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Tech Tuesday: Check Your Suspension

While riding around in circles tonight at a local 3.5 mile mountain trail I realized something was off more than normal. My pedals were hitting things that I normal don’t and my turning felt slow. As I slowed to a stop I watched my fork spring back to life after I unweighted the front end. This meant only one thing, my air suspension fork didn’t have enough air in it or the air was equal between the top and the bottom chambers.

I finished out my lap and thankfully had thrown a shock pump in my car a few weeks prior, always forgetting to check my fork’s pressure before the ride!

Tech Tuesday

Make sure to visit the sponsors of this posts.. Problem Solvers!

One concern that so many women (and guys) have with owning a bike is the basics of fixing it, or how to do basic road side repairs. I do recommend that as an avid cyclist even with some mechanical skills that you should become best buds with your local mechanic (beer or ice cream works well.) I also want women to feel empowered and to have a better idea of what they are talking about. Tech Tuesday is the remedy for common tech questions!

With technology progressing it is easy to forget the bicycles we are riding today are very advanced and need some thought in maintaining them at the level they belong. It is often that people come in to the bike shop with 10% of the air they need in their suspension, wondering why their bike feels like they are riding a flat tire. Or even better is when they ride their bike for 2-3 years and never take the time to get it serviced, when the estimate of replacing that rear shock comes in they are sticker shocked. What they don’t know is that your suspension (especially air shocks) needs serviced based on hours of ride time. Your bushings between your shock and fork wear out, your fork needs new oil and so on. Technology brings more things to pay attention at and keep up with maintenance.

Our friends over at London Cyclist recently posted a great how to for checking sag in on a mountain bike fork.

Suspension on a mountain bike reduces rider fatigue and improves the bike wheels contact on rough terrain. When adjusting, your aim is to balance between a soft and a hard setup. Too soft will result in your bike wheels not travelling far enough in a dip and too hard will cause your bike to bounce off rough terrain.

The sag determines the amount that the mountain bike suspension compresses.

Andreas did a great job, so instead of rewriting what he has already covered please check him out. In the mean while I have a friend coming over where I will be putting together a video of the exact how to for a full suspension bike!

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Flow at Lake Norman State Park

Yesterday, after attempting to play a few rounds of paintball games for the first time, I quickly loaded up my Green Goblin to hit up Lake Norman State Park before the daylight faded.

As I drove to the park I realized I was going to miss probably 30 minutes of the 2:30 ride time that I had planned due to the sun starting to go low beyond the trees. Quickly I came up with a new game plan. The goal was to ride the Itusi and Mambo loops (12 miles) for warm up and then to crank out another lap on Itusi but at a faster pace.

1/4 of the way through the 6 mile Itusi trail I realized that something was happening between the connection of the bike and rider. The last time I felt this type of connection was fall of 2006 when I was living in Brevard North Carolina while working at Cane Creek building wheels. The connection where you flick, the bike goes, flicking and jumping and flowing up and down the curves of the trail. It felt amazing.

Right ear plugged into Black Keys, left ear listening to the cicadas and the creaking of my bottom bracket.

Staying on track with time, keeping my heart rate in check, keeping RPM’s high when going flat or straight and slowing it down while climbing,  using basic muscle strength.

Hit last loop, Itusi part II. Rolling into the 2nd inner loop, I see a head a small dog. Slowing, I realized it has stripes. A raccoon, in day light? This isn’t good. It scureys off the trail and I jam it in hopes of not being bit by a rabid striped “dog.” Senses heightened I hear rustling, crap is the thing following me? Look to the left and see three doe deer running right at me.

Wildlife attacking…!!! I jet, pull the headphone out of my ear but keep singing very loudly in hopes that it keeps the deer away!

Cut the route short, sparing my legs 2.5 miles but glad that I didn’t have any more close encounters.

Garmin 200 Bicycle Computer

Preview: Garmin Edge 200 Cycling Computer for Budgets

A Garmin for those on a shoe string budget but wanting the GPS functions and advantages, meet the Garmin Edge 200. MSRP of $149.99 and the function list reminds me that of the old Edge 205 but with a cleaner and smaller look. Add to it 14 hours of run time with a rechargeable battery, I’ll be putting this on my Christmas list instead of the 800!

“The Edge 200 was designed for those budget conscious cyclists looking for the basics — speed, distance, time and calories,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “With no set-up or sensors required, simply switch on, press start and go. The Edge 200 adds so much to your ride that no ride will ever be the same again.”

Scouting Out CX Course

Monday..Tuesday..WEDNESDAY

When I wake up my feeling of getting out of bed is hit or miss. Either I am really excited about the day and inspired, or I want to cuddle up, staying nice and tucked away for the day. As my family members can vouch, I could sleep a day away and believe me I have! I think it is a trait that I learned from my mother many years ago.

It seems when I go to bed, if I am overly motivated (yes, how can you be overly motivated?) I think too much. My brain starts wondering, thinking about the weights I need to lift, the course I need to ride, the things I need to fix, etc etc. While if I look at riding or “working out” on a daily routine as something that I’m “just doing” my brain doesn’t go in hyper drive at night and I wake up feeling more motivated to get ‘er done.

This week has been one of those weeks that I turn off the alarm and sleep a little bit longer. Monday started off well with core in the morning and running at night, Tuesday well.. Tuesday I fell off the wagon. Shifting my week around I took it as a rest day, leading me up to today for cyclocross practice.

Still, I am feeling motivated. Today’s practice went well. Feeling more confident with the dismount, but still lacking the energy needed to “hurl” myself back on the bike for the remount.

The point of this all? None, I just wanted to do a recap of the week thus far for myself.. not really any other reason.

 

 

Tech Tuesday

Tech Tuesday: Tools of the Trade

Make sure to visit the sponsors of this posts.. Problem Solvers!

One concern that so many women (and guys) have with owning a bike is the basics of fixing it, or how to do basic road side repairs. I do recommend that as an avid cyclist even with some mechanical skills that you should become best buds with your local mechanic (beer or ice cream works well.) I also want women to feel empowered and to have a better idea of what they are talking about. Tech Tuesday is the remedy for common tech questions!

A few emails have come through since I started this series that interest of what tools I recommend to start their tool collection. While I have a large collection that is only missing a couple (very expensive and very unique) tools. Sometimes it is best to buy as you need, but if you find a good deal on a tool kit or a shop closing – jump on it!!! While most of the links below are affiliate links that I gain a very small commission, they are all products I use daily and recommend to all. If your local bike shop carries them, order it there!

Starter Kit

These are the tools and accessories I recommend to anyone that owns a bike.


Testing Out the Waters

You are learning how to work on your own bike, the multi-tool isn’t cutting it and you want tools with more leverage and use.
  • A Repair Stand - The first thing that will make you feel like you are working on a bike like placing your bike in a repair stand. Get up off the garage floor.
  • Full size allen wrenches – Don’t use the ball end to tighten as you’ll strip out the wrench or the bolt, but you won’t ever go back to using multi-tools for major servicing.
  • Gear Brush - Maintenance starts with keeping that drivetrain clean!
  • Lube - Make sure to lube your chain after cleaning it
  • Grease - Grease and lube are very different. This goes on bolts (that don’t screw in to titanium or around carbon)

The Kitchen Sink

Simply put go buy the Professional Kit from Park Tools.
Motivational Monday

Motivational Monday: Why Do YOU Ride?

A couple of my friends are currently riding their bicycles across the great United States. Starting in Oregon and slowly making their way back to Charlotte, NC. You can track their progress online and they give Facebook updates with photos every few days.

All summer long I can say I have been jealous of this movement. To remove myself from the plugged in life. To not wake up to go to the gym, or to work or to some other tasks I need to complete. To be able to live by bike, to wake up to simply ride my bike a little further down an asphalt ribbon on the large map of the United States.

This act that my friends are taking on stirs up feelings of being a kid and the bike being the reason I felt freedom for the first time in my life, or felt that I could conquer a tasks that none of my peers could fathom.

Why Do You Ride?

The question above is asked often for online interviews, surveys or by friends that don’t ride their bikes.  The answer, depending on the day, changes with me. A year ago, I would say I bike to feel free everyday on my commute. These days I bike to find myself for a few moments. In order to remove myself from the constant thought that goes along in my head.

There are days that I ride my bike for the adventure. How far can I go today? Is the path I chose too long, will I make it home before dark, am I lost? All these questions are so different than the everyday questions we deal with, and it is a very refreshing feeling!

Where am I going with this? I want to know why you ride. Who do you ride for, what motivates you, what is the feeling you think of when you think of sitting your butt on that saddle for a few hours at a time.