Blog, Coach Articles, Cycle U News, Training, Uncategorized

Have you thought about racing your bike?

So, you are getting faster on your bike.  When you started maybe you were averaging 8-10 mph on your longer rides, but now that that you have been training for STP, RSVP, Flying Wheels and similar events your average speed is getting closer to 15+ mph on longer rides and you are wondering what the next step is?
 
I finished STP in one day in 1985 with 10 friends from the UW and after that I was so hooked I started hanging out at bike shops and reading every bike article I could find.  Racing seemed risky and way beyond my ability, so I was happy to just study it.
 
When I moved to Colorado after College, I began working at the Moots bike shop and they began taking me out after work to show me how to *really* ride.  I learned how to race from those guys, and when the Steamboat Stage race came to town that Summer I was ready to try my first race.  
 
In the NW there are many races, but these 3 are the best choices for new riders :
 
1.  Cyclocross 
2.  Pacific Raceways or Seward Park weekly races, SBRP*
3.  Jerry Baker Velodrome 
*Sprint Triathlon and Mountain Biking are other common ways people start racing, but they require a Mountain Bike or you have to like swimming and running. 
 
 
 
 

Beginning racer clinic at Pacific Raceways

Here is how to tell which is best for you:
 
-Do you ride with racer types or HPC on the road and keep pace with them?  (#2 or 3 above)
-Do you have a mountain or cyclocross bike and like the dirt?  (#1, the safest and best intro to racing that will also make you a better rider on the road)
 
 

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Racing your bike Part #2 Middle of the Pack – now what?

Part 2:  OK, you now can survive a race, hopefully you learned to draft and conserve so you can see the finish line with the rest of the herd.  If you came into racing with a strong cycling background, it is possible that you won races, went right to the front of the pack, towed everyone around and still won.  This is good and bad, good cause it is fun, bad cause you probably didn’t learn much so you might still be the same skill level as when you started.  This can come back to bite you now that you are riding up at the next level.

For normal people, you spend time getting strong enough to survive, now you want to try to go for a mid race prime (prize) or see if you can finish in the top 1/3 of the results.  You have enough strength and skill to survive, now you just need to use it smartly to best the others in your group.  This is where reading the pack really comes to the fore.  Here are some basics to live by:

1.  Only move up when it is slow and try to find a wheel to get you up the pack instead of doing it yourself.

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The Art of the Pack

School of fish.  Pack of wolves.  Flock of birds.  Surfer on a wave.  When you decide to race your bike, you are assigning yourself to this kind of obedience and lack of control.  Group think, primitive reflexive response to the flow and changes of the herd and conditions.  You know what I am talking about?  Then maybe you haven’t raced, cause when you decide to ride with a group of riders without the formality of pacelines or ride leaders, chaos ensues and the rules of how you thought you should ride your bike are out the window, and you need to become “subject to the herd”.  

The good news is that once you learn the subtle art of riding with the pack, you will enjoy it and find much satisfaction from being able to fly along at twice your normal speed for hours on end, rocketing over the hills and dales of the country until the next climb starts.  You will be able to take advantage of the turbo speeds, and launch yourself to the stratosphere of bike speed and performance, there is no other way to fly.  The bad news is that not everyone makes the jump to good pack riding, and some of you will give up long before you ever accumulate enough skills and experience to truly enjoy the experience.  There is always racing Time Trials,  Triathlon, Mountain bike and Cyclocross, so don’t worry.

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How to Fix a Flat (Step by Step Instructions)

Fix-A-Flat Supplies:

• Bicycle pump or Co2 Cartridge and Co2 inflator
• Patch kit
• Spare tube or 2
• 2 Tire levers
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FIRST: Understand the Terms.

The Tire is the round rubber circle that actually makes contact with the road.
The Wheel is the metal frame that the tire sits on.
The Rim is the side of the wheel, where the tire lip rests. (The part that the brakes grab on to.)
The Tube is the rubber thing that’s filled with air. So you see, you don’t really have a flat tire, you have a flat tube.
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INSTRUCTIONS:

1. BREATHE. Then remind yourself that you CAN do this!

2. REMOVING THE WHEEL. First release the brake on the wheel that has the flat (the mechanism is usually found right above the wheel), then remove the wheel from the bicycle. IF REAR wheel – Shift to put your bike into the smallest cog on the back and front cassette before removing the wheel. (This releases the chain and makes it easier to reinstall at the end.)

3. REMOVING THE TUBE. Empty the remaining air from the tube. Then use tire levers, insert them between the metal rim and the rubber tire bead (the curved edge that hugs the metal rim) on either side. Push both tire levers away from the wheel and remove one side of the tire bead. You need to remove only one side to change the tube. Remove the valve cap (where you pump air into the tire), then pull the tube from inside the tire.

4. INSPECT THE TIRE. Carefully inspect both the tire and the tube for the cause of the flat by running a cloth or tire lever inside the tire. Any sharp objects will snag the fabric. Remove the debris. Visually check the tire tread for other culprits or large cuts. Also make sure that no spokes or rough edges are rubbing along the inside of the metal rim. (If tire is blown out or severely damaged you will need to replace the tire or if on the road, use a folded dollar bill or gel wrapper to cover damage inside the tire until you can get to a bike shop.)

5. INSPECT THE TUBE. Pump up the old tube, then check for a leak. Choose to either repair the old tube using a bike patch kit (use the instructions on the repair kit you have) or replace it with a new tube.

6. INSTALL NEW/FIXED TUBE. Take your patched or new tube and insert it back into the tire. First install the valve in the valve opening, then work the rest of the tube into the tire all the way around. Pull the rubber bead of the tire back toward the metal rim. The tire bead should drop down into the metal rim. The bead will become trickier toward the end. You can push the bead with your thumbs or tire levers to make it fit. Sometimes this can take some muscle.

7. INFLATING. Once the tire is attached to the wheel, rock the tire back and forth looking to make sure that you cannot see the tube sticking out. (If it is and you didn’t check you will get a “pinch flat” as soon as you inflate.) Once the tube is up inside the tire, it is ready to be inflated. Look at the sidewall to find the recommended pressure or PSI. When inflating, make sure the tire is even and has no bulges or low spots.

8. INSTALL THE WHEEL. Put the wheel back onto your bike. If REAR wheel, ensure that you put chain back onto the smallest cog on the cassette (same as when you removed it) and then make sure that all gears are shifting properly again.

9. CONNECT THE BRAKES. Don’t forget this part!

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*Want more information about Nutrition/Lifestyle/Cycling/Triathlon Coaching, or to join the Cycle University Multisport team – contact Mary Craig at Mary@cycleu.com.