Carrying things while riding

Long distance riders have special demands for carrying nutrition and gear. For longer rides, a couple of gels and your pump in the jersey pockets won't always cut it.

You will wind up carrying extra food, additional energy drink mix, a patch kit and/or extra tube(s) or if you ride on tubulars, a complete spare tire. Minimal tools are also necessary, usually a multitool will do the trick. Depending on the weather, you may want to bring some extra sunscreen or chamois cream. You may also need room to store items of clothing that you take off after a while, such as arm warmers, or only need intermittently, e.g. rain jacket.

There are two different places to carry things: on your bike or on your body.

On the bike:

- handlebar bag

- rear rack (trunk/panniers)

On the body:

- in jersey pockets and under the hem of your shorts

- daypack

- lumbar pack

Handlebar bag: usually won't work with aero bars, which a lot of ultracyclists use. I used to have a small one that came with the bike until I added clip-on aero bars. Advantages: everything is right there in front of you for easy access while riding. This is a really nice feature, and one that I miss. Some models come with a clear plastic flap that you can put a map or cue sheet in. Does not negatively affect aerodynamics. Disadvantages: the one I used had really stiff zippers and was difficult to open while riding without sending me across the road. Depending on the mounting system and size of the bag, it may conflict with your aero bars, bike computer, shift cables, or lights. Additionally, you also run the risk of being called a Randonneur instead of an Ultracyclist (1).

Rear rack: added weight to the bike, most carbon fiber frames don't have rack attachment points and p-clips can cause damage and premature wear to the frame. Might be considered overkill. There are rear racks available that attach directly to the seatpost. There are weight limits for these but they can be a good option if you only want a rear rack on part of the time.

As far as carrying on your body goes, if you don't mind the weight on your body you can also get quite a bit stuffed into your jersey pockets and in the thigh of your shorts. Gel packets are a good option for this location. You can also stuff a bottle or two down the back of your jersey, depending on how snug your jersey fits it should stay in place.

Daypack: plenty of carrying capacity. Can include a water bladder for in-flight refueling (e.g. the CamelBak line). Pretty much precludes easy access to jersey pockets, but you could still store soft flat things in your jersey pockets; disposable gel packets and other soft goods would be a good choice.

Lumbar pack: rides lower than a backpack. Usually doesn't have a water bladder, but a few do. Usually include space for extra water bottles. Also precludes easy access to jersey pockets.

I use a day-pack for commuting, and a lumbar pack for rides. The day-pack I have is a Gregory Z30. There are so many different options available for day packs that you really just need to go to a store (I recommend REI). Some things to look for: sternum strap, breathable mesh back, small pockets on the hip belt are nice for storing cell phone/mp3 player or lip balm, and side pockets for water bottle or coffee thermos. Make sure to try the pack on and weight the pack with what you think you your average load will be. I selected the Z30 due to the stand-off mesh back which lifts the pack entirely off your back, similar to an Aeron chair.

The lumbar pack I have is a Mountainsmith Tour with the Strapette accessory. The advantage of this setup is that there is sufficient carrying capacity, and the pack rides low on the back allowing ventilation. I adjust the hip belt so that it's snug, and leave the chest straps a little loose. The shoulder straps are pretty much a requirement, they will keep the pack centered on the small of your back instead of sliding off to one side. On the few rides so far with this setup, I really didn't notice the weight and the straps did not interfere with breathing.

As with backpacks, the idea is to cinch the hip belt so that it takes the majority of the load. The shoulder straps are mostly for stabilization. Although this is less of an issue while bike riding due to posture, you do not want significant weight hanging on your shoulders. You also really want a sternum strap. It doesn't need to be snug, it just needs to take up the slack so your shoulder straps won't part and slide off.

On the Tour I put two Platypus bottles (bags? baggles?) in the side water bottle holsters. I am a big fan of the Platypus products, usually even if I don't think I'll need it I'll go ahead and throw a filled bottle in the lumbar pack. Personally, I only put water in the Platypus; I'm a bit concerned about the ease of cleaning and wouldn't want something sitting in there and fermenting/achieving sentience. I have the several 1L and a few .75L bottles, the 1L is probably more useful because you store a bit more than a large water bottle, if you're really thirsty you fill your water bottle and then chug the remainder. If you put the bottle in an outside pocket, make sure you secure it to your pack with a carbiner or similar. When the bottle is empty, just roll it up and store it.


(1) This is an attempt at humor. I am not a professional humorist, nor do I portray one on television. Since my day job is not in the humor industry, there is the distinct possibility that my attempt failed. Please accept my most humble apology for besmirching the reputation of all humorists, satirists, jokers, jesters, comedians, and Randonneurs everywhere.



Hardest ride of my life (so far)

Well, today I did a century. It was a pretty flat century. Nonetheless, I could barely average 15 MPH riding time. I have been sick a lot this winter. I hadn't been on the bike since Feb 2nd and yesterday I went and did a pretty intense (for me) hill climb ride. As a result, when I started the century I literally was already on empty.

Fortunately, Kevin wouldn't let me quit. Thank goodness he wasn't out to make any set time/speed, he just wanted to do his 100 miles.

One mistake I made was when we stopped for lunch, I had a sandwich and some fries but didn't get anything to drink. I wound up being really thirsty on the ride back. I should have chugged down a big soda, the sugar & caffeine would have helped too.

I guess it's good that I didn't quit and finished the century. But I certainly tried to quit.




cleaning & detailing your bike

I'll be the first to admit that this is a lot of work. But I'm unemployed so I have the time.

Even though I always use an SRAM master link for my chains, I still rarely remove it from the bike. I use a Pedro's Chain Cleaning tool. Frugality tip: purchase a gallon jug of citrus degreaser from Home Depot or Lowes; it's a lot cheaper than what you'll get at your LBS and it's the exact same stuff.

As you're washing, take the time to look for signs of rust and wear. Do you see any red (iron oxide) deposits seeping from the headset or other places? Something is rusting inside and needs to be re-lubed.


- bucket

- brushes (I am happy with the Park brush kit)

- dish-washing sponge (the yellow ones that have green Scotchbrite on one side). Note: do NOT use the Scotchbrite side on CF frames or wheels. It is only for wheels with aluminum rims

- car-washing mitt

- Simple Green cleaner

- citrus degreaser

- chain-cleaning machine; the one I have is from Pedro's and it's lasted me a couple years now with no signs of breaking down.

Washing Procedure:

  1. Put the bike in your workstand
  2. Starting at the top (include the handlebars) pour water on the bike. I use a hose without any nozzle, just soak the bike. This helps to remove all the salts from your sweat, the sugar from spilled drinks, and the snot rocket blowback from the doofus ahead of you on the group ride the other day.
  3. Using a soft brush, lightly remove as much dirt and road debris as possible, working from top to bottom and using water from the hose to flush the dirt away
  4. After you give the bike it's first once-over, fill the chain cleaner with your desired degreaser dujour and clean the chain
  5. Remove the chain cleaner and use the sproke brush to clean the cogs. You will also want to clean the derailleur pulleys. Make sure to clean both sides of the pulleys. To get easier access to the wheel-side of the pulleys shift the rear derailleur to the small cog and put the front on the big ring.
  6. After you're done with the chain cleaner, give the chain, crankset, and both derailleurs a very thourough rinsing.
  7. Soak the mitten in water and then pour some Simple Green on it. Go over the bike from top to bottom again and as soon as you get to the bottom, start rinsing thouroughly from top to bottom.
  8. Clean the wheels. If you have aluminum wheels, use the Scotchbrite side to scrub the inside of the rim and especially the brake track. Do not use Scotchbrite on any other surface that belongs to your bike.
  9. Remove the wheels. Clean the inside top of the fork, the wheel-side of the brakes, the inside of the fork blades and if you have fenders what the heck, go ahead and give the inside of those a quick wipe too. Where the rear wheel used to be, get the inside of the seat and chainstays and also the inside of the brakes.
  10. Clean the braking surface of the brake pads. Using an awl make sure to get all the grit out of the grooves. Feel for any embedded grit and remove it with a sharp knife (e.g. X-Acto).
  11. Using old (but clean) rags dry the bike off. Make sure the rags are clean, you don't want them to have any embedded grit that may scratch the finish of your nice bike.
  12. Dry the wheels and put them back on
  13. Dry the chain. Some people use an old hair dryer or a heat gun. I tried this once, didn't think too highly of the method. I'm still trying to figure out a good way to dry the chain other than air-drying, which has a tendency to leave some rust spots on the chain.
  14. Lube the chain according to your normal procedure. I recently got a tube of Dumonde oil and I'm really happy with it. I was using Triflow year-round and finally realized that it simply isn't sufficient for riding in rainy PNW winters (or rainy fall, or rainy spring, and quite often rainy summers. But I'm not bitter...)
  15. Work the lube in. Heck, sometimes I'll do a 10-minute roller session, especially if there is some other concurrent mechanical work going on, e.g. derailler tension adjustment.
  16. Make sure to wipe off all excess lubricant from the chain.

You're all done, now go ride your bike!


The Joy of Wrenching*

There's nothing like working on your bike in the garage with the door open on a rare sunny Saturday morning.

The local classical station has opera on every Saturday morning. I fired up the espresso machine, cranked up the opera and got busy wrenching. It didn't matter that all I was doing was throwing on a pair of clip-on aerobars; even though I wasn't hand-brazing a Columbus tubing frame it was still a blast, even though I didn't understand a single word of the opera.

* wRenching, not Wenching. Although that can certainly be fun matey.



My first double-century

Well, I was just going through my rides and was fondly thinking of the great weather this last summer and some of my favorite rides.

My first double-century was on Sep 14th, 2010. I started at 5:55am and got back to my car shortly before 9:30pm. Total bike time was 12:28, average speed was 16.3 MPH.

I utilized the alarm function of the Edge 500 to beep every 15 minutes (every 10 minutes for the last few hours of the ride) to remind me to consume fluids and nutrition.

I stopped for supper on the way back in Jefferson. This is a little town that I never heard of before but I sure seem to ride through a lot.

During the ride I consumed the following: 2 bottles cytomax, 4 x 2-hour bottles perpetuem, 4+ bottles plain water, 1 qt Gatorade, 3 Cliff mojo bars, 1 pkg Cliff Shot Bloks, 1 BLT with potato salad, Sanpellegrino Limonata soda (my favorite) and half a mocha. The Shot Bloks didn't sit too well in the tummy, but I think that's because I consumed the entire package while resting at the half-way point. Normally I only consume one or two at a time and they don't cause me any problems.

I took the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway south to just past Albany and turned around near OSU.

Here are some photos:


A rail bridge over a pretty creek


It's hard to see in the photo but the sign on the telephone pole says "no fishing". You think?


Marge Simpson in Jefferson (right next to the cafe where I had supper)


A pretty farm pond


Laws yes! M-O-O-N spells moon!

This ride was a lot of work. When I got back home I went to bed, probably too quickly. I don't remember if I ate well before bed, but I definitely remember getting massive cramps. Odd thing is that I didn't have any cramping problems while I was on the bike.



Mountain Home/Haugens Road


One of my favorite training rides. Haugens Rd. is a great way to work on hill climbs. Plenty long, and it's a constant rise, absolutely no rest.

This was my first ride on a compact crank, I went from a 52/39. This made a huge difference in perceived exertion going up hill. I was able to spin while sitting for most of the climbs, whereas the previous chainrings had me standing for the majority of the time. Somehow I trimmed 11 minutes off the previous time I rode this route, just less than two weeks ago. My current cassette is 12-25, I'll probably get a 11-tooth cog but don't foresee any other necessary changes.

sunny spring field w/wood smoke

A sunny spring meadow, smoke from someone's wood stove.

Mt. Hood over marsh near sunset

That's Mt. Hood in the distance.

It was a gorgeous sunny spring day, but it got real cold real quick as the sun went down.