (starting in 2007) to road cycling here’s a few pointers which I learned along the way (in no particular order):

  1. Don’t cross chain — large-large or small-small chain combos. In other words, don’t ride for long  distances (more than a mile or two) with the chain on the large chain ring (in the front) and the large cog in the rear, or with it on the small chain ring (in the front) and the small cog on the rear. It is hard on the cassette (rear gears) and the chain.
  2. Your choice of tire size is based on total weight. Generally speaking, choose a 700 x 23c tire if you weigh no more than about 180 pounds (the 23 equals the width of the tire in mm’s). Otherwise move up to a 700 x 25c tire. Wider tires require less pressure and will give you a softer ride anyway. Recent studies prove that there is negligible rolling resistance between the two. Some studies indicate the 25c has less rolling resistance! Most modern-day road carbon-fiber bikes will not accommodate a 28c width however.
  3. Maximum tire pressure is just that…MAXIMUM, not recommended. Continental publishes both a max and a recommended on their packaging. I usually go to about 10 PSI below the max. For 25c (25mm wide) tires that is 110 PSI or 7 bars and for 23c tires I go with 115 to 120 PSI.
  4. If you get a flat on the rear tire and before you remove the tire, ratchet down the rear derailleur so it is on the smallest cog, loosen the brake calibers and THEN remove the tire.
  5. I typically don’t pack sunscreen with me on the bike. Instead, I lather up in the morning and let it set for a few minutes before pulling on any knee or arm warmers. I then just forget about it the rest of day.
  6. I like tires with a small amount of tread so I can evaluate tire wear. And they might be better in rain too.
  7. Lube the 0-ring of your floor pump before using. (While backpacking, I was always instructed to lubricate, using spit or water, the connecting points of a modular backpacking stove so the O-rings don’t get torn. I do the same with pumps. I spit into the gasket or fitting so it slides onto the valve of the my tubes easier.)
  8. Most flats are a result of worn tires. Keep them fresh. See my blog page on Brevet From Hell for more on this topic.
  9. Don’t intentionally ride into the smallest lip or bump with a road bike. It causes pinch-flats. That is where the tire squishes down and the rim pinches the tube, cutting the tube.
  10. If you are tall like me, buy a bike with a taller head tube (that is the tube below the handlebars), otherwise your neck will be killing you at the end of long rides. I hope to find time to list the model numbers from different manufacturers of their “tall tube, relaxed geometry” models.
  11. Put chain lube (I prefer Boeshield T-9) on the chain only, not on the gears. Wipe off excess with a rag.
  12. In rainy weather, avoid riding on the white line, sometimes called the fog line. It can be slick.
  13. For road rash, after cleaning, apply an ointment like Neosporin and then bandage the wound with gauze soaked in Vaseline (so it can be removed easily). Change it once or twice daily (you still may have to soak it off in the tub). A day or two later, after most of the draining is over, put on a semi-permeable membrane dressing (hydrocolloid bandage) like Tegaderm or Spyroflex (4×4″ size is most useful). Do not apply any ointment to the wound or the membrane won’t stick. Using a Vaseline on a Q-Tip, make a drain channel to allow additional fluids to flow — apply it directly to the wound (the membrane dressing won’t stick to this channel). You may want to put a piece of gauze over the membrane, near the exit point of your channel to capture the ooze. The membrane can be left on for up to a week with getting renewed. Having just experienced my first road rash, I can tell you this two-step approach works. For more clarification, read this web page found on the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association website. According to Andy Pruitt’s book, he suggests ibuprofen most everything including road rash, but then Dr. Helen Iams in Bicycling magazine, suggests acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead as it doesn’t thin your blood which causes bruising (Bicycling, July 2009, p. 48).
  14. If you have saddle sores that are severe, which result in broken skin, the best solution is not a Band-Aid, which never stays stuck in place, but rather use a liquid bandage product that either sprays or brushes on.
  15. If you have walked your bike off the shoulder of the road, and after putting it back on the pavement, spin each tire while gently brushing the tire with your gloved hand. This will remove any potential flat-causing debris such as thorns, glass or sharp stones.

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