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Cycle Babble
 

Oakland Yellowjackets Bicycling Club

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Cycle Babble

Outside Inside Outside

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Braking 101

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The Walden Turn

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Descending 101

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Cycle Babble

NOTE: Good technique equals confidence that will increase your downhill speed. High speed without good technique could lead to disaster.

Some people like climbing, some people just love to climb, and there are those who see climbing as a means to an end. I am of the latter group. I climb hills for two reasons, first the hill is in my way of where I want to get and second is my love for the reward of descending. To quote John Swanda "a good descent is where I can reach 50 mph or more." As I grow older my need to streak down a hill at 50 mph has lost some of its appeal but I still love the thrill of a fast technical descent. So, let me delve into what it takes to descend with utter confidence and skill.

Where to Look: The first thing, and perhaps one of the more important techniques, is where to look while descending. Many new riders have a propensity to look about 5 feet in front of them which is just about the worse place you should look. The reason is, at just about any speed, if you see any hazard just 5 feet ahead you will almost certainly hit it. We know "You Steer Where You Look," therefore, it would be best to focus your gaze at least 20 feet ahead and further when possible. Doing this gives you time to react to any hazard you see and avoid it with time to spare. Once I see a hazard and have chosen a path around it I no longer look at it but keep my focus forward and allow my peripheral vision to keep me safe from the hazard. One phrase comes to mind and that is "Keep Your Chin Level with the Ground." In other words always look way ahead.

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Flat Tire Changing

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Every time I hear that hiss of escaping air from a tire I hope it is not mine. Unfortunately sometimes it is mine and I need to fix yet another flat. Changing a flat is a nuisance at best and a dread at worst. Over the 30 years I've been riding I've developed a system that I will impart to you now.

If the flat is the front tire then release the brake utilizing appropriate quick-release system that accompanies your bike. Release the tension that holds your wheel to the frame by opening the quick-release lever. If you have tabs on your forks, affectionately called Lawyer Lips by some, you will have to unscrew the quick release a few turns in order to remove your wheel. If you do not have those tabs then the wheel should drop out without having to unscrew the quick release.

If the flat is the rear tire then the first thing to do is to lift the rear wheel off the ground turn the crank and shift until your chain is on the smallest cog in the rear. This helps tremendously when remounting the wheel. If alone and once the wheel is off the bike lay the bike down on the non-drive side. Sometimes if a tree with low branches is around suspend your bike by hooking the nose of the saddle on the branch.

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Get Ready for Winter Riding

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This article pertains to preparing for riding in cold temperatures and even rainy conditions. Personally I never start out a ride if it's raining. Some call me a wussy, so be it! If rain is a possibility I will carry a rain jacket and a hat with a brim in the front. I'll refer to items I've found useful when confronting chilly temps and overcast conditions.

First is the "One Mile Rule." This rule states that if you are warm the first mile of any ride you are over dressed. Your body temperature will increase quickly as you start a ride so try not to wear so much that you are warm just starting out.

(Does anyone else have anything they can't live without for winter riding? Please share it in the comments. Thanks!)

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Pre-Ride Preparation

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I've been asked to write a series of articles revolving around cycling. Subjects will include riding skills like descending and ascending, pace line technique, flat tire changing, and general riding etiquette. Also I'll add other topics like cycling nutrition, caring for the bike, big event preparation and the night before a typical ride preparation. I do not profess to know more then anyone else and the opinions expressed are just that, my opinions. If you find something useful then great, if they make you drowsy, then I hope you have a great nights sleep.

I've been asked to start with the day/night before a typical ride preparation. In addition I will add some other thoughts that roam around my brain and are just dying to get out.

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