Cycling 101 – Preparation H or “Keeping Your Cycling Experience From Being A Pain In The Ass.”

I’m not attempting to “tell” you anything!

After all, you’re “YOU”!

All this post attempts to accomplish is to help you learn, and avoid, what the author only learned through his often embarrassing, tiresome and frustrating mistakes! Below are some tips that go far to ensuring a good riding experience:

Preparation –

Proper preparation should not begin on the day of a ride, especially if one is riding with others. Whenever possible, check in advance for any gear, riding food (sports drinks, energy bars) and anything else that might be required for the ride. Procure it well in advance of the ride. Having to shop for needed items on the day of a ride has many drawbacks. It can delay ride start time, force the change of the original ride plans and sometimes result in the cancellation of a ride altogether. Any of those eventualities will not make you popular if you are intending to ride with others. Those possibilities can, also, result in a severe case of the “should haves”!

On ride day, always go through at least a mental checklist to make certain you are bringing everything you want with you. That really cool, lightweight titanium tool you paid big bucks for won’t help you if it is back sitting in your garage when you need it!

Always check your bike! This should not be limited to checking tire pressure and whether the brakes are properly functioning. Results from the Hebron collider have provided possible evidence for a theory widely held by many cyclists. They theory holds that some cosmic comedian is taking almost identical bikes from different universes and switching them at night! Cyclists go out the next day only to inspect their bikes and find that there are maintenance needs they would swear were not there the previous day. It is always preferable to learn of a maintenance need while in the safety of one’s own well equipped garage!

Finally, good preparation includes taking whatever steps you personally require to ensure that you have successfully met your bathroom needs prior to the ride! Some ride routes do not pass facilities with modern plumbing, with the proper accoutrements, nor do they afford much in the way of privacy. There are few experiences worse than cycling while experiencing a growing need for damming. Remember that bike shorts cannot be used as a substitute for Depends!

Food –

(Hey reader! How is that for a transition)!

I’ve found that what I consume the night before a ride can effect both my pre ride night’s sleep and how I perform on the day of the ride. Personally, I try to avoid heavy foods and dairy products. Most of all, I don’t drink any alcohol, especially red wine, the night prior to a ride. I don’t want to feel too “heavy” from the food nor too dehydrated from the drink. However, what foods work for you both the night prior to a ride and the day of a ride are a matter of personal experience. I’m just saying determine what works best for you and stick with it. (Over consumptions should, also, be avoided. You paid good money for that lighter bike. Don’t cause your bike to gain weight)! Eat something before the ride! I, too, once believed that eating anything prior to a ride would cause me to feel sick during, at least, the initial stages of a ride. Experience has taught me that isn’t the case. I would recommend such consumption occur far enough ahead of the ride as to allow the food to be properly digested. However, eating something does help one’s stamina on a long ride. Also, drink water prior to a ride. Proper hydration is vital for a comfortable ride. While both food and water may be consumed during the course of a ride, your well-tuned, Lycra/ cool max covered machine of a body will perform much better if you begin the ride properly fueled.

On the road food is, also, important. Carrying gels, energy/protein bars or other food items that can be placed on one’s person or in a camel back are a good idea. You can’t predict when you will get hungry and eating establishments aren’t always plentiful. While “pocket” food is a good idea, years of cycling have lead me to believe in stopping for “real” food (e.g. sandwiches, burgers or burritos). Real food seems to be the best delivery system for bring need protein and carbs into my body. Its impact last the longest. It provides a good excuse to get off the saddle and enjoy a “butt break”.
All food and water consume should be timely so as to avoid the much dread “bonking”! “Bonking” occurs when one’s body simply says “enough” due to insufficient food or water. It makes riding miserable and sometimes even causes the need to end a ride. Eating or drinking after the “bonking” stage has been reached is only minimally helpful and rarely completely defeats “bonking”. Again, drink water (or your sports drink) and eat something when you feel the need!

What you drink on the ride is determined by personal experience. Some cyclists have their own personal “super sauce” (and are referred to in the literature as “Cycling Super Chickens”). Others use a favored sports drink or even chocolate milk. I prefer water. It is refreshing and doesn’t mess up my camel back. Whatever one drinks, always carry water. If nothing else, it far superior to any of the other drinks mentioned when the need to remove foreign matter from eyes or grit from cuts and scrapes occurs.

AVOID THE CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL ON A RIDE! No, don’t tell me how it is “ok” and you can “handle it”. Alcohol consumption should be reserved as a post ride reward. Knowing that there is a good, micro brewed IPA in my post ride future has certainly proven to be a great motivator for me!

Equipment –

Always remember your helmet! If you don’t wear a helmet, don’t present me with your insipid arguments as to why helmets are not needed. People who don’t wear helmets are referred to by other cyclists and in the literature as “no brainers”. Almost everybody who has ridden for any length of time has a “helmet” story about how wearing a helmet saved him. For most of us, the head’s contents have proved quite useful. Heads do not like to assume the part of a “landing gear”, but some form of “forced landing” is not always avoidable. Helmets help keep head contents where they belong when such occasions occur.

Spare inner tubes, as well as patch kits should always be brought. If you haven’t had a flat, you haven’t ridden for long. These items can be readily placed in most camelbacks or in expandable bags that are attached under the saddle. Placing these items in the “under the saddle” type of bag helps to ensure you will always have these much needed items with you. It is also good for carrying such items as maps. These bags can be especially good as a place to conceal items you wish to hide from a spouse! Nobody would think to check there!

Eye protection is very important! Cycling glasses or goggles can protect one’s eyes from the wind or airborne foreign bodies or those that get shot up from the ground. Being able to see clearly is a great help to any cyclist. Additionally, there are many cycling glasses (nonprescription) that come with changeable lenses that allow the cyclist to select a tint that is best suited for a given day’s lighting conditions. Riding with properly tinted glasses not only helps with visual clarity, but can help prevent eye strain and eye tiredness. (Many of us have found that wearing yellow tinted lenses on a grey day not only provides better contrast, but it places one in a “happier” state of mind. I would caution to avoid using too dark a tint of lenses if your route will take you from bright light directly into shadow or darkness. You don’t wish to be temporarily “blinded” while steering a moving bike! (The same thing applies to a ride that may not end until nightfall. Obviously, one can always resort to carrying multiple lenses.

Water bottles are ok for short rides, but for rides of any duration I prefer Camelbacks, or the otherwise named Personal Hydration Systems. (Too P.C. a name for my tastes)! The advantages to a “camelback” are many. You don’t need to reach for and remove a bottle from some place down on the bike frame. Your first sip won’t taste of the grit than can cover objects riding near the ground, like the nipple on a water bottle. Most “Camelbacks” provide pockets, netting and adjustable elastic straps for carrying needed stuff, including cycling clothes not required at the moment. The expandable, zippered pockets on some “camelbacks” make it a good “grab” bag for storing whatever cycling items you want to ensure you take with you when you ride. (As long as you return items or replace them as needed, every time you grab your “camelback, you’ll know you have those items you keep there for a ride).

One needs to bring a proper assortment of tools, or ride in the company of somebody who does. This need can easily be addressed by owning a cycling related “all-in-one” tool. You will be amazed at the practical design and ingenuity that some of these products demonstrate. There are many such devices that are fairly small and lightweight. Such a tool will generally get you through most tool needs. It’s a person choice as to whether there are some other tools you choose to carry.

Cell phones can be extremely helpful in emergency situations. They can, also, be extreme pains in the hands of Pavlov Ian cyclists who insist on breaking a riding rhythm in order to take a cell phone call about a meaningless matter from a family member who would have happily left a voice message! Let me continue to run on about cell phones! Some of us can remember that we were able to cycle before cell phones existed! I don’t even own a cell phone! Equally annoying are those cell phone owners who don’t consider the possible needs of their fellow riders, such as myself, and leave their cell phones at home!

Thanks. I’m better now.

Otherwise, the rule I use when determining my “must bring” equipment is the probability of its use versus whether I wish to carry the extra weight. If you find yourself internally debating whether to bring a tool, bring it. It is better to learn it wasn’t necessary than for the reverse to be true.

Beer -
Beer is my POST-ride drink of choice. I’ve found it to be the most refreshing and satisfying drink to have post ride. It seems to give the body exactly what it craves and to do so quickly. Of course, one must moderate one’s consumption to account for the fact that it is a POST ride drink and the body will be somewhat dehydrated. So, it’s best to limit oneself to consuming a REASONABLE amount. Another idea is to have the ride finish at your home where you can share your microbrew collection. Just be responsible. Don’t ruin a riding experience with your post ride behavior!

That is most of what I’ve learned from my riding experiences.

Another thing I’ve learned from experience is to retain the reader’s attention by limiting my writ….

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To Ride or Not To Ride

To ride or not to ride
That is the question.
To accept the gathering storm clouds as portents
Of unsafe cycling conditions
Or to consider them as beacons
Heralding possible adventure
That is the question

Should one heed the warnings of the undependable,
With their satellite photos and backwards scribblings
Or should one relent to the overwhelming desires
Of his own heart’s calling?

Should one way the possibility  of involuntary cycle departure
Resulting in unwanted familiarity with asphalt and gravel
Against the excruciating dullness of mundane  domesticity
Where the greatest challenge is the avoidance
Of Honey-do entreaties?
Oh, but for a clear sign
Such as a clarion call from a fellow cyclists
Embroiled in the same rumination!
For is it not better to have one
With whom to share an adventure
And upon whom to heap with the burden of folly
Should ones effort prove unwise??

If only such internal strife
O’er possible heavenly actions
Had been rendered unlikely
By finding myself in the fabled land called California!

Time must not be allowed
To be the final arbitrator!
I Shall Ride!
Dawn thy cycling gear!
Mount thy cycle!
Onward for shop honor, bragging rights and Saint Schwinn!

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THE 2015 EC CYCLING KIT!

THE 2015 EC CYCLING KIT!

The 2015 EC Kit has finally been finalized!  After much back and forth, customer input, design limitations, etc, this is what we are proud to be offering for 2015!  It is a different look for us, while at the same time keeping our 3 main colors and background in play, just with different priorities.  We know it won’t appeal to everyone, but we didn’t want to offer the “same ‘ole thing that is just slightly different” again this year. Hopefully you’ll continue to fly our colors and pick up a set when available!

When will that be you ask?  This weekend at out Humongous Sale, we will begin taking pre-orders and have a fitting kit available for you to help figure out what size you’ll need.  We are using Fast Freddie Apparel/Zaavy again this year so if you purchased last year’s kit, you already know what size you’ll need! And remember, you’ll need to pre-order/prepay by the end of October to get our kits AT OUR VERY BEST PRICES!!  Prices will be posted later this week!

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Looking Back – Not Just For Nerds

I’m really no different from the nay-sayers (or should I say the ‘nattering nabobs of negativism’? No, that’s ‘too Spiro Agnew’ for those of you who may remember). For too many years I made fun of people who wore rear view mirrors on their glasses while cycling. “Hah! What a bunch of nerds!”

Well, about a year ago, while on an Endless Saturday road ride, I talked to some of the riders who wore them. They swore by how effective they were. Did I mention my hearing isn’t what it once was (though it is better since I started wearing Wind Blox)? I was discovering that riders ahead of me were yelling “Car back!” before I even knew a car was coming. I began to realize this could be nasty on a solo ride or one that I was sweeping. I was also starting to appreciate cars with low-restriction exhausts because I could hear them (and don’t even get me started about electric cars that can sneak up on you like a metallic ninja!) So I cashed in my cool card and bought a glasses-mounted rear view mirror , aptly named “Rear Vu” Bike Mirror, at Endless.

It took a couple of rides for me to get it dialed in (bending the stem, moving the mirror and getting used to glancing at it) but now I’d never go back to road riding without one. They’re sturdy, the weight penalty is about nil, they’re cheap, (did I mention they’re cheap?), the return policy is incredible and the gentleman who makes them lives in Fremont! I’ve become so used to them that when I ride off-road, I automatically glance at my upper left looking for what’s behind me. I don’t really need them for mountain biking because I’m more concerned with what’s coming at me (roots, rocks, skunks, etc.) than who might be sneaking up on me from behind. But for riding the road, I can now say I feel they are a necessity! I normally wear glasses and sometimes actually find myself looking to find a mirror to my left when walking!

Yes, I’m a more humble human being but better, and safer, for it.

EC Rider

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At Endless Cycles, Special Orders ARE SPECIAL!

Before we opened Endless Cycles, we were just like you, bicycle enthusiasts who liked frequenting and shopping at bike shops. One problem that each and everyone of them had though was processing a Special Order when they didn’t have exactly what you needed. You’d give them your money and then wait. And wait. And wait some more. You’d sometimes even get lame excuses like “that manufacturer only ships product after the 4th blue moon after the fall equinox” or “what special order? You placed a special order?” or the infamous, “the special order guy is out right now”. BS, someone dropped the ball. When we opened EC, we aimed to fix that. If we don’t have the item you want but can get it, well then, you pay for it and we will order it asap! Most of the time you’ll get it the next day! Sometimes, even the same day! Maybe a week, max! It’s hardly ever more than 10 days! And we match internet pricing as well as long as it’s a legit price! Why do we do this? Because we can and it’s not called a SPECIAL ORDER for nothing! It’s SPECIAL! So skip the internet and don’t settle for an another bike shop that says, “special order, that’ll take at least a month.” Stop by EC and we will get it for you asap! Why? Because WE GET IT!

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My 2014 Salsa Beargrease. Let Me Tell You About It!

About a month ago, I bought a carbon fiber 2014 Salsa Beargrease.  I test rode this bike at a Salsa Demo day at Endless Cycles earlier this year.  My intent at that time was not to buy a fat tire bike.  I was at the demo to test ride the 2014 Spearfish with the new split pivot design (by the way, it was awesome and a way better ride than my 2013 Spearfish, which doesn’t have the split pivot).  For the heck of it, I took out the fat bike too.  I tested a carbon fiber Salsa Beargrease, which has no suspension.  Salsa calls this bike their racing fat bike.

Despite this beefy bike’s looks, due to the big, fat tires and fat frame, it was pretty light (31 lbs) and it had low enough gearing to peddle uphill easily.  When I hit the down hills, I had a grin on my face.  The big tires give the bike lots of traction, which made me feel more in control, instead of feeling scared of falling and skinning my knees and elbows or worse if I didn’t tap on the brakes and slow down (I am a big chicken about hurting myself).  On the Beargrease, I didn’t want to slow down.  Granted, the fat, heavier than normal tires increases the Beargrease’s rotational mass, but with it’s bigger footprint, I found myself peddling on fast down hills and through turns because I felt safe.  Big tires = lots of traction.

I didn’t buy the bike then.  My complaint was that there was too much vibration on the handle bars at speed.  Scott at Endless told me to let out some air from the front tire and the tire would absorb more of the vibration.  My demo time was over though, so I couldn’t try doing that.  I told Scott that if Salsa came out with a full suspension fat bike, I would be very interested.

About a month ago, Salsa came back for another demo day.  They were featuring their 2015 bikes.  Salsa introduced the full suspension fat bike, the Bucksaw at that demo day.  I was very excited about it so I was at the demo early in order to take this baby out.  The Bucksaw was not carbon fiber, but was aluminum and it was still light.  But, for some reason, I was not as impressed with the ride as I was with the Beargrease. Or, maybe, I was just only as impressed as I was with the Beargrease.  But, because of the price difference between the Bucksaw and the Beargrease, I asked myself, “Do I really need full suspension on a fat bike?”  The Bucksaw was a little heavier than the Beargrease and it cost more.  I asked the Salsa rep if they were going to come out with a full suspension carbon fat tire bike.  The response was that if they did, it would be very, very expensive.

I loved the Beargrease I had test rode earlier in the year, and I told Jeff at Endless Cycles that I’d get the Beargrease if it had front suspension.  As always, Jeff had a solution.  I could change out the carbon fork for a RockShox Bluto fork.”  I said ok, and bought the 2014 Beargrease off the showroom floor and ordered a Bluto fork for it.

I’ve been taking the bike to Lake Chabot on the Endless Cycles Tuesday night rides and on an occasional weekend trail ride.  I’ve also ridden it on a 15 mile Thursday night Endless Cycles road ride out on Cull Canyon. I even ride it around Castro Valley.  I LOVE THIS BIKE.  It’s really lightweight, t’s fun to ride,  and, as a side benefit, I am the center of attention.  I had a guy stop me on the road to take a picture of me and the bike for his mountain biking girlfriend (at least that what he said).  I get a lot of comments, like “Where’s the engine?”,  “Oooh, big fat tires”,  “Is it heavy?”, “Looks like a motorcycle”,  “Can’t take a motorcycle on a trail”,  “Can I pick it up?”,  “I’ve never seen a bike with tires like that before”, and “Do you take it to the snow?”  Regarding the last comment, I hate the snow—too cold, but I will say, although it was initially developed for the snow and works great on the beach as well, but you don’t need sand or snow to ride this bike, I ride it everywhere.  Currently the bike won’t fit on my Yakima bike rack because the tire trays are too small for the fat tires, so, until I figure out how adapt that, I ride it from my house to wherever I want to ride (locally).

I mentioned earlier that the Beargrease is big framed, which adds to its beefy looks.  Well, I was at the Castro Valley Fall Festival recently, walking my Beargrease through the fair, and there was a guy walking towards me with his standard, but now wimpy looking in comparison mountain bike .  He looked at me, he looked at my bike, then back at me…I think I felt him physically shrink.  My Beargrease is just badassss looking.

Downsides, the black “paint job” (I don’t know what you would call it, it’s not exactly paint) on the frame is not even (note from the editor: it’s the naked clear coated carbon fiber, no paint. Naked carbon fiber has no uniform look)  but I don’t mind it.  Also, sometimes, I feel the wheels make the bike a little too bouncy, i.e. hard downward strokes on the pedal make the bike bounce a little.  Scott suggests taking out some more air, and I’ll have to try that.  Right now, I use 8 psi in the front and 10 psi in the rear tire.  I make sure to move my butt away the seat when I’m going downhill over bumps.  I don’t want that seat to bounce up and knock me off the bike (I guess this would be true on any bike though).  Once, I did see Mike at EC bounce a fat tire from his Mukluk like it was a basketball!  Finally, the brakes are not hydraulic, and are too mushy for my taste.  One of my many fears is coming down the steep last part of Live Oak and not being able to stop for cross traffic.  I’m considering putting hydraulic brakes on the bike.

Now, my 2013 Salsa Spearfish is just sitting in my garage feeling neglected.  I can’t help it though, the Beargrease is just so much fun to ride.  And for newbie riders, I think starting out on a fat bike could do wonders for building confidence on the trail.  There’s just something comfortable and comforting about the big ole, fat tires.

Georgia – Boffo Ride Leader & Shop Consigliere

Action Photo provided by Don K.

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IT’S ALIVE! THE REVIVAL OF THE EC BLOG!

Thanks to a few of our members, who have wanted a place to bring you more in depth posts about Endless Cycles and the products we represent and events we sponsor, and the cycling trips we participate in, The EC Blog has been resuscitated!  Look for new posts to begin to appear within the week!

And, if you have anything you’d like to submit or something you’d recommend that we take a look at, send an email to jeff@endlesscyclesonline.com! We’ll take a look at it, and if it’s appropriate, we’ll post it!

LET THE PIGEONS LOOSE!

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Our Blog Has Been Decommissioned AGAIN! But We Are Still On Facebook!

Hey There! It’s been just over 6 months since we re-commisioned this blog, but, alas, the content we had wanted to produce never materialized. That’s primarily due to the amount of time it takes for us to develop content, write it and post it. It has become more than a one man dealeo and I couldn’t recruit any stable contributors.Extra time is, still, very much a rare commodity and maintaining the blog, well, there just isn’t enough time.

We still maintain a Facebook page daily and that allows us to keep you up to date in quick hits! We try to post AS THINGS HAPPEN!

We will continue to leave access to all of our past blog posts, for anyone who wants to relive the past!

So, join us over at Facebook!

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