Thursday, February 16, 2017

Flatter Than Usual: Getting Pumped Up When Changing a Flat Tire

Flatter Than Usual: Getting Pumped Up When Changing a Flat Tire

If you're an avid cyclist, you've probably experienced the one thing that can really ruin a good ride, a flat tire.  Many new bike owners often skip the most important accessory with their new bike, the flat tire repair kit.  At The Caffeinated Cyclist, we often ask new bike customers if they are familiar with changing a flat and if they would like to know what what tools they need in order to change it.  The response is usually "I'll just call so and so to come pick me up" followed by a chuckle, or two.  But what happens when "so and so" doesn't pick up the phone and you're out in the middle of nowhere, what then? Being self sufficient is part of being a cyclist, I mean you wouldn't leave home without your water bottle's right? What would you do if you got thirsty?

I remember a road ride this past summer, I was on my lunch hour, and disaster struck twice.  My first flat left me on the corner of Breakneck road near Mantua TWP.  While I was changing my tube, I had plenty of drivers slow down to ask if I was OK, and needed any help. I told them I was fine and they moved along, not knowing what a tube changing ninja I was.  Before I put a fresh tube in, I checked my tire first to make sure whatever sharp object caused my flat wasn't still in there.  To my disappointment, I found a small cut in the tire.  At the moment, all I was thinking about was my hour of ride time slipping away and how this flat tire was to blame.  Luckily I keep a few glue less patches with me, and pressed one in the inside of the tire.  It looked like I would be well on my way as put the new tube in, closed up the tire, and slipped the wheel back into my trusty Cannondale.  I was back on the road again, and got a little sun tan in the process.

As I continued my shortened ride, I began to head back to work, and made sure I took some challenging hills along the way. Riding back into the town of Pitman, I headed up Cedar Ave and I felt the rim against the pavement.  It was the rear wheel again, so I knew it had to do with the hole I just patched on Breakneck.  I opened my saddle bag and pulled out my second tube, to fix my second flat. Since I used my only CO2 on the last flat, I had to break out the mini pump. But it was enough to get me cruising back to the store in one piece.  I couldn't recall the last time I had two flats in one ride, which was a good thing I guess. Nothing has come close to the 5 flats I had in one week, which included a tubular tire.  But since I was prepared with the proper flat tire kit, I wasn't left on the side of the road, on my phone, calling for help. 

If you're new to changing flat tires on your own, you can see an instructional video here staring yours truly. Remember, all it takes is a little confidence and some elbow grease to get back on the road again.  For updates on up coming flat tire seminars, stay tuned to our Facebook page for details.

Happy Riding!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Time To Ride: A Guide For New Parents

Time To Ride: A Guide For New Parents

I recently became a new Dad, and our new addition to the family has been a joy and a blessing.  The job of being a parent is a demanding one, so as a cyclist, finding time to ride was going to be a challenge.  I read an article in Bicycling Magazine about a new parent who was getting up in the middle of the night for diaper changes and bottle feedings, and couldn't fall back to sleep. He decided to use that time to go ride his bike instead of laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. He named the ride, "The Vampire" ride, because it was so early no one other than Nosferatu would be out on the streets.   As I read the article, I applauded his motivation, but realized that wasn't going to work for me.  Though "awake" at 3am, I wouldn't consider myself awake, more like a zombie and in no condition to pedal a bicycle. Stumbling in the dark to get to the nursery was enough of a workout for me, so I came up with a few solutions for myself to get some miles during the weekday.

 - Optimize Your Time:  Everyone's schedule is different, but there's always a free window in a busy schedule. Got a lunch? Don't sit at a break room stuffing your face with Cheetos thinking about a bike ride, go out and actually ride!  And make it count.  If you're a competitive bike racer, an hour is enough time to do interval training and still have time to cool down before heading back to work.  Non racers can benefit from the cardio, even a few short miles a day can add up by the end of the week. Just be sure to freshen up when you're done, no one likes a smelly co-worker.

-Planning Ahead:  Finding the right balance between work, family, and sport can be tough but all it takes is a little motivation and planning. I found that alternating weekends for group rides has been a success for me.  Talking to your spouse and working with a schedule makes it easier for you to ride. Don't be selfish, try to split the time with your riding buddies and the family as much as possible.

-Trainer Workouts: I have two options at home, a Cyclops Fluid 2 trainer and a set of rollers to choose from for riding inside.  I like to avoid riding indoors as much as possible, but since time is limited, they've been a lifesaver.  Since early mornings don't work well for me, evenings have been prime time to ride.   You don't need to spin for hours on the trainer, just do your workout, maybe an hour at the most and get off the bike.  It's also a good idea to give yourself time relax and unwind afterwards, or you'll never fall asleep.  

-Don't Stress: With all that it takes to care for a child, you can run yourself into the ground pretty easily.  Late nights, early mornings as well as all the other headaches during the day can stress your body out quickly.  My advice is to ride when can, and don't stress! If you have a consistent riding schedule during the week, you may have to alter it if things aren't going your way at home. Remember, riding a bike should always be an enjoyable experience!

-Get The Right Gear: Whether you're riding at night, or early in the morning, chances are you need appropriate gear to keep you safe and visible.  Making the investment in lights was a smart choice for me, since I wasn't riding with them before.  Cateye makes some of the best lights in the business, as well as NiteRider , Cygolite, Lupine and Light & Motion.  Did I mention you can find these systems at The Caffeinated Cyclist? Besides a good light system, the right clothing goes a long way.  There are plenty of brands to chose from, so if you're not sure, your local bike shop will gladly help you find what you need.

Now get out there and ride!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Beginning The Mountain Bike Ride

Last year we kicked off our beginner mountain bike ride to get new riders out together, learn some basic skills, but more importantly, to have fun.  It's easy to forget as an experienced rider how daunting navigating a log over can be without knowing how to approach it.  Often, new riders get discouraged when they ride with others who have more experience.  Usually because they work so hard to maintain the speed and agility that they never get to enjoy themselves. That's why we decided to offer a beginner ride for those looking for tips on how to ride the trails, and also meet new riders with the same ability.

Fall is the perfect time to mountain bike, in my opinion, mainly because I ride and race on the road the rest of the year and need a change of scenery.  The foliage is changing, the air is cool and crisp, and there's no wind to worry about.  It's a peaceful escape from the intense pace on the road, as well as all the crazy drivers we have in the area(thanks New Jersey).  In the winter months it can still be enjoyable and, personally, getting on the indoor trainer and staying inside the entire winter isn't that much fun. If you can get outside, do it!

Our Saturday morning routine brought a big crowd New Years Eve weekend.  Dressed in my Castelli and Pearl Izumi gear, I headed out to the ride on my Cannondale mountain bike. We had more than fifteen riders, all at the beginner level looking to have a great time.  There was even a husband and wife with a friend that were unfamiliar with the trails, and joined us so they could learn some skills and the trail system. We did a quick check list with the new riders, making sure their brakes worked perfectly and their tire pressure was set, and off we went! We rode our Cannondale bikes through the trails and along the way we practiced some log overs, cornering, and I answered any questions they had. There were some spills, some thrills, but in the end everyone was having fun. And that's really where great experiences begin.