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Why Lake Chelan is the best place to ride in Washington State

We just finished our annual pilgramage to the best riding in the state of Washington, Lake Chelan.  You could argue that the Mount Rainier area has the most epic climbs up beasts like Chinook and Sunrise, but you can’t swim there.  You could suggest that Orcas island or any of the other San Juan islands are the best, but the roads are narrow and the only good climb is Mt. Constitution.  Bellingham and Olympia have their magic, as does Seattle and Tacoma, but true cycling paradise is east of the mountains where the air is dry, the roads are smooth and the traffic is light.

Here are my reasons why I love our Chelan camp:

1.  Warm dry weather, some days I feel like I am in Mexico.

2.  Wide shoulders and light traffic.  

3.  The road quality is nice, often smooth.

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Bar Phat – Fit your hands to your handlebars. New options and innovation

The place many of feel the bike the most is in the hands.  Depending on how forward you are, you might have 5-50% of your weight on your hands, and every bump, seam and pothole is felt in the hands.  Have you heard of Bar Phat?  Double thickness tape or ergonomic inserts under the bar tape?  Choosing the right handlebar tape can make the difference between happy hands or numb and unhappy hands and upper body.

Bar Phat gel under your tape absorbs lots o road vibrations

The first order of business is being sure you have the correct width of handlebar, and that your brake levers are set up correctly.  If you are over-reaching or your bars are the wrong width, it is like holding a uncomfortable push up for hours as you ride and can quickly lead to shoulder, neck, upperback and lower back pain.

We have a number of different handlebar tapes to match your riding and hand size, from oversized gel infused cushion grip for big hands or rough roads to thin very sticky tape if you have a ergonomic carbon bar of small hands.  Of course the orientation of the brake levers and placement of the handlebars are paramount to a proper fit.

At Cycle U we do fittings daily from both stores with either Craig Undem or Colin Gibson, both Specialized trained elite fitters with years of experience.  Even if you only want help in picking out the right saddle or to troubleshoot some pain you are having you can walk into either store or call/email us to set something up.  All of our fittings are good for 1 year, and if you buy a saddle or stem from us as part of one of our fittings, you get 30days to try it and if it isn’t the right one you can return it and try another choice.   Get fitted, get comfortable and Get Ready to Ride! More info CLICK HERE

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Arch-o-meter, Foot comfort and performance to the pedals

When talking bike fitting, the place where the rubber really meets the road is where your foot pressures the pedals.  Before you put pressure on the pedals and make the crank go around, your foot must transfer it’s force into the shoe, and that interface is perhaps the most important in making the bike go and not wasting any energy.

Another innovation that Specialized pioneered is the Arch-o-meter.  Anyone can quickly be measured for the correct arch height and improve comfort dramatically with a footbed that the correct level of cushion and support…and the best part?  = The cost is only $30 a pair.  If you ride in wet weather, are a heavier rider or are a hard pedaling hammer head, plan to replace your footbeds every year as they do compress giving you less cushion.  If your arch is collapsing every pedal stroke, you are wasting precious watts.

Arch-o-meter to find correct footbed quickly 

At Cycle U we do fittings daily from both stores with either Craig Undem or Colin Gibson, both Specialized trained elite fitters with years of experience.  Even if you only want help in picking out the right saddle or to troubleshoot some pain you are having you can walk into either store or call/email us to set something up.  All of our fittings are good for 1 year, and if you buy a saddle or stem from us as part of one of our fittings, you get 30days to try it and if it isn’t the right one you can return it and try another choice.   Get fitted, get comfortable and Get Ready to Ride! More info on our fitting CLICK HERE

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Ass-o-meter – finding your ideal bike fit

Bike fitting was once a service only racers sought out.  These days anyone riding a bike can make massive improvements in comfort and performance with even a basic fitting if done by a good fitter.  Saddles are often the most painful part of riding a bike but that is becoming a thing of the past.  The Ass-o-meter from Specialized has solved many of these complaints.  Now anyone wanting to be more comfortable can be sized for the correct width saddle (Specialized makes 4 widths of their better saddles, as well as offering different levels of padding for each) in less than a minute.  The “ass-o-meter” consisting of gel pads that take an imprint of your sitz bones and measures them matching them to your ideal saddle width.  

Dr. Andy Pruitt, Godfather of bike fitting and inventor of Ass-o-meter at Specialized

The next consideration after measuring your sitz bone width is how much padding do you need.  It is counter-intuitive, but the longer you ride
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Blog, Coach Articles, Cycle U News, Dean's Letter, Training, Uncategorized

Dean’s Letter: Make Yourself Do It

CrossMud

I gave my 1000th racing class this week on a typical rainy Seattle day. I taught a few new guys the ropes, told them about protecting their front wheel, riding straight and predictable, looking before moving around. I described how the pack moves like an amoeba and explained how to save energy by drafting off your fellow riders. For almost an hour I gave them racing tips as we rolled over the course to get warmed up and scout out obstacles. Then it was time to decide whether to race or not.

In my class advertisements I say that I ride with my students, but I have a personal policy not to race in the rain at Pacific Raceways. Cars leave so much oil on the roadway that racing in the rain can get sketchy fast. But I made a commitment to ride, so I donned an extra layer and headed to the start line. I would race with my students, at least for a lap or two.

On the first lap I was yelling comments out to all the riders. This was a beginner race, so I had plenty of coaching to do. Road grit and water clung to my teeth, leaving a nasty taste in my mouth. I noticed one of our guys was fading fast so I drifted to the back of the pack, giving him a wheel to focus on catching. By the end of the circuit, he had pushed forward and rejoined the group.

The race gained intensity on the second lap and we split into two groups. I tried to glue the pack back together, encouraging my racers to work steadily so they didn’t overexert themselves early on.

Our third lap around, my straggler was barely hanging on. He was struggling to keep up but gritted his teeth and stayed with the group up the hills. The other riders were doing fine, so I stayed back to support him. As we were approaching the next big downhill I yelled for him to stay back, but he powered to the front. He was first on the descent, but he had ignored racing tip #74: Don’t attack on the downhill when you are tired. You will get chewed up in the ascent and spit out the back of the group. Sure enough, it was his last lap anywhere near the chase group.

One of the lighter riders in our group made similar mistakes. She was blown back on downhill stretches by heavier riders with more momentum, but climbed back to the front every time. I explained to her that on descents it is better to stay behind the rider you are following, even if you are 20 feet apart. The draft has a tail which helps you coast up into the bottom of the next hill, making it easier to climb. After giving her a few tips I moved on, coaching my way around the chase group.

Before I knew it, we were on the last lap and I had done the whole wet miserable race, loving every minute of it. I was reminded that the hardest part can be convincing yourself to just get out there and go for it. I am so glad I didn’t talk myself out of racing before I had a chance, and I hope you do the same. Putting your nose out there and going for it is the only way you will find out how much fun you would have missed.

C U on the Road,

Craig Undem