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General questions from pavement-pounding newbie...(19 posts)

General questions from pavement-pounding newbie...chewbacca
Mar 28, 2002 12:30 PM
Hey everyone...just 'crossed' over to the pavement with a cross bike for commuting and getting some mileage in during the week. I'm new to the the skinny tire set and have a few general questions about it goes.

1. My commute is kind of tough, no real warmup and I'm huffing up a 1000' climb in just over a mile or so. Can you recommend something to put in my stomach at 7am that will give me a little energy and not end up on the side of the road? ;-)
2. I feel pretty good on fast decents, but my neck gets a little sore from being in the drops and looking forward to see where the hell I'm going...any excersizes or tips along those lines? Or just something I need to get used to?
3. What is the best seated climbing position for huffing up the steeps? I've found the most comfortable all-round position is out on the hoods, but have heard being in the drops helps lung capacity and leg power...
4. one last one, I have some pretty steep pavement decents on the way to work and the way home(different routes) and got some slight speed wobbles the other you push down on the front wheels while in the drops? Seemed to help some but worried about having too much weight on the front wheel incase I hit a stick/hole/squirrel...

Thanks guys/gals, I would appreciate any general tips as well, so far I'm enjoying it and I even get to hit some dirt on the way to work in the morning!


ps. I have 10 years of mtb experience, so I'm no newbie in general!
re:What works for me.dzrider
Mar 28, 2002 12:52 PM
1. Energy drink

2. Tipping the front of my seat up cured my neck and shoulder pain.

3. I sit up straighter and slide my butt back on hard hills.

4. Speed wobbles got worse the harder I fought them. I only had one bike with this problem and they would go away if I let go of the bars as soon as I felt them start. A trusted friend recommended pulling the front wheel off the ground, but I have not had occasion to try it.
Some general answersretro
Mar 28, 2002 12:56 PM
You'll like it--I moved from mountain bikes to about a 50/50 mix several years ago, so now I can spend TWICE the money...
Some answers that may help:
1. I dunno about energy between your 7 a.m. breakfast and your 7:06 ride up that hill. That's pretty quick for anything to be felt. Could it be that you're just stiff and cold in the morning (I'm pretty lucky--got a 600-foot descent in the first five miles to work, then six miles flat. I do the hill on the way home)? See if a little stretching and warmup, gross as that is at 7, helps.
2. The neck thing is common. You'll get used to it; meanwhile, light stretches and maybe some strengthening exercises will help. Also, if your bars are way low in relation to the seat, try raising them (flop the stem?). I have all my bikes set up now so the seat and bars are at the same height, and it really helps.
3. I move around a lot when I'm climbing, but usually ride on the flats by the stem or out on the brake hoods. With my bars set high, though, I sometimes do use the drops. Hard to do unless the bars are up there--you get bent over so far your lungs can't expand. There's a lot of individual preference in that.
4. Speed wobbles are sometimes really hard to find and cure. I've never had one that kicked in below about 35mph, so I tend to ignore them. The usual advice is to check everything up there--headset, wheel bearings, swap front tire to back to rule that out--then live with it. Clamping the top tube between your legs may help. Weighting the front is supposed to, but didn't make any difference in the two bikes I had that wobbled badly. You might post a specific question about that and see if one of the real mechanics on here has other suggestions.
Mar 28, 2002 12:58 PM
(1) You're riding to work, right? Hopefully you have showers there so you don't kill the people you work with from the sweat smell. So, I'd say you'd want to take the ride fairly easy, and that should keep whatever you put down your pie-hole where it belongs. Otherwise I'd stick with a liquid breakfast until getting to work.

(2) Streching the abs (strange as it may sound, do "cobras") and just strengthening the nack muscles (through more riding) will do the trick.

(3) Where'd you hear this drivel? Drops on a climb? Some one was pulling your leg. Hoods can work, but going to the bar tops will open things up even more. Use the hoods when standing (my preferred position on climbs, but that's just me).

(4) Clamp the top tube between your knees. When you have the chance, check your headset for "indexing" or looseness.
ditto on headsetcyclopathic
Mar 28, 2002 1:36 PM
4) holding TT with knees works saved me once on 16% downhill had loose headset also try to slide behind a bit on downhills similar to what you do on MTB

2) also stretch hamstrings helps to keep back flatter and takes strain off your neck. MTBing tends to shorten hamstrings

3) BS. tops sitting or hoods out of saddle

1) small P&J sandwich and cup of tea works for me, just "normal" food the trick is not to eat much no more then pwr bar size and enough liquid. Something easy on stomach not too sweet spicy or acidy.

Try to spin in lower gear first part of the climb though from what you say 1000'/1mi I don't see how you can that's 18% avg grade in my 42/24 low I'd be standing the whole thing.
What do I think?tempeteKerouak
Mar 28, 2002 2:16 PM
1) easiest, most assimilable valuable energy is chocolate milk (protein, carb, simple sugar). It is better if ingested AFTER effort. Some have problems with it if ingested before. I would try it. Keep it simple and natural; fruits, yogurt; I buy individual portion yogurt with put in a few scoops of cereal and chomp on a fruit. Remember real food? Way before goo tubes...

2) Neck muscu: light handweight (how about a can from the pantry?) lifted and held at shoulder's height. Train in resistance (holding longer with light instead of low rep count of heavy). But general upper body (push-ups will help)

3) Position? You can more or less isolate muscle groups by moving front/back on the saddle. Hand position; I find more power with the wide stance on the hoods, but will use the top when I have enough leg speed.

4) Wobble... someone posted a nice list just down here on this board. But in general, if you look far enough down the road and squeeze the saddle a bit, you should be ok... Keep a safe speed!
easiest, most assimilable valuable energyloop
Mar 28, 2002 4:56 PM
"Little chocolate doughnuts. They're on my training table."

...that and fermented hop and barley beverages (after, definitely after)....

Classic. Belushi was king. [nm]Ahimsa
Mar 28, 2002 7:37 PM
Have to kepp up the barlytesIcefrk13
Mar 29, 2002 9:54 AM
Have to kepp up the barlytes...most important.
re: General questions from pavement-pounding newbie...xxl
Mar 28, 2002 2:24 PM
Good advice on the speed wobbles, but you might also check the dropouts, which can get banged up, and lead to misaligned wheels; easily corrected at a shop if you're cruising steel, otherwise you're kinda screwed.

Also, it's a dumb thing (that we've all done at least once), but you might want to make sure the wheels are well-seated in the dropouts.
re: General questions from pavement-pounding newbie...js5280
Mar 28, 2002 2:40 PM
1. I like oatmeal it's easy on the stomach but it may not convert to energy fast enough. Eating right when you get up might help. Sugarly stuff converts to energy quickly so break out the kid's cereal ;-)

2. Get rid of the visor, you're a roadie now! ;-) Actually this will help, this isn't just a Roadie fashion statement. You don't have to arch your head as much if you lose the visor. Also, your neck will stregthen over time. Make sure your not tensing up your neck and shoulders, particularly climbing. Give them an occasional shrug and shake to make sure they are loose, you may be surprised how often they aren't. . .

3. Don't climb in the drops unless it's a very short climb. You can't breath as effectively cause your bent more at the waist while in the drops. I prefer the hoods, even standing because of better leverage, but I also use the tops for variety.

4. Speed wobbles, can't help you there.

General tips . . .Keep reading and posting, you'll learn a $hitload here. Roadies are generally more in tune to the minutiae of technique and training so that gets discussed more here than at MTBR. Mountain bikers are more fun and have better pictures though. The really cool people do both! {start purist flame war here}
Thanks guys...chewbacca
Mar 28, 2002 2:40 PM
... for all the tips and suggestions. FYI it's a brand new Surly Crosscheck and it's all nice and tight and tuned...but it's a 60cm frame so that might be a factor in the speed wobble department...maybe it's just me inexperience!

thanks again!

I just checked my 'evil' climb is just over 1.5 miles and gains just under 1000' OUCH!

so it's only 12% nothing to sweat ;)cyclopathic
Mar 28, 2002 4:24 PM
try higher gear and stand on pedals. This usually helps to warm up faster and distributes load over more muscles.

with respect to wobble if it isn't bike it maybe fatigue. If you're not used to riding drops and put too much weight on fatigue arms they'd start shaking and that'll do it. Try to distribute more weight to rear, slide behind seat 3-4" and hold seat with thighs (helps steering too) good luck
I Have to ask...AllUpHill
Mar 28, 2002 3:55 PM
If you don't mind me asking, where the heck do you live and/or work that you encounter such a high steep climb on the commute? Sounds fairly interesting.

I have no advice that the others have not said already. Hope you enjoy adapting to road!
I have to answer...chewbacca
Mar 29, 2002 7:28 AM
I live in Berkeley, CA and climb up and over the ridge to work in Orinda. I used to have a nice 4 mile commute to work in Oakland that I did on my schwinn klunker.

Now I have a 10 mile commute with 1500' climbign total on the way to work and 1300' on the way home...and I like it better!

Neck Pain - Try Isometricsjagiger
Mar 28, 2002 5:29 PM
These are very basic, and done by holding your hands either in front, or to either side or clasped at the back of your head. Put some pressure on & hold 10-15 seconds. Repeat a few times. If you have a desk job, you can do them at work. I might look interesting to people going by, but easy to do in any event.
re: General questions from pavement-pounding newbie...grzy
Mar 28, 2002 6:23 PM
1000' in a mile is close to a 20% grade - now that's a tough way to wake up. You could be a good candidate for a triple.

1. Coke and a cigarette! Actually GU works pretty well and it's fast.

2. Try a stem with more rise

3. Hoods is usually more comfy - going to the drops to climb is an advanced move - your diaphram gets more compressed and it's harder to breathe.

4. Relax your grip and be the bike - assuming that everything is fine mechanically and you don't have out of ballance/true wheels.
One more thing....grzy
Mar 28, 2002 6:24 PM
....yes, it's supposed to hurt that much! ;-)
I can help with breakfastAhimsa
Mar 28, 2002 7:29 PM
Go with bananas. They are easy on the stomach and break down quick. Eat before you shower and shave right when you get up.

Fig newtons.

Also try toast. I know that sounds almost too obvious, but toast is very palatable and the fiber and carbs can't hurt. I eat a "twigs and pinecones" healthy toast with nuts and seeds in it that is tasty and provides protein as well.

A friend swears by sushi. I am dubious of raw fish in the morning, but to each their own.

Avoid dairy. Avoid OJ and acidic juice or fruit in general. Avoid grease as it will lay there like a rock and sap your energy. Save the biscuits and gravy for sunday when you can lounge around after.

If you go with a bananna, some toast, and a sports drink you will be fine.

On occasion I will pound one of the Blue Ox type energy drinks, and they do hype you up, but leave you jittery and tired later. Ugh. I'm trying to avoid them now in favor of common sense eating and less of the alcohol the nite before.


A. (Fruit is your friend)