Elite Cycling

Flat Fix Basics

June 26th, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Flat Tire Basics

Written by Ros Difalco

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of a flat tire while out enjoying time on their bicycle. In reality, if you are going to ride regularly, it’s really more a matter of “when” not “if” when it comes to flatting. So, when you do get a flat, you have a few options. First, you can annoy your friends and family and get a ride back to your house. Second, you can walk (from experience, probably not a great option!). Third is your best shot: FIX THE FLAT WHILE ON THE ROAD!

Let’s go over the things you should carry while riding to fix most flats. There are different ways people carry the necessities, but here are my recommendations.

First, carry a saddlebag. Many people like to stash their change kits in their jersey pockets, but I prefer the saddlebag. If I have to stock my back pockets each ride I am likely to forget something or leave something out due to laziness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In your saddlebag you should carry a

  1. spare tube (the correct specifications to match your tire width, wheel diameter, and rim depth). I like to keep the spare tube wrapped up in a plastic bag to prevent it from getting holes while rubbing against tools.
  2. 1-2 tire levers. Not being able to get a tire on or off is extremely frustrating.
  3. C02 inflator (2 of these, just in case the first doesn’t go to plan).
  4. Multi-tool (though you don’t need it for the tire fix)
  5. Optional: There’s a new thing I have been adding to my saddlebags the last few years. A few brands make stickers to patch holes in tubes. DISCLAIMER: these should be used as a last resort if your spare tube is punctured or if you get a double flat (two flat tires in one ride).

Now let’s get on to your flat tire! In our hypothetical situation, you are riding down the road when you feel the tell tale squirmy/squishy ride characteristics of a flat tire. Now you might be tempted to keep riding but please don’t! Pull over somewhere off the road and check the tire for air pressure. You don’t want to damage your rim by riding with a flat tire.

Fixing a flat tire requires that you remove your wheel from the bike. Most bikes have a quick release axle, but if your bike doesn’t, make sure to carry the tools to remove your wheel. You also need to know how to open up brake pads on many bikes to get the tire to fit but we won’t cover that topic here due to the various types of brakes.

Now that your wheel is removed, you need to make sure the tube is fully deflated. This is good time to explain that most bikes have both a tire and a tube. The tube is what holds the air in the tire. The tube is what we want to replace/patch. To get to the tube we must remove the tire. Tires may be stuck to the rim via the bead.

Using your hands, push the tire to the center of the rim bed. Do this all the way around the rim. Getting the tire to the center will give you the space to get the tire over the lip of the rim. Once the tire is moved to the center of the rim, get your tire levers. Pry the tire over the rim. Only pry one side of the tire off of the rim. Now you should be able to remove the tube from the rim.

Next, look at the tube and see if you can determine what punctured it. You also want to GENTLY run your fingers in the inside of the tire to make sure there aren’t any thorns or objects stuck in it. If you install your new tube with a thorn in your tire you will instantly get another flat. Now, unwrap your tube and put the valve through the valve hole on the rim and lay the tube around the diameter of the tire. We now have to get the tire back on without puncturing the tube. With your hands, work the tire back on the rim until can no longer go further. At this point, get your tire levers back out. You need to pry the tire the rest of the way on the rim. BE SUPER CARFUL NOT TO PINCH THE TUBE WHILE DOING THIS!

Now that the tire is back on the rim, it’s time to inflate it and get riding again. Tighten the C02 on the inflator to break the seal. Make sure the valve on the tube is open and press the inflator firmly against the valve and release the compressed air. It will feel very cold but do not let off until the C02 is empty. Your tire should now be full of air! Make sure to tighten the valve on the tube. At this point you can put your wheel back on your bike and tighten up your axle.

Before closing, here are a few pieces of advice I would give to avoid getting flats in the first place. Use a quality tire that is up to the riding you are planning. I have made this mistake and the right tire makes all the difference. It’s also worth noting that when a tire gets worn out its puncture resistance is greatly reduced. Cheap tubes can be the cause of flat tires when the valve stem becomes unbounded from the rubber so decent tubes are important. If your bike setup allows it, going tubeless with sealant can offer a more trouble free ride as well. Whatever you decide to use, get familiar with your bike and be prepared for any flats you may encounter.


The Science of High Visibility Colors while Cycling

May 31st, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Andrew Fathman

How do you get someone to notice you? You know, that person. The person driving the car that, unless they see you, is at risk of making you a cycling statistic. You might not be surprised to hear that the color of your kit is one of the easiest and most effective ways to make yourself more visible and decrease the risk of an accident (put that all-black kit away, no–it doesn’t make you look like Batman.)

However, while having a closet so bright it rivals the sun is great, knowing what to wear at what times of day can actually further increase your safety. Our eyes have three different photoreceptors called “cones”. These cones are specialized to see the three primary colors that make up the spectrum of visible light. Depending on the ambient light, these cones can actually be better at seeing different wavelengths of light. During the day, our eyes are most adept at recognizing green light, followed by yellow and blue (or cyan for you art nerds out there.) Before you consign all of your green jerseys to daytime riding, you have to consider where you’ll be riding. Humans are sensitive to shapes resembling biological patterns which means that we are very good at seeing the shape of a person against a background. If you’re planning on riding through seas of green foliage, it’s better to give drivers a hand and wear a color that will help them see your outline against the trees.

The last scenario to consider is when the sun starts setting and shadows start forming. We might not think about this much as the days are getting longer and we are able to finish our rides with plenty of light, but before you know it, your local TNR will start finishing with less and less light. As it gets darker, our eyes transition from seeing green the best to being able to pick out yellow the easiest and at the furthest distances.

Reflective gear is becoming standard on most athletic gear and the science behind that is akin to why road signs are so obvious at night, but following these easy rules will you give yourself the best chance at being able to chase those K/QOMs (King or Queen of the Mountain winner in races) without incident.


Electronic Groupsets Review

May 16th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Jacob Dolecki

I’ve had the pleasure to work with all of the available electronic group sets out there available including: Shimano DI2, Sram Etap 11 TT, and Campagnolo EPS V4. All of the groupsets that I have tried have been for TT and triathlons only so my experiences are limited to only the views from that perspective and not from road cyclists.

Shimano

Shimano DI2 – Shimano DI2 is the first thing that you think of when you think “electronic groupset”. It by far has dominated electronic shifting for triathletes. It is cheap, clean, and intuitive. There are multiple settings that you can use: standard, semi-synchro, and full synchronized shifting. They all work as intended and it is fully up to the user for their preference. However, Shimano makes it more difficult to install due to the excess wiring and programming involved. If you decide that Shimano is your best bet, it is highly recommended to take it to your local bike shop. Because Shimano’s DI2 groupset is fully cabled, the weight is far beyond the other two electronic groupsets out there.

Full synchronized shifting – This is by far my favorite type that Shimano has out there. It gives the user the simplicity of a 1x groupset with the gearing of a 2x. To put it basically, it gives the system full control of your front shifts based on the selected rear gearing that you have. When you shift up or down in the rear cassette, the system will decide if you should be in the big or little chain ring to avoid cross-chain and to provide the smoothest cadence.

Standard shifting – Standard shifting is what you think shifting should be: you push your left button and it will move the front derailleur up and down into your different chain rings. The right button will shift the rear derailleur up and down depending on how many times you push the button. It is by far the most simple of the three functions that Shimano supplies.

Semi-syncho shifting – It is similar to fully syncho where the system places you into gearing. However, the key difference is that semi-syncho involves the rear derailleur shifting depending on your front derailleur choice. This setting is mostly around keeping your same cadence to which you supply the system via the E-Tube project App.

Pros: Cons:
Pricing Installation
Availability Weight
Custom-Ability
Battery Life
Ease of Use

Sram

Sram E-tap – Sram revolutionized electronic group sets by making their system fully wireless (for road cyclists that is) with each component having their individual battery. Installation can take as little as 10 minutes because there are no wires to feed through the frame. The only downfalls to Sram Etap is the price and the battery limit.

TT E-tap – Sram’s TT/Triathlon group set incorporates the ease of using E-taps fully wireless front and rear derailleur, and only adding cables for your shifting on your aero bars and brakes. The cables from these components goes to Sram’s BlipBox. The BlipBox is an amazing tool that can be used wirelessly as a temporary shifter when tuning up or installing the groupset. In addition, Sram made it possible to micro-adjust every individual shifting while you ride to make the shifting as crisp as possible. Compared to Shimano DI2 groupset, the shifting is on par, if not a hair better than their flagship Dura Ace. Because it is fully wireless, Sram’s electronic groupset weighs significantly less than its cabled counterparts. With the wireless function, Sram’s battery life is less than Shimano’s or Campagnolo’s. Its charge lasts about 500-600 miles depending on how much you shift. If you are training for a longer race, i.e. ironman or half, you will have to charge the batteries about every other week.

The main shifting is a little different than Shimano’s in that it only uses one button per component. If you want to shift on the front derailleur, you press both buttons at once. It takes some time to get used to, but is super convenient once you are comfortable.

Pros: Cons:
Installation Battery
Weight Price
Ease of Use
Shifting

Campagnolo

Campagnolo EPS V4: Campagnolo is the unicorn of the electronic shifting community. It is rare and hard to come by – even harder for triathletes. Campagnolo is on their third iteration of their electronic groupset. It made vast improvements over its V3 versions. Most notably, its capability to charge via the Bar End interface, 12 gears, and its Bluetooth/Garmin compatibility. Because it has cables similar to Shimano, its weight is a little heavier than Sram Etap. However, Campagnolo uses titanium and carbon fibre for its flagship Super Record components so the weight and stiffness is far superior to Shimano. However, its price range and excludability leaves most users behind.

Installation is similar to Shimano but the tuning is a lot easier because of the Campagnolo Mycampy app and micro-adjustment on the shifting levers. The shifting itself is by far the most crisp and precise shifting. It has never once missed a shift even during hard loads. Campagnolo makes the shifts known with an audible click so you know once you shift.  

Pros: Cons:
Shifting Hard to Find
Weight Price
Ease of Use

I hope this information is of value when you are considering your options for electronic groupsets.


Packing your saddlebag

May 2nd, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Written by Jared Dunham

If you’ve never had the privilege to be in the middle of the rain with a flat tire, and your last CO2 canister just leaked out, then you can’t truly appreciate having the proper tools fix a mechanical issue. Accidents on the trail will happen, and the only way to deal with these is to bring the right tools/supplies with you. The best place to store all the tools needed for your bike to survive hours of singletrack is in a saddlebag. The amount of equipment you bring in the bag is determined by the time/distance your covering. Let’s look over a few things that you should be including in your saddlebag before you go out adventuring.

Before we begin, the 3 durations we’re going to be considering for packing tools are:

  • Short Rides (Under 2 hour ride)
  • Medium Rides (2 to 5 hour ride)
  • Long Rides (5 to 10 hour ride)

Master link

  • Why should I bring it? They are generally the part of the chain that snaps when it breaks due to pressure.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1
    • Medium Rides: 2
    • Long Rides: 3+
  • Notes
    • Not all are re-usable, you might be able to take them on and off the bike, but they will not stay strong
    • Can be easily packed

Multi-tool

  • Why should I bring it? The Multi-tool exists to do any basic repairs or calibrations you need done on the trail.
  • Recommended Amount: Any Ride: 1
  • Notes
    • Make sure the multi-tool has a chain breaker, it will be one of the only things you can use to get your chain apart on the trail.

Spare Tube

  • Why should I bring it? In case you get a tire puncture from all sorts of sharp objects.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1
    • Medium Rides: 1
    • Long Rides: 2
  • Notes
    • You can zip-tie a tube to the back of your seat when racing.
    • If you have “deep” rims make sure that the valve stem of the spare tube is long.
    • zip ties, rubber bands, plastic sandwich wrap, or tinfoil to keep the tube wrapped tight.

CO2 Bike Inflator or Mini Pump

  • Why should I bring it? These devices are used to refill a fresh tube or one that has just been patched.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1 pump or
    • Medium Rides: 1 pump or 2 CO2 Canisters
    • Long Rides: 1 pump or 3+ CO2 Canisters
  • Notes
    • CO2 Bike inflators have a learning curve.
    • Some mini-pumps come with mounts that allow them to be attached near a water bottle cage.
    • If you mount the mini-pump, cover the nozzle from dirt and mud.
    • Mini-pumps take A LOT longer to fill a tube.

Cash

  • Why should I bring it? If your exhausted at a gas station it might save you from being forced to pawn off your bike for a ham sandwich.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: None
    • Medium Rides: $20
    • Long Rides: $20
  • Notes
    • Can be used to temporarily fill a gash in the sidewall of a tire.

Tire Patch Kit

  • Why should I bring it? In case all your tubes are punctured.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: None
    • Medium Rides: 1
    • Long Rides: 1
  • Notes
    • Get tire patches that require glue for use.
    • Make sure the patch kit includes tire levers.

Other Ideas for Trail Bag:

  •  Zip Ties
  • Packaged Rain Poncho
  • Meat Tenderizer
  • Fire Starter Kit
  • Miniature Knife

For the pack itself, I’ve recently been using a Topeak “Aero Wedge Pack w/ Fixer”. The bag is capable of fitting everything you’ll need and more. Something great about it is the “Fixer”, which is a piece that mounts to the bottom of the seat instead of relying on straps to hold the bag. However, no matter what you’re using to carry tools it’s always important to pack enough for the time you’re riding and the pathway conditions you’re faced with. Hopefully this helps a little bit when you’re considering what to bring with you on your trail travels.

 

 


Trusting the Process

April 19th, 2019 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team Athletic Mentors athlete

As an (almost) fourth year medical student and nearly life-long endurance athlete, I often find myself thinking about parallels between training to be a physician and an athlete. These are obviously very different pursuits but I find thinking about these analogies a helpful way to frame my experiences.

One of my college cross country coach’s mantras was to “trust the process.” I didn’t give it as much thought at the time, but have come to recognize the weight of this task. The “process” is usually not glamorous or social media worthy. It requires consistency and a steadfast commitment to the basics. In sports, this means doing the fundamental things right everyday- sleep, nutrition, stress management, recovery and training stimulus. In medicine, the process is less straightforward but still requires meticulous attention to the foundations everyday- asking the right questions, meticulous exams, thoughtful clinical decision making and effective communication. When you are in the midst of either process, sometimes it can be hard to measure progress or judge success. Feedback is a powerful tool but sometimes the feedback we receive isn’t as straightforward or easy to interpret as we would like.  This grey area, where we are working hard but a bit unsure if we are making progress, is the most challenging for anyone- be it athletes, students, physicians, or any professional.

The process of medical training feels like occupying the grey area constantly. Medicine in itself involves more uncertainty than we like to admit, making the process of learning that much more challenging. It involves constant questioning of your own capabilities as a healthcare provider, decision maker, and communicator without obvious feedback. Although we are required to achieve certain competencies, quantifying meaningful progress in this space can be challenging. Occasionally there will be glimpses of progress – sometimes with patient encounters that go especially well, moments of being spoken to as a physician colleague, or reminders of the transformation undergone over the past several years. However, this type of feedback can be subtle and identifying both strengths and weaknesses requires practice in self-reflection.  Although the learning process is formally measured in years and milestones, it has become increasingly apparent that the process never actually ends as it is persistent curiosity, reflection and attention to the basics are habits of the best physicians.

In endurance sports, it is easier to quantify progress in numbers: training hours, distance, power, and heart rate. Races are concrete and straightforward benchmarks of success: podiums, age group places, times, rankings. However, the grey areas still exist- such as the off-season, long training blocks, performance plateaus, or races that are not satisfying but not epic failures. Sometimes in these spaces, it seems like failures would be more satisfying because they would at least allow for more obvious take-away lessons.  These are the analogous grey spaces that requires a bit more self-reflection to continue the upward trajectory.

I think we all have a baseline aversion to uncertainty and “grey areas.”  I do think it is the commitment to the process despite the noise, uncertainty and self-doubt that makes for the most sustainable and ultimately satisfying progress.  Definitely easier said than done, but something to strive for nevertheless.



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