Tag Archives: bicycle

I could get used to this (not being last)

26:38, 26:17, 26:46. Those would be my times for my last three trips up Kings (the regular way, not through the park). And the week before I left for France, another 26-something.

Nice not being the last person up the hill anymore!
Nice not being the last person up the hill anymore!

The past 6 years, I’ve had at most 3 sub-27 times up Kings (each year), and almost never back-to-back. I’ve finally reversed the slow decline in my climbing times since 2006! But the faster guys on my ride… well, they just keep getting faster, and I don’t quite get that, since they’re getting older just as fast as I am. But at least I’m regaining a bit of lost ground.

There’s a stark contrast between this year and last; the 2012 Tour de France trip saw me completely collapse on both the Tourmalet and Peyresourde, climbs that should have been well within my capabilities to ride hard. This year, the climb I really wasn’t looking forward to, Ventoux, went very well. Alpe d’Huez, no problem. Back side of the Semnoz, again, no issue, felt good!

Kevin arrives a bit late to the party
Kevin arrives a bit late to the party

Nice not being the last person up the hill anymore!

It makes me wonder how much last year was affected by that mortality thing, knowing that I was getting close to the age where my father died. My improvement on the bike really did start immediately after passing that milestone. Strange, the way your mind can harass you. Jens says “Shut up, legs!” Guess I should be saying “Shut up, brain!”

Big group this morning, too many to get right but definitely had both Kevins, Mark E, Marcus, George, Keith, JR, Karen, Karl… at least one other I’m forgetting. Lots of trash talk from George, saying that he never sees me at the front heading down 84 towards West Old LaHonda. This is not true, or maybe it’s just on Thursdays (when George isn’t with us) that I’m at the front.

Hate it when this happens. I'm off the back on the final pull up West Old LaHonda.
Hate it when this happens. I’m off the back on the final pull up West Old LaHonda.

Or maybe I’m just sitting 3rd wheel most of the time. Whatever, I went to the front fairly hard and stayed there for a while, after which I got more grief from George because I was “in the drops” which he thinks I never do.

Pilot Kevin pointed out that he’s seen more before (in the drops). Clearly, to put George in his place, I’ve either got to get really strong, or George will have to suffer from something really debilitating, like owning a business. Neither is too likely to happen.

Your front brake might save your life!

This article on using your bicycle’s front brake article  should be considered a must-read for all cyclists. It’s great to have 3rd-party validation of something I’ve been talking to customers about for years. I cannot tell you how many times I’m replacing the 3rd or 4th set rear brake pads on road bikes and the front pads are the original and untouched. How many accidents have occurred, and possibly even lives lost, because cyclists didn’t know they could stop in ¼ (or less!) of the distance they think they can? Different rules apply if it’s raining or wet, of course. And a hard grab of your front brake on gravel isn’t a good idea either. But on normal dry pavement, where most of us ride 98.5% of the time, it’s your front brake that is going to save you.

It’s tough to sell because some are so concerned they’re going to go over the handlebars, a scenario rarely actually caused by the front brake but more often something else (front wheel digging into a pothole, too much weight forward of the center of the bike when encountering an obstacle etc). The way I get people over the hurdle, with some success, is to suggest using only their front brake on a very gentle grade. Keep the speed down. Maybe descending Alpine from Portola Valley towards Arastradero. A non-critical environment where you don’t have to apply a lot of brake to slow down or stop.

The other thing missed out on when you don’t use a front brake is the effect it has on maneuvering. If you’re leaning over, going through a turn, and apply the front brake, it will try to straighten you out. That’s a tool you can use to change your line in a hurry if need be.

Your bike may be capable of a lot more than you think!