The climb to the Crystal Lake Cafe itself is 14 miles long with 4100 feet gained putting the average grade around 5.5%. It's a climb that I am quite familiar with as I have completed the whole climb over 20 times. My fastest time was set in 2013 when I rode the segment in 1:21:31. My most recent attempt put me in the neighborhood of +30 minutes so needless to say, I have a lot of work to do.
So how am I going to get there? Currently I am doing a power based training program via the Training Plans provided by Strava and the Carmichael Training Systems. It's a monthly program designed to increase your power output based on a desired time frame. I am working on a 60 minute power schedule which has me riding up to 10 hours over 5-6 days each week. I think that any sort of focused training will give me an advantage over "2013 Justin" because at that point I wasn't really training I was just riding A LOT. I think that was the year I logged a 400+ mile week and I was averaging close to 1000 miles each month. I don't have nearly that much time now but being smarter with my training will certainly make it more effective.
A few months ago I joined Share Mountain Bike Club (my local IMBA chapter) but have not had the time available to participate in any volunteer work until now! I'm always appreciative when I see that our local trails have been tended to and now I'll be a part of the behind-the-scenes effort to keep our trails tidy and maintained. On January 14th we will be out in Crystal Cove State Park working on Ticketron Trail. I'll have to admit that I haven't actually ridden this trail as I usually choose to come down Rattlesnake but I'm excited to learn a bit more about the trails and the community that is dedicated to volunteering their time to maintain the trails.
If you're interested in more information be sure to check out their website and the details for this event at the following link: Event: Trail Work Day – Crystal Cove State Park | Jan 14
The Varia light system consists of a few different components: The Rearview Radar, Smart Bike Lights, and a corresponding wireless remote. As a connected system it will allow your bike to turn into an actively visible vehicle.
In using the system while commuting, I've noticed that it is most useful when entering traffic for lefthand turns and when exiting the bike lane to avoid debris on the shoulder. I don't rely on the radar feature 100% when entering traffic but use it as a guide so I don't have to take my eyes off the road. Once it indicates a clear road I'll double check over my shoulder and make my move. I especially like using the signals and radar whenever I have to exit the bike lane.
While using the system on training rides, I've found that the turn signals don't play as big a role as the radar particularly in more rural/open areas. When I'm deep into an interval workout or on a long training ride I can sometimes get lost in my own head. The radar can help to give you an alert for an approaching vehicle.
There is also functionality with the turn signals when a Garmin head unit is not present. I find this is potentially most effective for ebike riders who would like the visibility of an active light system but don't want or need a dedicated head unit.
-Warns of vehicles approaching from behind up to 140meters!
-Tracks multiple objects behind the rider
-Can operate independently with a Varia head unit
-(Radar Only $199)
-Adjusts to changing light conditions as well as bike speed when paired with an Edge 1000/Varia Remote
-Varia Remote will also control pattern, intensity, and beam focus
-(Headlight Only $199)
-With two tail lights you can use them as turn indicators
-Varia Remote controls turn signals when paired with 2 tail lights(Garmin head unit not necessary)
-Has a brake light function using an accelerometer when coming to a stop
-(Taillight Only $69)
For those who are new to cycling the idea of being locked into your pedals can be daunting. Many people feel as though they are restricted and stifled without the ability to step off the pedals at any given time. This is understandable considering many non-enthusiast riders are riding at slower speeds with less emphasis on pedaling efficiency. Generally the beach cruiser they may have been riding before feels much more stable at the slower speeds because of the way the bike is designed. Part of feeling comfortable in clipless pedals is understanding that performance driven bikes, including road and mountain bikes, are designed to feel more stable at higher speeds.
First of all, "what are clipless pedals and when should I use them?"
Clipless pedals are pedals that can attach to a specialized set of cycling shoes using a spring clip and cleats which are affixed to those shoes. They are called “clipless” because in the past riders would use toe straps and metal toe “clips" to strap themselves into the shoes. Modern pedals do not use these toe clips hence the "clipless" moniker.
The pedals, whether they are one sided or dual sided, will generally have a similar mechanism to clip in. They come in a set of pedals and their corresponding cleats. The front of the cleat, which is the piece on the bottom of your shoe, will hook into the front part of the pedal and a spring clip will allow the cleat to be locked into the pedal. The spring clip will not allow the shoe to become detached in certain motions. To detach the shoe you simply rotate your foot out and the spring clip will release and eject the cleat! Easy peasy. Some of the pedals will also have a tension adjustment which will make it easier or harder to rotate your foot out of the spring clip. I recommend dialing the tension all the way down when you are learning so that you can learn the motions first.
Deciding when to use clipless pedals is entirely up to the user. The benefits of using them are apparent in performance driven riding but if you’re not racing then what’s the point? Nearly any type of riding can benefit from clipless pedals such as commuting, centuries, easy group rides, and easy solo rides too. The benefit doesn’t necessarily come from being able to pull up on the pedals but the ability to pedal harder without slipping off the pedals and being able to pedal in the same position consistently to reduce overuse injuries.
"How do I use them without falling over!"
The first thing you will want to practice is the actual action of clipping into the pedals. Starting from a standing position over the bike rotate one of the pedals to the bottom position. With your toes slightly pointed step into the pedal and put some weight into it. You should feel and hear a distinct click. If you are having a bit of trouble, make sure you are keeping the pedal at the bottom position and press into the pedal like you are squashing a bug. Unclipping is done by rotating your heel out. Clip and unclip several times on one side until you get used to the motion and sensation of clipping in and out.
After you are confident with the clip action, we are going to practice starting and stopping on the bike while clipped in. This would be best described as a “glide" since our goal here isn’t to sit down and clip into the other foot just yet. While one foot is clipped into the pedal push off and glide for a few feet and practice coming to a stop. Stay in a standing position over the bike while you glide with your foot ready to step down. It also helps to have your hands on the shifters so that you have access to the brakes. The benefit of practicing this gliding motion is that it simulates the starting and stopping motions you’ll need so that you are less likely to tip over.
After you are comfortable with gliding comes the time to put it all together. After clipping in with one foot and starting your glide make sure that you have enough speed to stay upright. Once you are sure that you have adequate speed you can step into the second pedal and start riding or sit down on the saddle and find the pedal to start riding. Either way would be effective and could be determined by your preference. Generally, riders will stay clipped in on the right side and unclip/step down on the left so that they don’t accidentally bump their greasy drivetrain.
Be sure to leave your comments and personal tips in the comments below!
With the third session of certification came a huge wave of information. While the old adage "Ride Fast, Turn Left" still applies it wasn't until I had a few laps under my belt that I really realized how big and strategic the world of track cycling could really be. In this last session there happened to be only three riders(including myself) in the class which allowed for more specific instruction and what I gathered to be more advanced concepts.
After forty laps of a rotating paceline for warm-up we started to work on seated and standing jumps from the top railing which is called "the balustrade". Jumps on the velodrome are when the rider accelerates on the track using the slope of the banked turns and straights to gain maximum speed. It's a great skill to have because it can be modified for use in mass start events and is usually used to its full extent during the Flying 200m. Something that I had not realized is that when you drop down from the balustrade you should be using the whole track to your advantage. Instead of dropping to the bottom of the track as quickly as possible you should reach the bottom of the track at the last possible moment to maximize the effect of the "downhill" while gaining speed.
Another cool skill we worked on was a team pursuit start. While this start is usually done via a standing start in blocks we opted to creep up to the start line and start on a countdown. Performing this kind of start and then seeing it performed by professionals makes it all that much easier to appreciate how difficult it can be. A great example of how easy it can look is in the video of Team Great Britain Setting a New Team Pursuit Record. Like holy crap. It shows the Australian national team getting into perfect alignment before the top of the turn. Our goal was just to get lined up before the end of the turn which wasn't too much of a challenge but it didn't look half as fluid.
Lastly, we practiced standing starts. Pro tip for starts on the track: Start with the left leg in front because when you press down on the pedals the bike will naturally drive itself up the track to the right. If you start with the right foot forward the bike will want to move down the track and it is harder to control. It was fairly difficult for me to give a near all out effort due to a crash earlier in the week however I still feel like my form was good considering it was my first experience with this discipline. I definitely hope that there aren't too many people showing up this next saturday but I also hope that more people decide to show up for the certification class!
Despite the general opinion of cycling, not every ride needs to be fast paced, lycra clad, or over mind boggling distances. For many people, just being able to incorporate bikes into their everyday life for short trips would suffice. This type of riding is more focused on a lifestyle of riding which doesn’t need to be dressed up and complicated with a lot of expensive tech you might see in performance bikes. Here are tips and ideas for including bikes into your everyday life
What kind of bike should I ride?
The type of bike isn’t the most important decision when trying to get outside and ride however there are a few things you may want to take into consideration. I would recommend a frame that can accept a rear rack so that you can take the loads of small errands and quick grocery trips off of your back and weighted evenly over the rear wheel. Attached to the rack could be a small box/basket or a pannier bag which can double as a reusable grocery bag. Whether or not the bike has gears is up to the rider. If there is some rolling terrain near your or might be carrying heavier loads then gears may suit you well. If you are just darting around for quick trips and want to keep the bike simple you can go with a single speed with a coaster brake or handbrake.
Where should I start?
I’ve found that keeping the trips short and manageable is the best way to start out. Trips under a 1 mile radius may not seem like a large distance at first but it is a reasonable distance to cover many local post offices, grocery stores, and such. It isn’t necessary to do all of your errands by bike when you start and when you start to increase your radius or the frequency of your trips make sure that you keep the distances reasonable. Some of the trips that I make on a semi-regular basis is picking up fresh bread and produce from local shops. When it comes to route selection staying off some of the larger streets is ideal. Taking neighborhood streets may take a bit longer but there will be less traffic and a more relaxed pace. It comes with the added bonus of exploring your neighborhood in a way that you might not have experienced in the past!
How much should I expect to spend?
There are options to go with a department store bike which could cost as little as $100-$150. However supporting your local bike shop and buying from them for a little more will give you several benefits. First off, the bike will be built by a professional in a shop where they may include a free tune up to cover the settling in period when you first start riding the bike. They will also have a good relationship with the manufacturer if there are any warranty issues. Pair all of that with the general knowledge of the shop and your experience will have a lot less guesswork and quality time out on the bike! Be sure to check your LBS for sales on city style bikes and even road hybrids.
Some companies that produce quality city style bikes are: Virtue Cycles, Linus, Public, and Retrospec. With a quick search you can find local dealers and even test ride a few bikes!
Accessories to make life on the bike easier:
My second session of velodrome certification was awesome. Right from the start we took all of the knowledge we gained from the first session and took it immediately onto the track. It was much more dynamic and a lot more exciting than the first session which was much more informative. On the first day we were only allowed to ride along the measurement line in the pole lane so that we got an idea of the speeds needed to stay upright on the banked turns. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable riding at the slower speeds but it gave me a good idea of how fast or slow I really could go and stick to the boards.
In this session we hopped into a paceline and practiced peeling off the front by riding up the banked turns while the rest of the gruppetto rides underneath. By the time it was my turn to lead for two laps it was actually the first time I was able to see the the track open and without another rider in my view. It was a huge rush of adrenaline dropping down from the balustrade(the top rail) into the straightaway. Even just riding along the balustrade without dropping all the way down for a sprint is like riding along some rolling hills.
I'm definitely excited to get into the third session of certification for more emphasis on the technical skills and develop the ones already covered.
Is there a happy medium within the Strava community or are all who use it doomed to abuse it?
Obsessive, addictive, overzealous, annoying. These are just a few words the cycling purists generally use to describe Strava and it's users. With constant reference to its addictive nature it seems like many people refer to the social training network as a schedule 1 drug. They preach the idea that it takes the focus of riding off of the ride itself and replaces it with a feeling of vacancy every time they aren’t able to capture an elusive KOM or even just a PR. The struggling Strava addict, according to these cycling purists, is any rider who uses this social platform and can’t seem to ride without it. The phrase “Strava, or it didn’t happen” has been uttered by many Strava users but is it said with serious intent or only jest? (/the user who dreads the Uh-oh email like a bad omen.)
On the polar end of the spectrum, the user who has a public account but doesn’t publicly upload may be seen as the responsible user of Strava. “Responsible” in the sense that are not seeking the kudos with cleverly titled rides or they may be keeping KOM hunting to a minimum. Reasons that someone might keep their rides private may be for location privacy preferences, training privacy for top level athletes, or simply just because they want to contribute to the kudos community but are too hipster too upload their ride and want to secret training ;) However to other users it seems to defeat the social purpose of the site as a whole.
So, where is the balance? Ideally, the user who uses it as a training tool and a measure of progress over the long term while keeping things like: KOM hunting, frequent use of the phrase “Strava or it didn’t happen, KOM Poaching, and/or sweating over the numbers on the ride Analyze page to a minimum may be the best balance of Strava use. Even then, some of the things that make Strava annoying to some can bring out the fun and competitive nature in others.
Just getting some thoughts out on my first experience on the boards.
It was the first of four introductory sessions to become certified to ride on the Carson Velodrome at the Velo Sports Center. The class was a mix of riders who have had some experience on the velodrome and riders who have zero experience. I am one of the riders who have absolutely zero experience on the velodrome so every single second was thrilling for me. No joke, the second I walked into the upper level that overlooks the the whole track I became quite giddy with a mix of excitement and maybe just a little bit of fear.
I should clarify. The ever so slight feeling of fear isn't such an accurate description of the emotion. It was moreso an overwhelming sense of awe at the size of the track and the bank of the curves. From my initial research about the Carson Velodrome it is described as being much taller and steeper than many of the velodromes in the country. The great thing about learning to ride on this particular velodrome is that it is built to international standards which means that if you know how to navigate and ride on this velodrome then you'll know how to handle yourself on any of the velodromes around the world that are built to the same specifications. This is important to many of the world-class athletes who train here because they need to be sure that their efforts and mindsets are repeatable while on the boards.
The first day was full of information on the riding etiquette and demystifying of the names and functions of the lines painted on the boards. Even with all of the research done beforehand the understanding of how to interpret the lines and how they function while riding is much easier understood when standing on the velodrome. After a good bit of instruction off the bike it was time to make the steady transition from the apron up to blue band then into the pole lane! The extent of the riding was done in that lower section without passing to the outside red sprinters lane. After a quick twenty laps my lesson was done for the day and I was left wanting more. I can't wait until the next session where we will be able to get some more time on the bike!