Tag Archives: #nextadventure

Happy New Years as you begin 2018, we hope its you best year yet! Start the year off right with a resolution to do more biking like this father/son duo, in the photo at last years Arctic Fever Fat Tire Race, in Excelsior, MN.

Bike Pic Jan 1, father son duo plans for the Arctic Fever Fat Tire Race

Happy New Years as you begin 2018, we hope its you best year yet! Start the year off right with a resolution to do more biking like this father/son duo, in the photo at last years Arctic Fever Fat Tire Race, in Excelsior, MN.

Join us there January 13th, then, see all the other places to explore in 2018 by downloading the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide

Thanks for viewing Today’s 2018 Fat Tire Race Pic

Now rolling into our 11th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more destinations you can have fun at we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. As you scroll through the information and stories we have posted, enjoy!

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com. Include a brief caption (for each), of who is in the photo (if you know?) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger, to be considered. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the latest  Bike Guide, mobile friendly as we enter into our 9th year of producing print and digital guides.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. Please share all our pic’s with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the next corner with a HFB camera ready to document your next move while you are riding and having fun. Capturing you in one of our next ‘Pic of the Day’ posts.

Have a great day and a memorable new year!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. You don’t fall off unless you plan to stop pedaling.” ~ Claude Pepper. No matter what you do in life, keep on pedaling. The destination is worth all the roadblocks and forks on the trail.

Bike Pic Dec 1, Pedaling Through Life, Reach That Destination

“Life is like riding a bicycle. You don’t fall off unless you plan to stop pedaling.” ~ Claude Pepper. No matter what you do in life, keep on pedaling. The destination is worth all the roadblocks and forks on the trail.

Planning your #NextBikeAdventure? View the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide and remember to register for the Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour.

Thanks for viewing Today’s Pedaling Through Life Bike Pic

Now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more place to have fun we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. As you scroll through the information and stories we have posted, enjoy.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com. Include a brief caption (for each), of who is in the photo (if you know?) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing the guide.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. Please share all our picks with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the next corner with one of our camera’s ready to document your next move while you are riding and having fun. We may capture you in one of our next Pic of the Day posts.

Have a great day!

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Bike Pic Nov 23, Wishing Everyone a Memorable and Safe Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a memorable and safe Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. After that big turkey dinner get outside and burn off a few calories before dessert is served.

Wish eveWishing everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving with family and friends.ryone a happy and safe Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving with family and friends.

As upper Midwest bike riders are changing their gear to winter activities, including fat biking, ice fishing, skiing, snowshoeing and other cold weather sports, see all the places to explore in the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, after the holidays!

Thanks for viewing the Wishing Everyone a Memorable Thanksgiving Pic

Now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more place to have fun we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. As you scroll through the information and stories we have posted, enjoy.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com. Include a brief caption (for each), of who is in the photo (if you know?) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing the guide.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. And don’t forget to smile, while you are riding and having fun. We may capture you in one of our next photos that we post daily.

Have a great day!

While we cant stop the cold from hitting soon, get out and discover how fun it is to fatbike.

Learning to fatbike for fitness and fun as winter soon returns

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

As the winter winds begin to shift and blow into our office, here in Minnesota, thoughts turn toward the snow covered trails. We are lucky here to enjoy a massive amount of trails that are designed for winter riding. But if you are like me and new to the whole fatbiking thing, how do you get into it and what should you expect?

The fatbike

Fatbikes are more like normal mountain bikes than you may think. As an example, the only parts unique to most fat tired bikes are the crank, tires and wheels. Other than those things, all the other parts are interchangeable with you normal mountain bike. That being said, the parts that make a fat tired bike different are responsible for their namesake. The large wheels and tires give these fatbikes their flotation on soft surfaces like snow and sand. There are now several brands available at most price points so getting into the sport has never been easier. Plus many bike shops offer rental programs.

Interbike E Bike

The Surface Boar is as versatile as it is cool fatbike

The fatbike ride

The best part about a fatbike is that it extends your season with an all new cycling experience. For the most part, when snow was falling, people were kept from riding. Now, with so many fat tired bike options, a thick layer of the white stuff simply means more riding for all! With 4”-5” wide tires and pressures as low as 4psi, a fatbike can easily navigate deep snow. The only issue you will run into is ice. An icy surface doesn’t really care how wide the tire is, it’s still slippery. Once a trail gets slick it’s best to either change your tires to studded versions, or install studs in your existing tires. With studs below you, the game is back on.

Studded (left) and standard (right) fatbike tires

The Gear

I find the hardest part of fatbiking is dressing properly. I am no stranger to winter riding, but most of that has been commuting. Once I got off road, I found that I was chronically overdressed. Off road riding is slower than commuting, so there is less wind chill to contend with. Additionally, I find it is a higher effort (more calories spent) to fatbike than to commute. When winter riding make sure your feet and hands are warm with good gloves and winter shoes. I also find you should wear warm cycling clothes that will wick the moisture away and resist the urge to wear too much clothing.

While I can’t stop the cold from hitting Minnesota, I can prepare for winter riding. Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the winter.

While we cant stop the cold from hitting soon, get out and discover how fun it is to fatbike.

Having Fun

The most fun part of riding a fatbike is experiencing an existing trail you may have used before, in a new way.  With a fresh coat of snow on the ground, features that may normally be difficult get smoothed out and sections that are typically easy, can become difficult. That change in perspective gives all new life to trails that may have become old and commonplace to you. So get out there and try fatbiking this winter.

Beyond the great construction and performance, there are also conversational reasons to choose Headsweats for your next hat.

Headsweats is helping protect National Parks through custom caps

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

While strolling the isles of Interbike, there were many brands offering headwear to keep you comfortable, but none as interesting as Headsweats. Beyond the great construction and performance, there are also conservational reasons to choose a brand like this.

Headsweats the product

What sets Headsweats apart from other caps is their primary material, Eventure fabric. Eventure can be manipulated to make a textile that can be warm in one configuration or cool in another. Additionally, they can have the material feel very soft on your skin or be incredibly durable. So thanks to that fabric, Headsweats can make all sorts of caps.

Headsweats’ offers a wide range of caps

The fit

Fit for their caps is easy. They have versions that tie, flex fit versions and Velcro style closures. Once on, you will notice the sweatband (included on all caps) is soft and comfortable against your skin. Once you start sweating, these caps show why they are so popular. Within the band there is a sweat absorption ring that pulls sweat away from your eyes, then allows that sweat to evaporate three-times faster than cotton.

A Headsweat cause

Headsweats started a National Parks program in order to give back to the national parks we all enjoy.  20% of the sale of every national park hat gets donated to the parks. This season they have Katmai, Golden Gate, Rockies, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier national parks. Additionally,  at Interbike they were showing an International Mountain Bike Association cap and donated proceeds to IMBA.

Glacier, Golden Gate, and Grand Canyon Hats

Why should you buy one?

With about a million different styles, there is no situation Headsweats doesn’t have covered. On top of the expansive line, they also have all sorts of colors and patterns available to match your personal style. Even if none of their designs tickle your fancy, Headsweats can produce custom caps for you and your team.

If you look between the isles at Interbike you can see the future. I’m excited to say, when it comes to bicycles, children's bikes are the future.

Interbike’s Cascade of Clever Concepts for Children’s Bikes

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

If you look between the isles of Interbike (figuratively) you can see the future. I’m excited to say, when it comes to bicycles, children’s bikes are the future. Interbike had loads of unique and exciting bikes, accessories and programs for all the little riders out there.

Children’s bikes are the future

Most bicycle companies make kids bikes as part of their overall line, but very few make only kids bikes. Frog Bicycles exclusively produces children’s bicycles and was born out of a doctoral thesis on proper fit for kids bikes in England. Through exhaustive testing, it was found that children need a more unique bike fit than what the standard bike offers. Frog used that exhaustive research to develop their first bicycles and has been flying down the road ever since. Through clever frame design they are able to build bikes that fit kids with almost no proprietary parts. This leaves no concerns about replacing any hard to find bits if little Timmy breaks anything. Additionally, all the Frog Bikes are tested to adult standards rather than the less demanding children’s standards. Hopefully that can give you some peace of mind as your child’s body and abilities grow.

Frog Bicycles are making children’s bikes more comfortable through smart design.

Parts for kid’s bikes

While most of us aren’t going to start pulling our kid’s bikes apart to upgrade them with fancy components, there are plenty of high performance products available. One of the great things about your bike shop attending Interbike is, if they look closely, they can see things that aren’t readily available now, but will show up on production bikes the following year.

This lightweight suspension fork is made by Kay Xin Technologies for 20″ wheeled kid’s bikes

As I combed the Isles of manufacturers, it was impossible to miss suspension forks designed to meet the specific needs of smaller riders, brakes that allow children to easily control their bicycles and cranks and pedals made for smaller feet and legs.

Teaching them young

Project Bike Tech is a new program designed to getting school aged kids in front of a bicycle with a wrench in their hands. By working with local schools, they develop programs that tach kids engineering, and mechanical skills through bicycle maintenance. Although this program is in very few schools, it has been in existence for over ten years, and has introduced over 3000 students to the cycling industry.

A student of the Project Bike Tech learning to adjust a hub bearing

Sharing the experience

On top of all the products for kids, there were also ample ways to carry your kids along for the ride. Tern Bicycles showed their GSD, a new folding E-bike built with the capability of carrying your kids on the back. Additionally, Burley trailers had their line of children’s trailers on display.

Super fun on the Tern GSD

You can also see our recent article Kid’s Bikes; Why they are different and what’s best for your kids.

If you look between the isles of Interbike (figuratively) you can see the future. I’m excited to say, when it comes to bicycles, kid's bikes are the future.

If you look between the isles of Interbike you can see the future. I’m excited to say, its kid’s bikes.

 

 

In the western part of Bloomington MN you will find Hyland Park with over 1,000 acres of parkland act as the Twin Cities best destination for active families, recreational riders, and beach goers.

Enjoying the nearly endless possibilities of Hyland Park

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In the western part of Bloomington Minnesota over 1,000 acres of parkland act as the Twin Cities best destination for active families, recreational riders, and beach goers. The Hyland Park Reserve encompasses over 8 miles of paved bike path, A family friendly beach, breathtaking prairies, a Ski resort, seven miles of cross country ski trails, a spectacular playground, and countless other attractions. Read on to learn about what possibilities you could explore.

Biking Hyland Park

While not a loop, the trail system in Hyland Park is well laid out to get you to every corner of the park. However, there are small loops within the trail system. The trails in the southernmost part of the park loops around through dense forest and winds along the Hyland Lake. As you move further north, the trails navigate through the most developed portion of the park, passing the Shoots and Ladders Playground and the visitor center. While traveling north, Hyland park reveals it’s true beauty while sending you through vast prairies. In the northernmost part of the park, the trails pass under the shadow of the Hyland Ski and Snowboard area. Even though the trails pass through very different topography, they all are well maintained, relatively flat, and wide enough to offer comfortable riding for all ability levels.

Attractions

Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area

The Hyland Ski area is a downhill ski area with two terrain parks, Ski jumps and a park featuring an 18-hole disc golf course. Through the winter, it is a popular place for lessons and cold weather sports for metro area residents. In the summer, the park periodically operates it’s lifts for mountaintop concerts, bonfires and general outdoor merriment.

Shoots and Ladders Playground

Tucked into the middle of Hyland Park is the most amazing playground you could imagine. It’s tallest 3 story tall tower soars over scores of other structures amassed to put your kids in a state of playground frenzy. Most surfaces are covered in soft rubber, woodchips, or sand offering safe areas for kids of all ages. The park is open to all two-legged creatures, but please leave your four legged friends at home. Additionally, when the mercury rises Shoots and Ladders has a water misting play area for the kids and enormous umbrellas over the picnic areas for he parents.

Richardson Nature Center

Hidden in the dense foliage of Hyland Park is the Richarson Nature Center, a stunning natural gateway for visitors young and old. After parking in their ample lot, stroll a few feet down the path up to the nature center. The center is a two story home to Raptors (upstairs) and amphibians (downstairs). They have classrooms and events in the center throughout the year for anyone looking to learn more about the ecosystem. One of the best parts of the Richardson Nature Center is the kids park they have cleared just down the path. In an open area of forest, kids can build forts and structures with deadfall collected from around the park.

Bush Lake Beach

While not technically in Hyland Park, Bush Lake Beach sits adjacent to Hyland. It is a man-made sand beach on the east shore of Bush Lake. The entrance to the beach just off East Bush Lake Road and just south of the Richardson Nature Center. Through the summer season, you can purchase a one day or season pass for parking. The Aquatic Center at Bush Lake Beach has a snack area and great bathroom amenities.

Year-Round Fun

What is best about Hyland Park is the number of events it has. Throughout the year Hyland Park schedules outdoor and indoor fun for every kind of nature lover. I’ve enjoyed the “Movie Nights on the Hill” a few times and the 4h of July celebration is spectacular. I strongly recommend making the Hyland Park your first stop, when planning an outdoor excursion.

Find more information about this park and the many other fun activities Bloomington has to offer, here.

Riding to school can be easy with these tips and tricks

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

All around the country, bike paths are being built as quickly as possible. Many of these paths are routed from neighborhoods to nearby schools in an effort to get more kids riding to school. To get your kids riding to school safely and comfortably look at our helpful tips below.

Riding to school safely starts with a helmet

First and foremost, a well-fitting helmet cuts down the risk of serious injury by half. As a result, helmets are the single most important piece of cycling gear for kids. Sadly, many bicyclists under the age of 14, are not riding with a helmet that fits properly. As an example, a well-fitting helmet will be snug on the rider’s head. When fitted properly, the strap toggles should be located about a ½ inch below the ear lobe with the chin strap tight enough to hold the helmet on your head, but not so tight it chokes you. Important to realize, is that helmets lose effectiveness over time, so review its production date. Therefore, be sure to consult the manufacturers recommendations for when to replace your existing helmet.

Why is riding to school good.

There are tons of organizations that encourage children to exercise. In the US, child obesity is a real issue, and any activity goes a long way to help. In studies, it is shown that activity before school increased attention span, boosted mood, improved fitness and BMI. And it only took one ride to start to see those results! In fact, based off these results, Specialized Bicycles have invested a substantial amount of resources to develop programs for kids suffering with ADHD to substitute exercise for medication with great results. Overall, the quick trips of riding to school help kids kickstart their metabolism, gain focus, and learn valuable skills.

Bike Maintenance and safely

Be sure that your child is comfortable on their bicycle and it is sized properly. Bikes that are too small or too large are difficult for children to control. If you have concerns about the fit, visit your local bike shop to have the bike adjusted.Verify that the brakes work, tires are inflated and controls are tight. Be sure that your child can squeeze the brake levers easily and stop the bike. Additionally, kids bikes are required to be sold with reflectors on the bars, seatpost, wheels, and pedals. Those reflectors should be considered the most basic level of visibility. Add to that visibility, by having your kids wear brightly colored clothes, installing lights and a flag on the bike. With young kids try to avoid riding at night or at twilight.

Riding skills

Teaching basic skills can be fun and easy. Find a flat section of low grass (like a high school football field) and have them practice riding with one hand off the bar. Use the Board Trick to learn how to handle riding over obstacles. When riding a bicycle on the road, you are required to follow posted traffic laws as well as signal your directions. Teach your kids the basics of signaling turns and navigating on roads.

Riding to the right is the most basic rule of riding on sidewalks and bikepaths. What is more important than that rule is the courtesy of riding around others. Being courteous is the best way to make sure everyone has fun. It’s tempting for kids to try and bring a phone or iPod on a ride with them. Those distractions are a detriment to your child’s safety. Keep your digital toys in a backpack or better yet at home.

 Figuring out the course

For your kids to be comfortable riding to school, it is very important that they are familiar and comfortable with the route. An easy way to practice the route is on the weekends. Weekends are free from school traffic and give plenty of time to explore alternate routes. Look for clear roads and intersections with lighted crosswalks. Even if the route is not the most direct, as long as it is safe and clear your child can feel comfortable. Additionally, try to avoid large hills (either up or down) as not to exhaust your kids.

Locking the bike during class

With the route, and skills covered, let’s talk about how to keep the bike safe during the school day. The easiest way to protect your bike is to lock it up properly. Locking a bike in the same place for extended periods of time makes it a target for theft. The best locks are also some of the heaviest and burdening your child with that weight as well as the weight of school books is not an option. For that reason, I recommend you lock your lock to the bike rack and leave it there rather than carrying it back and forth each day. Periodically lubricating the lock mechanism will keep your lock working well year-round.

Putting it all together

After teaching your kids how to ride, equipping them, and working to create a safe course, continue to reinforce all those things throughout the school year. Evaluate their equipment frequently to ensure its working properly. Additionally, ride with them to reinforce their signaling and riding safe. Finally, be cognizant of traffic patterns as the year progresses. Above all else, make riding to school fun, your kids will appreciate it.

 

Tips and Tricks to Adjust Your Bike’s Rear Derailleur

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

It goes by many names, the rear derailleur. It is also known as the “s,” the “hangdown,” or the mech. Here in the U.S. we refer to it as the rear derailleur. The device that moves your bike’s chain from gear to gear letting you traverse hills with ease. Even though derailleurs are sturdy and relatively maintenance free, they do require attention occasionally. Look below for the step by step instructions on how to adjust your bike’s rear derailleur.

 Rear Derailleur Terminology

Twist shifter – A shifting device that rotates around the handlebar like the throttle of a motorcycle.

Trigger shifter – A Shifter that activates by pushing or pulling a set of paddles with your thumb and index finger.

STI shifters – Technical this stands for Shimano Total Integration and speaks directly about one brands type of road bike shifter, but it has become the generic term for any drop bar shifter/brake lever combo.

Thumb shifter – A shifter that can be mounted in many places like; the stem, bar end, brake lever, or top of the bar. These shifters are the most rudimentary type of shifter, and operate by simply actuating a lever with your thumb.

Derailleur parts

(A) Jockey Wheels- two small wheels on the derailleur on which the chain run. They are mounted onto the derailleur cage

Limit screws- The limit screws control the area of motion a derailleur has. On most derailleurs there are three limit screws: the upper limit, Lower limit, and B-limit. The upper limit screw sets the maximum distance the derailleur can shift in high gears. The lower limit screw sets the maximum distance the derailleur can shift in the lower gears. The B-limit screw sets the distance the upper jockey wheel sits from the cogs.

(B) Barrell adjuster – This is an adjustment device on the back of most derailleurs. It is the area where the derailleur cable enters the derailleur and can increase or decrease the cable tension by threading it in and out.

(C) Pinch bolt – The pinch bolt is where the derailleur cable gest secured.

(F) Derailleur hanger – The portion of the bike frame where the rear derailleur is mounted.

Rear Derailleur

Not defined above is the Upper Knuckle (E), and lower knuckle (D)

Is everything straight?

The cogs your rear derailleur shifts across can have as little as 2.14 millemeters of spacing between them. Considering the spacing is so narrow, look to see that everything is aligned properly before you start adjusting your rear derailleur in vain. Look first at the derailleur itself from behind. You should be able to see if the derailleur itself is aligned properly. A tell-tale sign of damage is when the two Jockey wheels don’t line up with the cogs or each other (see picture).

Next assure that the derailleur hanger is aligned properly. This is easily seen when the derailleur appears straight, but not in line with the cogs. Consequently, if either the derailleur or derailleur hanger are bent, it’s best to take it into your local shop for a remedy.

Step 2, A man has got to know his limitations

Before attempting to adjust the derailleur properly, set its usable range. First, loosen the pinch bolt and let the derailleur run on the smallest cog. Next, pedal forward while visually and audibly inspecting how the chain runs on the smallest cog. The chain should run smoothly without any clicking, or skipping noises. If it runs smoothly, don’t worry about the upper limit. when you do experience skipping or noise, look closely at how the chain runs on the cog (looking from behind is easiest). If the chain isn’t coming directly off the upper jockey wheel and going straight onto the small cog you need to adjust the upper limit. By threading the limit in or out you can adjust where the derailleur sits in relation to that smallest cog (note: the limit screws don’t need to get “tightened” down, they simply act as a stop for the derailleur).

Once the upper limit is set, pedal forward and push on the derailleur lower knuckle until it moves the chain into the largest cog. If the chain has issue getting into the largest cog, or jumps over that cog into the wheel spokes, you need to adjust the lower limit screw in a similar fashion to the upper limit screw.

Rear Derailleur Tension

With the limits set, you can now move on to tightening the cable and trying to shift. Make sure the shifter is in its lowest gear by shifting down while gently pulling on the shift cable. With the shifter in its lowest position, ensure all housing ends are settled into the frame properly then pull the cable taught through the derailleur.  With the cable taught, tighten the derailleur pinch bolt onto the cable. Trim any excess cable so that only about one inch of cable extends beyond the pinch bolt and crimp it off as not to fray.

While pedaling, shift one gear up. Ideally, the chain will easily move from the smallest cog up to the next cog. It should stay on the second cog and run quietly and smoothly. If it hesitates to get to the second cog, increase cable tension by rotating the barrel adjuster out. If you cannot increase tension enough with 3 or 4 turns of the barrel adjuster, thread it back in, loosen the cable pinch bolt, pull the cable taught, and tighten the pinch bolt again. Once you have the chain shifting up the cogs easily, check to see if it will smoothly move back down the cog stack by shifting from the largest cog down and inspecting. The only difference is in the adjustment. If the chain hesitates to move down the gears, turn the barrel adjuster in (relieving cable tension).

Rear Derailleur Trouble shooting

What happens if you can get the chain to move up the cogset well, but can’t get it to move back down the cogset easily. In some cases, the cable and housing can be corroded and causing drag. This drag won’t affect the shifting moving up the gear set, but it will stop the derailleur from returning. In tis case, you can clean and lube the cables and housing, or just replace the cable and housing all together.

Additionally, there may be a grinding/banging noise in only the largest cog. That noise is caused by the upper jockey wheel running on the largest cog. To remedy this, tighten the b-limit screw until the noise subsides.

Finally, a common problem is if you get skipping while pedaling up steep grades or under load. If your derailleur is adjusted properly, and you’re getting skipping, it may be related to a worn out drivetrain. As your chain ages, it stretches slightly. As the chain stretches, the front face of the gears will wear in unison with the chain stretching. Once the chain stretches beyond the point where it will mesh with the gears, you will experience skipping under load.

Working on your own bike is fun. Also, your appreciation for the technology and engineering that goes into what is considered a simple machine will grow with each turn of the wrench. Periodically, you will run into a problem you cannot solve. If that is the case, bring your bike to your local shop, talk honestly with the mechanic about what you tried and what you are trying to accomplish. As a result, you will find that most mechanics will be happy to teach you what you need to know.

 

Road Bike Hacks: Descending with Confidence and Skill on Your Road Bike

What goes up must come down. Descending on your road bike can be fun and safe if you learn some basic skills.

Weight down

If you have ever watched a motorcycle race, you will have seen those riders get off the side of the bike and touch the ground during turns. The purpose of that position is to get their center of gravity as low as possible. I don’t recommend matching that position on your road bike, but we can take some lessons from them. First thing, the lower your weight, the more stable you will be. Try lowering one foot to the bottom of the pedal stroke while descending in a straight line. When turning, drop your outside foot to the bottom of the pedal stroke and lean your hips toward the inside of the turn.

Hands in drops

Most riders use their drops about 10% of the time. It should be a position you can be in comfortably, if not, be sure to have your fit checked. Being in the drops while descending does two very important things. First, it lowers your upper body weight. Second, it gives you a greater mechanical advantage on your brake levers. Be careful with this new found braking power. Get comfortable with the different brake feel on gradual grades before tackling steep roads with speed.

Brake power

As you descend you are putting more weight on your front tire than rear tire. Additionally, as you apply the brakes, even more weight gets distributed onto the front wheel. With your weight shifting forward, you will notice that a rear wheel is far more likely to skid and break free while going downhill than on flat ground. The best thing to do while braking downhill, is to use the front brake to stop and slow the bike and the rear brake to control speed. New riders get taught that the best way to stop is to use both brakes evenly and that if we use too much front brake we are prone to crash “over the bars”. While going “over the bars” is a real concern it can be combated with a little practice. Simply put, as you begin to stop, brace yourself with your arms and get your weight low.

Look ahead

The world comes at you fast when heading downhill. For this reason, focus farther down the road than you would on flat ground. Keep eyes peeled for cars, pedestrians, painted road surfaces, gravel, or anything else that you will want to avoid. Also, look for the best approach for upcoming turns. When preparing for a turn, be cognizant of the exit to the turn as well as the entry. By planning how to enter, navigate, and exit a turn safely and efficiently, you will stay in control.

Trust your tires

Tires are literally where the rubber hits the road. Even though your tires only make about 3 square inches of contact with the road, they can do a lot to keep you planted. You can do a simple test to build confidence in the traction your tires give you. Try to find a place where the road surface is banked and ride along it. Under highway overpasses often have banked concrete surfaces with a sidewalk separating them and the road. Ride along that bank slowly and see how well the tires hold. You will find that the tires continue to hold fast even when the pitch becomes very steep.

Warning signs and speed wobbles

There are some normal things you want to avoid while going downhill. The most concerning things like sand, gravel, leaves, or debris could rob you of traction. Beyond outside influences, speed wobbles are an uncommon but frightening situation that some cyclist encounter. Speed wobbles are exactly what they sound like. As you get up to a certain speed, your bike will begin to wobble. There are many causes for speed wobbles, but only two things you can do when you encounter them. You can go faster (not recommended) or slow down carefully. Slowing out of a speed wobble is a matter of riding straight, and slowing under control.

Ride within your abilities

More important than the skills to ride downhill is the mentality. Riding at speeds you are comfortable with will keep you mentally, and by extension, physically calm. Calm riders make better and safer decisions. Be sure to take unknown descents with caution and build up to speed after you try it a few times. Overall, remember that it becomes harder to control your bike at higher speeds, so take it slow to start.