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The Stork
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53 Posts
I use Q tips to clean the gap in-between the rollers of my bicycle chain. Seems like a lot of grit and dirt get caught up in there. It's a little tedious but it works great and doesn't waste very much cleaner.
Another tip: before shelling out $$ for expensive powdered electrolyte drinks try lemon water. For me, lemon water goes down easier when I'm really hot, quenches my thirst better too. I've tired HEED by Hammer Nutrition at various strengths but it doesn't work for me; leaves my lips sticky.
 

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Premium Member
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1,074 Posts
I am finding this thread a great resource. I am definitely in the newbie category as far as road biking is concerned, but loving it more and more as I improve and spend more time on the bike. One thing that I am seeing is that although it may be a real challenge, a bigger challenge than I've faced to date, I should try and find a group/club/whatever to ride with and/or gain experience with IRL. There is so much I don't know, and probably even more that I don't know I don't know (about the only useful thing to come out of Rumsfield's mouth.)

Although I am a newbie, I'm also able to share some things that are possibly good ideas, or perhaps illustrations of what others have offered that I can attest to.

First, cadence: Yeah, I'm all about high cadence. Pretty much always 90+ if I'm doing any work at all. 100+ is not uncommon, especially if I'm going fast on a slight decline or level with a tailwind (which means 22mph or so). It is hard to tell how much of my improvement over the last couple of months is due to learning how to pedal vs. physical improvement, but I'm not going to run a control test and try cranking around 80...

Second, make your intentions clear on the road/trail - I ride the vast majority of the time on paved bike trails (W&OD, Custis, Mount Vernon, etc., here in NoVA.) While I have not really learned the finer points of riding etiquette (and would benefit from someone with a lot more experience taking some stabs at, especially with a focus on newbies rather than experienced riders, see below) one thing I do know is that on a crowded trail where you have a lot of interaction with oncoming traffic it makes life easier all around if you telegraph your intent clearly ahead of time. I'm not talking about flailing around or anything, just don't hide your plans like it is the final sprint in some stage race. For example, I'm overtaking some walkers or joggers and I see a bike (or walker or jogger) headed my way. I can clearly make the pass safely before we all meet so what I'm going to do is check behind me to make sure I'm not also being passed and then move to the left (oncoming) lane. Then I will make sure the folks I'm passing know I'm doing so and keep my eyes on them to make sure they respond in a not life threatening way. If I'm uneasy, or if they react in a way that could cause trouble, I can slow down before I pass them and regroup. Best case though is that I've saved the oncoming rider the headache of figuring out what I'm doing. Conversely, when I pass walkers, joggers and the like coming in the opposite direction and I can see that they are going to be passed shortly, I'll let them know as I go by - in part because I've seen the natural tendancy for them is to kind of expand into both lanes once they are passed by oncoming traffic. Anyway, the point is that for me, communicating with the others on the trails can be done overtly to improve the likelihood that everyone survives to ride/walk/jog another day.

At the same time, never assume you know what everyone else is going to do. This is especially true of those going the slowest, children and the 70+(?) crowd. They have as much right to use the trail as you do and some (not all or even most) seem to think they have no obligation in keeping themselves safe.

Okay, here is a newbie question, also about etiquette. As I get better, I can sometimes keep up with better riders for a couple of miles, more if I tuck in behind (not too closely! I'm not an idiot), but I'm pretty sure me going ahead of them to "share" the load isn't something I'm capable of yet. I mean, this usually happens when I get passed and I'm feeling good, was going at a good clip in the first place and decide to notch it up a bit...My question is, is this going to bother people? I'm not doing it simply to go faster, although it is fun to see that you can still get a benefit a couple of bike lengths behind someone. I also do it to see what they are doing. I've learned about passing, signaling, cadence, when to shift a bit better, coming out of the saddle, and so on. The thing is, I'm not trying to race them. I don't want to annoy them or change their pace. And if this is just "not done", then I'm fine to not do it. For what it's worth, I'm thinking I'm about a season away from being able to lead for most of the people I'm trailing, although I honestly have no idea if they'd want that either.

Thanks for any advice as well as all the great info and discussion above. Tremendous gift of experience from a lot of folks here.
 

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Okay, here is a newbie question, also about etiquette. As I get better, I can sometimes keep up with better riders for a couple of miles, more if I tuck in behind (not too closely! I'm not an idiot), but I'm pretty sure me going ahead of them to "share" the load isn't something I'm capable of yet. I mean, this usually happens when I get passed and I'm feeling good, was going at a good clip in the first place and decide to notch it up a bit...My question is, is this going to bother people? I'm not doing it simply to go faster, although it is fun to see that you can still get a benefit a couple of bike lengths behind someone. I also do it to see what they are doing. I've learned about passing, signaling, cadence, when to shift a bit better, coming out of the saddle, and so on. The thing is, I'm not trying to race them. I don't want to annoy them or change their pace. And if this is just "not done", then I'm fine to not do it. For what it's worth, I'm thinking I'm about a season away from being able to lead for most of the people I'm trailing, although I honestly have no idea if they'd want that either.
Just ask them if they mind you "sitting on" for a bit. Unless you looked like a complete idiot by riding dangerously as they went by, most riders won't mind.
Also, you get a <i>lot</i> more benefit by being closer than two bike lengths off...
 

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User is infamous around
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When working on improving your cadence, what has worked for me thus far, is instead of finding the highest gear you can pedal at 'X' rpm, find the lowest gear you won't spin out of and maintain 'X' rpm. In other words, don't work from the top gear down, work from the lowest gear up (just like a car transmission). Sounds like common sense, but only the Almighty Himself knows how many riders are out there mashing along at 45rpm in 50x14 instead of spinning along at 90rpm in 34x14. What's the difference? About 1 mph faster and far, far, less stress on your knees.
 

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I hate getting my hands all greasy working on my bike so I wear a pair of latex gloves. I also keep a pair in my saddle bag in case I have to do a repair during a ride. Keeps you from getting grease all over your bar tape afterward. You can buy a box of 100 on Amazon for less than $10.
 

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This is not a new tip-- I wanted to echo what what others have said about wearing bike shorts. I'm a beginner and the single most important thing my friends told me was to go buy a pair of bike shorts before my first ride. I was riding my friend's backup bike to get a feel for whether or not I wanted to invest in a bike so I wasn't too keen on buying bike shorts but I am SO glad I did. It made a big difference. One of my other friends did not heed this advice and I had a MUCH more enjoyable ride.

Ladies, if you don't like how you look in bike shorts, Skirt Sports makes a great little skirt called the Cover Girl that is just a skirt---no compression short underneath.
 
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