RBA Q&A: You Have Questions & We Have Answers

I was given a set of rollers this winter, and now I know why my friend didn’t want them anymore. I just can’t seem to get the hang of riding on them and am ready to pass them off to the next unsuspecting cyclist before I crash through my sliding glass door. Any tips on mastering riding the rollers?

Riding rollers is almost a lost art; an elegant dance between you and your bicycle. The more nervous and tense you are, the harder time you’ll have balancing on the rollers. Here’s a few tips that should help you get down the technique:
1.) Make sure the drum of the roller is centered under the front wheel, not too far in front or behind the wheel.
2.) Set up in a doorway so you have a handhold on either side of you within grasp.
3.) Make sure you’re accelerating slightly when letting go of the wall. Speed gives you stability, so stay on the pedals and avoid coasting.
4.) Focus on a fixed point well in front of you instead of looking at your front wheel or around the room.
Once you gain some confidence, you should easily be able to perform intervals, have a conversation and/or watch your favorite soap operas without worry.

As a shorter guy, is there anything specific that I should consider in terms of bike fit? I’m 5-foot-5 with really short legs and a long torso. I often have trouble being fitted to road bikes, because most fitters either want me on a size-48–50cm frame to accommodate my leg length and then use a 130–150mm stem, or they size me up to a size–51–53cm frame with a slammed saddle and a more standard- size 90–110mm stem. Are there any advantages or disadvantages between the two setups?

Fit specialist at Holland Cycles, Cody Stevenson responds:
“It is always difficult to purchase an off-the-rack bike if you are shorter and you have shorter legs, because there are so many factors involved that a proper fitting is essential. You are always going to be compromising on one end or the other, as you are currently experiencing. There are some advantages to going with a smaller bike and a longer stem. One is that the head tube length, being shorter, will typically allow you to have more range in the drop from your saddle to bars. Also, having some extra seatpost out of the frame gives you more compliance, which can be an advantage on smaller bikes, as they can be quite stiff. Handling characteristics will also come into play with the smaller frame; the long stem and the slack head angle typically found on small frames can leave you with slow steering. That being said, the larger frames, whilst alleviating some of these issues, can present other problems.

“It is also important to keep an eye out for sloping top tube bicycles with your body type. A bike with a horizontal top tube will increase the standover height and also leave you with very little seatpost out of the frame. One thing that I’ve noticed is that some of our clients with similar physical dimensions to you tend to fit more easily on the race-style geometry than the endurance models that manufacturers market. A Specialized Tarmac has a slightly longer top tube, shorter head tube and steeper head angle than the equally sized Specialized Roubaix, for instance. “I refer my clients toward the right bicycle based on their fit dimensions and not to a specific bike that the customer is enamored with. There are a lot of manufacturers out there that make great bikes, and getting the correct bike for you is imperative. Though, I do understand that it can be difficult when you love a certain brand, paintwork or it’s the bike of your favorite rider!”

Could iced coffee be used during a ride as an alternative to the terrible-tasting sports drinks?

Drinking coffee before a ride can have a number of positive effects on performance, such as increasing fat metabolization, providing an ergogenic effect and it has also been shown to improve mental acuity. Drinking it during exercise, though, is a different deal, since when working out requires a replenishment of electrolytes and calories, both of which coffee alone doesn’t sufficiently deliver. I suggest trying different electrolyte/carbohydrate drinks until you find a palatable one.

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