Monday, January 31, 2011

Dear Mommy:

Maybe Cee-Lo Green would say that this was a problem for my daddy, but mommy, I wanted to complain about some people who I thought were my friends. See, being a friend usually means that it's fun to play together and do stuff and we like the same toys and stuff, but on Saturday my friends were very very mean to me.

I was going to play with my lincoln logs and atari on Saturday, but my friends said we should go ride bikes. Since I like being friends with my friends I said, "okay" and agreed that we should ride bikes together. Sometimes we do that at my house and sometimes at my friend's house. Maybe I should have asked you, mommmy, if it was all right because my friends wanted to ride bikes on the highway instead of in our driveway. But since I like being friends with my friends I said, "okay" and met them on the highway. Highway 195.

From there, we started riding up a hill. A long hill. And then we started riding in the wind. A lot of wind. And then they started to go fast. A lot of fast. And then my legs started to hurt and my lungs started to burst and then my eyes started leaking. It looked like crying but I'm too big a boy to cry, so it must have been water leaking from my eyes because of the wind. And then it started to rain, which was good because you couldn't see the tears, I mean leaking, from my eyes.

I like being friends with my friends, but they weren't playing nice. I tried to go home like you told me I should do if my friends aren't being good friends, but they wouldn't let me. They told me that instead of going where they wanted to go, that because I said I would go home they said they would go another way that would be easier for me. But they said it like I couldn't keep up with them, which would make me mad except it was true so it just made me sad so I said, "okay", but then they went a different way but they still kept going fast and the wind kept blowing and it kept raining and my legs kept hurting and my lungs kept bursting and my eyes kept leaking until it was finally time to go home.

I was happy to be home and away from my friends that weren't being good friends and then I decided to drink beer and after a while my legs stopped hurting and my lungs stopped bursting and my eyes stopped leaking and everything was okay, except I don't want to go ride bikes with my friends anymore because I'm not sure if they really are my friends. I think beer is my friend now.

Thanks for listening mommy. I feel better now.
Rider Three

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Bluff Less Traveled

Today, I found myself with some time to ride on an ice free day so I hit the road on the 29" wheeled Superfly.  I cruised up to Miller's Hardware and grabbed some hardware and stuff we needed at the shop.

Then it was down Southeast Blvd where I had to dodge icebergs in the bike lane and on to Rockwood.  A quick run down Washington and on to newly paved 2nd Avenue and no bike lanes.  I got stuck behind a woman in a Ford Escort who was so engrossed in a conversation on her cell that she was oblivious to the green light facing her.  Finally, I was moving again so right on Cedar and then 1st Ave and Two Wheel Transit.

After dropping the supplies off, it was time to head south to the Hangman Valley.  I thought, hmmm, the Bluff may not be in too bad of shape and I am riding a mountain bike, so....  Why not?

Weave my way south on Cedar, to 7th where the secret access to the train tracks and awaiting bluff is found.  Down the hill and up the trail - dang, too tall a gear and I stall out.  Get going again, hit the trail and start to climb.  The ground to my right begins to disappear and I find myself grazing the uphill slope with my left pedal to my annoyance.  Though I am no pro when it comes to riding, I wondered why I was making these mistakes  when riding on dirt.

Next, comes a slightly technical uphill with rocks and mud - no problem.  I pick a gear and a line and hit the gas.  I miss the line completely and just about lose it on a slick rock.  So it goes across the bluff - missing lines and not clearing sections that I flew over this last fall.  I am flummoxed.

Then it occurs to me, I have either been riding road or trainer for the last 4 months.  I have become off-road rusty - there now the world knows my secret shame.  Picking gears, weight distribution, picking and holding lines, comfort with riding single-track with a big drop to my right - all gone.  It is amazing the bike handling and judgement skills you take for granted when you are riding a lot during the season.  Now I have something else to add to my spring training plans so as to not look completely lame when I ride off-road with anyone.

Bottom line is that the bluff is in pretty good shape for the end of January if you were thinking about a quick outing.  There was not any snow or ice until the shaded areas past the golf course.  Even then it was doable. The slope, sand and exposure to wind seem to make it passable long before you can ride elsewhere and I felt fortunate to be out riding in the dirt in late January.  The sad part was I did not see anyone else out riding.  Hopefully, that will change as more ride reports begin to filter-out.

A Chance to be Heard

This was forwarded to us by local bicycle advocate Bradley Bleck who with others in the community work tirelessly to improve bicycle safety and accessibility in the region.  This sounds like a legitimate effort to reach-out and gather input from the cycling community on February 2.

Dear Bradley,
On Wednesday, February 2, the Spokane Regional Health District will be hosting a moderated forum to collect information on how we can decrease fatalities, injuries, threats, and uncivil behavior between cyclists and motorists. But we can't do it without your help, so please join us and share your valuable knowledge and experiences with the community.
Wednesday's forum is part of Spokane's first comprehensive education campaign entitled, "Spokane Moves Safely", which is aimed at increasing safety through effectively sharing the road among motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. 
What: Information-gathering forum hosted by the Spokane Regional Health District
Who: Stakeholders concerned about bicycle, pedestrian, and motorist safety
When: Wednesday, February 3, 5:30pm to 7pm (food provided)
Where: Spokane Regional Heath District auditorium (1101 W. College Ave)
Wednesday's forum is part of Spokane's first comprehensive education campaign entitled, "Spokane Moves Safely", which is aimed at increasing safety through effectively sharing the road among motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. It is funded by a grant from the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.
Please join us! Your voice will be invaluable in helping to form safe and active transportation messages for the Spokane community. To RSVP, email Nancy Hawley at
Thank you for your continued commitment to the safety of all roadway users.

David Hiller
Advocacy Director
Cascade Bicycle Club

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Dog in a Hat - Book Review

A Dog In A Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium; by Joe Parkin

I am not a racer, but I found this saga of Joe Parkin's experiences as a pro racer in Belgium during the late 80's, both amusing and entertaining. He paints a picture of cycling that few of us will ever get to see first hand. The title comes from a Belgian saying which implies that things are not in their right place, much as an American racing in Europe. This comparison gives you some insight into his tongue in cheek view of himself and his time in Europe Racing.

An fun, easy read at a little over 200 pages and a glimpse at the belly of pro cycling.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside

The days are getting longer. The sun keeps peeking out from the winter's gray. The roads are clear of snow. You're tired of the indoor suffer-fest called “The Trainer.” The thermometer says, “Bbbbrrrrr.” Look at your trainer, look out the window, now look at your trainer again. Sadly, your trainer is indoors and the sun is outdoors. Push yourself out the door. You are only a few layers of clothes away from an epic day. Here is what I recommend:

Upper body base layer should be long sleeve and moisture wicking shirt. I prefer wool next to my skin, though any of a variety of the “fancy-named” polyesters will do. On top of the base layer, I wear my favorite jersey. Below about 25 of, (-4oc) I will put arm warmers on, too. The mid layer should be a middle to light weight fleece, again weight depends on temperature. The outer layer should be a breathable yet waterproof shell. Pit zips, back vent and a 2-pull main zipper are features I look for. These aid in temperature regulation.

For the legs: A pair of non-padded thermal tights for conditions down to about 25 of, (-4oc) Below that I will put leg warmers over the tights. Below 0of (-18oc) Simply stay home. It is bad for your lungs. I will wear padded shorts under the tights. Bibs are fine, but it is a difficult extra step when natures calls! ( or get on the National “Do Not Call” list and you'll be good to go)

Keep your head warm. Most body heat escapes through your head. A good wind blocking skull cap under the helmet is good. Or a breathable cap with a wind-stopping helmet cover. A balaclava or neck gator are good for below freezing

A decent pair of insulated gloves that fit well are critical to riding enjoyment. Two fingered gloves are warm like mittens, but allow enough dexterity to shift and brake. They are a good choice under 30of (-1oc).

Feet, two words: Wool Socks. Period. A medium weight merino wool is soft, warm, and moisture wicking. Thick socks may seem like a good idea, but if it makes your shoes tight, blood flow is restricted; less blood = cold feet. DO NOT wear cotton socks! Cotton absorbs moisture, Wet Feet = Cold Feet! On top of the shoe, toe caps or a good neoprene booties will keep in additional warmth, resists the wind and will keep you feet dry from road moisture.

Drop it in the little chainring and go. You are not setting any speed records today. 20 miles outside will take longer in January than it will in July. But you will be outside. Savor the moment. Don't push, there will be plenty of time for that during shorts season.

The initial investment into winter apparel may be steep, but then how much did you spend on that trainer ( and you hate that thing...)

L/S Base Top $60~100 Jacket: + $100 Skull cap: $20 ~ $35
Balaclava: $30 Gloves $35 ~ $75 Tights: $ 60~120
Toe caps: $15 Booties: $45

My list will run you form about $300 ~ $475. Some of this stuff you already have, and some you can find on the clearance shelf. But it is a worthy investment as early season can be some of the most beautiful rides. You are in it for the scenery, not the training. Last week I enjoyed an epic ride that included a bald eagle spotting just south of town. It doesn't get better than that!

Daily Rider

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Some Trainer Magic - Part 2 of 2

In our last installment of Trainer Magic, I discussed the benefits of adding trainer workouts to your overall winter fitness regimen.  Today we will look at how to gauge individual workouts and trends in your level of fitness.  Riding on bicycle trainers will provide resistance to moving the rear wheel and it takes power (Watts) from you through the pedals and drive train to keep it moving.

The easiest way to measure Watts is with a special power meter designed for bicycles. Not everyone has a power meter or bike computer equipped to measure these indicators of performance.  The thought of purchasing this type of equipment is not appealing after investing somewhere around $350 for a quality trainer.

Even without a power meter you can estimate wattage from workout to workout as long as you use the same bike and trainer each time.  Contrary to what many Watt-heads espouse, you do not need to know your exact Watt output in real time to plan and evaluate your workouts.  An estimate works just fine for most cyclists' needs.

As you can see from the chart to the right, this fluid resistance trainer provides increased resistance as speed increases - just like riding outside.  So the faster you go, the more Watts (power) are required to spin the rear wheel with the pedals.  For example, to reach and maintain 20 mph will require approximately 250 watts regardless of age, weight, gender or fitness level.  A $35 bicycle computer that uses the rear wheel to calculate speed (since the front wheel is stationary when using a trainer) will give you average miles per hour and riding time.  That information with the above chart gives you a pretty good approximation of the wattage output during a training session over a given duration. What speed does not tell you relates to what your body is doing to get to that point.  Just riding at 20 mph for an hour each session does not give you feedback about your fitness level.

Another way to get this information is to monitor your average heart rate during a session and use an online calculator to estimate wattage.  A heart rate monitor uses a strap to pick-up the electrical signals every time your heart beats and sends the information to a digital read-out and is a very good indicator of how hard you are working.  The better your conditioning, the LOWER your hear rate will be for a given wattage or average speed.  If you just want to keep it simple, track your average heart rate at an average speed for an hour.  As your fitness level improves, you heart will beat more slowly for a given level of exertion, or average speed in this case. This means that over time you will have to exert more power to make your heart beat as fast as it did at the same indicated speed in the past. In short, you can track your progress by how fast you have to go to hit a particular heart rate over time.

There is an entire science devoted to using different percentages of your maximum heart rate to achieve levels of fitness - all of which is beyond the scope of this blog.

With this information you can plug in your sex, age, weight, minutes of exercise, average heart rate and presto, it estimates your average Watts and calories burned.  I use the following online application and feel it comes pretty close for my needs -

You will note that my results from a 1 hour session at an average speed of 20 mph on a Kinetic Road Machine was 249.85 Watts - which correlates very closely with the 250 Watts predicted by the above chart.

You can decide for yourself whether the science and assumptions for the model are sound, but again, as long as you use the same equipment each time, the model will allow you to see trends in your performance.

Hopefully this provides some tools to help you get the most out of a bicycle trainer and give you a training base when you hit the road this spring.  Feel free to stop buy Two Wheel Transit to discuss your specific needs or look at trainers in person.  See you on the road!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's time to get Serious

I was thinking about riding this morning. There was no earthly reason to be thinking about riding, because it was sleeting ice on everything and there have been 4,321 fender-benders in Spokane in the last three hours, but still, I was thinking about riding. Then I started thinking about how people approach the start of the cycling year, whenever that really comes about, and so I pretended to pose that question to my teammates.

Here is the resulting Q & A:

Question - Rider 1, what is your approach to the 2011 season going to look like?

Rider 1 aka Mr. Millimeter - Well, first of all, I am building a house so that is going to take up a lot of time. In fact, I have been blogging about it at Meadow House so take a look at it and discover a love affair between a handsome communications professional and his dream home. It really should be a series on the Arts and Lifestyle channel. But back to biking. I have been reviewing the position of my cleats in relationship to my metatarsal bone and have been seriously thinking about a multi-micron adjustment, probably about, now wait for it, maybe as much as 5 millimeters. I know that it might impact the wind-up on the sprint, but the trade-off is better power through the stroke right from the start line. So, I don't know where this might take me, but I am giving it serious thought when I'm not thinking about my house project. I'm doing a blog about it, by the way.

Question - Rider Two, what it is on your mind as the cycling season starts?

Quicksilver - What does that mean? The cycling season starts when your training wheels comes off and doesn't end until you trade a bike for a wheelchair. I haven't stopped riding and I won't stop riding. Sure, the most glorious time of the year comes around again, when wind and rain and mud and belgians and frittes and mur de hoy and arenburg forest all have their spotlight, but if you haven't been riding non-stop, you aren't ready. Now if you would kindly bugger off, I am going to ride my bike.

Question - Rider Three, what will the 2011 cycling season look like to you?

Rider Three - I have lots of plans for this year. It will be my most PRO year ever. First, I am going to support pro cycling this year by seeing if I can get my hands on performance enhancing drugs and one of those powerful but silent motors for my seat tube. Also, I am planning to break a lot of expensive equipment and whine as much as possible. And, to finish it all up, I am planning to blog about all of it, create some self-indulgent animated videos, and try to buy my way to more speed.

Question - Are you planning to ride your bike or race, Rider Three?

Rider Three - Oh, that. Well, sure. I am going to self-actualize. I am going to be positive. I am going to do a 6-minute ab workout followed by the 3-minute butt buster so that I look my very best in my team-issue skin suit.

Question - That is all well and good, but are you going to actually ride your bike?

Rider Three - Um, no. The whole idea to adding more riders to the team is that I can move into more of a managerial position but the team as a whole will still be pedaling just as many miles. I will be available to drive for motor-pacing. I can yell, "Venga, venga, venga" whenever the team goes by my barcalounger. I will be mixing margaritas and cooking up steaks on the deck to provide fortification for the team. See, that kind of thing. There are a lot of important things to do that just might take me away from any actual pedaling of the bike. I would like to say it is an age thing, but then Quicksilver always points out that he is a couple Mur de Hoys away from 60, so it really just comes down to being fat and lazy. Thanks for asking though.

So there you have it. Three approaches to cycling in 2011. As soon as I know the other team riders well enough to create nicknames for them and make merciless, or at least mirthless, fun of them, I'm sure they will be providing some additional thoughts. In the meantime, enjoy the sleet, the Versus coverage of the Tour Down Under and dream of bike rides. Or margaritas and steak.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!

As far back as I can remember, there have been wrought iron bars over the doors and windows at Two Wheel Transit.  The intent was to make a unique and somewhat decorative barrier to keep stuff from leaving the store in an unauthorized fashion when no one was there to watch over it.  Needless to say, the solid iron has been very effective in keeping stuff where it belongs and was necessary when the area was ruled by thugs and ruffians who rode bikes without helmets and made turns without proper hand signals.  Now a kinder spirit of community prevails in the neighborhood and we get to hang-out with Spokane law enforcement for hours while they disarm a dangerous suitcase filled with women's clothing.

On the other hand, the effect on the ambiance and attractiveness on the store front is less than ideal for a retail business.  It makes it difficult for people to see in the store in most lighting conditions and can be a little intimidating for those who are new to the TWT experience.  It really hit home this year when I went outside to look at Tomas' latest artistic creation (think of the movie Christmas Vacation) with the Christmas decorations in the storefront windows. Our Christmas tree and everything else looked like they were doing 8 - 10 years of hard time in a foreign prison for some heinous crime rather than bringing holiday joy to good little girls and boys.

The bars have been a topic of discussion for some time and recently resulted in a blistering executive session among the power brokers in the store.  Insults were hurled like snowballs by unhappy undergrads at the last Apple Cup, threats and near violence erupted at several points, but we trudged doggedly forward until a decision was finalized - the bars over the windows are coming down.

Actually, Tomas and I were standing out front the other day when Bruce was not there to supervise us and I said. "Do you think it would be hard to take these bars off?"  To which Tomas replied, "Not really." And that is how it was decided to take the bars off to make the shop a little more appealing and friendly while providing Tomas with an unobstructed canvas.

Swing by in the next week or so to see the carnage - I mean progress as we remove the ironwork and walls between us.  Hopefully, it will be a good move.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Team Announcement

Team Two Wheel is pleased to announce that Two Wheel Transit has agreed to be our main sponsor again in 2011. We have expanded our team from three to five with full credentials and two more with specially negotiated contracts.

We will be doing short profiles of the riders in the upcoming days or week. This is going to be a little tricky since three of us have only been known as Rider One aka Mr. Millimeter, Rider Two aka Quicksilver and Rider Three aka Mr. Loquacious aka Mr. Breaksequipment aka Mr. Why-does-a-guy-that-large-get-a-spot-on-a-team-with-a-group-of-A-Pack-Riders, but we will figure that out.

We have also expanded our list of sponsors and look forward to welcoming them to the Team Two Wheel experience. When the ink dries on the contracts, we will bring out the names.

So to recap, we have a team, but won't tell you who is on it; we have sponsors, but won't tell you who they are. Yep, sounds right.
Rider Three

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Act Locally, Ride Globally - It Happened on December 23, 2010

I really did not plan on riding around the world.  It just sort of happened like unplanned weight gain or waking up one day an realizing you are going to be 50 this year.

5 years ago I was 25 pounds overweight, slightly stressed and bordering on chronic hypertension - not a good recipe for living to a ripe old age.  I had given-up on riding bikes 10 years earlier due to some bad back pain every time I rode my Bob Jackson.  I knew I had to do something so I started riding a mountain bike I picked-up at a garage sale.

I enjoyed getting out again and found my back tolerated this more upright posture on a bike.  I started thinking about road riding again and petitioned my ever patient and supportive spouse for a new bike after researching this new fad called compact frames.  During my hiatus from cycling technology had evolved for aging boomers giving them a more relaxed fit (like our Levi jeans) for creaky backs. (Who says us boomers have not had a positive effect on the world?)

After educating my spouse about the brave new world of bicycles and related pricing, I was ready to get a new road bike.  I strolled into Two Wheel Transit with my mountain bike and said something to the effect of if you can duplicate this position on a good road bike, I will buy it.  Before I knew it I was riding home on a brand new Klein with a big goofy grin.  The long rides I fondly remembered were now incredible challenges that left me drained and defeated.  I persevered one pedal stroke at a time and started racking-up miles.

I tracked every ride in a spreadsheet even though my therapist says I am recovering from my CPA affliction.  I had a goal, to begin bike commuting from home to my workplace in Fairfield which was 25 miles each way and needed to track when I could do it. It took almost 2 months to build-up to that point, but on May 18, 2006 I did my first round trip bike commute to Fairfield.  24 more such trips followed that summer and the commute became a highlight of my day.  That first year I pushed the pedals 4,507 miles between March and December. I lost most of the extra weight and began to reverse the negative trends in my health.

Along came other goals and I continued to track my miles to gauge fitness and progress each year.  I included trainer miles though some folks may argue that they do not count, but a mile is a mile as far as I am concerned.  Like weight or age, positive things like miles and milestones creep up on you.  Just before New Years day, I was entering my ride data an realized I had logged over 25,000 miles since April 2006.  Somewhere in the dark dusty recesses of my mind, I remembered something about the earth's circumference at the equator being about the same distance.

Sure enough, I looked it up and the circumference is reported at 24,901 miles around.  So I looked back in my trusty log and found that I had passed that milestone toward the end of ride on my trainer on December 23, 2010 without realizing the significance.  This most likely falls into the category of who cares for most normal people, but is one of those things that keeps me riding just for the joy that it brings.

Had I known where this was going, I would have let my nerd tendencies roam free and mapped out which parts of which countries I would ride to next as I crossed seas, continents and mountain ranges.  Perhaps it is better this way as my kids already think I am strange enough.

Regardless of why or where you ride, keep riding because you just never know where it might take you.  So now that I have ridden around the earth, does anyone happen know how far it is to the moon?

Rider Three - First Ride of the Year

I wish I had seen the post below about trainers a bit earlier. It would have reminded me of my own trainer, a Kurt Kinetic trainer that I purchased at Two Wheel Transit a few years ago. If I had remembered it AND ACTUALLY RIDDEN IT, then the last two days of amazingly balmy weather and decent roads would have felt good. Instead, they felt like two big helpings of misery, under a dollop of pain and smothered with a rich creamy sauce of overweight.

On VeloNews, the cartoonist makes fun of a team called, "Old Guys Who Get Fat in the Winter." I am the poster child for that team this year. I had a ride with multiple falls on September 11, a day that will stand out in my memory now, and then another injury a few weeks later, followed by a car crash a couple of weeks after that, followed by months of sloth and inactivity caused by an unusually heavy work load, horrible winter weather and a major issue between the ears.

As a person who is normally positive, I would suggest putting all of that behind me, but the reality is that I can't put it behind me when a) my behind is so big and b) my legs won't allow me to move fast enough to put anything behind me.

The old school advice was that you should ride the first 1,000 kilometers of the season in your small chain-ring. I am going one better and riding the first 1,000 kilometers in the smallest gear I have, because I can't move the damn bike forward in any other gear. The idea is with riding the small chain-ring is that it promotes "suppleness" in your cycling stroke.

Today, I was as supple as a marble statute. I was as supple as a cadaver with rigor mortis. I was as supple as the asphalt road under me. I was as supple as the trunk of a mighty oak tree. I was as supple as Mt. Rushmore. I was so supple that my legs crinkled with each pedal stroke and I still have the crease marks. If I was an SAT test, I would be, "Supple is to Rider Three as Life Force is to a) a parrot nailed to its perch and pining for the fjords; b) Tiger Wood's endorsement potential; or c) an extinguished star being sucked into a black hole." If I were a new show on the Oprah Network, I would be "Stiffy McStifster's Overweight and Undertrained Stiffness Challenge" and I would be the supreme champion. If I were a contest on American Idol, I would be the guy with his pants on the ground and too stiff to pick them back up. If I were - Oh the hell with it. You get the idea.

Other than that, though, it was awesome to be out for a ride in January when the weather felt more like a decent April ride. I know it won't last, but it was a good reminder of things to come and things that I should have been doing.
Rider Three

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Some Trainer Magic - Part 1 of 2

A common question we get in the shop this time of year revolves around whether there is a way to use the a bicycle indoors to get a workout.  The answer is most definitely "Yes, its called a bicycle trainer - or trainer for short."
A trainer is a device that holds a bicycle stationary and provides some sort of resistance against the rotation of the rear wheel.  The resistance is necessary since the natural forces of wind and uphill climbs do not exert force on the bike while it is stationary.  Absent resistance you would quickly spin the rear wheel too fast to get much of a workout (think revving a car engine in neutral vs in gear).

The resistance is provided by either a fan, special magnets or a series of blades that turn enclosed in a sealed chamber filled with fluid.  The fluid type is very popular because good units are quiet and provide a very realistic feel to the rider.  Prices range from about $100 to $500 depending on the type of resistance and other features.  Plan to invest an amount somewhere in the middle for a quality unit that is well designed and will last you for years.

Most of us have ridden some type of trainer once we got into cycling and learned the hard way that physics and biology do not take a holiday during the winter.  If it is possible, the laws of the Universe become even more severe as the available light and temperatures drop.

Many riders view the trainer as a necessary evil to maintain some semblance of conditioning until hitting the road in spring.  That being said, there are very few riders who profess love for the iron beast lurking in the basement.  The rest of us have to play various games to maintain motivation to spin and sweat for hours on end while watching the Green Network Channel.  Sometimes just completing a mileage goal is enough for a session, while others try to maintain a certain speed, cadence or wattage (measure of power output) to stay motivated.

So in addition to a trainer, you need some manner of monitoring your performance while on the bike.  That way you can keep track of your workouts and compare them to see how hard you work on a particular day and whether you are improving over time.  Watts are considered one of the best measures of performance since it is a standard unit of power and can even be converted to horsepower if you are so inclined.

Once you have decided on a trainer, you will want to set it up in an area that has a solid flat surface and reasonable ventilation since you will be generating a lot of heat during hard sessions.  The other considerations are whether the surface under you will be harmed by dripping sweat (believe me when I say you will sweat) or by any bits of grease that may drop from the bike.  Most people place a big piece of cardboard under the bike and trainer to protect the carpet and maintain harmony in the home. 

Another consideration is the rear tire.  Because of heat and pressure, a trainer will wear-out a regular road tire faster than riding it on the road.  Some people keep a stock of old tires for the trainer while others use tire that is specifically designed for this purpose.  The tire compound is made to withstand the heat generated while reducing noise.  The choice is yours, but don't be surprised if you notice little black bits of rubber collecting under the trainer after a few weeks. (See above comments about maintaining harmony in the home)

Finally, some form of entertainment is a good idea if you plan on spending long hours on your trainer.  Most watch TV where they have recorded their favorite episodes of shows, or watch movies.  This is important because time slows when you are on the trainer.  You never knew a minute could take so long when they tick by while you are on the trainer.  If ever a time machine is invented, it is going to have a bike trainer as the time management engine since it is the only device I know of that makes time slow to about half speed. 

There, you are good to with a way to stay in shape during the long dark winter days.  Regardless of your cycling goals, a few times a week on the bike in the off season will make a huge difference in your riding later in the year.  You may not be in peak shape when you hit the road, but you will have a good foundation on which to train and will be able to train harder earlier in the season.

Our next installment will discuss ways to measure your workouts and stay motivated using a trainer.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The downside of trendsetting.

It can be frustrating to be a trend spotter, setter and influencer. Especially when other teams look at your well-designed team uniforms and think to themselves, “man, I wish we looked that good. Maybe we should just copy Team Two Wheel!

Let me illustrate.

Note the clean lines, abundance of negative space and purposeful focus on black and white logos. Except for the red “2” in the logo. It really pops, and stands out in a peloton of 150+ riders.

Evidently, two years after the debut of this jersey, which is pretty much awesome, others latched onto our design. Some might call this “copying.” But I’m sure the ProTour team designers instead would describe their lack of creativity as a “shared design philosophy.”

Team Sky: Just like the underachievers from Team Two Wheel, the underachievers from the UK chose a black and white theme, save for a brilliant band of blue. (When you’re in the UK everything needs to be “brilliant.” That’s just the way it is.) They even kept co-sponsors on the jersey to a minimum. Just like us.

Team Leopard/Team Liger: Yep, more black and white. And to make things worse, we ride Treks too. One of us even has a Benz. Copy-leopards!

And of course, Garmin – Cervelo. Again, black and white with a pop of color. Or colour if you’re in Europe. Of course Garmin’s designers have the gall to include a bunch of co-sponsors in their design.

Then again, they printed “TATA” on their jersey. If you’ve ever been on a Morning Ride you’ll know all too well that one rider who shall not be named (but whose name rhymes with “Non Fozo”) often talks about TATAs.

So, where does this leave us? Between Two Wheel Transit, Garmin, Sky and Team Liger there’s going to be an awful lot of confusion in the bunch this spring.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Bicycle as a Tool and Symbol of Hope

Give a man a fish - feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish - feed him for life.  Give a coffee farmer a bike - he will feed his family and caffeinate the world.

Okay, a slight bit of hyperbole, but you get the idea.  Imagine having to move hundreds of pounds of product from farm to market over miles of dirt roads without the aid of a truck or other motorized vehicle.  Now add the issue of speed since the product loses value the longer it takes to market.  Finally, think of the trip back to the farm to work on getting the next load ready and you get a glimpse into the life of a small coffee farmer in Rwanda.

These farmers work on farms with 300 or fewer trees and earn an average of $250 per year so resources are scarce.  Some began carving bikes out of wood just to have some way of transporting coffee to market.  This included wooden wheels, bars, forks, and platform and no way to propel or stop the bike.  Imagine "riding" this bike with 300 pounds of cargo - not safe, fast or efficient which is where Project Rwanda comes-in.

Project Rwanda provides farmers with a safe and specially engineered bikes called coffee bikes to help them with their transportation issues.  The bikes are not a gift, but a self-sustaining micro-loan worth $200 that must be paid back to the Project.  Reduced time in getting coffee beans to market can increase the price paid to the farmer by as much as 15 cents per pound - this premium goes a long way to improving the lives of the farmers and their families.

In case you have not already guessed, Two Wheel Transit is "All-in" in terms of support for this project.  It has all of the elements that make it worth the effort - bikes, improved lives through bikes, great organization, efficient operations, coffee, the human spirit and of course, bikes.  (Yeah, we said bikes twice.) We have a coffee bike mock-up in the shop so people get the idea and ask questions.  (Bike is graciously on loan from Dr. Corey Judd of Inland Imaging)

We have been matching donations for the Project which have been dropped-off at the shop from our very generous customers.  To date, we have raised $544 - enough for 2 1/2 coffee bikes.  We are also donating 5% of the sales price of each 2011 Trek bicycle purchased from Jan 3 through Feb 15 to the fund in hopes of raising more. 

If you or someone you know is considering a Trek purchase this year, doing so before February 15 will net a great bike and help a great program.  If not, stop by and drop some coin into the Project Rwanda water bottle as a donation.

Get more information, make an online donation or visit the Project store at:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Leopard is no longer in the Shadows

The Leopard-Trek Racing team was formally introduced today with the riders dressed like a GQ Men of Cycling Photo Shoot rather than a gathering of undernourished men. The Leopard moniker comes from the holding company of Luxembourg real estate magnate Flavio Becca who is the team owner.  Trek, now pronounced "Treck" is the co-sponsor of this team of luminaries from Saxo Bank including the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara. 

Looks to be a pretty potent team to say the least now that Andy has addressed that undocumented shifting feature that appeared in the Tour last year with a healthy dose of Shimano Di2.

In other news, Lance is back for another run this year on Team Radio Shack.  Should be an interesting year in pro racing - all of which will be overshadowed by the unstoppable force of Team Two Wheel.  Stay tuned for more details...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Searching For Heaven in 2011?

Speculation about higher worldwide demand for oil pushed prices higher on the first trading day of 2011.  The price increase is not based on fundamentals of higher demand yet, but will be moving that direction as summer gets closer.  Average price at the pump is $3.07 and estimated cost to drive a car is $7,000 annually.  This does not take into account any other costs associated with heath care or lost productivity from illnesses associated with lack of exercise or obesity.

As you make your New Year resolutions, consider driving less and cycling more.  Based on the annual figure, a 25% reduction in driving to school, work or daily errands would save approximately $1,750 and  improve fitness, reduce stress, reduce traffic and reduce your carbon footprint.

Seems like a great trade-off.  Where else can you find this type of financial return in today's market?

Here is more of the story:

Monday, January 3, 2011

Trek/Fisher Rumblefish Gets Nod For Best Bike

Rumblefish Awarded Best 29er Product of 2010

We often get the question 26 or 29 inch wheels for mountain bikes.  Bicycling Magazine named 2010 the year of the two niner and until you have ridden the difference you do not know what you are missing.  Better tracking, traction, turning, stopping, climbing - all in smoother faster ride.  Here's the scoop:

Full suspension trail 29er trail bike tops annual list
(Waterloo, WI) – has named the Trek Gary Fisher Collection Rumblefish its top 29er product of 2010. Rumblefish is Trek’s full suspension trail bike for riders who want the advantages of 29" wheels on technical singletrack. 
This accolade from the popular online 29er authority not only confirms the Gary Fisher Collection’s 29er market leadership, it also marks a turning point in the perception of 29ers. Big wheels have made their mark on the US cross country market, but Rumblefish breaks new 29er ground in the trail category.
From the review: “The Rumblefish II was simply the most amazing, spot on full suspension bike I rode in 2010. It not only did what it claimed going in, but with some of the new technology present on this bike, the Rumblefish redefined what could be possible with 29 inch wheels in a full suspension context.” Read the full review here.
Rumblefish is a 120mm/110mm travel 29er trail bike loaded with Trek-exclusive tech, including DRCV rear suspension, Active Braking Pivot (ABP), G2 Geometry, QR15 thru axle, E2 headtube and fork, and integrated bottom bracket. The result is a bike that enables riders to tackle technical terrain previously unimaginable.
Gary Fisher responded to the award, “Well, yeah! The idea of the bike is a good one, and the execution was amazing. All the engineers, suspension designers, and partners really came through on this bike. It’s perfect for how most people ride.”
The 2011 Rumblefish is available in 3 models. For more info about Rumblefish, visit often get the question 26 or 29 inch wheels for mountain bikes.  Bicycling Magazine named 2010 the year of the two niner and until you have ridden the difference you do not know what you are missing.  Better tracking, traction, turning, stopping, climbing - all in smoother faster ride.