October 20, 2017 Login  


Health benefits of ridng fix gear - my back!
Last Post 05/16/2017 12:22 PM by 79 pmooney. 19 Replies.
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79pmooney

Posts:1735

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05/05/2017 04:30 PM
Did a 50 miler yesterday.  43-16 with a 21 bail out.  Plannned to go 70 miles but flatted twice in 2 miles.  Same problem.  (A tear in the plastic rimstrip at a spoke hole.  The result of using the spoke hole depression to get the tire lever under a tight rimstrip.  Been doing that for years with the Velox strips with no issues.  Sorry, DT.  Your fancy blue strip is coming out and an ordinary (and French) one is going in.

This out-and-back ride has a 300' hill I can either climb or ride 2 more miles and go around.  Going out isn't too hard.  Coming back is a bear.  No run in, steep at the bottom, well over 10% grade, no breaks.  Rode it going out and for the first time this year, elected no to stop and flip the wheel.  No biggie.  Hit the steep side one mile after my second flat and just decided to do it.  43-17.  Grunt.  Hard, but it felt good (except last year's toestraps slipped.  My right cleat was useless and I had to hold my left foot just right.  Part way up I became aware that my forearm muscles were tight as a drum and working hard

Made it to the top, celebrated not having to stop and flip the wheel back and enjoyed the descent.  I felt the ride when I got home, some dehydration, I didn't eat much and spent muscles.  Got up today and wow!  My back has been giving me issues.  (Lower vertebra collapsing - I haven't had a full diagnosis, but it is real.  I've lost an inch, the wrong pants and belts can be very uncomfortable, etc.)  But today I felt like a young man, easily standing straight with the posture I used to have and feeling great.

Funny that this great breakthrough for my back happened climbing a hill with technique so "wrong".  Way, way too high a gear.  RPMs barely into 2 digits.  But now it feels like a zen master of stretch and relaxation did a special session on my body.

The other breakthrough - the fun!  I want to go out and do it again.  I've been dreading the 2000' loops going through Bald Peak State Park; my training ride for Cycle Oregon.  Now I am looking forward to it.  Maybe I will even go up Laurel Road.  (The tough part is around 1000' and steep enough for this leaf of a descender to hit 50 coming down.)  With good toestraps!

Ben
smokey52

Posts:245

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05/06/2017 05:54 PM
well, hooray. I enjoy your stories. Thanks Ben.
smokey
Master50

Posts:332

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05/07/2017 02:55 PM
+1 on the velox. lately been on rims without spoke holes so no rim tape.
I can rationalize fix gears on the road. I can even understand the exercising of our antagonistic muscles to maintain symmetry and balance. Glad you found joy in the practical application of the theory
79pmooney

Posts:1735

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05/07/2017 08:05 PM
Just came home from a 15 mile out and back Portland's west hills Skyline Blvd. 38-21 to get up to Skyline. 46-14 to come down. All the rest 44-17. A lot of hills. A prolonged weight lifting session, light weights, lots of reps. Fun!

Master, I hear folks saying Velox is too expensive and other issues. Maybe, but the stuff just works. It can sit in a toolbox for a decade and work. You can pull half of it off and do a spoke 5 years later, several times. I replace rims and usually keep the rimstrip. I had three rolls; one size too large, and two a size too small yesterday. No problem. Put the wide roll in my vise, took a sharp kitchen knife and cut about 1.5 mm off. Worked like a charm.

Ben
longslowdistance

Posts:1474

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05/07/2017 08:23 PM
Great story, Ben.
One issue I've had with velox is because it's thick, it can make mounting some tires hard. I've had good luck with some of the modern thin plastic versions. Never tried DT.
79pmooney

Posts:1735

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05/07/2017 10:39 PM
lsd, that was why I cut down the tape. I wanted all of it sitting in the low of the rim.

Ben
Nick A

Posts:523

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05/08/2017 07:12 AM
I use old school Velox cloth rim tape on all of my bikes, and old school Velox rubber plugs on my road bike. "Enjoy" the donwhill on a fixed?! Haven't had a fixed in a few years, but I actually liked uphills on a fixed more than down. LOL. No quitting going up! Each leg kept just getting "kicked" over.

N
zootracer

Posts:567

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05/08/2017 11:41 AM
I've found all those snap-on rim strips are different. I've had good luck withe the Ritcheys. The main advantage is they make it easier to mount tight fitting clinchers. They don't last forever, maybe a year. Velox did not work so well with my new Hed Belgium C2 rims. Whatever works for you in my motto...
79pmooney

Posts:1735

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05/08/2017 01:03 PM
Nick, there's a reason to do the real work of setting up a multiple chainline setup or carry a huge cog wrench. Big downhills in mid-90" gears are a blast! The descent down Dead Indian Memorial Road into Ashland, OR on the '12 CO was one of the most fun descents I have ever done. 42-12. 16 miles of probably 6%. (Didn't hurt at all that I "knew" the road. I had never seen it before, but the terrain, vegetation and sweep of the road was just like Mt Diablo, Contra Costa, CA, my old stomping grounds of 30 years before. I knew those turns like the back of my hand. Yes, I backed off for the first few caution signs but every time it was "I didn't need to do that" and I ignored them the rest of the way down.) We fix gear riders get to call that gear huge! - for geared folk 53-15; it's a gear to coast in.

By contrast, the descents of the coast highway on last year's CO were too long and steep to be fun, too many to change gears for and were near torture. Now, I was completely unprepared last year. No training and no hardened butt after a conscious decision 6 months before to not ride CO and put the time and money into the house. 24 hours before the ride started I was offered a spot. For free. Take it or leave it. I would need to be in camp in ~10 hours. It would be a 4 1/2 drive. It took me ~3 minutes to say yes, I'll go. Went home, looked at my bikes (that I had spent very little time riding) and asked myself "which of these bikes would I trust to do a 2000' descent I have never seen tomorrow?" I knew Jessica J, my fun ti fix gear was up and running. It went on the car.

Last year's rest day had the option of riding south from Gold Beach to Brookings on the coast road, then back either on it or inland climbing ~2000'. The ride down was, for me, killer. I felt like hamburger at Brookings. Turned inland to come home, flipped the wheel and enjoyed the long climb in a reasonable gear, changed cogs at the top and did miles of just fast enough to be a step above mild descent with wonderful turns and countryside. Did it all alone. (Not many of us went inland.) Ear to ear grin all the way down. Cycling heaven.

Speaking of wrong gears - yesterday I came off Skyine in 46-14, 89". Perfect coming down. Crossed the main road at the bottom with the light. Decided at that instant to stay in that gear for another half mile to the Alpenrose velodrome that I was going right past; that I would duck in and watch whoever was riding. Muscling the bike up that little 50' (?) rise in that gear was harder than anything I did on Skyline!

I love riding fix gear. But sadly, I've run out of bikes to fix! I've done all but two. My good TiCycles is vertically dropped. (Yeah, I could do a White Industries eccentric hub to get one gear and yet another unique hub and fix gear standard. Nah. Already, my two double sided wheels are not interchangeable. Jessica's is 120 and symmetrical. Pete's (the Mooney) is 126 and slightly dished. The Raleigh Competition is horizontally dropped and would be a sweet fix gear ride but its BB is already almost below road grade. The city would be coming after me for pavement damage and Shimano's stock prices would soar on news of pedal sales.)

My last three rides were on my three different fix gears. I love them all and they are quite different. The old Trek is just solid and reliable. Not light. Fenders, lock and rack. Plastic seat that can sit in the rain on a bike rack all day and not be soggy coming home. One gear that doesn't change. Dropout screws so setting the chain slack is brain dead, pouring rain easy. That bike is what it is and it is always ready to go. Jessica's a race bike. Pete is simply elegant.

Ben
79pmooney

Posts:1735

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05/09/2017 04:02 PM
Rode the Trek yesterday in town. Strong, my wind down, but no sustain. It was fun. I had more doing sprints for lights than I have had in a long time. Pursuited for two blocks with traffic behind me. Rode stronger up the long (shallow) hill coming home than I have in a while.

This evening I'll go out for 30 miles, 43-18. Easy spin. (Or maybe I"ll unscrew the dingle and ride the Mooney 44-18. A more comfy ride. Already sounds better. What choices!)

Ben
KootnaMoots

Posts:47

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05/12/2017 11:17 AM
Question. My Pinarallo trainer is fixed and I thought of giving fixed a try. Are you using brakes or are you spinning like crazy. We have short steep hill around here in Arkansas.Last time I did fixed was 60 some years ago at the San Jose velodrome.
Thanks.
Jer
79pmooney

Posts:1735

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05/12/2017 01:03 PM
Yes, I have always ridden with brakes and have no shame using them. (And serious backpedaling with chronromalacia knees is a sure way to speed up the need for new knees. That's fun to say! Even if the concept isn't.)

The more I ride the fix gears, the smoother I get and the faster I can go and stay smooth. But I am finding that my max RPM is falling as I get older, due I believe to both my muscles speed declining and me neing less willing to ride on the edge. Hence the brakes get more use.

And the hill matters a lot. If I know the hill, it is not too steep, I know the pavement is good, etc, I will go pretty fast and try to stay off the brakes. I've been clocked a few times by cars at 35 and those times I have been nowhere near my current limit. I'm guessing I can still do 42 or so on a 42-16 gear. I might still be able to do that on a 17 cog. (My crotch doesn't take as kindly to very high RPMs as it used to also.) And of course there is that pedal clearance thing. Again. I have no shame about using the brakes. And no shame about having really good ones so if I come to a corner I don't know and it is "oh s***!", I can shut down speed fast. I have gone to powerful calipers (dual pivot Shimanos on Jessica J and cantis on the Mooney) and V-brake levers. V-brake lever both for the wonderful handholds climbing but just as important the fact that adrenaline fueled clamping on the levers doesn't lock up wheels. My first go-round with this setup was summer of '12. I was coming down McKenzie Pass to Sisters, OR on the 42-14 (I hadn't yet found the really small cogs; this was to date by far the biggest fix gear I had ever ridden). I was riding alone. Came to a corner much both tighter and steeper than anything I had seen going way too fast! Slammed the brakes. Nothing happened, except the bike suddenly was going much slower. No lifting of the rear wheel, no trying to skip (something that becomes very obvious riding fixed!), just a huge loss of speed. Really confidence inspiring.

Yes, the V-brake levers are not your friend in the wet, nor for emergency stops from the hoods. But paired with good calipers, I have never ridden anything better for mountain fixed gear descents.

This is where having a much larger gear for really long hills is a treat. With a 42-12, 35 mph is only 123 RPM; child's play.

Ben
KootnaMoots

Posts:47

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05/13/2017 05:22 PM
This may be dumb but I will ask. Flat platform pedals or clip in pedals. Problems with clip in pedals exiting????

Jer
Nick A

Posts:523

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05/13/2017 09:38 PM
I know you weren't asking me but... I've ridden a fixed on the road with clips no problem. Getting out is easy. Sometimes if you don't get in right away, you have to wait for rotation to get the leverage to step on the cleat to get it to engage. Now, in the old days, of cleats with toe clips? Ha. I did that too. You'd have to reach down and kind of "catch" the release to loosen up the toe strap as you RPM's went down in anticipation of stopping. THAT was tricky.

All this talk makes me miss a fixed. But only so much money and even more so, so much room. What I really miss is riding on a track. I haven't done that in decades. Actually, only did it once. The old Montreal wooden velodrome. That is SO fun! No brakes, super steep frame angles, super smooth, super steep banking. Just pure cycling.

Nick
79pmooney

Posts:1735

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05/13/2017 10:21 PM
Jer, I will only use old fashioned toeclips, straps and just as old fashioned slotted cleats. I never, ever want to pull one foot off the pedal going fast. That would make me so imbalanced that I would probably suffer a major muscle pull or slam from a driven pedal before I ever hit the road. And riding platforms going fast, I just plain am not coordinated enough to not pull a foot off and feel that slam.

The drawback to clips, straps and cleats is that I do forget occasionally and fall over. But I learned years ago the just relaxing and accepting I made a fool of my self and making a point to greet the road, not fear it, meant that bruises were minor and almost always no skin is broken or clothing torn. I'll take 30-50 fallovers in exchange for never unclipping at speed no sweat.

I still uncleat using straps, usually when my straps or cleats are tired or I neglected to pull the straps tight. But with toeclips, my foot is still on the pedal. One huge difference! If I do this at 40 mph, my heart rate take a jump through the roof, I bleed a little speed with my brakes, slip my foot and cleat back into place, stuff that heart back were it belongs and continue on with nothing lost but a little speed.

Nick, I did one lap at our local velodrome (Alpenrose) 2 miles from my house. That 48 degree banking scared the **** out of me! So much I struggled to keep enough speed to make it around the corner.

I used to live in Seattle and rode around Marymoor a few times. No sweat. I'll do that on any bike, any day. (Got to do a couple of laps on a 1930's track bike once.)

Ben
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