Velosophy - 10 April 2015.
10 April 2015.
Since last August I when I had knee pain troubles over winter, I gradually
got a bit better. I did try a couple of 80km rides with a group I rode with
this time last year. My average speed reduced less than 1/2 km/hr below
last year's speed and I enjoyed the ride. But during two weeks after those
rides knee pain increased so I have given up riding in any bunch at all.
For the last 6 months I have ridden an average just over 200km per week.
The route is to 27km across town to a cafe in Tuggeranong, then back
home on a slightly different route. The distance and speed is enough to
maintain cardio-vascular fitness. BMI is just under 25, and weight is
steady at 83kG, resting heart rate < 50, with not too many double beats
or missed beats.
I'm using a 12-30 cassette, 50-34 chain-ring. I have a medium drop
derailleur and have it adjust just right. For awhile I had many times
of chain skipping over too far between cassette and rear wheel spokes,
or between frame and 34 chain-ring, and also going outside the 50
chain-ring. Eventually the penny dropped with fine adjustments.
And I concluded the rear derailleur cable needed to always be in good
condition. I found such cables break strands over a 2 month time,
and they become increasingly "springy" and when only 1 or two
wire strands are left the motion of cable stop in gear change is not
fully transmitted to the rear cassette, so you miss gear changes.
Cable pull and friction prevent the derailleur moving fully with spring
return. If you try to adjust the cable stops and derailleur screw stops,
full wanted motion occurs, but the cable springiness tends bounce the
chain too far, and you must stop to put it back on, sometimes falling off
when you are at 4kph on a steel little hill around a corner and you want
some drive force but there's none to be had.
For awhile I thought teflon coated gear cables moved easier than plain
cables. Teflon makes some difference, but maximum life I could get from
new to break was 6 months with maybe 2 months of vague gear shifts.
I presently I am using plain cables, but with better initial adjustment of
everything. The chain offs to outside of 50 chain-ring were due to the
chain guide becoming bowed outwards a little, so if the chain went off,
it would not return immediately, guided by low end of guide.
Right now, the Cannondale and myself are getting on just fine.
But this CF bike from 2010 is definitely not as stable to ride, so there is
some geometry difference.
I do hope the CF frame lasts. About 2 months ago, a 50yo fellow out on a
slowish suburban ride with 3 friends died from injuries sustained during
a "mechanical failure". It was alleged that his front forks broke off on a Trek,
and he reached the ground faster than his reflexes understood.
This is the break that nobody wants to have, ever. It sort of happened to
me about 7 years ago on a steel frame bike and the fork stem cracked
in a circle where Cinelli stem force has fatigued the stem. I was in traffic
when I hit the pavement at the same time I realized why the handlebars
pointed off to the left 30 degrees. Bits of bike and bearings scattered,
but no broken bones, because I had just come from a stop
at lights and was doing maybe 5kmh.
But earlier that week I'd been down steep descents at 60kph and a loss
of steering could very easily have killed me.
I will ride until the pain increases and begins to ruin life quality.
Walking and standing become painful after 10 minutes. But yesterday I
did the Tug-her-along ride ( to Tuggeranong ), and I felt good.
An orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee replacements said I would
be begging for new knees soon. People find the bone pain at night is what
gets them begging. They can become addicted to opiate pain killers
after bad pain begins and getting an operation, which could be a year.
The worst affected ppl are overweight, eat and drink all wrong.
As we age, we must give up youthful pursuits, and we can end up
needing wheels each side of us instead of one behind the other under us.
I an not begging anything from anyone, and I am trying to be content with
what I have, not perpetually discontent because I don't have what can be
imagined. The latter condition is all too common for "healthy ppl" but they
don't realize their insanity of wanting too much.
15 August 2014.
Distance cycled last month was 1/2 what I did in May-August. I'd say we had an
exceptionally cold July with many mornings with -5C at 8am.
The Shimano 6770 Ultegra 12-30 10 speed cassette works perfectly with a SORA
10 speed derailleur which is a "medium" drop with 72mm between jockey wheels.
This would allow a 12-32 cassette to be used, as I have on my old steel frame bike.
22 July 2014.
Since last May I bought a
couple of 12-30 10 speed cassettes for use with 50-34
chain rings on a 2010 Cannondale Synapse which I purchased last April.
These were supposed to work with series 6700 Ultegra derailleur and so I had one 12-30
installed on rear wheel. But then I found the existing derailleur is a standard
road Ultegra 6600 series, which
has only 50mm between chain pulley wheels so
getting the chain length right and being able to get all
gears possible, even 50 - 30
became slightly too critical.
The chain was definitely too tight for 50-30, and
threatened to jam up and pull the whole
derailleur up and
over the top of the cassette, maybe shredding the carbon frame.
So I've ordered a Sora derailleur with 72mm between pulley wheels, a "medium drop" derailleur,
and this should
work as well as the same type does on my older steel bike with compact
50-34 plus a mountain bike 12-32
Its taken 2 weeks waiting so far to get the derailleur
Meanwhile, I have been riding the old steel bike.
put on Vittoria Zafiro Pro 700C 23mm fold up tyres.
I was using Zafiro wire beads tyres. The new tyres are
so 270grams weight saving, but its rotating weight, so the benefit is more like about
grams of static weight, and any difference in average speed between carbon frame Cannondale
753r steel framed bike has become tiny. Last time I rode with my group,
I was still the quickest
up hills. But last two Sundays it was -3C and I didn't ride with group
because it was too cold.
But but other things have happened since May 2014.
My knees have developed the same symptoms of pain which I endured for 3 years before 2005.
Then, docs wanted to give me two titanium knee joints.
in 2005, they did an arthroscopy to clean up the debris and wear and tear and this was very
successful and allowed
me to cycle about 88,000 km. I still could not walk huge distances or stand
for longer than 30 minutes, but now I
don't like standing for 5 minutes, or walking more than
very slowly. And I am getting some pain while I ride, and
after I ride, so today, 22 July 2014,
I had MRI knee scans
I have not got the report on what the docs have found, but
the knee X-ray of knees while standing
show gap between
bones is between maybe 10mm and down to 2mm, but I am only slightly
bow legged. So I await an orthopedic response to the in-comprehensibe medical spiel on
the reports attached to MRI and X-rays. Its maybe no wonder my
knees can't work properly while
walking or standing, but cycling
has been OK, because different parts of joints come
with knees bent during cycling. Knees cannot be all that much worse than in 2005 because between
June 2006 and June 2014 I cycled 90,000 km.
Maybe I will be given another knee arthroscopy, and gain a
couple more years of pain free basic mobility.
But docs might decide that's not possible and replacement
knee joints are a must.
BUT, I have prostate cancer which at present is suppressed
by hormone therapy.
When the HT begins to fail to stop the
cancer growing, cancer will spread, maybe to bones,
maybe to knees when they replace the joints.
Plus, I have had a yearly dose of Aclasta ( zoledronic
acid ) which stops bone thinning as a result of HT,
may affect how well I recover after new knee joints. Meanwhile my weight has increased 1.5kG to 86.5Kg
last May when I was doing up to 300km a week on bike
with virtually no pain.
Severe hunger is a problem with reduced calories to stop
weight gain after reducing cycling km to 100km a week.
Update May 25, 2014........
Last April I bought a
2010 Cannondale Synapse.
Over 6 weeks I did about 1,700km in that time and can report
back to everyone to give a meaningful
During the first few days of use, I made a number of
adjustments of seat height and back-forward
position, handlebar height and position, and handlebar taping,
of cranks to 175mm. The position I had on my old Steely ( 1988
bike with 753r frame )
was established as closely as possible on the Cannondale. Once
that was sorted, no
further adjustments have been needed for 5 weeks.
The original Specialized plastic saddle which came with
Cannondale was totally horrid like all
plastic saddles. I found I had a Brooks B17 Pro Narrow saddle
I had not used for last 5 years and
after I fitted that I spent a week trying to break it in,
about 300km. But it remained uncomfortable
compared to standard width B17, about 20mm wider at rear, and
which I'd used on Steely.
So I bought a new standard wide B17, and once that broke in
after 200km, I began to forget I
had a bum after a 100km ride.
I took me about 3 weeks to get used to the Cannondale's more
twitchy steering. This implies something
negative about Cannodale, but maybe not, its just me who
twitches while trying to adjust mentally to
very slightly different bikes. The older steel frame probably
has very slightly different geometry, but it
does seem more stable. The brain becomes very used to the
geometry of whatever bike you ride,
and a change to bike can confuse the brain for awhile.
I've never been a rider happy to ride "no-hands" and have been
always amazed me to see riders in
large bunches like Giro or TDF putting in on a
waterproof jersey while pedaling and riding no-hands.
I could probably teach myself better bike handling skills, but
not right now, and I'd rather hold the bars
all the time. But I do notice the difference between the
Steely and new carbon frame, despite
measurements and angles being so similar and both favourable
to randonneur style cycling.
The Cannondale stability at higher speeds on the flat and down
hill is at least as good as the Steely.
I now can ride the Cannondale without weaving and twitching
which gives others riding with me more
confidence that I"ll never cause a crash.
To understand Pedal Power Wanderers for Sunday rides, see
The handlebars for Steely are Cinnelli "criterium bars" which
are still able to be purchased. I found
them excellent for my three steel frame bikes because they
have a long "reach forward" from stem to brake
hoods which allows me to reach out with elbows slightly bent,
and get low enough to be fairly aerodynamic
without using the drops. The drops feel awkward, and I never
The stretched position is much more natural. The Cannodale bars have about 50mm less reach
criterium bars so I had to use the longest available stem of
130mm to get the bars forward enough,
so my knees would never hit the bars when out of saddle. But
the final result is satisfactory with only 15mm
less reach than on Steely.
The Cannondale handlebars are like most generic race bars with
tighter curves bending forward to brake
hoods. At first this felt harsh and "knobby" but I increased
the thickness of handle bar tape from behind the
brake hoods to the bend, and to increase dia to about 40mm
max. I've become quite used to this and it is
satisfactory. The bar tape is 3mm thick plain foam type rolled
on carefully with some Selleys 401 silicone
used to glue the tape to prevent it moving and sliding over
time, especially in hot weather.
The most remarkable and unpredicted difference to riding
comfort occurred over the last month. Not once did
I get tingling arms or numb hands from Carpel Tunnel syndrome
which had affected me since about 3 years ago
when it got very bad especially in cold weather. That required
I increased handlebar dia to 45mm with 2-3 layers
of tape to put less pressure on nerves. But the problem never
went right away, but the change of bike seems to
have done a very nice trick, and I have no idea why, but it
could be due to a change of the vibrations reaching my
hands with carbon being better than the steel. I cannot tell
which bike gives the least vibrations.
I do have a problem with left side gear change when changing
from small chain ring to large chain ring.
The brake lever has to be swung inwards to make the change up
from 34t to 50t. Behind the brake lever there
is a smaller lever which swings inwards to change down from
50t to 34t. This lever is very sensitive to touch
and it you swing the brake lever in to change up, and move the
smaller lever in a little bit, the gear change
is muddled, and the chain won't get onto 50t fully, so it
clatters around between 34t and 50t.
With winter gloves its even worse. I use rock climbers'
"liners" which are very long lasting thin material gloves
which I put on under my normal Specialized hand gloves with
So, I guess the cure is to grind some of the outer side of
smaller lever off, or carve a piece of wood to
increase the outside width of brake lever so when swinging it
inwards for a change up of gear, it does not
interfere with the change down gear lever. Before I do
anything, I'll speak to the wonderful staff at my local
bike repair place, http://monkeywrenchcycles.com.au/
The Steely has 9 speed Sora which uses left brake lever swung
inwards to change up 34t to 50t,
and has thumb button on inside of brake lever assembly for
down from 50t to 34t.
Similarly, the right side has brake lever for going down gears
and inner thumb button for going up gears.
I found that to be very satisfactory. The new Ultegra lever
system took some time to get used to.
I doubt I shall ever go to electric gear changing.
Does the Cannondale give me and extra 0.5kph over Steely?
Well, maybe, but its not obvious.
And now the cooler weather has begun so I wear more, it gives
more drag, and weight of moisture in
extra clothing lingers. Plus I have an increased amount of
medications for prostate cancer, so I can only
assume that there must be some speed benefit due to about
1.8Kg less static weight, and less rotating
weight in wheels.
The Cannondale came with 50-34 chain rings plus 12-27 rear
cassette, and I quickly found I need one
lower gear, at least 30 on cassette. With compact chain rings
50-34, I'd get lowest gear 34-30,
for some very steep hills to avoid struggling and straining my
I'm ordering a couple of Ultegra 12-30 cassettes, which should
fix the low gear
needs. The Cannondale is 1.8Kg lighter and stiffer than
Steely, maybe that's worth 2 teeth of a
rear cog of 32t that I have on Steely, also with compact
The wider spread of gears for 12-30 cassette will be welcome.
Most of the Pedal Power Wanderer "slow" group I cycle with on
Sundays are all a bit slower than me
and eventually I shall slow to their speed, but I won't mind.
I can't escape aging. The best part about
cycling with my group is the informality, and the stops at
cafes where anything and everything can be
discussed, and speed and technical issues don't dominate as a
result of obsessional thinking.
Overall, I am happy to have another bike in my stable.
Updated April 2014.........
Some background info....
I'm keen on
cycling because it is very
enjoyable and it keeps me very
fit. I enjoy Canberra's splendid
climate and clean fresh air and splendid road and bicycle path
I took up cycling seriously in 1986, and raced as a veteran at 37
to 43 with Canberra Cycling Club until 1993.
I then gave it up for a variety of reasons until June 2006, at age
59. I put on 20Kg. I got back onto the bike
and did regular rides and by 2007 my weight returned to 84Kg, just
over my racing weight at 40.
For the last 8 years I have cycled about 11,000km per year, or
Between Dec 2013 and April 2014, I
have averaged 270km per week.
In late 2009, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and a
kidney problem. During the following 14 months
docs attempted surgery, but could not proceed because cancer
was so bad. Then I had Radio Therapy, EBRT,
and hormone therapy which lowers testosterone to extremely low
levels, ie, chemical castration.
This all sounds horrible, but
I feel very well !!!
The side effects of the cancer treatments were
occasional hot flushes and a loss of strength and bike speed.
Bone density began to go lower that doctors liked to see -
osteoporosis. This is the result of having no testosterone.
But my mind is active as ever and keen on staying fit by
3 weeks ago I had an infusion of zelodronic acid to halt my
increasing osteoporosis. This chemical's side
effects are supposed to make me lethargic, gain weight, etc, but
after only 3 days of mild effects I now
feel just fine.
My first course of HT lasted from April 2010 to September 2012.
Then my testosterone levels went back to normal
and some bike speed returned to pre-treatment levels. But by April
2013, my Psa went back to 8.0 and the cancer
treatment so far was assessed as a failure. My weight went up to
So, in May 2013, I went back to HT and Psa went down quickly to
0.26, and has remained low ever since.
The effect of the treatment failure on my mind was troubling, so I
thought I better get used to dying from cancer.
But while getting used to this idea easily, I went onto a
vegetarian diet, and kept on cycling.
In February 2014, after 8 months of vegetarian diet I got my
weight down to about 84.5kg, and with that came
some loss of stamina at the end of 85km rides on hot days. I
wasn't a vegans, and allowed dairy - low fat yogurt,
and fat free milk, and some eggs. I figured I was losing muscle
condition so I returned to eating meat and my
cycling speed went up a little, and no more problems with stamina.
But my meat intake is 1/3 of Australia's average meat consumption.
Although nobody really needs to eat meat at all, if you don't eat
it, you need to be very inventive with
replacements and I am not so good being inventive with food, and
few shops have all the necessary
items, and then my bowels have been affected by the RT so
digestion isn't quite what it used to be.
I cannot see why not eating meat is going to be good therapy for
cancer. Maybe it helps, but to be consistent
one would have to give up all dairy and be vegans. Does being pure
and consistent cure cancer?
Of course not. I'm not that lucky.
Weight has oscillated around 84.7Kg, and over last 4 months I've
noticed fat loss and muscle gains.
No matter what I ever did with diet and exercise, my genes have
never let me become as slender and
lean as many other good cyclists I know. Some look anorexic, like
broom-handles with leg muscles,
and they ride up hills much better than me. But slender fellows my
age who climb faster struggle
along flat roads and with headwinds, and over a long distance I'll
get home first.
At end of 2012, I re-joined Canberra Pedal Power Sunday Wanderers.
I spent some time with the Intermediate group whose average age is
about 50, where about
10 out of 40 of them were faster. In May 2013 I joined the Slow
group, about 20, where I
have remained the fastest most days. Their average age is about
58, and socially they are closer
to "my way of being social". This bunch includes some on touring
bikes with panniers weighing 15Kg,
but they make the distance of about 80km each Sunday. I am
addicted to riding as quick as possible,
and most Sundays there are 2 or 3 riders who are faster on hills
than myself, and with whom I share
an overall similar speed. Two are in late 50s, so they ought to be
able to keep up with a 67yo with
cancer. Our average speed on most rides is 25kph.
2 weeks ago my Psa went down a bit to 0.2ug/L. I suspect my way of
life as an athlete and health nutter
can only be doing good, so I must continue. 1 year ago it seemed
like the combined RT and HT
didn't seem to be effective. But the fact remains that the cancer
was radiated, and over time the
treatment I received may actually work to alter cancer cell DNA,
prevent cancer spread, and cause cancer
cell death - well before I die of other causes. Maybe the
treatment is just taking a lot longer than
doctors expected. I could be wrong of course, but hey, when you
are 67, you must do what you can
until you cannot, hope for best, prepare for worst, and ignore the
mountain of ineffective bullshit ideas
that exist about life, health, and happiness.
Last week, I purchased a very
little used 2009 Cannondale Synapse bicycle with a full carbon
and expensive lightweight wheels. It seems that for the same
effort, my average speed is 0.5kph faster.
Fig 1 shows the new machine and if you look closely you'll see the
aluminium plates and bracket
under frame top tube for the 1980s Zefal pump I forgot to include
in the picture.
Fig 2 shows the old 1988 Carl Wilson framed bike with compact
34t+50t chain rings, Sora cranks
and Sora MTB 11-32 cassette etc. There's a piece of tape on crank
to allow accurate measurement of
center bracket bearing to floor level.
The difference in bike geometries are only partially obvious
between Fig1 and Fig 2 in which the camera position
was the same. The handlebars on steel frame appear to have brake
hoods further forward with respect to
front wheel axel, ie, there's more reach forward. But Cannondale
has a 15mm longer wheelbase.
Toes of my shoes will touch the front wheel on Steely if I turn
wheel enough, but not on Cannondale.
The Cannondale bars have less reach forward like so many recently
made handlebars and
the bar stem is longer. I have set the bar height slightly lower. So my
arms have slightly less elbow bend.
In fact, the brake hoods on Steely are only 20mm further forward
from saddle than on Cannondale,
So for much more of the time I have hands on brake hoods and
better direct control of brakes and gear
changes. On the Steely I would never use the drops, too
uncomfortable, and for awhile I considered
sawing them off to give less wind resistance.
Whether I like the Cannondale set up over a long term remains to
The dimensional relationships between seat height, center bracket
height, saddle for-aft position and height
are the same for both bikes so my pedaling action is identical for
both and I cannot notice any difference.
Seat height with a Brooks saddle can vary a bit if the saddle sags
because of leather stretch over time
or a failing nose bracket. If the saddle sags by 20mm the leather
underside will shows marks of having
bounced on the seat post. Such a drop of saddle height can alter
pedaling style and stop you extending
your foot with slight ankle bend during each stroke. I've had this
happen, after a saddle nose broke and bent.
For best pedaling efficiency, and best ergonomic action, saddle
height is very important.
The old steel frame bike I have ridden since 1988 is still very
good to ride, but its wheels are nearly worn
out. Its frame could be subject to metal fatigue in the near
future - this kills most old steel framed bikes, along with
bending of frame joints after riding over something on a road like
a stray piece of 4x2 timber, or from rust
inside the frame tubes.
more bike pictures further down page.
The Cannondale needed changes to
ensure it suits my 184 cm height, and so it is comfortable, and
A. Remove stupid horrible arse busting
lightweight saddle that pretends to be a saddle.
I fitted a Brooks B17 narrow black leather saddle which includes
my modification using 10mm dia nose bolt
instead of fragile and very breakable 8mm bolt made with garbage
quality steel. The Brooks weighs maybe
300grams more than the plastic crap it replaced, but weight isn't
Brooks are for comfort and no other saddle offers the same ride.
However, its love-hate with Brooks because
fail in a variety of ways. I have owned and worn out about 5 after
riding about 180,000 km.
They DON'T last forever, and nose bolt is first to break, but easy
to replace with a 10mm bolt.
Then leather can sag more on one side of saddle than the other, so
you have to remove rear rivets on one side
wrench the leather tighter with vice grips, drill new hols for
rivets, but use M6 countersunk screws and nuts to hold
adjusted leather. This may or may not make the leather last a bit
longer. Rivets end up tearing holes in leather.
Leather ages and cracks despite application of Brooks leather
product. Steel spring rails fatigue and break. I
have busted one. Leather sags anyway, especially after getting wet
from 40km in the rain. Seat height sags, until
seat pillar begins to poke up from under. Then you have to guess
how much tension to put on nose bolt.
Leather continues to stretch until bolt reaches end of travel, and
you have a worn out saddle, and afaik,
you can't just buy a new leather. The nose of saddle has formed
sheet steel bracket with 3 rivets. It is sort
of L shaped, and subject to changing dynamic forces forces of nose
bolt. This bracket cannot easily be repaired,
and I have broken 2 after fatigue in metal occurs. There is a 5mm
steel plate clip which holds the nose bolt
so it works to force the nose forward. You think nothing would
break the clip, but I have seen one become fatigued
and just break like chocolate.
The saddle rivets are either hammered copper or pressed in steel
types. Both can become sharp edged and rip
your lycra shorts, so you must re-hammer copper a bit to dress
down the sharp edges. Steel rivets are
used in many Brooks, and are best all removed and replaced with M4
c/s screws and nuts.
Nuts should be smeared with 5minute Araldite before tightening.
Don't tighten too much, just enough. After time, such replacement
screwed "rivets" will loosen, but a phillips
screw driver and pliers can force nuts to come loose and be
further tightened, with fresh glue on threads
to make sure they never come really loose.
Some saddle holding brackets at top of seat stems are better than
others, the old heavy Laprade has ONE
8mm Allen bolt. I've had to remake the nut to be wider - longer
with more thread to allow more bolt torque.
No more loose seats. The New Cannondale has a carbon seat stem and
two 6mm Allen bolts.
Time will tell if that lasts as well as the Laprade system, but
the bolts must always be tightened using a tension
to prevent excessive tightening, which will cause the carbon to
crack and yield under pressure.
Carbon fibre is mostly very good to give frame stiffness and a
good ride, but in some ways it is just crap
and one must be very careful when tightening bolts.
I did consider a Brooks with titanium metal. The metalworking
looks exactly the same as the standard steel,
but weight is reduced by only 100 grams and yet price leaps from
$138 for a B17 to over $330 for Titanium.
I don't think the titanium is worth the expense.
Brooks make a model called the Swallow. Its a narrower looking
saddle, but then I realized its the same
metalwork with less leather with each drop side cut so it is
folded under the top and riveted to a small flat
floating plate . So, that would add 20 minutes of labour time
while getting Joe Cyclist to swallow double the
price. It seems to me one could make a Swallow out of a B17 very
B17 saddles need to be "broken in" which means the leather needs
to become pliable before it can
become comfortable. So you need to smear the underside with Brooks
Profide which is like an organic
grease, and then do a few hundred km. 5mm holes can be drilled in
the bottom of of side flaps and cable
ties used to pull the flaps in under saddle rails. This is done
after initial leather softening.
This tends to stop chaffing. The leather is initially between 5
and 6mm thick, and its remarkable how supple
it becomes when given Profide and enough use.
The Brooks saddles act as a kind of hammock which is stretched
tight between nose and rear rails thus
providing a sling under sit bones.
The shape of the leather changes and flexes while providing a firm
enough platform for the arse to get
pedaling efficiency. No other saddle does the same thing as a bit
of stretched leather can do.
If Brooks were not comfortable, nobody would ever buy one - but
they have refused to ever improve
the method of construction or the metal quality. Someone at Brooks
is too much in love with the past
to be able to explore and test new samples with improvements.
B. I have
changed Ultegra 172.5mm crank set with what I happened to have - a
pair of new Sora 175mm cranks,
same as on other old bike.
The 9 speed cranks have 0.5mm extra spacing between the two chain
rings which allows the 10 speed
Shimano chain to sometimes run around between chain rings without
settling on teeth of small chain ring.
Oh how 0.5mm has an effect I didn't want! I fitted 5 shims using
0.6mm steel sheet
cut to special shape and clipped and siliconed onto inside of
large chain ring, and the problem disappeared
and gear change is now perfect. The large chain ring will take
years to wear out.
The shims were an alternative to filing 0.5mm off the outer side
of the 5 tangs on crank which hold chain
rings and their special bolts.
C. I fitted my
long Zefal HPX pump ( now 26yo ) under frame top tube. It was
found to fit within the
shorter distance available with carbon frame. I made carefully
shaped 2mm thick plates and bracket to
prevent pressure points of pump pressing on frame from causing
damage to carbon fibers. Al brackets were
siliconed to frame with Selleys 401 silicone. The pump now sits
where it should, and it was found to weigh
only 70grams more than the new but shorter "toy pump" which came
with the bike, but held on by velcro,
and awkwardly placed.
110mm head stem with longest available at 130mm. Now my knees stay
clear of handlebars
near stem when out of the saddle on a hill, and it doesn't seem
possible my knees can ever hit the ends of the
bar drops. Handlebars supplied by Cannondale have less forward
to old Cinelli bars which allowed me to stretch out nicely, and
with more forward drops. I rarely ever use
the drops because there is enough reach to hoods and with bent
elbows I'm as flat backed as my old skeleton
allows, which is mostly flatter than most other cycling
companions. But nevertheless, I was able to set new
bars up with slightly altered brake lever positions and get just
enough reach out, and with bar-tops behind brake
hoods sloping downwards towards the rear so that hands don't keep
sliding forward. Body weight distribution
is about just right, and when out of saddle and clutching brake
hoods on ascents or sprints there is little feeling
that the front wheel feels like its way "out there" and being
waved around, and sucking extra forces from torso to
control direction. The relationship of longitudinal and height
distances between saddle and center bracket and
handle bars is now very close to the optimum I reached on the old
bike on which I felt very comfortable.
The Cannondale frame size is 590, and about the same as the steel
E. I removed the useless
25mm dia bell from handlebars. Older people and those using
gear with ear plugs just don't hear the tiny bell high frequencies
at low volume. I do a lot of cycling on shared paths,
aka "cycle paths" and getting ppl to move to the left as I
approach and pass is a necessity. They don't mind being belled.
I bought a Japanese made brass bell with spring striker almost the
same as on a bell I bought in 1982 which
has a 55mm dia aluminium bell dome. The slightly smaller dia brass
bell goes much louder and ring lasts a
lot longer and frequency is lower, so its a fabulous bell. But I
had to modify the holding bracket which suits
only old bikes with 22mm dia handlebars, not 32 mm bars. I cut up
an old 2mm dia stainless steel spoke to
make a link in the re-shaped steel bell bracket, and now that
should last me until I cycle off the Planet.
F. I am
ordering a Shimano Ultegra CS-6700 series 10 speed road cassette
with 12t to 30t. The bike had 12t to 27t
as standard. I really miss the presence of a 30t rear cog.
The old bike has a 9 speed Sora mountain bike cassette 11t-32t,
and a long drop Sora derailleur.
The new lighter bike allows the use of very slightly higher bottom
gear, without feeling much difference on the
steepest climbs which average 10%, and may have sections of 12%.
Both new and old bike have compact chain ring set of 34t + 50t.
The existing 2-27 has cogs = 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 24,
The proposed CS-6700 12-30 has cogs = 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21,
24, 27, 30.
The existing rear derailleur can be kept without resort to a long
drop type I have on my older bike.
The Sora 9 speed mountain bike cassette has always given me enough
gears to select, with meaningful differences.
With the 12-27 10 speed there's almost too many gears.
(((( At age 40, I used chain rings of 42t + 53t, and 7 speed
clusters had 13 to 23, maybe 24 sometimes.
Across town there's Fitz's Hill, 3km long and 10% all the way. At
40 I used to get up that with 42 x 23.
Younger men would get up with 42 x 21, and pedal much faster than
I ever did.
But last time I did Fitz's was at 65, and I preferred 34t x 32t,
but on this new bike I'd manage with 34t x 30t.
But I'd rather avoid this hill - been there done that, and I'd
rather cycle on less hilly terrain which at present
yields all the health benefits anyone could wish for without
stressing knee joints which are my weak link :-))))
G. I have
re-applied handlebar tape so that around bar curves behind brake
hoods the dia with tape = 40mm.
The extra layers of tape have silicone sealant applied to help
prevent slide and movement of tape from hand pressure.
The greater bar dia with much tape helps to minimize carpal tunnel
nerve damage, ie, numbness than tingles in hands
and arms especially on cold mornings, even with glove liners under
the cut off gloves.
H. Weight of
the new bike with the changes I have made give me 1.9Kg less
To weigh the new and old bikes I lifted them while on electronic
scales, and with each I had removed water bottle,
but included the pump, and the same Brooks saddles. Weight of
Cannondale = 9.1Kg, Old Steel frame bike = 11Kg.
Most bikes are weighed without pedals, pump, or water bottles, and
usually a small frame size, so hence weights are
often 8Kgs, and with somewhat fragile light wheels, all OK for
someone 65Kg, but I'm 85Kg, and same height as
Miguel Indurain, and the extra weight gives me more ruggedness. My
590 frame size means weight will always be
than for a man of 160cm, but in fact the ratio of bike weight to
man weight favours the heavier man.
I. The new bike has 22 spoke Mavic clincher rims, a bit
lighter than on old bike with 32 spoke Mavic CX33 Al rims.
But a spare pair of even lighter Shimano WH-RS80 carbon+alloy
wheels came with bike, 16 spokes on front,
20 spokes on rear.
Weight wheels compared :-
New bike with WH-RS80 with Continental 4000 tyres, Front = 1.0Kg,
Rear = 1.6Kg, total wheel weight = 2.6Kg.
Wheel weight less tyres and tubes, but with 12-27 cassette = 2.0Kg.
Old bike, CX33 Mavic rims with 32double butted stainless spokes,
Vitoria Zafiro wire bead tyres,
Front = 1.4Kgs, Rear = 1.95Kgs, Total wheel weight = 3.35Kgs.
Wheel weight less tyres and
tubes, but with 11-32 cassette, = 2.5Kg.
The tyre weight difference = ( 2 x 340 grams ) - ( 2 x 205 grams )
= 270 grams = 0.27Kg.
Tubes used are approximately same weight for both sets of wheels
Cassette weight is about 100 grams more for old wheels.
Therefore the difference between
rims + spokes + hubs is only about 0.5Kg, about 1pound.
Was that worth the $1,200 price difference between my old wheels
and these WH-RH80 wheels?
Hard to say.
Let us consider rotating weight and its effects on speed and
Consider riding up a steep hill at say 12kph. The major struggle
is with gravity, and each pedal down
stroke causes wheels plus all weight of bike and ride to
accelerate slightly until the bottom of power
stroke when decelleration begins until the next pedal stroke. The
action is like climbing a stair case,
and the rider produces power by converting his weight elevations
to forward speed up a slope and this
can be calculated as Weight x Distance / Time. Each pedal stroke
is like one step upwards, and the
leg puts in energy to the total mass which gives it momentum which
carries it forward during pedal
strokes. Gravity constantly is pulling the rider backwards, and if
the slope is say 8%, and if
rider and bike = 100Kg, then force to be overcome = 8Kg.
So your speed is averaging 12kph. But in fact is changing between
say 11.9kph and 12.1kph.
I'm not a good enough mathematician to work out exactly what the
range of maximum and minimum speeds
are. The point is, speed is not constant. If wheels are made
lighter, there is less wasted energy
in changing wheel speed, and more available energy to propel the
total weight forwards. In a race car,
every effort is made to lighten the crankshaft, pistons, conrods
and wheels. Speeds and energy involved
are much higher in a car but the same laws of physics apply.
The mass of rim and tyre has far greater effect than the mass of
the hub, or the cluster, turning at close
to the axle. So what significance is there of actual difference in
wasted power between two pairs of wheels
with 500grams difference? Kinetic energy varies according to Mass
x Velocity squared, so for hills where
speeds are low the lighter wheels don't give you much advantage.
The difference of kinetic energy is TINY,
and difficult to quantify, and very low compared to the total
power needed to get rider plus bike up
What about when riding downhill or on flat when speed is say
The major struggle is with air resistance. Its resistance
increases as does the velocity squared, so 80kph
requires 4 times the power to 40kph.
But while trying to maintain 40kph, the rider speed varies between
pedal strokes, and wheel rotation speeds
also are high so wheel rotation speed changes and the higher the
speed, the higher the lost energy
in change of wheel speed. Wheel speed change is a bit like leg
speed change. Energy has to be wasted
on waving legs up and down on pedals. There is a balance between
wasted power on moving legs and
getting power to pedals, and hence the need to consider cadence
carefully, and ride with optimum cadence.
So, the lighter wheels will save a rider more power at 40kph than
when chugging up hill at 12kph, even though
the total power for the two situations is the same, ie, same fuel
input and same heart rate.
The rotating weight of rims,
spokes, tyres and tubes is said by others who have thought about
than I have to be equal to say 4 times an equivalent static
If the weight difference between 2 pairs of wheels is 0.5Kg, then
equivalent static weight difference is 2.0Kg,
well worth having. If the bike wheels weighed the same as your car
wheels, you'd be riding a lot slower.
The weight difference of other bike parts with negligible rotation
effects might be 1.9Kg - 0.5Kg = 1.4Kg so
Total equivalent static weight difference = 1.4Kg + 2.0Kg = 3.4Kg,
and this may be 3.4% difference if rider
and bike = 100Kg, and power is the same, one might expect +3.4%
more speed which is 0.85kph over 25kph
If only it was that simple, and it isn't, because power wastage or
efficiency changes with different ride situations.
So, I can say I go faster on the Cannondale than on Steely but its
not a huge difference, 0.5kph, maybe.
The Cannondale sure feels
faster when getting the speed up along the flat or down hill, but
up-hill I notice
little difference. I won't be using the fancy WH-RS80 clincher
wheels to just ride around town on my own because
its wasteful to wear out such expensive wheels so quickly, So I
will use the 22 spoke Mavic wheels mostly.
Now the Steely has wheels with Mavic CX33 rims, 32 double butted
spokes, Tiagra hubs.
The Cannondale's standard wheels have clincher Mavic Axium Race
rims and hubs and 22 straight pull flat bladed
spokes. When I carefully weighed each front wheel, both without
tyres, weight was equal.
Perhaps the Shimano WH-RS80 wheels are lighter, but probably only
50grams to 100 grams, and methinks
not worth paying huge $$ for, unless you are a very light and
strong rider in TDF.
However, for years I have used Vittoria Zafiro tyres with wire
beads, weighing 340 grams. The change to
say Zafiro foldables means tyre weight is 230grams, and when you
buy online, the cost is less than wire
beads from local shops, so I am getting a number of foldable
Foldable tyres are much easier to handle after a puncture and when
replacing a tube on the roadside.
Pushing the tyre bead over rim edge before pumping up the tyre
becomes easy, even for female riders.
I do want to occasionally use Steely, and
would like to replace the CX33 wheels which must be near their
use by date. Typical rim death is indicated by crinkle noises from
wheels, because small cracks appear
each side of spokes at the rim, and the metal is actually telling
you, "I'm Stuffed". I think I wore out the first
CX33 rear rim after about 30,000km. Same spokes and hub remain,
and hubs fatigue at spoke and will
soon pull away, and spokes will fail more often. Bearings are all
noisy, feel gritty when turned by hand.
So I will look for some cheaper straight pull spoke wheels.
Probably they don't break spokes as often as
hooked spokes. But the straight pull spokes can be replaced on the
road without removal of cassette.
So I need some spares taped to frame tubes and a spoke key always
carried, because if one spoke in
say 22 breaks, the wheel deforms more than if you break one spoke
Do I think Continental 4000 are
more puncture proof than Vitoria Zafiro ?
No, I got TWO rear tyre punctures on the brand new 4000 after only
150km, a shard of glass straight through,
then a bit of glass.
The softer tyre rubber of 4000 tends to pick up glass and rock
fragments which embed themselves and are
gradually hammered into tyres like arrow heads. Not as badly as
other brands I've tried. I put on two pairs
of reading glasses and in good light I use an awl to keep pricking
out the bits of glass every few days.
The Zafiro don't collect so many bits of glass or rocks.
But my aging means I cannot convert food into motion like I used
to, and that I happily survive on a diet
with far fewer calories than a young cyclist. In fact, I MUST NOT
ever eat like a young man, because
young men often eat so much rubbish, yet their body stays slim,
unless they give up cycling, and so many do,
and then they gaze at screens in chairs all day in offices, and
real energy expenditure is reduced hugely,
so hence the obesity epidemic. My body does not seem to burn
excess calories much at all, but instead
stacks on excess food as fat, so the older you get, the more
disciplined you must become to maintain
correct weight. In my case, having no testosterone as part of
medical treatment makes this all the more difficult.
What surprises me is that I eat so many fewer calories than anyone
I see at the cafes where I stop.
Ppl sit down to enormous plate fulls of fatty foods, complete with
a side serve of chips, and they have not
done any exercize all week, or even all year.
This is why 1/2 the population is so overweight, bad looking, and
sick, and confused.
Fig 3. Close up of Cannondale handlebars.
Notice the brass bell. Its 20 times louder than the crappy little
25mm dia steel bells fitted to
so many bikes which ring at maybe 2kHz, and which many ppl don't
hear. The brass bell
rings at less than 700Hz and LOUD, and for a time longer than it
takes ride past someone
walking with their dog, or someone pushing the pram or running,
whatever, on our cycle
0paths here in Canberra.
The bell cost me about $29 at
Fig 4. Carl Wilson frame, 1988, close up of handlebars.
Notice the pink anodized aluminium bell I have had since 1982.
Its good, but nowhere near as good as the brass bell seen in Fig
Notice the handlebar stem which is adjustable for height while
keeping the stem penetration
into fork tube quite deep. I once had an inner fork tube break
from metal fatigue when I had a
Cinnelli stem too high, and Cinnelli stems have lousy expanding
bolt detail that stresses a
circle of tube rather than have a sliding expander which is
better. That fork failure had me fall
off the bike in traffic, and lucky I was in a bike lane, and lucky
I was not going down a hill
Also Notice the very thick handlebar tape layers to try to ease
hand pain I suffered.
Not pretty, and not so very effective.
Fig 5. New Brooks
B17 Narrow saddle on Cannondale.
Notice the cable tie between seat side flaps which has not
been pulled tight yet.
Saddle needs more time on bike to break it in.
Fig 6. Old Brooks B17 Standard on Carl Wilson frame with
Laprade seat stem.
Notice the apparent sag in this old saddle. It needs some
slight tightening of tensioning bolt.
Side flaps are fully drawn under with a cable tie. The rivets
have all been replaced with M4
countersunk machine screws and nuts and a total of 5 screws in
This leather has traveled maybe only 10,000 km, and it
initially sagged much more on one side
than the other after maybe only 1,000km, or a month of riding.
This meant I had to wrench the
leather rearwards with vice-grips on the most sagged side and
drill new positions for some screws to extend
the life of the saddle and justify the cost of buying the darn
Brooks saddles require very caring quality control dudes who
really understand leather behaviour and quality.
Perhaps the dude got old, and was replaced by a dumb newbie, a
tragic mistake by Brooks.
Patrick in 2011, dressed to keep fit during winter.
The bloke is but a bloke, but the bicycle is
worth a description.......
All this following stuff was written before April 2014 when I
found I could afford a carbon
Frame was hand crafted in
1988 by a relatively unknown tradesman but labeled
'Carl Wilson' of Sydney and was state of the art and cost $1,200,
or about the
equivalent of $5,000 now. I heard Carl was a real larrikin, but he
how to make a good frame equal to anything used by elite cyclists
world cycle races such as Tour De France of the 1980s.
Mine has Reynolds 753R, and it feels lively yet stiff, and has the
classic "steel feel"
and is beautiful to ride.
If I bought a good carbon fibre frame, I might save 1.2Kg. But I
am 85Kg, and the
because I don't race, and am old, I would not notice the benefit
of a lighter frame.
As always, I built the wheels in 2007 using Mavic CX33 aero shaped rims each with
32 stainless steel double butted spokes and with whatever cheap deal was going for
hubs. While I could have lighter wheels, they may not make much
my speed. I cycle to keep fit, and not to keep up with faster
cyclists, and you don't
need to go fast to become extraordinarily fit.
In the picture, cranks are Shimano Compact with 50t x 34t chain
Shimano mountain bike 8 speed rear cassette with 12t-28t allowing
pedaling up long climbs of 10% average slope, such as the 3km long
( BTW, my idea of "fairly easy" = "close to death" for many people
The rear touring derailleur with a
long dropper allows the 28t largest
Hence I have avoided a triple chain wheel.
In 2011, health bothers made me weaker, and I changed to 9 speed
9 speed mountain bike 11-32 cassette. Ah, much better!
Saddle is Brooks leather. I tried other lighter and prettier
saddles, but the relationship
would always go sour, and I was always forced back to old faithful
Brooks, ugly and
heavy, but extremely comfortable on any ride and 120km is quite OK
Gears are now 9 speed Shimano Sora to replace earlier levers and
cheaply at a local bike shop where they get a stream of incoming
or leftovers after cyclists have up-graded to ever more gear
speeds and narrower chains.
The other bits are generic old stuff which is mostly 20 years+
old. The 1988 Mavic
brakes work fine, although require more force on levers than the
brake levers did. Seat stem is Laprade, which needs to be strong
as I am 85Kg.
I once broke a seat stem near the end of a long race where I have
and was in the winning position. Most upsetting, as it was too
risky to continue
with a razor sharp broken piece of aluminium tube pointing at my
I have a mountain bike headstock with deep insertion to the steel
In 2007, on a second bike I have, I had a fall caused by complete
because an old Cinelli headstock had fatigued the fork tube which
broke because the
insertion depth was 5mm above the limit. Lucky the steering failed
in town at 5kph
and not the weeks before during a wild descents down many hills
out of town at 60kph.
I don't believe in God, but I sure have room upon my shoulder for
my Guardian Angel,
if there is one, but they can't really save you if you have a bad
fall at high speed.
I was using 24yr old Duegi cycle shoes and toe clips on cage
pedals until just
before the photo in 2010 but I have since changed to modern
with clip in pedals. I could no longer find shoe plates to suit
the old shoes which
were beginning to fall apart after about 70,000 km.
Total Bike weight is about 2.0 Kg more than a latest carbon fibre framed modern
equivalent costing say $8,000 and including the same comfortable
saddle and sensible wheels and pedals. So how much did a good 1988
Here is the answer I got using a modern electronic bathroom scale
My weight in normal clothes, after a feed, 87.2Kg.
Weight while holding bike in hands, a full 750ml water bottle and
a long pump,
Weight of bike = 11.8Kg.
Weight while holding bike in
hands, WITHOUT full water bottle and pump,
Weight of bike = 10.8Kg.
Less 2 x water bottle clips, bell, - 300 grams, so possible bike
weight = 10.5Kg.
Modern bikes are usually weighed without pedals, which would be
so that leaves 9.6Kg.
When I raced I used tubular tyres, lighter wheels ( but still with
36 spokes ),
so bike weight would have been 9.2Kg.
Now my frame size is quite large, and about 100mm higher than most
frames, making it maybe 500gms heavier than that suiting a typical
racing cyclist of 1790cm.
If I spent $15,000 on the latest bike with mostly carbon parts,
it'd be 7Kg with
the lightest race wheels and tubular tyres, no pedals, no water
bottle, clips or pump etc.
But for less money and using heavier wheels and tyres which are an
for reliability where there is no team support car following me
around the suburbs,
Maybe weight = 8Kg. Add the Brooks saddle instead of some horrible
fly weight arse
breaker, and same pedals, bike weight would be then become 9Kg,
and with a water
bottle and pump it'd be 10.0Kg.
So I see that I ride with about 2.0Kg more than those who have
spent $7,000 recently.
Now total weight I have to move = 99.0Kg, and speed is not
It is closest to being proportional going up hills, which are only
part of the distance
2Kg = 2% of total of 99Kg. If average speed is now 23kph then I
estimate the speed
increase would be +1% if I could reduce bike weight by -2Kg,
so speed would be
23.23kph, which is hardly measurable, and hardly something worth
if I lost 2Kg of body weight, it makes a similar difference, but I
save money by
not eating chocolate or drinking wine, eating cheese and crap so I
0.23kph faster and be richer not poorer.
I cannot remember when I was overtaken by anyone my age or over 55
while out on a casual keep-fit ride, so I've never felt the
obsessive need to have the
very latest modern bike with lots of carbon fibre. Even if I
did have the latest
bike, and if I lost more weight, I still could not keep up with
many seriously athletic fellows
under 55 who ride in the many bunches I see out on a Sunday.
Spending up makes
no sense to me bearing in mind that bicycles wear out, break, or
get easily damaged in
When a young man overtakes me I
marvel at his speed, and it reminds me of how
I once was.
If only every man could feel good about another passing him by, it
be a better world.
I use a Cateye to record all my
efforts on the bike. I have it set for auto recording where
it stops recording speeds below 6kph. This means that many slow
speed sections of
my rides on footpaths and cycle paths are still included thus
giving an overall average
about 3kph slower than if I rode the best open roads all the time.
Coffee time and
coffee aroma and best looking cafe waitress is not recorded on the
Very rarely, a female cyclist overtakes me. In 2008 a very
beautiful young blond girl of
perhaps 19 went past me up Mt Stromlo. Kinda like a dancing
mermaid on a bike.
As she passed, and in a very laconic Australian accent asked me,
"Are ya winning?"
I replied immediately,
"Nope, you just passed me!"
Then she was gone.
And such is life, no?
Some tips about cycling, July 2012.
For nearly a year I have now been using 9 speed Shimano SORA gears
50+34 chain rings plus 9 speed Tiagra 12t to 32t mountain bike
Before I changed to the 9 speed I had had a lot of increasing
trouble with gear cables.
When I first converted the steel frame bike from 7 speed cluster
and levers on
the front down tube, the changeover worked quite flawlessly. But
after time the cable
running under the centre bracket began to wear a groove in the
cable guide eyelet.
Friction increased and gear change became erratic. I thought it
was just cables or
the handlebar gear lever mechanism and i decided to try new bar
lever and go to 9
speed but that made no difference. Then I found a shop selling a
plastic slide to screw fix
to the frame, and after removing the steel eyelet the plastic
I also used a Durace gear cable which has been ground flatter and
smoother and it
worked exceptionally well. But it lasted only 5,000 km, and was
$24. I'm now using a
normal generic $5 gear cable which isn't as good as the Durace,
but next time I will
I also switched from using engine oil on chain to using Rock n
Roll "dry lube".
This stuff seems good, it soaks into a chain and floats out the
shit, good after a chain
dries right out after riding in the rain. I will see if I get the
same distance with
Rock"N"Roll as I got with messy and dirty engine oil needing
frequent active cleans
rear wheel, and hanging bike up from roof, and running the
a pot of petrol with brushing, after and dipping rear end in
the pot and turning cranks
by hand. Always messy. Since last October I've done maybe 8,300km
and so far no
chain troubles. Only 3 days where the chain got soaked during a
20km ride home in
I guess if you ride on 700C x 23 road tires, and around suburban
streets with many
broken bottles from arsoles chucking them out car windows then you
will get lots of
punctures. I don't believe the most expensive tires give many less
punctures than the
To minimize the punctures, try inspecting tyres after each 150km.
Turn the bike upside
down and clean off loose junk on rubber with a your hand or a
brush under strong light
and use reading glasses if your eyes are old, like mine. Rubber on
tyres can differ, and
some tires pick up more stuff than others. Look closely at the
rubber while rotating
the wheel. Use an awl to dig out embedded bits of glass, stone,
thorns, or steel
fragments. Often glass will appear as a little white dot, and it
needs to be probed with
the awl to test if it is glass or stone. Its not unusual for me to
find 4 pieces of glass
in each tyre and each piece longer than 2 mm, and in the form of
or pointy glass fragment trying to go straight into the woven
fabric and then to the tube.
Such bits of glass can slowly be hammered on each wheel turn
towards the inner tube.
Neglecting the connection of hard sharp objects stuck into your
tyre rubber will give you
3 times the number of punctures. You cannot see the thousands of
pieces of glass
and other things you ride over. You can avoid where a drink bottle
has been smashed
on a road recently, but after time the traffic grinds in the glass
to leave ever finer
particles, some pointing straight up, waiting patiently to get
right into your tyre, then
work their way into the tube. The awl you use to dig glass out
should not be sharp
as a sewing needle lest you dig around and puncture the tire to
get a deep piece
of glass out, but sharp enough to be able to feel the grittiness
of the glass at the
bottom of a hole.
The very worst tyres I've used in the last year were SECA with
very soft rubber.
Boy they were bad, they picked up and retained many more bits of
glass than any
other brand I've used.
I've done about 170,000kms on a bicycle since 1987. I've never had
a tire slashed
by a large enough object to cut a large hole requiring a
replacement tire, not
just a new tube, but I always carry a piece of tyre cut from an
old one in case I get
a large hole so I can make it home. I also patch my tubes
regularly, and some have
up to 10 patches. I probably average about 1 puncture each 3weeks,
and that's 17
a year and as I ride 11,000 km a year, its so about 1 puncture
Eventually, a patch might fail, or a puncture occur on an existing
patch, and for
some reason the inner tube is then chucked out.
The SECA tyres became so bad before they wore out that I tried
polyurethane "puncture proof" strips between inner tube and inside
Well, that made the bike feel slow and heavy and after two more
a month I decided such rubbish just doesn't work.
and lifestyle change in 2006
In 2006 and after not riding a bike or doing much manual
work for about 12 years
my weight had gone from 82Kg to 102Kg and I didn't like
myself. The reason
for the rest had initially been sore knees due to trying to work
as a builder and cycle
200km a week and race every weekend. My knees are the genetic
product of my
parents, and my father was a brilliant athlete, but my mother
never could run
anywhere, and I got the blend. A broken cruciate ligament at age
19 didn't help
matters. It had never been repaired, and still has not. In 2004,
doctors wanted to
put in metal&plastic joints but in 2005 they gave me a joint
clean out with endoscope
surgery. Pain stopped immediately, and in 2006 I decided to ride
I dusted off the old bikes and began to pedal off the fat.
Because I was heavy
I broke quite a few spokes in the old wheels. One day a pair of
front forks broke
in traffic and I crashed to the road and people and parts
scattered. I survived
nearly being run over by a following bus because I was in the
cycle lane alongside
the traffic lanes which were installed after 2004 in Canberra.
Roads became much
safer with cycle lanes. Roving speed cameras slowed down traffic
became safer than it had been in the 1980s. I realized that some
parts of the bikes
I had bought in the 1980s had bad metal fatigue. I re-built
wheels and replaced
head stocks on handlebars and replaced lever gears with Shimano
gears. I've had very few mechanical troubles and have continued
need a bike mechanic.
In 2006 I
changed my diet to lots of salads, not much
carbohydrate, and just enough
protein. Most people overstate the
exercise they do and underestimate the amount
they eat, so they just fail to deal with getting heavier in a
world of plenty. Many deny
they eat and drink much rubbish. My bicycle and diet change created a slight calorie
deficit, but my nutrition was excellent. My knees felt better than
they had for years.
My body knew it was carrying too much fat, and knew its muscles
would have to
push it around the town, and so while I lost fat I didn't feel
hungry while eating well.
After losing up to 1Kg a week my weight fell from 102Kg to 84Kg
after only six months.
I went back to my best "racing weight" of 1989, OK for me because
I am 186 cm tall.
My BMI went from 29.5 to 25. I gained muscle weight and got down
to 83Kg in 2010.
My resting heart rate went from 65 beats per minute in 2006 to
less than 50 by 2007.
It is now 48bpm in 2011. And is now 46bpm in 2012. If I ride up a
long steep hill I can
maybe get my heart rate up to 130 maximum but if I rest at the
hill top it slows very
Everyone should look at the truth
about their hearts, but they don't. I try not to be
like most people. Its difficult. If
anyone at age 60 finds that their HR does not fall back
to resting quickly after ceasing very vigorous exercise then the
chance of heart attack
within 5 years is very high. The rate of heart rate recovery after
exercise is an excellent
indication of heart health, and I suggest everyone do a Google on
it. As I age my problems
may increase because I won't be
able to exercise as much. But I plan to keep exercising
within reason, and as a healthy old hunter would have done in the
year BC 40011.
( only 30,000 years before civilization began ).
Until mid 2010, I often cycled with a friend of 70 who discovered
his HR went to around
150 too often and on hills went higher while mine was half that.
We were worried.
He was often breathless. He also became fat around the middle so
hill became a struggle. His asma didn't help. He gave up cycling
and moved house
to the south coast to pursue a quiet life without as much hard
regular exercise -
and this may be good for him if he controls eating and does enough
exercise. It appears his smoking-drinking habits before age 60
finally caught up with him.
Right now he is happy at 71, and resigned to a lifestyle I don't
feel would suit me yet.
He's not obese, and has stayed off the grog and cigarettes, and
cycling hasn't wrecked him.
In 2006 and after 13 years
off a bike I found that no matter how light and fit I became
I could not easily get up some hills with the same old gear ratios
I had used when
I raced in late 1980s. I used to have chain rings of 52+42 with
largest rear cog of 23
teeth. I changed to Compact
Shimano chain rings 50+34 and an 8 speed mountain
bike cassette with largest cog = 28t, and in late 2011 I changed
to 9 speed with
11t to 32t cassette. I often use the lowest possible gear of 34t
to 32t, and yet
other blokes my age never overtake me. I don't have to wreck my
knees trying to
push a big gear on steep hills. I have a long dropper Tiagra
touring rear derailleur
to allow the largest 32t rear cog. I can just pedal up the
steepest of hills of up to
12% slope, sitting down.
When choosing gearing, it is important to always have low enough
gears to allow
climbing the steepest hills while seated, so you can change from
being seated to
standing to vary the muscle groups used and thus distribute the
people buy road bikes which have gearing which only suits racing
on mainly flat
roads, so they don't have low enough gears for steep hills, and
they don't have
the fitness from constant effort each week. Recreational or old
riders like me will
damage their knees if they cannot keep up a quick pedaling rhythm
on steep hills.
Inexperienced cyclists will try to use ever increasing leg force
at slow revolution rates
to go up hills. Its the force which creates excessive pressures on
cartilages and other
tissues which causes damage. So its always better to use less leg
force with higher
revolutions per minute (cadence) to achieve the power required.
There is an optimal
cadence rate for a given slope of a hill and the right gear should
be selected for this.
It takes time to learn this. While standing during a climb, the
cadence is usually
slower than when seated although the bike speed will be the same.
So when you
enter a climb you might stay seated, drop down a gear, then
another and another,
as you slow for the body of the hill as the heart and lungs start
to pump hard.
When you stand, maybe you can go a gear higher. Then you sit
again, and go
back down a gear. This is what happens when I attempt Black
Lake Burley Griffin, or Red Hill, both with 10% slope. I change
gear up and down
as I climb, and my heart rate is high but comfortable, my
breathing is rapid and full,
but I am not spent or exhausted. A rhythm is maintained. The
will attack the hill, and try to sprint and he will exhaust
himself with excessive heart
rate and breathing rates from which he cannot quickly recover so
he slows to
recover and loses all he gains.
I am far too heavy to be a natural born good climber on a bicycle.
I have a fat content
probably up around 18%. The men with fat content of 10% or less
have a huge
advantage. I think I should have been a rower where I would have
the ideal physique.
But I do get up some long steep hills faster than many other
people 1/2 my age
because I have a enough low gears,
I know how to pace myself, and I
to get fit and stay fit, and all because I like doing it and I'm
not afraid. If I do get scared,
its during the descents where my weight propels me faster than
most others, so I
often catch up with better climbers who are so smug about dropping
me on a hill.
I am very lucky to live in Canberra which would have to
be the safest place
in Australia where you can ride on hundreds of kilometers of
But since 2008 I have slowed by
about 3kph on my average speeds due to prostate
cancer treatment, and yet I am rarely overtaken by anyone over 40.
My knees improved after 2006 and
for 2007 to 2009 I did 200km a week regularly.
Several rides were over 130km, but 105km is about the longest 2011
In summer I like to swim about 1.5km a week. Its not far, but it
helps the body
after the unnatural body position of riding a bike. Swimming is
very good for one's
spine which tends to get lots of problems as we age.
Since 2006, the fastest ride I did was in early 2008 on an ideal
February morning. I went out and back along a 25.5km course
to Geary's Gap
near Lake George on the Federal Highway with start and finish at
corner of Antill St and the Federal Highway at Watson. I achieved
an average speed
of 32.6kph for the 51km total.
Maximum hill slope is 4%, with about 400 metres of vertical rise
up-hill over half a
dozen or more hills in both directions. The turnaround point near
Lake George is
100 metres higher than the start point, so coming home was faster
than going out.
I think this course is a great time trial venue for anyone cycling
alone to test their
abilities on their own. But it may not be suitable for a legal
club event with many
competing cyclists because it is a busy public high way. Its safe
all cycling can be done in the well surfaced "break down" lane on
dual carriageway highway.
The turnaround point involves riding from the breakdown lane
across two lanes
of 100kph traffic, crossing a wide median strip, then riding
across two more lanes
of 100kph traffic in the opposite direction and getting into the
breakdown lane to
ride back to the start. On my own, I had to give way to motorists
which takes time,
and maybe I lost 30 seconds.
But for the first time in my life I did a faster average speed for
a 61 yr old as listed
in Veteran Age Standard for time trials usually established on
quite flat courses in
the UK, and my time was equal to the standard for someone 56, not
61. And this
course is not flat as an ideal venue with hills less than 1%
The Age Standards for time trials were established in the UK, and
mainly set by
clubmen in the cycling club time trials. Most courses for time
trials are chosen
for their flatness and speed, ease of turn-around, lack of
traffic, so attempts to
get to age standard times can succeed. My little achievement does
for much bearing in mind that so many cyclists who were good in
their youth, ie,
before age 45, have retired, while idiots like me battle
On 13 March 2011, I went out with a bunch of 11 others and rode
with them for
the first 26km along the same course as I had done 3 years
previously in 2008.
At first I got a couple of minutes ahead of them all except for
one who trailed
in my slipstream for the first 13km, and average was 27.4kph.
3 of them rode away from me on hills but I later caught and
But they increased the pace and I faded, and arrived to the 26km
point 20 seconds
behind and drafting didn't help me much. Average was 26.8kph. I
to ride the extra 15km for coffee at a winery at Lake George so I
said bye bye
and returned alone to where I started and average went up to
its got more downhill than the out journey. So I was about 5kph
slower than I
was 3 years ago, and I had drafted. I have maybe lost 20% of my
power due to
medical treatments and having zero testosterone.
The age standard time for a man 64yo and for 48.3 km is 1:34:42
and so my
speed should be 30.6kph average, but that is now an impossible
speed speed for
me to get. My speed is 3kph
below where it should be.
The age standards may be inspected at
But even at age 41, I could never get the age standard time for a 40km time
trial on what was regarded as a flat TT course from Curtin to just
airport on a freeway. And despite
riding 300km a week at training I could never get
better than 1:08 or 35.2kph. If one searches
the absolute age records for time trials
one will find much lower times than the age standard tables. I saw
a record where a
man of 83 in the UK achieved my 2008 result. We are
definitely not born equal and
cannot become equal even if we tried. We are born different, and
that we will remain.
Most very keen riders in time trial events
have pushed up the speed and lowered
the time by using a special time trial bike with lightweight
frame, disc wheels,
special geometry with a more forward seat position, special
suits, booties over shoes, and whatever else may be done to
over what may be achieved with an old fashioned steel framed bike
fancy at all as I have. When I raced in the Canberra Cycling Club
there were men 10 years older who went 3kph faster. There are now
fellows of 90 who can ride as fast as I do now over 40km. Speed
itself is NOT
the main focus for me, but being personally "together" and
fetching a personal
best is rewarding. It is a selfish concern with only indirect
social benefit, ie,
because I am well, I am less dependent on anyone else. Part of
being well is
not being obsessed with cycling or anything else.
Last year I met a guy my age who raced in the A-grade vets in the
club 20 years
ago. I could never keep up with him. But like me, he had a long
break from cycling
and he put on more weight than I did. We went out for a good
together and I got
up a long hill much faster. It may be the last time I was quicker
last year he lost weight, and he's about level with me now. I
expect to never
be able to stay with him if he keeps trying to get fit. But he has
a girl friend
who keeps him in bed on Sunday mornings, and he won't come out
with the bunch.
Always remember there is someone better than yourself. Be not
Is it not a marvel, that someone is better than you?
But if I were to put together a new bike I might buy a titanium
frame rather than
carbon, then transfer much of what I have on bike No2 with
Reynolds 531 to
the new bike.
The bikes at this address look nice
I can only smile when I see fat guys with bikes
costing $10,000. They really
need to lose at least 10 Kg of their own weight. Well, we all
enjoy our cake
but it is the quick cyclist who does not eat cake too often.
For 2008 and 2009 I often rode
with Pedal Power, ACT,
I began doing about 100km every Sunday with the fastest members of
people who may turn up on a fine Sunday morning. They divide
into a fast, medium and slow group, with an average of 10 in the
I found riding in the fast group was OK for 2 years and then it
plain too hard because most were 10 years younger and naturally
raising a sweat. I saw no point in staying with them uphills and
the flats at 40kph. In 2009 I began riding with the intermediate
group who I
found were a bit slower and more sociable. I have never wished to
in a cycle club again because it is so demanding and inevitably
oneself up against other veteran cyclists 10 years younger. It
enough to try to keep up on a Sunday and enjoy the stop at the
Sometimes I stayed with the slower guys just to enjoy the
day and the country
scenery. It is mainly all men over 50. Occasionally there were
joined our group but most struggled to keep up even though they
I saw some young females turn up to ride once with us and then
were never seen
again. They didn't realize they have to ride 100km each week and
week and fairly quickly to be able to get fit and stay fit. The
slow group attracts
a regular number of many older females and all married, but it is
no fun for me
to ride so slow.
The important thing is to be out and about on the bicycle and
freedom to choose your speed; it is not racing, and speed is not
enjoy a coffee at cafe. If my health deteriorates and my cycling
I will join the slow group where the oldest rider is about 75.
Indeed in 2009
I fell over at home while gardening and slightly injured a knee
and I rode with
the slow group until I healed and then rejoined the intermediates.
If you become a financially paid up member of Pedal Power then
benefits of good insurance cover; I suggest you check it out from
The Pedal Power rides are often on country roads which are roughly
not with smooth hot-mix, so they cause vibrations. So one has to
get used to
riding on rougher surfaces.
Do tell yourself each morning, "I must Ride Carefully."
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