Weeknight Rides Have Begun!

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Since daylight savings is here, we have more time for evening rides.  They will be relatively short in the beginning, but that is a blessing for many of us who have gotten out of shape during this endless winter.  Pray for some 50-degree days to melt all this snow!

Our Route Planning Committee is working on establishing several standard options for our weeknight rides.  We are screening them for safety and using strategies like “always favor right turns.”  Left turns are by far more dangerous for cyclists than right turns, so we are favoring clockwise routes whenever possible.  We are also considering traffic levels and speeds, shoulder width, and road condition.  Most importantly, there must be food and drink at the end at a place with a great patio!  Look for the routes to be posted on the website soon.

Always check the calendar before going to a ride, and watch the newsletter for updates on schedules and starting points.

Preparing for the Upcoming Season

Here are some answers to questions frequently asked in bicycle shops that may help you get ready for spring riding.  Thanks to roadbikerider.com for this material.

How many tubes should I bring on a ride? Two tubes is the perfect number.  You’ll need one to fix the only flat you’ll get today and one more in case you have a “Crider.”  Our Margarita Ride leader, Steve Crider, is the only person we know who has had two flats on a ride, but it happened on a dirt trail and during a year he broke the record for flat tires.  You can also use it to help another member who may forget an extra.

What things should I check before every ride? Always check the quick-release levers.  Open them a little less than half way, not so far that you mess with the wheel alignment, but enough so you can check that they close tightly.  Next, check tire pressure—always ride the same pressure so you will be able to trust your bike in the corners.  Spin the wheels to check for brake drag, cuts in the tires, and wiggly rims.  Quickly put the front tire between your knees and twist the stem to ensure it is tight, and then squeeze the brake levers to ensure that the pads hit the rims at the right place.

How much air pressure should I run?
Every tire has a sweet spot where it rolls faster and yet absorbs road shock—and more pressure is not always better, as many believe.  Three features determine where this mythical tire pressure should be set.  First, check the ratings on the tire.  Some are rated as high as 220psi and others as low as 125psi—usually there is a high/low range, and the best place to begin is the middle.  Second, consider the diameter of the tire.  Smaller-diameter tires (19mm) require significantly more pressure to support the same weight when compared with a larger-volume tire.  100psi may be more than ample for a 25mm casing while a 19mm TT tire will run almost flat at that pressure. Third is rider weight.  All you need is sufficient air pressure to prevent unnecessary tire flex, and not so much that you bounce all over the road on rough pavement.  Riders in the 200-pound range will discover that they can get a smooth, efficient ride at close to the tire’s maximum rated pressure, while a 105-pound female or junior rider may achieve the same performance near the tire’s minimum pressure rating. If you use the correct tire pressure, you can save gobs of energy in the form of better rolling resistance.  Too much pressure will rob your strength—especially if you are a lightweight rider.  If your bicycle bounces, release five or ten ounces.

How often should I upgrade my helmet?
Replacing your helmet once a year is probably reasonable for a high-mileage cyclist (2,000 miles a month), and the rest of us should consider a replacement after two years unless you’ve had a crash.  The closed-cell foam that protects your head is a one-time deal; once it has been compressed, it will not dissipate the shock as well the next time.  If you crash hard enough to scar the shell, you should buy a new helmet.  Six seconds in the hospital emergency room costs more than the best helmet made—don’t sweat the price.

How many CO2 cartridges should I carry? Carry one cartridge and a tiny hand pump (Lezyne makes the best ones).  Only use CO2 cartridges when you are in a time crunch—like a group situation where others are waiting for me to fix a flat.  CO2 fillers are foolishly wasteful in an environmental sense (although they are recyclable), and a hand pump can refill a thousand tires without running out of air.  Before you reach for that steel cartridge, consider a hand pump.