Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rules-of-Thumb and Other Nuggets (of Nonsense?)

Descending the final 10 miles in a 40'ish degree drizzle today, I was comfy, warm, and relatively dry in my booties, full leg warmers, long-fingered gloves, and three torso layers. Not so for my mostly novice companions, two of whom were bare legged and miserable. So, as a public service worth exactly what you are paying for it, here are some random rules-of-thumb and other tidbits to consider...

#1 Clothing: If it's below 60 degrees, wear full leg warmers. 60-70 degrees wear knee warmers. Above 70, bare legs. Except in a race... knock down those temps 10-15 degrees for a race. And if there's any hint of cold, bring arm warmers and long-fingered gloves (the thin kind, not ski gloves). Why not, they roll up really small and fit perfectly in jersey pockets.

And on the subject of pockets, make a base layer out of your old tight-fitting jerseys by cutting off the sleeves. That way, you double your pocket volume to carry all that clothing if it warms up. And even then if you fill up your SIX pockets, then you can stuff additional clothing inside the back of your jersey and look like a camel.

Bottom line: always err on the side of bringing too much clothing on a ride. If you don't need it, most likely somebody will.

#2 Food: Less than one-hour ride, all you need is water. 1-2 hours, bottles with Cytomax-type drink. More than 2 hours, bring some food. Why not, you've got lots of pockets now, right?! More than 5 hours, bring money!

Bottom line: always err on the side of having more than enough calories. Again, if you don't need it, somebody probably will.

#3 Spitting and Snotting: Put some velocity into it, and know where the people are behind you. The point is to not hit them with your spit or snot. If you're about to launch a big one, please signal. If you want to be Pro'ish, then do the single-motion sweeping downward arm signal with your snot following directly in your arm's wake. Personally, I'm too much of a spaz for that approach 'cause I'd surely snot on my hand.

#4 The Wind: Figure out where it's coming from, and ride accordingly. That means pull off into the wind. When you're in the line, follow the wheel in front of you on the opposite side of the wind direction. Obviously that's where the best draft is. Also, if you're riding with a group and you're on the front, don't force the people behind you to echelon out into the vehicle traffic (or into the gutter). If the wind is from the right, try to be close to the right edge of the road. If it's from the left, be out into the lane as far as is safe (which might not be very far at all).

Can't tell the wind direction? Look for environmental clues ...flags, branches, batman kites, etc. Otherwise try this: following the wheel in front of you closely, move a bit right and then a bit left, and feel the wind on your arms. When you're in the sweet spot generally each arm will feel the wind equally. Plus, it should be easier to ride. If that doesn't work, spit (see #3).

#5 Tubes: Bring one, or better yet, two. And what's with all the CO2 cartridges these days? Why not carry a little frame pump? The modern ones work really well, certainly good enough to get 100 psi unless you're a weakling little girl like me, and even then you can get 80-90 psi. That's good enough. Also, after you change your flat, fully deflate your old tube and then tie a knot in it. Nothing worse than forgetting the tube is flat and trying to use it later. Well OK, lots of things are worse than that but still...

#6 Hmmmm... Surely I've learned more than five things in all these years of cycling... Or maybe not. Hey blog reader, feel free to offer up any nuggets of wisdom for the rest of us!

37 comments:

Marco Fanelli said...

#6 If you're riding at the front, and a big branch is laying across your path and you try to bunny hop it, be sure to clear it so that you don't accidentally bounce it up into the air, hence jamming it into the spokes of the rider(s) in back of you.

I better study #6...

TnA said...

I'll say you should...

Oh yeah...I thought I saw you at the beginning of yesterdays ride with no leg warmers, and it was under 70? Hypocrite...well, at least you stopped for the stop signs.

BTW, those temperature ranges can be adjusted down a few degrees for those of us who happen to have slightly more body fat than a coke snortin' super-model. We don't get as cold as easily as you waif-ish types ;-)

Marco Fanelli said...

> I thought I saw you at the beginning of
> yesterdays ride with no leg warmers,
> and it was under 70?

ahh, right you are. They were in my pockets. And at least it was over 60. Man, Santa Barbara weather sucks!

> at least you stopped for the stop signs.

Damn right. Today too. That's farther than I expected to make it without slipping up!

Gary said...

Marco when you gonna host a bunny-hopping skill clinic?

Dave said...

#7 unless you're racing (on the same team), stay the hell away from Gary...

Steve said...

Marco,

Your one funny dude with some great BLOG's .. I was laughing out loud reading your latest POST #3 !!!

Keep up the great writing!!

The OtherSteve

jen said...

Hmm... It was barely breakin' 50 when I rolled out on Sat. Methinks someone was just showin' off his legs ;-)

B'sides, you wouldn't want to show up to the early season races without a tan. Gah, the horror!

KanyonKris said...

Good info!

regarding #5, I like CO2 for my road bike because it's fast. And when it's cold, fast is good - gotta get moving again as soon as possible to keep warm. Pumps have one big advantage: you don't run our of air. But I carry 3-4 CO2 cartridges and have yet to run out.

Marco Fanelli said...

OK all you smarty-pantses (Jen & TnA), I was trying to spare you the burden of doing multi-variable, differential calculus before heading out on a ride. But since you've seen fit to criticize MY leg-wear choices, I'll let you in on the complicated reality... The REAL formula for determining whether to cover your legs involves temperature, wind, expected intensity, AND body fat percentage. Plus, how tan you are. After exhaustive analysis and computer simulation, I determined the appropriate option for moi on Saturday was to wear leg warmers to the ride, then peel them off with the group, then put them back on for the noodle home. Neener-neener-neener!

Also, Mr. D'Velo and Dave: Please slap around Gary when he visits back east. He's starting to act like a petulant little child who doesn't respect his elders. Why just yesterday, when I was drafting him, he flipped me off!! Sure, he tried to disguise it as simply scratching his back, but I noted only one finger (middle) protruding out of his grubby little hand. Please inform him that there's ONLY ONE thing he should be concentrating on when I'm on his wheel, and that thing is to make holes for me in the pack in order for me to unleash my wicked fast sprint. Eventually after paying his dues, he'll rise up to a better position and will be allowed to ride for himself, but while he's still young, he must serve! OK, now I need to take my Geritol and grab a quick nap before the early-bird special at Sizzler.

Oh yeah, good point Kris about the CO2s... I'm not too familiar with this concept of real "cold", so I'll take your word for it. Plus I suppose it's not nice to make all your riding partners wait a long time.

TnA said...

Wow...no differential calculus needed here. I base wearing leg warmers or not on the simple question "Am I cold?" ;-) Works for me.

Anonymous said...

CO2s are a waste to the environment. Pumping up a tire will keep you warm enough.

TnA said...

anonymous said...

"CO2s are a waste to the environment. Pumping up a tire will keep you warm enough."

Puh-leeze...don't get me started. How are they a "waste to the environment?"

Besides, the CO2 cartridge usage by cyclists pales in comparison to the usage by other activities, such as paint-balling.

Of course, it all depends on whether you think CO2 is a pollutant or not...

It's perfectly fine to use whatever you want; CO2 or pump. Or, you can do what Alex does and just use whatever the other people he's riding with happen to have along :-)

jen said...

Smartass? Where?!

;-)

Anonymous said...

tna said:

"Besides, the CO2 cartridge usage by cyclists pales in comparison to the usage by other activities, such as paint-balling.

Of course, it all depends on whether you think CO2 is a pollutant or not...

It's perfectly fine to use whatever you want; CO2 or pump"

The old cartridges are not refillable and are tossed in the trash (or left on the road). That is the waste. It is marginal, yes but CO2s are indeed a waste of time and metal especially when someone doesn't load it properly then uses another, and another. Is it perfectly fine to drive a Hummer if you consider its detriment to the environment pales in comparison to a coal factory? Add up all of the cyclists that uses CO2s and you will have a significant pile of garbage that is ENTIRELY avoidable if you're not so lazy.

Anonymous said...

p.s.

everything has an impact on the environment. Saying it only has a small impact doesn't make it right especially if it's avoidable. CO2s are avoidable. None of us are Captain Green Scout but CO2s cracks me so pardon my bluntness.

Marco Fanelli said...

I agree with anonymo. It's so easy to carry a pump, and it doesn't run out. How many CO2 cartridges do people carry anyway? (I once did a 100-miler with C-Walk and got 3 flats but since I had 2 tubes and patches it was no problem.) But more than that, I'm so cheap that I don't want to pay even $.50 for something I can do for free. Well, that and also being a retro grouch against any new-fangled technology...

In other news... it'll be a great Tour of California next year with a huge stage going over the backside of Mt. Hamilton and also the final stage climbing over Angeles Crest!

TnA said...

-CO2 cartridges are steel and are recyclable. Throw them in the recycling bin. There's no need for them to go in the garbage. BTW, what happens to all those old broken frame pumps (which these days seems to be a common problem, i.e. they just don't last)? What are the chances that they end up in a landfill as opposed to being recycled?

-The amount of CO2 in a 12 gram cartridge is the same as the amount in a 1 liter bottle of the carbonated beverage of your choice.

So...unless Mr. Anonymous is willing to forgo all carbonated beverages and makes sure that his old, broken frame pump is recycled, please spare me the pious talk about how bad CO2 cartridges are for the environment. Like I said before, either option is fine and the personal choice can be made on other features (convenience, size, time, etc.)

Marco Fanelli said...

I think the comments from Mr. (or Mrs.) Anonymous are totally reasonable, and I assume his (or her) point is that each of us makes many, many small choices every day that in total can add up to some serious impacts. In my view (and his or hers too), pumping up a road-bike tire manually is so trivial that it makes sense even compared to the admittedly small amount of waste that is the CO2 cartridge.

On the other hand, I cleaned my bike today and I used compressed air to blow off some H2O in hard-to-reach spots. It took some electricity to compress that air, so maybe I should have used the little corner of a cloth rag to dab out the moisture. But alas, I was in a hurry to make the lunch-time ride, from which I got dropped when I stopped (mostly) at the signs!

Almost anybody who claims he or she is as "green" as possible is full of crap. If you call somebody on his or her choices, they'll usually get defensive. For example, a thousand people or so who live in my Goleta neighborhood work over in the Research Park area which is a grand total of TWO miles away, and yet the vast majority of them drive to work all year round. When I was a working fool over there, that's what I (mostly) did too. I like to think I'd do it differently if I ever rejoin that rat race.

(Side note: Right On Gary!! ...for commuting by bike to work, and still making it out for the lunch-time rides.)

In other news... How about that stock market today?!?

Jason said...

#7 Pooping: (Can't believe you didn't cover this Marco)
If ever you find yourself in the most unfortunate situation of having to take a poop and having no bathroom/outhouse available to do so, don't be afraid to go back to nature. First, scour the roadside looking for any paper or discarded clothing. A nice knit cap can be most pleasant. If you can find nothing use one of your socks (you know someones been on a long ride when you see them with only one sock). Now the important part. To properly poop in the wild with bibs one must get completely naked except for shoes. Never attempt to poop by squatting with bibs on. A sure fire recipe for disaster. Granted, the sight of a completely naked man with shaved legs and cycling shoes on taking a dump in the wild would put a poor Audubon Society member in the hospital, but you gotta do what you gotta do when it's time to do it.

Marco Fanelli said...

Thanks for that Jason! Now we're all prepared for nature's call. BTW, you might enjoy this...

http://truesport.com/Bike/2004/articles/mka/mka02.html

...written by the best bike-race story teller on the planet. I truly miss MKA at the races.

Jason said...

That was friggin hilarious. MKAs McClane Classic write up following that was even funnier. I remember reading one he did on CWalker. The guys a genius.

TnA said...

"Every time a toilet flushes...a racer gets his wings."

Anonymous said...

tna...I've had the same pump now for 5 years. If other ones I've had hadn't been stolen or ridden over, I'd be using those too. Do you patch tubes or just buy new ones? Oh right, they're recyclable so who cares? There certainly isn't a big factory running a huge furnace somewhere that's melting down all the stuff you're recycling. I'm all for recycling obviously but I'd bet you're using more stuff than you need to. It still takes a lot of energy to recycle product. There isn't a bunch of hobos sitting in a metal yard turning your CO2s into artwork.

Marco was right about my point. We all do little things everyday that are wasteful, which is multiplied by 300 million people in this country. I again say that I am not perfect but I'm trying to get better and choose better options. Your comment that it doesn't matter either way is simply wrong and I guess that is what frustrates me the most. I would have more respect for you if you said, "I know this option is worse, but I choose to do it anyway".

TnA said...

The problem is, Joe/Jane Anonymous, is that it's NOT necessarily worse. I pointed out why above.

BTW, how many CO2 cartridges do you think I go through in a year? Do you think that I pump my tires up before each ride with a CO2? Nope. Simple floor pump.

Why don't I use a pump on my bike? Well, in my experience, the only bike pumps worth spit are the full size ones like the venerable Zefal HPX. Finding a full size pump that fits on a compact style frame is like looking for hen's teeth...and if I DO find one, it most likely won't fit on any of my other bikes. A CO2 inflator is compact (fits in a seatbag), light, fast, and easy to switch from bike to bike, if you have more than one, just by swapping my seat bag. If I'm riding with others I'm not making them waste their time while I flail away taking 500 strokes with a wimpy little pump. For the paltry number of cartridges I go through on a yearly basis, it's a no-brainer decision for me.

Like I said above, the choice to use either a frame pump or a CO2 should only be based on which performance features of each you value more...but to claim some sort of environmental "high ground" for using a pump is simply a red-herring.

Oh yeah...I patch my tubes and reuse them...especially the expensive latex ones! And then, when they are beyond repair, I cut the latex ones into little rubber bands to use around the house. Do you?

One last thing, metal recycling, especially steel, is vastly more energy efficient that smelting from raw ore. Metals get recycled...plastics, only sometimes. Hey, is that 5 year old pump of yours metal or plastic? Is it going to get recycled when you break it or it gets stolen? Just checking ;-)

kweixel said...

Hey anonymous, why not stop exercising? It creates excess heat and requires extra calories that take energy to produce.

You have to accept at some point the fact that your very existence creates pollution and takes energy. You just need to weigh the pros and cons of your energy expenditures.

Using CO2 cartridges is not a gratuitous waste of energy. Use a hand pump if you want, but please just don't bag on those of us that use CO2.

You may think you're 'greener' than somebody that uses CO2 because you use a hand pump, but who knows? Overall, you may be a bigger polluter and energy waster.

Anonymous said...

Training - legs covered below 75 if rainy, 70 if sunny

Racing - legs covered below 35 (just use creams/oils)

Anonymous said...

It's all about choices folks. I've made my point repeatedly that adding up all of the little things makes a difference. Can you survive without using a CO2? Yes. Therefore it is purely a convenience unless you are simply incapable of using a basic air device that has been around for centuries; a concept which the rest of the world seems to have grasped and used effectively. However, as both of you seem to repeatedly disregard my point that we can all do more towards the environment and that everything does have an impact, as small as it is, there's no point in commenting further. Let's keep Marco's site on the light side and move on.

SteveB said...

In the immortal words of the Superhero E.J Steele "Shut up and Ride"

Marco Fanelli said...

SteveB- That reminds me...

#8 Always bring your cycling shoes to the races.

#9 If you forget Rule #8, be sure to have your flip-flops so you can race in those instead!

btw, no need to keep it light here, but do keep it civil. I happen to agree with Anony, but I also enjoy hearing opposing opinions, no matter how wrong they are! (insert smiley or winky face)

Gary said...

I confess. I use C02 but balance that with other lifestyle choices such as commuting to work (3.5 gallons of gas saved per week), supporting organic agriculture and shi!!ing in the woods. Think of all the water and trees/tp saved!

I hear that Jason blows up his bicycle tubes with his lungs.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has lived and raced in Europe can tell you that when to use knee and leg warmers is NOT dependent upon the thermometer, it is solely dependent upon the calendar. Knee warmers are worn in September, leg warmers are worn from October to March, then the knee warmers come back out until May. It's very simple.

Druber

TnA said...

Even though I didn't know him that well, I still miss E.J. :-(

Anonymous said...

Well, where I live, we just wear plastic pants 24/7 all year long and don't worry about when to wear what cuz we are freezing our asses off and our shoes are filling with water.
Laura

dr-nitro said...

Yeah, CO2 user here. Only because I can't fit a real pump to my frame without excessive rattling or fear of it coming off and inopportune or dangerous times, and I go through about 4 cartridges a year, maybe. And, I'll use a pump of a fellow rider if they have a real one. If you want to rail on waste, how about the Goo packs? I bought the plastic refillable Goo bottle because I think that it is simply wasteful otherwise.

Yeah sure, some who would use CO2 cartridges are wasteful, but many who do do so in response to frames being less accommodating to real pumps. When I got a full suspension mountain bike, there was no room for the trusty Zefal, so I thought I'd give the CO2 a spin on the mountain bike. But, I realized that I got too many flats on a mountain bike for that to be a viable solution do to costs and waste. I have a mini pump attached to a cage, and spend the extra time mini pumping away.

Most cyclists tend to be on the solution side of protecting the environment, since it is in our interest to protect what we enjoy so much. But, there are some wasteful things we do. CO2 cartridges pale in comparison to some activities. Patch tires. Cut out the valves and recycle the tubes when they are patched beyond further use. Put the bike in the back of the car instead of putting it on a rack. Take the rack off the car when in not in use. Don't use Goo packs. And, recycle the CO2 cartridges if you use them.

Marco Fanelli said...

Laura- You're stylin' in plastic pants!! And doesn't everyone wear circa-1985 birkenstocks up there?

Nick- I'm sure your carbon footprint (etc.) is quite reasonable. Yeah, seems I'm in the minority on CO2-vs.-pumps ...more eveidence that I'm just a retro grouch.

dr-nitro said...

Retro looks cool in the magazines and in coffee table books. That said, I don't ever see myself slipping on a pair of wool shorts with a paper thin leather chamois, hopping on a bike with six gears in the back and a low of 21 with a 52 42 up front. And, while the old Silca frame pumps actually complemented a stylish steel frame, they did not work for donkey doo. Zefla HPXs did, but again, they don't fit on the super sleek, super light, super responsive modern frames. Again, retro is for coffee table books.

And yeah, my carbon footprint is pretty low. I just filled up my car last night for the first time since September. That should hold me over til the new year.

Marco Fanelli said...

Right-O Nick! ...I'm really just a grouch, not a retro-grouch.

Remember having to take your hands off the bars to shift?!? And also how your feet could go numb from tightening down your toe-straps??

The only thing I long for from the old days are the prices. When I started cycling, you could get a top-of-the-line racing bike for $500. Even adjusting for inflation, stuff is way more expensive now. (But yeah, stuff works better now.)