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Tag CloudBlaine Bob McEnaney Calories Cannon Falls Collegiate Cycling Dr. Anne Moore Fiber One Collegiate All-Star Team Fiona Lockhart Giana Roberge Gran Fondo hill climbing Hilton Clarke Injury Jeremy Fliss Jonas Carney KEMPS Mara Abbott Menomonie Minneapolis Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic National Sports Center Velodrome Nature Valley Bicycle Festival Nature Valley Grand Prix Nutrition OptumHealth Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 Shelley Evans St. Paul. Criterium St. Paul Time Trial Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage Five Stage Four Stage Three Team Kenda Team TIBCO/To The Top Time Trial Training TRIA TRIA Blog TRIA Orthopaedic TRIA Orthopaedic Center Women's Cycling Women's Prestige Cycling Series Women's Professional Cycling
TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog
One of the best things about the Menomonie Gran Fondo is the chance to ride the same course that the pros ride later that day, but this is also the biggest challenge as well.
USA Cycling coach Fiona Lockhart provides a few tips to help you conquer the hills that will break up the race later in the day.
One of the most common questions I get from cyclists is “Why is riding up hills so hard for me?” My standard response, which I stole from my colleague and mentor Dean Golich is “Because gravity is a law.” What I mean by this is that by virtue of the laws of physics, hills are hard for everyone. Of course, we know that some people seem to scamper up hills pretty easily, while we are grinding away in our granny gear, breathing too hard while seemingly going nowhere fast. I guarantee you that those mountain goat riders who make the hill climbing look simple are actually working pretty hard too, but they likely have some tricks and tools up their sleeves that help make their work just a little more manageable. Adopting some of these yourself may help you manage those climbs just a little bit faster and more efficiently.
Lighten Your Load
It’s no secret that it takes less energy to move a smaller weight up a hill than a larger weight. So, to make hill climbing easier, losing weight off your body or your bike can definitely be useful. Even a pound or two can make a difference. Of course, losing bodyweight is not always the easiest thing in the world (and is too big of a topic to cover here), but if you can finagle a way to lose even a few pounds of bodyweight, you’ll almost certainly notice that on a hill.
The other option is to lose weight from your bike. If you’re riding an entry-level bike from years ago, it might be worthwhile to think about getting a new bike frame. Frame technology has come a long way over the years, so you may be able to find a much lighter bike than what you currently have within a fairly decent price range. Of course, you can spend many thousands of dollars on a tricked-out carbon fiber frame that you can hold up with one finger, but you don’t need to do that to get a light bike. If you don’t want to change out your frame, investing in lighter wheels can make a huge difference as well. It may be worth a trip into your local bike shop just to see what they have available and what your options are.
One of the easiest things you can do on a given bike ride to keep the weight down is to just mind what you are bringing with you. Of course, you need to have the things you need to get you through the ride (water and food, tools to fix a flat or other mechanical, and weather-appropriate clothing options), but try to plan ahead so that you have everything you need and nothing more. If you are loading up a backpack or saddle bag with a bunch of extra stuff that you probably don’t need, know that there will be a price to pay for those things on the hills.
If you know that much of your riding will be done in the hills, or you have an important cycling event you want to complete that is very hilly, you’ll want to make sure that you have the appropriate gearing for that task. There is a “standard” crankset, which consists of a 53-tooth and 39-tooth chainring for your front gears (the ones by your pedals). However, for most people, having either a compact crankset or a triple crankset is enormously helpful in improving one’s ability to get up hills in the most efficient manner. A compact crankset usually consists of a 50-tooth and 34-tooth chainring. These smaller gears give you the ability to keep a little bit higher cadence on the hills and are easier to pedal with on hills. A triple crankset consists of 3 different gear options in the front, with something like a 53-tooth, a 39-tooth, and a 30-tooth chainring. This will give you a lot of gear options for climbing different size hills.
Another option for you is to make sure you have some larger cogs on your rear cassette (that’s the gear system on your rear wheel). For example, if your largest cog is a 23-tooth, you could get a cassette with a 27- or 29-tooth cog, which translates into easier gear options.
There’s this strange thing that I sometimes hear from riders, that it’s somehow “uncool” to ride anything less than a standard crankset. To me, that’s just silly. What seems more uncool is to ride gears that are inappropriate for a particular course or person – I mean, if there are tools available to us to help us ride more comfortably and efficiently (which then usually also transfers into “faster”), why wouldn’t we use them? Options are cool.
To be continued as Fiona covers efficient use of gearing, pacing and the benefits of a fit attitude…
It’s heresy to include criteriums (short circuit races) in a pro stage race. It’s just not done. Yet the Nature Valley Grand Prix has the top ranking on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar despite using criteriums for three of the six stages.
What gives? How can a race get the top ranking when it breaks the rules?
The Nature Valley Grand Prix is the NASCAR of bicycle racing. Most pro stage races follow the European model, which emphasizes road races that start in one city, finish in another and a spectator’s race experience can last for less than a minute. Here they come and there they go.
Well, this ain’t Europe and people in the US of A want a show.
Since criteriums are held on a short course (usually less than a mile), spectators can see the start of the race, they see the pack of racers whiz by every minute or so, they can walk the course to see different aspects of the race and they can be there for the finish. And because the course is short, it can be surrounded by a party with a bike race in the middle.
Even people who aren’t into bike racing have a blast.
And our road races are nontraditional as well. They’re the long distance endurance events that road races are supposed to be, but they finish with multiple laps of a short circuit to provide the spectator experience that’s the hallmark of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. So they’re really road races that finish with a criterium. The best of both worlds.
When you rewrite the rules, the real test of success is whether the insiders buy in. The professional teams attend in force because they need the crowds and media coverage to give value to their sponsors. And USA Cycling, the sport’s governing body, must buy it because they’ve given the Nature Valley Grand Prix the top ranking and invite the promoter to their symposia every year to share our radical ideas with others.
And, most importantly, the public loves the format and vote with their feet. The crowds are huge and enthusiastic and non-fans who come to one race come back for others, except that they come back as true believers.
Does this sound familiar?
Your group ride started out at an easy pace. Pretty soon, one of the stronger riders makes his way to the front and picks the pace up. Your little ego demon says “he’s not faster than me,” so you follow suit. So does everyone else. The dance continues until a stop sign or red light kills the momentum. Pretty soon, everyone’s heart rate is pegged out, white knuckles threatening to bend the handlebars and you’re left coughing up little bits of your lungs.
What does everyone says in the parking lot before the ride starts?
“Easy ride today?”
This group delusion was followed by “I’m toast from yesterday’s century”, “I haven’t been on by bike in a week”, “Today’s a recovery day” or “I’m tapering.” From Jump Street, the complaints are indicative of strong legs. No one ever laments about having fresh legs before a ride.
What would have happened if one person (just one) had said “Hey, dude, back ‘er down. This is an easy day” when that first knucklehead started the speed demonry? Everyone would have given a deep sigh of relief, because they needed an easy day. Rarely do groups have big enough egos to stray from impressing new riders. Asking to have an easy day is seen as a sign of weakness. The group think is usually “ride alone if you want to ride easy.” Hardly.
Easy rides are an essential part of training. You can only ride really hard on hard days if you’re rested. If you ride hard on days that are supposed to be easy, all you’ll manage on the hard days is to ride a little (but not much) harder.
If you want to be fast, keep your easy days really easy so that you can make your hard days really hard.
And what do you do if the dude that amps it up doesn’t slow down when asked? Before the ride starts, agree that anyone who amps it up will be ignored. Then, when Mr. Macho picks up the pace, tell everyone “let him go.”
The fool will ride up the road alone.
Confusing wintry mix aside, it seems that it’s that time of year. We’ve acclimated to Daylight Savings Time, we’ve seen that (at least here in Minnesota) 40-degree temperatures are a reality, and there’s even a chance we’ll toss our windproof bib tights aside for good this weekend, leaving us only with leg warmers and the like. Thank goodness Punxsutawney Phil graced us with this pleasant “spring.”
Forthcoming seasons aside, we’re going to need more than proper clothing to hoist our bikes off the trainer and bring them into the wild. Sean Peotter, of On Support, has tipped us off to the true art of the pre-ride safety check. He might know a thing or two about it…he sits on the planning commission for neutral support for the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Let’s take a look at what Sean thinks we all should do to ensure smiles during the miles:
Pre-Ride Safety Check
By Sean Peotter – OnSupport Neutral Service
One of the most overlooked things that should be a part of every ride is a pre-ride safety check. This check shouldn’t take long, but it will help ensure that your ride is a safe and enjoyable one.
First things first, you should first check to see if your tires are properly inflated. All tire manufacturers will print the recommended inflation range on the sidewall any tire. If you stay within this range, your tires should be in good shape. While checking the recommended tire pressure, you should also check the condition of your tires for cracks, tears, as well as any loose glass or debris embedded anywhere. Be sure the skewer that holds the wheel to the frame is secure as well.
Another very important item to look at is the braking system. Look at the cables to make certain they are intact with no kinks or frays. Give the brake lever a good firm squeeze to verify the cable fixing bolt is tight. Next, take a look at the gap between the brake pad and rim. Not only do you want to make sure the brakes are not rubbing on the rim, but you should also check the alignment of the pad. You don’t want the pad to come in contact with the tire or the dreaded friction flat tire will appear shortly thereafter.
Washing your bike after every ride is not always possible, though you should give it a thorough wash at least once a month. Not only does this make your bike look great, it also gives you the opportunity to look more closely at the frame. Cracks in frames can be extremely hard to see, especially if your frame is a dirty one. While you clean your bike, look at all the nooks and crannies for any signs of failure. If you notice anything, take your bicycle to a local shop for further analysis.
These checks should take no longer than a few minutes but this is in no way a substitute for a tune-up. It is always recommended to have your bike tuned-up once a year by a professional mechanic that will look at your bike more closely.
As cyclists, we’re ever-fearful of numerous “worst-case scenarios.” The possibilities are endless, but if we take precautionary measures in order to combat them, we are making ourselves (and the roads) that much safer. Stephen McCarthy, of Gear & Training, keyed us in to the finer points of purchasing the best investment for a cyclist: the proper helmet.
Getting a New Helmet for 2009
The purchase of a bike helmet has three main parts, each compounding on one another to make this new addition protect your noggin to the nth degree.
Consider the following:
The type of materials used to make the helmet and number of vents:
Remember, the lighter the helmet, the more expensive. A general rule of thumb is the more vents, the more air flowing through the helmet, the cooler it will be.
The manufacturer of the helmet:
While you might ask why that makes a difference, the reason is each manufacturer fits a different type of head. Some are round, some are deep, some are oval, some are for racing, mountain biking, or recreational.
Look for proper certification:
I know…we’re picking out a helmet, not a personal trainer. Still, helmets should adhere to specific certifications, so that when you really need it, it will accomplish the mission: protect your head.
Didn’t find everything you were looking for? More information can be found at the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.
Welcome to TRIA’s Your Cycling
Thanks for stopping by our blog! Enjoy what we have here, and let us know what you think!
We’re best known for our Nature Valley Grand Prix pro stage race, which will begin June 10th in St. Paul, Minnesota. We’re also hosting the Minnesota Bicycle Festival, which is a celebration of all forms of cycling. No matter what your focus, we’ll have you covered! Cycling is one of the most popular forms of recreation in the country. With the push to be as “green” as possible looming, the cycling boom will continue to exist for years to come.
The Your Cycling blog, sponsored by the TRIA Orthopaedic Center, is being created to help you get more out of your cycling. We’ve assembled a panel of nationally known experts, some every day Cycling Freds, and even some professional cyclists competing in the Nature Valley Grand Prix in 2009, who will blog on subjects ranging from training programs to nutrition to sports psychology to cycling techniques. Whether you’re a novice rider or a seasoned domestique, you’ll learn a lot from these folks and will be a better cyclist for it.
Keep watching the blog for updates or, better yet, subscribe to our RSS feed for instant updates when we make a new post! Regardless of the weather outside, we’re always here to serve up a nice steady tempo blog, rain or shine!