Category Archives: Tips

You’re doing it wrong: Bike Racks

I’m hereby starting a new series of posts, on a topic I’m sure is close to all our hearts: Why other cyclists are doing absolutely everything wrong and should stop now please.

We all do it. We love doing it. Now I’m going to do it here.

First up, bike racks.

Specifically, the kind of multi-bike racks that many progressive workplaces have in their car parks, so their workers can arrive happy, flushed and awake – by bike – in the morning.

Apparently, none of you know how to use them. Let me show you a picture of some idiots doing it wrong.



Notice, if you will, the handlebars of the road bike at centre left crammed up against the tubing of the bike rack itself. Notice also the overlap of the handlebars. This results in drop bars entangled in cables, bar ends scratching bar ends, scuffed brake levers, gear cables pulled until your indexing is out of whack and all kinds of general horror. The high rack to the left is basically unusable because of the tangle of handlebars and nobody seems to have any sense of order. Worse, the derailleur of the road bike at centre left is right in the firing line should the commuter bike at centre-right be removed roughly by a less-than-careful owner. And these people obviously are less-than-careful because of the way they’ve parked. QED.

Protip: STOP DOING THIS. It’s an inefficient use of space and – to put not too fine a point on it – a fucking mess.

Also, helmets must be clipped to the stem and draped over your handlebars. It’s the rules.

Conversely, here’s how it’s actually done


On the left, my Trek Domane. On the right, m’colleague Tim’s Trek Madone. Nestled together in perfect harmony. Tim’s front wheel is in the elevated portion of the rack, lifting his handlebars clear of the rack’s tubing. My handlebars are free of obstruction and unlikely to be dinged, scratched or mangled when Tim removes his bike later today. And there’s no way I can wreck Tim’s derailleur, and no way he can wreck mine. And there’s plenty of space in the high rack to the left, should someone wish to use it, notwithstanding the idiot who parked there with his front wheel in the rear-wheel position.

This, friends, is how it’s done.

And this also applies to the wall-mounted racks some workplaces provide. Though apparently no-one at my workplace can figure those out either


Now write that out five hundred times and DON’T let me catch you doing it again.


Hard lessons learned

image: wikimedia commons


Last night I raced again in the ongoing Newington Armory Criterium Series.

Boy, did I learn a thing or two.

A little background. For the last few weeks I’ve been labouring with a cascade of minor injuries, each flowing on from the last. It started with tendinosis and bursitis in my elbow, aggravated by a low aero position on the road bike. Subsequently, I managed to strain my shoulder and neck, from trying to stay off the elbow. My physio got that under control with massage, taping and enforced rest, to which were added a set of recovery exercises to both strengthen weak points and loosen things up a bit. Of course me being me, I managed to add a calf tweak and strained abs to the list of woes by overdoing the off-bike workouts. Yeah I know.

So there I was, hurting already before I’d even turned a pedal. Leading to lesson learned number one: If you’re injured, don’t carry on as if you’re not. And if your training regimen changes, ease into it instead of suddenly shocking your system with new workouts.

In addition, because I’d lowered my overall training volume, I’d also let myself slip and had a few mid-week beers the night before the race. And, to be honest, the night before that. This meant I’d spent the morning fighting off a bit of a hangover and didn’t get properly hydrated through the day. In fact, I ended up slamming nearly a full bottle just before the start.

Lesson number two: lots of beer the night before is a bad idea (though to be fair I already knew this)

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While I’m here having a beer or two…

The best use ever, full stop… for a bike pedal.

In praise of the group ride

The author (following) on a SOP group rideSo I’ve been, historically, a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to riding bikes. My background as an MTB rider probably has a lot to do with this – we don’t tend to ride in big groups – but now some six months or so after buying a new road bike, I’ve started getting out on regular group road rides and getting a feel for riding in a peloton.

And I really like it.

The first thing that struck me about riding as a group is that you have to start redefining what ‘fast’ means. Solo, I can put down some pretty quick times, and average a bit over 30km/h over 100km or so, depending on the route and the conditions. But in a good, fast, disciplined group, average speeds can skyrocket and even short sprint sectors can go faster as you benefit from the lead-outs offered by the group.

For example, I recently did a short training ride at Sydney Olympic park that averaged over 40km/h for the five laps of the circuit. I did a slight double-take as the times popped up on Strava later. Nearly 25km at more than 40km/h. Inconceivable. Well, not with a group. And that wasn’t even the fast group.

The next thing, obviously, is the camaraderie. Finding a good group delivers friendships, alliances, rivalries and, it’s true, the occasional bit of friction. But a bit of friendly barracking, a solid ride to fire up the endorphins and a coffee, a chat and cooldown afterwards can really set you up for the day and drive your motivation for tomorrow. It’s also a great way to fight off a hangover.

Third, it’s an education. The more experienced riders of the group have a wealth of knowledge to pass on, and those lessons can appear in surprising and sometimes painful ways.

For example, in the last few weeks I’ve blasted down fantastic roads I wouldn’t, ordinarily, even know about. I’ve been yelled at for splintering the group too early in the ride after chasing down another rider’s break. I’ve been hung out to dry with my nose in the wind by two much more experienced riders who blew past me after what seemed like an eon at the front. I’ve swept up by the freight train of the peloton, completely shattered, shortly afterwards. I’ve had my riding position and cornering technique critiqued in detail – both of which I’m now working on closely. I’ve chased NRS racers down breakneck descents, showing that the aforementioned focus on cornering  can pay dividends.  I’ve taken Strava KoMs thanks to the benefit of a group lead-out and I’ve been impressed and inspired in turn, every time.

I really recommend, if you’ve got a road bike, that you find a local group and get out there occasionally. It’s an experience every cyclist ought to try. You don’t have to be an A-grader or aspiring pro to get out with a group. There are rides for all experience levels, fitness levels, ages and genders. Just go and give it a crack. You’ll love it.

Some good advice

Source: wikimedia commons

I did a group ride with LACC today. On it, I got some good advice.

If you’re smashing it off the front, don’t look back. Keep your head down and pedal harder. If there’s someone holding your wheel, he’s got enough speed to stay with you and you don’t need to check he’s there. If there’s no-one on your wheel, you’ve broken away and you need to go hard to stay away, and looking back won’t help.

Don’t. Look. Back.

Also: being hung out to dry on the front because you’re the new guy and being a bit cocky. Ouch.

Also also: Holy shit, a full peloton can pass you like a truck when you eventually crack.

Also also also: If you’re not smashing it off the front, looking back now and then is a really, really good thing.

(Thank you Scott, I actually really, really appreciate the advice)

Public Service Announcement: Give your Garmin a Chance

These three images came from my Strava feed today.

3 1 2

Look at those elapsed times. Look at them! Would you have me believe that you were riding for as much as 52,000 hours? That’s nigh on six years in the saddle!

No, what’s happened here is that these three riders have set off and pressed their ‘start’ button before their device has acquired a satellite signal.

This has to stop. Garmin devices all over the country are desperately confused about which decade they’re in. Don’t let yours be the same. Wait until you’ve got full signal before pressing start. You know it makes sense.

That whole leg shaving thing

If there’s one question that appears to fascinate and confuse non-cyclists, it’s the leg shaving thing. Take, for example, this clip from the most excellent QI

Why Do Racing Cyclists Shave Their Legs? – QI… by TotalBBC

Yep. Aerodynamics ain’t it. There’s no discernable aerodynamic advantage, and if there was we’d not be leaving the chin stubble intact either. Or the arms, come to that.

In fact, there are a large number of reasons cited, some of which are listed on the wikipedia article “Leg Shaving”. But we’ll get to that in a moment. Continue Reading →

Bad habits

It’s been a pretty good year so far, riding and racing wise. But there are more gains to be made.

That’s why, for the last month or two, I’ve been actively looking at, and trying to work on, some bad habits of mine, on both the road bike and the mountain bike. I thought it might be useful to put a few of them down in a blog post, and maybe ask readers (I know there at least a couple of you out there) what their bad habits are, if they share any of my bad habits, and how they might get rid of them.

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Bike security pop quiz

What’s wrong with this picture?

What's wrong with this picture? Continue Reading →

Some tips for wet weather riding

Down here in Australia, we’re heading into autumn, and rainy days have started to emerge. This being the case, some discussion has been sparked on my workplace’s internal cycling list on the topic of wet weather riding. Lots of good advice is being bandied about, and it’s all valuable.

I slammed a big reply down to a thread  yesterday, and since I spent so long typing it, I figured it might be a good idea to paste it in here and expand a little on the key points. More below the fold.

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