A smooth-working paceline isn’t as easy as it looks, but practice makes perfect.
Probably a very simple question, but for some reason I can’t seem to figure out which side to pull off on when riding in a paceline on group rides. I’ve been yelled at on more than one occasion for pulling off on the wrong side and need to know what I’m doing wrong.
The determining factor in whether you pull off to the left or to the right is dictated by the wind direction. If the wind is coming from the right, then the lead rider would pull off to the right, shielding the rider pulling through from the wind, and vice versa. With a tail- or headwind, pulling off on the left side is often the preferred direction since the paceline is usually hugging the white line on the right side of the road.
Paying attention to the wind direction will be helpful in figuring out paceline synergy, and remembering that every time you make a turn, the wind direction will be changing as well. Seek out an experienced rider in the group to watch and follow his lead when pulling through.
Is there any type of rule that says you have to wear gloves while racing? How about any other specific clothing?
The sport’s governing body, the UCI, has rules regarding clothing that must be worn during an event. A jersey with sleeves and shorts are required, as is a helmet—but gloves are not. Although not mandatory, most racers choose to wear them, not for comfort, but to save the skin on their palms in the event of a wreck.
TUBES OR TUBELESS
Have you done any testing to quantify the rolling resistance differences between tubeless and tubed tires?
Reynolds’ director of technology, Paul Lew, responds:
The presence or absence of a tube has no direct effect on reducing or increasing rolling resistance. Rolling resistance is primarily determined by air pressure, surface texture and contact area. Rubber compounds contribute to the equation, as does the intimacy of the connection between the rim and the tire. A tire that makes micro movements on the rim increases the rolling resistance; hence the decrease in rolling resistance when a tubular tire is bonded to the rim.
Many of the pros opt for aluminum handlebars rather than carbon due to their higher fracture resistance when crashed.
It seems that every top pro now rides a carbon frame and wheels, but when I was at the U.S .Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, I noticed that most still use aluminum handlebars. Why?
Optum-KBS’s head mechanic, Eric Jellum, responds:
There are a few reasons why pro riders, and mechanics, prefer aluminum bars. The main reason is because of safety. When riders crash, the handlebars tend to take much of the impact in terms of what may break on the bike. Aluminum handlebars may bend or even get marked up, but it takes an extremely powerful impact to compromise an aluminum bar. Carbon bars are not nearly as durable when crashed, and it takes a very close eye to see if a carbon handlebar is compromised. So when arider gets back up to continue racing after a crash, it may be hard to tell if the carbon handlebar is cracked, and if they begin to ride again, the bar may fail up the road—which would be a catastrophic failure. Besides, when you compare the weights between carbon and aluminum handlebars, there is not much difference.
I’m new to road riding but have been a mountain biker for years. I’m wondering if I should adjust my road bike’s handlebar and seat height to the same measurements as my mountain bike? If not, how should they be adjusted?
There are distinct differences in the fit between a road and a mountain bike. The fit on a mountain bike is going to be oriented toward achieving traction and the best handling possible. These two things don’t usually cross over to the best road position, which requires greater aerodynamics and the ability to pedal at a higher cadence. A mountain bike position is going to be more upright, with a saddle further behind the bottom bracket and lower than a traditional road setup. This allows for better handling in technical sections and more weight over the rear tire for traction on steep terrain. A good road position is going to have the rider more stretched out to achieve better aerodynamics (an essential part of going fast on the road). A saddle position with less setback behind the bottom bracket improves the efficiency, while at the same time smoothing the pedal stroke. Since hopefully you don’t have any precarious dismounts on the road, saddle height should be about 5mm higher as well.
My left Shimano shifter has difficulty shifting up to the big chainring. Could this be due to a worn cable?
It could be a worn cable, but it could also be as simple as needing an adjustment. Tightening the cable tension one turn out on the barrel adjuster (assuming your bike has barrel adjusters) should be enough to fix a sluggish upshift if that’s the problem. A cable that is starting to fray within the shifter could also be the culprit, and sometimes it doesn’t give much advance notice before it breaks and leaves you in your small ring to navigate the rest of the way home.
Since there is no one saddle that’s perfect for everybody, it’s important to be able to try different models to find what fits your riding style and body’s needs.
I have a question on saddle selection: how do I choose a saddle? I’m looking to upgrade my saddle and have been looking at Fizik, Specialized and Bontrager, but their websites are very limited on what and why to select a specific model.
Bike Effect’s fit specialist, Steven Carre, responds:
If you asked 70 different cyclists, you’re quite likely to get 69 different answers. Fitting thousands of cyclists over the past 12 years has given me a bit of insight into some things about saddle selection that remain constant. When choosing a saddle, I look for something that makes sense based on human anatomy and physiology, not simply something that ‘doesn’t hurt.’
1. Saddle shape (front to back): Saddles that are ‘hammock’ shaped don’t allow your pelvis to move forward or backward in response to varying power output, cadence, terrain or hand positioning on the bars. I look for something a bit flatter in shape.
2. Saddle shape (side to side): Saddles that are ‘pipe’ shaped feel just like that: sitting on a pipe. I look for something that is a bit flatter in shape side to side, similar to sitting on a chair. That way your weight is on your ‘sit bones’ as opposed to soft tissue, nerves and arteries.
3. Saddle width: Make sure that your saddle is wide enough for your sit bones. A few companies are now making some type of memory-foam device to measure your sit-bone width. Unfortunately, a lot of the sexy, ultralight saddles on the market are too narrow for the larger percentage of cyclists. The larger percentage of cyclists tend to need a saddle that is 140mm wide or wider.
4. Saddle cutout: This is highly polarizing among a lot of cyclists. I prefer having some type of cutout on my saddle. We all put pressure on our pudendal nerves and arteries sitting on any saddle; a cutout further reduces the pressure that we put on those nerves and arteries. Some companies use a softer-density foam or gel where a cutout would be to reduce this pressure.
Bottom line: you’ll have to absolutely try a saddle out on the road to know if it’s right for you. But, these are some guidelines you can use: It’s useful to demo a saddle if your local shop has demo saddles available to try. Different saddles have different lengths, heights, etc. You’ll have to adjust your fit accordingly or, better yet, have a professional fitter help you with the process.
Have a question? Send it to ROAD BIKE ACTION.