CX ’15: Choosing the Right Cyclocross Tire

 

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There’s a lot of reasons to invest in a cyclocross bike– not only are they excellent for actually riding ‘cross, but they make great adventure bikes, gravel grinders, commuters, and road bikes too. Whether you’re using your bike to chase down some adventure or the front of the pack, picking the right tire will go a long way towards enhancing your ride. Since cyclocross bikes can be used for everything from road riding to racing on conditions from asphalt to mud pits, you need to choose a cyclocross tire based on the terrain and weather conditions where you live, and your own personal riding style and goals.

The two biggest things to keep in mind when shopping for a new set of cyclocross tires are tread pattern and tire width.

 

 Shop for cyclocross tires on Performancebike.com

 

Tread Patterns

Tread patterns are the next most important factor in picking a tire. Not all tread patterns are good for all conditions, but there are some really good all-around ones out there. It’s important to consider your local conditions when looking for new tires.

The tread pattern on the Clement MXP is a good, versatile, all around one that should perform well in most conditions

Knobs

These are the main “treads” of the tire. Some are very aggressive with high knobs and hard edges, others are lower and more rounded. Generally, the more aggressive the tread, the more it hooks into the ground—but at the cost of speed. The lower the tread, the faster, but the less traction you’ll get.

Shoulders

These are the side treads of the tire, and they help with cornering. A good cross tire should have plenty of sharp knobs on the outside edges to help bite into the ground and keep you from sliding out.

Pattern

Generally speaking, chevron-shaped tread patterns offer lower rolling resistance so you can ride faster, but don’t have quite as much traction and can easily pack in with mud. Blockier tread patterns improve traction and easily shed mud, but have a higher rolling resistance.

Slicks

Yes, they do make CX slicks. If you’re somewhere with fairly hard, dry soil or on the road you can probably get away with these, but we would highly advise keeping a set of knobbys on hand as well.

 

 Shop for cyclocross tires on Performancebike.com

 

Width

Width is a really important part of picking the right cyclocross tire. Generally, the wider the tire, the wider the contact patch and the better the traction. However, if you’re racing in a UCI-sanctioned event, or even some local events, your tire width might be limited to 32mm. Another limiting factor is frame and fork tolerance, but most cyclocross bikes can easily handle up to a 38mm tire without any problems.

 

5 Great Spring Power Foods

It’s spring, which means that everyone is starting to ride more. We’ve focused on the bike, we’ve focused on your prep. Now it’s time to start looking at how to fuel those spring rides. Remember, the base miles you put in during the early spring are the important ones, because they lay the foundation for the rest of the year—so it’s crucial to make sure they are good ones. And one of the best way to do that is by properly fueling your rides.

Here are our favorite 5 Spring Power Foods:

1. Waffles

Both delicious, and nutritious, these delightful pastries have been a training staple for years in Belgium and the Netherlands, and with good reason. With plenty of carbs, simple sugars, and a lighter consistency that’s easy to get down even when you’re suffering, waffles are one of our favorite treats to enjoy on a ride.

To learn more about fueling your ride, check out our article.

Waffles are a great, delicious way to fuel your ride

2. Chews

Because you can eat them one-handed, sometimes we find chews a little easier to eat on the bike, especially on windy days or on a fast group ride. Packed with simple sugars and carbs, chews are an easy to eat, quick fuel that can give you instant energy on the bike. On longer rides, we also look for chews that include some salt to help prevent cramps.

To learn more about fueling your ride, check out our article.

Chews are an easy, efficient way to fuel up on the bike

3. Hydration Mix

To avoid dehydration, it’s important to carry two water bottles on your ride: one with water, and one with a hydration mix. When you sweat, you lose more than just water—you also lose vital electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and calcium. It’s vital to replace these lost salts to not only avoid cramping, but also hyponataremia, a potentially life threatening condition caused by too little salt in the body. The leading cause of hyponatremia is athletes overhydrating with plain water without replacing lost electrolytes.

To learn more about hydration, check out our article.

Hydration mix is essential to avoid cramping and staying hydrated

 

4. Recovery Drinks

We used to not be a big believer in recovery products…until we tried some after a century ride. The next day we woke up feeling totally refreshed and without the aches and pains we were expecting. Recovery drinks are specially formulated with plenty of carbs, proteins, vitamins, and minerals to help rebuild sore muscles, replenish muscle glycogen, and inhibit inflammation, so you can feel refreshed and recovered.

To learn more about recovery, check out our article.

Recovery drinks can help you feel better and performance better after a hard ride

 

5. Real Food

As great as all of the above foods are, spring is a time when some of nature’s finest bounty is at its best. Even if you do everything to fuel your rides the right way, it won’t matter much if you’re neglecting your diet the rest of the time. Spring is a time when fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables are all becoming available again. The micronutrients, vitamins and minerals found in foods like beets, carrots, kale, and other fresh foods are important to help your body stay balanced, repair damage and function at its best.

Oatmeal is a great way to start the morning. Filling, healthy, and full of energy. Find this recipe in the Feed Zone Cookbook from Skratch Labs.

Eating fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods is a great way to fuel your rides before they even start

Real Advice: How To Store Your Bicycles Inside

The first step to storing your bikes is admitting that you have a problem – when your bikes are taking up more space in your house than your actual furniture, then it’s time to look into some storage solutions! There are a lot of opinions and differing ideas about the best way to store your bicycle. We’ve used them all, so we’re here to help. What follows are some easy ways to keep your bikes organized and out of the way around the house, while maintaining your relationship with your significant other.

Bike Storage Hook

Performance Bike Storage Hook

The simplest option is the humble Storage Hook – it doesn’t get much easier than this. Screw this rubberized hook into the wall and you’re good to go – just hang your bike from the front or rear wheel and let the bike hang down. We highly recommend using a stud finder and drilling a pilot hole to make sure that it’s secure enough to hold the weight of your bike. You can also use two of these if you’re going to hang your bike from the ceiling and you’re comfortable lifting your bike over your head each time you want to put it away.

Hang 2 Plus rack

XPORT Hang 2 Plus Bike Hanger

If you’d like a little more versatility, you could consider an option like the XPORT Hang 2 Plus Bike Hanger. With a rack like this, you can put two bikes very close to one another (you’ll probably have to flip the orientation for the second one) and put gear on the shelf behind it. We would recommend clipping your helmet to the shelf and adding gear on top as needed. One drawback with this system is that the bikes stick out a bit out from the wall.

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XPORT Bikes Aloft 2 Storage Rack

If you’d like to be a little more space conscious, you might consider an option like the XPORT Bikes Aloft 2 Storage Rack. This is our go-to bike storage option. You’ll find them all over the Performance home office and even used in our retail stores and at events. This is because the rack is extremely space conscious and also very easy to set up. It doesn’t require drilling into walls, so it’s great for apartments or rooms where you may not always want to have your bike. Because one bike is directly above the other, the footprint of this rack is equal to one bike.

Bicycle Hoist

Transit Bicycle Hoist

If you have high ceilings and would like to open up some space by lifting the bike out of the way, you might consider a rack like a Transit Bicycle Hoist. This system takes a bit of effort to set up, but once it’s in place it is very easy to use, and you’ve got some instant bike art elegantly on display!

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XPORT Bike Cover

One final option is just to cover up your bikes with something like this XPORT Bike Cover, so that at least you won’t get grease all over your new couch. And if you’re unfortunate enough to have to store a bike outdoors on a regular basis, you definitely need a bicycle cover. This will keep some of the elements off of your bicycle – just make sure to keep that chain lubed!

Are there any circumstances we haven’t covered? Any strange bike storage options you’ve used in the past? Let us know in the comments section below.

Real Advice: How To Properly Clean Your Water Bottle

We all use water bottles every day. Taking the time to really clean them is very important to your continued health. A dish washer will get them mostly clean, but every once in a while it’s a good idea to pull the bottle apart and really clean it. Here’s how we recommend cleaning your water bottle.

For this example, we’re using a Polar Insulated Water Bottle (one of our favorites).

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We’re starting with what looks like a clean bottle.

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It looks fairly clean at first, but there’s mold growing under that nipple.

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See the black notches? They’re the key to getting that nipple out in one piece.

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Firmly grasp the nipple and give it a good twist.

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The notches should slide behind the columns. This will allow the nipple to pull right out.

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It’s pretty easy to pull out, actually.

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See all of the nastiness? And this bottle has been through the dish washer!

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Thoroughly clean out the nipple.

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Carefully clean out the bottle lid as well.

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Don’t forget to scrub down inside that bottle!

For this example, I’m using scrub brushes from a Camelbak Cleaning System to get all of the gunk out. When you’re done cleaning, pop the nipple back in and enjoy your thoroughly cleaned water bottle!

2013 Year in Review – From Cyclocross Worlds to How to Climb

While we’re already looking ahead at 2014, but as we close out 2013 we wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the best stories and posts that we’ve shared throughout the year – we’ve got even more planned for the coming year, so stay tuned!

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Real Advice: Commuting by Bike

Our coworker Aaron’s story of his 20 mile commute struck a chord with many of you out there – check out the comments for tales from fellow commuters.

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Fuji Pro Bikes at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California

In May we were lucky enough to catch a few stages of the Tour of California, where we got an up-close look at 2 very different professional rider’s Fuji bikes.

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Event Recap: 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross Worlds

Of course we weren’t going to miss seeing the very first Cyclocross World Championship held on US soil – we summed up the craziness in this post from a very chilly and wet Louisville, Kentucky.

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Cycling First Aid Essentials – What to Pack

We don’t like to think about, but riding bikes means that sometimes we’re going to crash. Our first aid essentials for cyclists post covers the basics of what to carry to be prepared.

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Our Take: 10-Speed vs. 11-Speed

If there’s one post that generated much heated discussion, it was definitely our take on the 10 vs. 11-speed debate – you might be surprised by what we have to say!

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Real Advice: How to Lock Your Bike

There aren’t many worse feelings than having a bike stolen – our Real Advice column breaks down a robust locking strategy to make sure that it won’t happen to you next time.

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Real Advice: An Intro to Climbing

If there’s one thing that most of us would like to do better, it’s learning how to improve our climbing skill – it turns out that it’s not as hard as you think.

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Real Advice: Weight Loss

One of the great side effects of a love for cycling is being able to maintain a healthy weight – but another one of our Real Advice posts covered some straightforward tactics to help you keep the pounds off.

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Real Advice: Wheels

Another great conundrum of cycling – what upgrade provides the best bang for the buck? It’s no secret – we think that it’s all about the wheels.

The Scattante CFR Race

Product Profiles: The Scattante CFR LE and Scattante CFR Race

Finally, we profiled some great gear this year as well – including the latest iteration of our always popular Scattante line of road bikes.

What Do You Carry When You Ride?

Ever wonder what cyclists carry in their pockets, saddlebags, and hydration packs? We polled some folks around the office, asking to see what they carried to get out of a jam, and found some interesting stuff.

Which kind of begs the question: what do you carry when you ride?

And don’t forget that tubes, multitools, mini-pumps, Co2 cartridges, black size medium Giro Air Attack Shield helmets, and saddlebags make great stocking stuffers.

 

Commuter Kit (carried in messenger bag): Tire lever, multitool, patch kit, spare tube, pump

Commuter Kit (carried in messenger bag): Tire lever, multitool, patch kit, spare tube, pump

XC riding: Spare tube, Co2 inflator and multitool combo

XC riding (strapped to seatpost): Spare tube, Co2 inflator and multitool combo

Super-light road kit (carried in jersey pocket): mini pump, rear flashy light, tire levers, Ikea hex wrenches, tube, dollar bill

Super-light road kit (carried in jersey pocket): mini pump, rear flashy light, tire levers, hex wrenches that came with Ikea shelves, tube, dollar bill

Touring kit (in saddlebag): Multitool, SRAM masterlink, rear light, tire levers, tube, Gerber mutlitool, (not pictured: frame pump)

Touring kit (in saddlebag): Multitool, SRAM masterlink, rear light, tire levers, tube, Gerber mutlitool, (not pictured: frame pump)

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Trail Riding (carried in hydration pack): food, Go Pro + tripod, Co2 inflator, hatchet, shock pump, zip ties, multitool, tire levers, pump, spare tube

Road Kit (carried in jersey pocket): Tube, Co2 cartridge and chuck, spare Co2 cartridge, mutlitool

Road Kit (carried in jersey pocket): Tube, Co2 cartridge and chuck, spare Co2 cartridge, multitool

The Ultimate Trail Building Kit (carried in hydration pack): Hatchet, pump, shovel, chain saw, shears, pruners, strap, tube, food, bug spray, branch cutter

The Ultimate Trail Building Kit (carried in hydration pack): Hatchet, pump, saw, shovel, chain saw, shears, pruners, strap, tube, food, bug spray, branch cutter

Real Advice: 5 Reasons to Join a Group Ride

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Like most cyclists, when I first started riding, I rode alone. Since I wasn’t competing, racing or part of a club or anything, I would simply get on the bike when I felt like it and ride for as long as I wanted to. I would push the distances when I felt strong, and over the years, I developed a certain meditative joy in these long solo excursions. The freedom to let my thoughts wander, to let my legs dictate the pace, to go in which ever direction I wanted.

But as time went on I also became conscious of the fact that I wasn’t developing much as a cyclist, because, in short, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

My introduction to riding with a group came one summer evening when I timidly decided to join a well-known ride in my area. As much as I enjoyed my solo adventures, I wanted to start connecting with other cyclists. The entire day I worried about it. Was I fast enough? Were there some secret rules I didn’t know? Was my bike good enough? Did I have the right gear?

I worried I would be secretly judged, or dropped, or worse. In some ways, it felt like the first day at a new school. I almost backed out at the 11th hour, but I made myself go through with it, and in retrospect I’m glad I did. When I showed up, there were guys with much more expensive bikes, flashier kits, and legs that looked like they could dish out some serious hurt. But of course, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Everyone was pretty nice and I didn’t get dropped; nobody said anything about my bike or my kit or my helmet.

I showed up again the next week, and the week after, and had soon become a regular at the ride. And a funny thing happened. I began to develop more as a cyclist. Not only did I get faster, and develop more endurance, but I learned more about cycling. And, most importantly, I made some good friends that I started riding with outside of our group.

It’s not to say I don’t still love riding alone. I do. In fact, I eagerly wake up early on Sunday mornings for my long, solo ride into the country. But I still regularly show up to group rides to make some friends, push myself, and test my mettle.

For a quick guide to joining your first group ride, check out our article on Group Rides.

As a cyclist, whether recreational or competitive, riding with a group has a lot of benefits.

1.    You’ll Get Stronger: It’s almost a guarantee that many, if not most, of the riders in the group will be stronger, and you’ll have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. This leads to big improvements in your fitness.
2.    You’ll Learn More: Are you pushing too big of a gear? Not shifting in the right spots? Every group ride is full of riders who are eager to share what they know. Just try not to take offense, they’re just trying to help.
3.    You’ll Feel More Confident: You never know what you’re capable of until you try. Riding with a group will help you quickly master many of the complexities of cycling and be a stronger, more confident rider over all.
4.    You’ll Make Friends: Unless you’re that guy (and you don’t want to be that guy) that attacks when someone flats, you’ll probably make some pretty good friends on your group ride.
5.    It’s Fun: Sometimes riding can become a chore, especially if you always ride alone. Instead of always doing the same routes and struggling in the same spots, riding with a group can help spice up your riding life and give some variety to your cycling.

To find a ride in your area, contact your local Performance Bicycle store. All Performance stores have a Great Ride Series group ride at 8AM every Saturday morning, or they can help you find a ride suited to your skill and riding level.

Want more Real Advice? Click here to see more tips and tricks from cyclists just like you.

Ask Performance Answers – 10/4/13

Last week on the Performance Bike Facebook page we asked folks to post questions about bikes or cycling that they wanted an answer to, in a segment we called #AskPerformance. Today we’re going to answer some of your questions below, but if you’ve got other vexing cycling queries, please post them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to find you an answer!

Ron S.: Is it too much to have more than 5 bikes? ;-) #AskPerformance

Ah, the age-old question – the most quoted saying is that the “correct number of bikes to own is ‘n+1′, where ‘n’ is the number of bikes currently owned”. Of course there is an important corollary to this rule, which is ‘s-1′, “where ‘s’ is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your significant other”.

Michael S.: #AskPerformance Has the industry established a lifespan projection for carbon fiber frames and components?

There is no standardized lifespan for carbon fiber, as it will depend on how the frame or component is used. That said, there’s no reason carbon fiber can’t last for a very long time – the key is to take care of it properly, only tighten bolts to their recommended torque settings, and inspect it for wear or damage from time to time. We’ve got a great article of tips on our Learning Center: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bikes-and-frames/taking-good-care-of-your-carbon-bike-frame

scattante_cfr_black_rearDarrell M.: When you shift gears, and the chain moves more than one gear, what is the typical cause and solution?

One main culprit could be a rear derailleur hanger that has come out of alignment – if that is bent (say from setting the bike down on its drive side), then no amount of derailleur adjustment will result in perfect shifting. Another issue could be incorrect routing of the cable to the derailleur bolt – if you’ve changed your cable lately take a look at the instructions for your derailleur to make sure you’ve got that right. If you’ve ruled out a bent hanger and poor cable routing, then you should next take a look at your rear derailleur itself – we’ve got a video in our Learning Center that covers adjusting your rear derailleur: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-adjust-a-rear-derailleur

Daisy L.: How many miles before a chain needs to be replaced??

A good rule of thumb is somewhere around 1,500 to 2,000 miles for a road bike, and somewhere around 5-6 months for a mountain bike (assuming that you are riding a fair amount). But these are just general guidelines – to really understand when you should replace your chain you’ll need to measure chain stretch. Chains may be metal, but over time they can actually stretch out quite a bit – we’ve got a handy video that gives you the details of what to look for: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-measure-bike-chain-wear

Lidia L.: What is the best way to clean your cogs ? And with what would u clean them with ? Thx ‘s

Cleaning your whole bike is one of the most important things that you can do to prolong the life of your bike and keep it running in tip-top condition (just ask any pro team mechanic). Luckily it’s not that difficult if you follow the how-to on our Learning Center, which covers everything from cleaning your rear cassette to lubing your shifters and brake levers: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bikes-and-frames/basic-maintenance-how-to-clean-your-bike For the rear cassette, the basic technique is to spray some degreaser onto a cog brush, then wipe down each of the cogs to get the gunk off.

Howard H.: How often should I rotate my tires?

Rotating your tires front to rear is a great idea to increase the longevity of the pair, but keep in mind that most steering control, both off-road and on, comes from the front tire, while more tire wear happens with the drive forces on the rear.  So putting a road tire worn flat or a MTB tire with worn lugs on the front will lessen traction when cornering hard. To prolong the life of your tires, save some money and keep high performance traction, ride your tires until the rear is worn out, move the front tire to the rear, and put a grippy new tire on the front. Need some tips on changing tires? We can help with that: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/tires-tubes-and-wheels/how-to-change-a-road-bike-tire

_131008_dressing_for_coldEnrique L.: Just started riding my bike again like a month ago. but now that the cold weather is upon us what is the best gear for weather of around 40° which is probably the average temp he in the bay area.

The key to riding in changeable fall and winter riding conditions is dressing in layers. You want to keep your core and extremities warm when you get started, but then have the ability to remove and change layers s you get warmed up or if the temperature changes. We call this the 15 minute rule… if after 15 minutes of riding, if you’re still cold, you need more layers or warmer clothing. If you’re uncomfortably hot after 15 minutes, remove layers or wear cooler clothing. We recommend: a medium weight short sleeve base layer, bib shorts, long sleeve jersey, leg warmers, a windproof vest or jacket, windproof full-finger gloves, an ear band or beanie, and toe warmers. You can find all of our cold-weather recommendations here: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/cycling-clothing/dressing-for-the-season-essential-cycling-layering-tips

Maureen K.: A few yrs ago, I switched from riding a hybrid bike to a road bike. On the hybrid, had no problem standing up,out of saddle to get up hills. I’ve had bike fit done on road bike – it fits me sooo much better now, but I am still not comfortable standing to climb up a hill – it’s too scary for some reason! What else should I be doing to get more comfortable standing to pedal up a hill?? Thanks for any suggestions

It is quite a change going from a flat-bar road bike to a drop-bar racing bike – losing the control and leverage you got from keeping your hands in the same position on the handlebars can be disconcerting. But when you stand up to climb on a drop bar road bike, you’ll need to move your hands to your brake hoods to have the most amount of control. Once you practice riding in this position and then smoothly getting up from your saddle, you’ll become more comfortable when you really need it. If you’re looking for other tips on climbing, our Real Advice column has you covered:  http://blog.performancebike.com/2013/07/11/real-advice-an-intro-to-climbing/

Reuben C: Is there a recommended pressure for a tire(as in replacing my 120psi) with the weight of the rider and load in mind. Or are there other factors such as wheel height/length? Sorry im new to riding and it feels like i am running low on psi after bumps or a day of riding (30 miles)

Road tire pressure is definitely critical to a safe and comfortable ride – almost every tire will have a range of recommended tire pressures noted directly on its sidewall. You have flexibility within this range of pressures, so if you feel like the tire is ‘bottoming out’, or compressing so much that it hits the rim, definitely put more air in if it is within the recommendations of the manufacturer. If you are still having issues, you may need to move up to a slightly wider tire (assuming that it fits within your bike’s frame), as this will help give your ride more stability. Or you could install puncture resistant tubes to reduce the chance of pinch flats and slightly increase the load capacity of the bike. If you need help finding the tire inflation range, check out this video: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/tires-tubes-and-wheels/the-right-tire-pressure-for-a-road-bike

Donald H: Help! I tried replacing the cleats on my shoes yesterday. One bolt came out fine, but the other one ended up with the head rounded out to the point the hex wrench has nothing to grip. Any suggestions?

If you are not handy with tools, your best bet is to take the shoe to your local Performance Bicycle to have a mechanic take a look at it. If you want to try yourself (with the caveat that you might damage the sole of your shoe if you aren’t careful) use a Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel to cut a slot in the top of the cleat bolt and used a slotted-head screwdriver to remove the bolt. Be careful not to cut so deep that the bolt head breaks off. It also helps if the shaft of the screwdriver is hex-shaped, so that you can use a wrench to apply more torque to the screwdriver when removing the cleat bolt. And remember to grease your cleat bolts before installing them next time :)

Boone_Road-878Eric Q: #AskPerformance How does one determine how tight/loose to adjust one’s threadless-steerer headset?

Threadless headsets are pretty easy to get set up once you get the hang of it – the key is to tighten the top cap so that you don’t feel any movement fore and aft at the junction of the headset and the head tube, but not so tight that it hinders your turning ability. Then you tighten down the stem pinch bolts to their recommended pressure to lock the stem in place. We’ve got a very clear video that walks you through each step: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-adjust-a-bicycle-headset

Greg C: I have my first race coming up next week. Should I shave my legs? Does it make a difference? Will I look like a FRED if I don’t shave?

Another dilemma – shaving your legs is an age-old tradition in the cycling community. Cyclists can give you a litany of rationalizations as to why they shave (such as shaved legs make cleaning up road rash easier and quicker and promote faster healing), but when it comes down to it, shaving your legs is mainly a way to identify yourself as part of the cycling club. Think of it as an initiation into the world of bike racing – you definitely don’t have to shave, but if you don’t, you’d better be fast! We’ve got tips for taking care of your skin here: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/riding-tips/general-cycling-tips/basic-guide-skincare-for-cyclists

Chris D: The big question. … I am 6’2 and ride cross country, all mountain and a small amount of DH. 26, 27.5 or a 29er??? It seems so hard to choose a new size with my wide range of riding styles. What is the advantage of a 27.5 vrs a 29er? Also any 2014 recommendations? I hope #askperformance can help! Sincerely a #teamperformance member.

Wow, it sounds like you’re looking for that one bike that can do it all! As a taller guy, you can definitely handle a 29er, which will give you an improved angle of attack to roll over obstacles, and more momentum to smooth out any trail. But the new 27.5″ standard might also be a great option for you – these bikes have a bit more agility than a 29er, but still have a greater ability to roll over obstacles than a classic 26″ bike. We’re pretty excited about the 27.5″ format and think that it might be a great fit for what you want to ride – we’ll have great options soon from GT (the 130mm travel Sensor and 150mm travel Force) as well as Devinci (their all-new 140mm travel Troy). Check out our Learning Center for more info about 29ers: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/buyers-guides/bikes-and-frames/basic-guide-to-29er-mountain-bikes and 27.5″ mountain bikes: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/buyers-guides/bikes-and-frames/basic-guide-to-275-mountain-bikes

_131003_Boone_Rky_Knob_MTB-340Dawn G.: How do I stop squeaky disc brakes? I’ve cleaned and adjusted them and they still squeak.

There are 2 main things that might be going on if you’ve got everything adjusted right – when you first install new disc brake pads, it’s essential that you go through the ‘break-in’ period for the pads. This will help improve performance and lessen annoying noise – just follow our tips here: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/breaking-in-your-bike-disc-brakes Of course it could just be the case that the pads have become contaminated with oil or dirt – disc brakes pads a difficult to fully clean once this happens, so often the only alternative is simply to replace the pads all together: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-replace-disc-brake-pads

Greg E: I am very interested in getting into cyclocross racing. What is the best way to get started racing for a mature beginner ? I already have a fuji cyclocross bike.

We’re huge fans of cross racing here in the home office – you could even say that we’re obsessed! But really what’s not to love? It’s an all-out effort for 30 minutes to an hour through grass, mud, or sand, with some barriers thrown in just for kicks. Of course this means that some different skills are needed than a regular road ride – you’re already on the right track with a dedicated cyclocross bike, but your next step is to practice cross-specific skills like quick dismounts and remounts, proper technique to carry and run with your bike, and short, hard sprinting efforts to stay in the mix at a race. We’ve got some tips you can follow on our Learning Center, but your best option to learn more is to find a local cyclocross club or training group – cross racers are a friendly bunch, and they’re usually happy to show a beginner the ropes and get him or her just as addicted to cross racing as they are: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/riding-tips/road-cycling/cyclocross-basics

If you’ve got a cycling question that you need an answer to right away, feel free to get in touch with our Spin Doctor product technical support team – they are our team of in-house technical experts with decades of combined industry experience, ready to get you the info you need.

Call: 800-553-TECH (8324)
Email: spindoctor@performanceinc.com
Chat: Live Help at PerformanceBike.com

Real Advice: Training Indoors


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Winter is coming. And this year, just like every year, we’re all going to swear up and down that no matter how bad the weather gets, we’re going to ride outside. And this year, just like every year, that resolution will last just about through mid-December, at which point we will all switch to full-on holiday bacchanalia mode and just kind of stop riding, reasoning that spring isn’t that far away.

For most of my cycling career, this was exactly the pattern I fell into year after year. I would ride my way into excellent form going into the fall, only to feel like I was starting again from scratch every spring. Finally, one year, I decided to buy a trainer. I didn’t work for Performance at the time, but I visited my local store, and the associate helped me pick out a trainer that was right for my needs. I ended up going home with an Elite progressive resistance trainer, and a special tire designed to be used with stationary trainers (more on that in a bit). The results were incredible. While I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t exactly love riding the trainer, I was able to keep relatively in shape through the winter, and entered into the spring in much better shape than previous years.

When it comes to trainers and rollers, there are a lot of options to choose from. Trainers can vary a lot in price and features, so it’s important to consider what your training goals are before buying.

Here are some tricks and tips to get the most out of your winter training:

1. Know Your Trainers: The primary purpose of trainers is to help you build strength and endurance. Basically, a trainer is a treadmill for your rear wheel—you just clamp your rear wheel in and start spinning.  How much resistance your trainer delivers will depend on what type it is. Our Learning Center has an article that dives more in-depth into the different types of trainers, but here’s a quick summary:

Wind Trainers: Use a fan to generate resistance.

Advantages

  • Fewer moving parts
  • Produce progressive resistance, which increases as wheel speed increases
  • Smooth resistance with minimal vibration

Disadvantages

  • Noisy
  • Fan susceptible to damage
  • Increasing wheel speed only way to increase resistance

Magnetic Trainers: Use combination of magnets and metal plates to generate resistance.

Advantages

  • Offer multiple levels of resistance
  • Quieter than wind trainers
  • Produce linear resistance, which stays the same regardless of wheel speed
  • Typically less expensive than other options

Disadvantages

  • Changing resistance level requires dismounting bike unless trainer is equipped with handlebar-mounted remote shift lever

Fluid Trainers: Uses a hydraulic fluid and an impeller to create resistance.

Advantages

  • Produce progressive resistance, which increases as wheel speed increases
  • Very quiet
  • Most moving parts protected by enclosed resistance unit
  • Available in adjustable resistance models

Disadvantages

  • More Expensive

A quick word on tires: trainers tend to be tough on your tires. As mentioned above, some companies like Vittoria now make specially designed tires that are made to withstand the rigors that the trainer will put them through.

The Elite Qubo Fluid+ resistance trainer is a great way to gain strength and work on endurance through the winter

2. Rollers: are different from trainers in that the focus is on developing form instead of strength. While riding the rollers can deliver a hard, pulse-pounding workout, rollers are better used to work on cadence, pedaling efficiency and concentration. Unlike trainers, rollers are a free-form exercise where the bike is not locked down, so they require a smooth pedaling motion, steady cadence and concentration to use. They take some practice to get the hang of, but the rewards are significant. The first few times you use rollers, we highly recommend wearing a helmet, setting them up next to a wall (to make it easier to get on and off), and putting some couch cushions around you on the floor. It’s also recommended that you have someone video your first attempt at using the rollers, since hilarity is almost certainly sure to ensue (don’t worry, we’ve all been there).

Rollers are an excellent way to work on form and cadence through the long winter months

3. Boredom: I’m going to be really honest here: there are few things more boring than riding a trainer/rollers. When you’re sitting on a bike that’s going nowhere, it’s really hard to stay motivated and push yourself. A good way to overcome this is with videos or music. Many companies offer workout DVD’s for use with the trainer that can help you target specific areas you’d like to work on (strength training, endurance, climbing, etc…). Something important to remember, though, is that your time on the trainer is an hour you have to yourself to do whatever you want. With that in mind, here are some other ideas I use to stay focused:

-Catch up on the DVR queue

-Watch cycling movies like Breaking Away, American Flyers, and The Flying Scotsman

-Scour Netflix for movies that your better half doesn’t want to watch (I’ve probably seen Commando on the trainer at least 7 times)

-When I have to use the trainer at work or before a race, I have a special playlist on my phone of songs that help get me motivated

Catching up on TV you may have missed is a great way to keep the trainer from getting stale

4. Ride With A Buddy: Everything is more fun if you have a friend, and riding with someone else helps you stay more accountable. If you have some buddies who are into cycling try setting up some indoor training sessions. If you have a video game system, then you have a recipe for success since you can host “trainer tournaments”. Last year at the office we had some fairly epic Halo multiplayer battles while riding the trainers (one guy even added aerobar extensions to his bike since he could ride hard while still using the controller).

You'd be amazed how much faster the time goes when you can crush your friends in Halo or Madden

You’d be amazed how much faster the time goes when you can crush your friends in Halo or Madden

5. Sweat It Out: When you’re on the trainer, it’s going to get sweaty. You’re not moving, so there’s no air to cool you down. Here are some tips to keep cool and clean:

-Put down a trainer mat under the bike

-Use a sweat net to protect your frame (many trainers come with one of these)

-Use a small fan to keep cool

-Always have a bottle with ice water in it

-Wear a cycling cap to keep sweat out of your eyes

A sweat net will help protect your frame and components from the corrosive effects of sweat

6. Have A Plan: Riding the trainer is an activity that rewards having a focused approach. Making vague promises to ride the trainer every day for an hour may be hard to follow through on as the winter grinds on. Create a training realistic training plan that you can adhere to, and that drives toward very specific goals. This is where using a training DVD can be very helpful.

Using a training DVD can help you create a plan and work toward specific goals during the off-season

Real Advice: Weight Loss

Time for another installment of our Real Advice series – hard-earned practical knowledge from real riders here at our home office. This week we delve into the topic of weight loss for cyclists.

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It’s no secret that losing some weight is one of the best ways to make yourself faster, a better climber, and just feel a lot better all around. Cycling is great exercise, but often riders—both beginners and more experienced riders—can fall into the same traps that prevent them from losing weight, and sometimes even gain it while riding.

There’s a million weight loss guides out there, and many are more authoritative than anything we could offer up. But at the end of the day we’re just like you. We have families, full time jobs, and sometimes it’s hard to think about eating right. So here are some basic, easy tricks and tips that we’ve used over the years to get down to race weight, or shake off the effects of a long winter. There aren’t any magic bullets or miracle diets here. Losing weight takes time, and progress may be slow at first. Everyone is different though, and what works for one may not work for another. If you have something that’s worked for you, feel free to make liberal use of the comments section below and join the conversation.

1. RIDE MORE: Losing weight can be a simple equation of calories in vs. calories out. If you want to lose weight, you need to expend more calories, which means more saddle time. That can be tricky though, as most of us feel squeezed to get in enough riding as it is. Here are some tricks we use to get more riding in:

  • Try commuting to work at least a few days a week
  • Ride early before work or school, when the day is still your own, and you probably don’t have the work and family responsibilities you do in the evening
  • Extending your ride by just 15 minutes can burn up to 75 more calories (hey, every little bit helps)
  • Instead of trying to squeeze in one long ride, try going for two shorter rides that may accommodate your free time better
  • If you are short on time, ride harder (within your ability level). A 30 minute spin is not the time to take it easy and soft pedal. Raising the intensity of shorter rides can help you both build stamina and burn more calories.

2. EVERYTHING IN MODERATION: Most people have a mentality that working out entitles them to pretty much eat whatever they want afterwards. While the occasional slice of pie ain’t gonna make or break you, the truth of the matter is that unless you’re spending all day in the saddle or riding hard at a racing pace, that last ride probably didn’t burn more than a few hundred calories. While fueling and recovery are important, most riders way overestimate how many calories they actually need to eat.

  • Before your ride, eat only a moderate snack like some bread with peanut butter or an energy gel.
  • If your ride will be less than 90 minutes, you may not need a mid-ride snack. Save the gels and energy bars for longer, harder rides.
  • After your ride, eat a small meal with a good blend of protein and carbs (see our guide here).

3. TRACK CALORIES OUT:  A heart rate monitor may seem unnecessary for most riders, but it’s the most accurate way to track how many calories you have burned in a ride. Wearing one while you ride can help guide how many calories you should eat over the course of a day.

A heart rate monitor can be linked to many cycling computers, or can be used as a stand-alone unit, like this one from Polar.

4. COUNT CALORIES IN: There is all kinds of conflicting info out there about the accuracy of calorie measurement, but for most people counting calories works.

  • Read food labels, and pick foods that have a lower amount of calories PER SERVING.
  • Avoid the triple threat of fat, salt, and sugar. Fat, salt and sugar are bad for losing weight, so choose foods that have less salt, sugar and fat per serving
  • Go for fiber. Foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar have plenty of health benefits, and can help you feel fuller for longer. Avoid granola bars that have added fiber and are loaded with sugar. Instead choose beans, whole grains, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Lay off the soda. Soda is loaded with empty calories, sugar and other stuff that isn’t exactly conducive to weight loss.

5. STEP ON THE SCALE: Studies show that stepping on the scale regularly can help keep you accountable. Keep a scale at home, and weigh yourself every day in the morning, and again in the evening. Don’t get discouraged by what you see though. Weight can vary depending on how much salt you ate, how much water you drank, etc… It’s the average downward trend we’re looking for. We’re playing the long game here.

6. KEEP A JOURNAL: Keeping track of weight, calories in, calories out, and distance/time ridden can help you stay accountable to yourself, and track your progress. If you are meeting your goals, it can help give you that positive motivation to see it written down. If you are not, then you can look at the numbers and see where you might have room for some fine tuning.

7. EAT BREAKFAST: In today’s fast paced world most of us either skip breakfast, or just grab something from the Golden Arches on the go. However, choosing a healthy, filling breakfast like a homemade fruit and yogurt smoothie, fresh fruit and toast, or granola cereal can help fuel you throughout the day, and delay those feelings of being hungry.

Oatmeal is a great way to start the morning. Filling, healthy, and full of energy. Find this recipe in the Feed Zone Cookbook from Skratch Labs.

Oatmeal is a great way to start the morning. Filling, healthy, and full of energy. Find this recipe in the Feed Zone Cookbook from Skratch Labs.

8. PLAN YOUR MEALS: Planning out your meals may be one of the most important things to help you lose weight. Below are some tips our employees use to make sure they can eat healthy, even when they’re in a rush.

  • Don’t eat out as much. Eating out means eating meals full of hidden calories and questionable ingredients. Eating out is ok occasionally, but when possible eat food you’ve prepared yourself. Plus, it’s expensive, and you need that money to buy new, smaller bike clothes.
  • More lean protein and veggies, less cheese and red meat.
  • Just because it’s a salad doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Lay off the bottled dressings and shredded cheeses. Try making your own dressing with olive oil and vinegar, and using avocado or cottage cheese instead of shredded cheese.
  • Bring your lunch. This gives you the power to know exactly what you’re eating and how many calories are in it. If you’re pressed for time in the mornings, make it the night before.
  • The same goes for breakfast. Try making or preparing your breakfast the night before, and then putting it in the fridge.
  • When you make dinner, make big batches. You can then refrigerate or freeze them to reuse on nights when you may feel rushed or don’t have time to make a fresh dinner.
  • Lastly, eat real food whenever possible. This means avoiding pre-packaged, processed foods and eating more veggies, fruits, lean meats, beans and whole grains. While convenient and sometimes low in calories, processed foods are stuffed full of sodium, saturated fat and other stuff that can prevent you losing weight, and probably won’t make you feel your best. The Feed Zone Cookbook by Biju Thomas & Allen Lim has some great recipes for cyclists.

The Feed Zone is an excellent cook book for cyclists. The recipes are tailored to give you energy to ride, and feel your best.

We’ll be the first to say that we’re not experts on the topic, so before you follow any of our recommendations, it’s best to consult with a doctor, trainer, or dietician who can help you figure out a plan that’s right for you. You shouldn’t in any way, shape, or form consider this to be an end all be all prescription for shedding some pounds.

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