Velobrew started in the summer of 2001 when a group of cyling friends decided that the sacrifices of cycling should be accompanied by the indulgence of good food and even finer beverages. The pairing of the passions lead to the Velobrew name.
Though many assume that the brew is derived from coffee or other beverages, it’s actual origin is the “brew” or mix of people that have a passion for cycling. From a small crowd that would assemble at a local eatery on Wednesdays, the crowd grew, especially due to the popular Sunday rides that would end with lunch at a local watering hole.
The good times flowed, and as we traveled out of town, others saw that we could ride hard, but still not take ourselves too seriously.
From the novice to the veteran, from the casual rider to the most hardcore racer, it just doesn’t matter to us. So long as you can have a good time, you can join up. We don’t collect membership dues, our only “requirements”, if you decide to do so, is to buy a club jersey and/or a USA Cycling license with Velobrew listed as your team. This identifies you as a member and provides money to the national sanctioning body to continue their programs.
Thanks for stopping by. We’ll see you out on the roads….
“…where cycling doesn’t get in the way of having fun”“Wanted to Know, but were afraid to ask?” I may be a professional downhiller now, but when I was getting into cycling I made as many rookie mistakes as the next person. For example, during my first summer of cycling, there I was pounding out the miles on a training ride with one of our college coaches. Halfway through he looks over with this wry face and says, “You know Lisa, you really shouldn’t wear underwear with cycling shorts.” ‘Hmmm… really?’ I thought. ‘That’s kind of gross.’
Yet, then I thought, ‘he is a coach who’s been riding for most of his life; what the heck I’ll give it a go.’ And the next day, much to my surprise, I found a new level of comfort riding undies-free, not to mention my racey new panty-line-free profile. Who would’ve thought?
There are lots of little blunders like this, and most of the time you’d never know unless someone told you. So I thought I’d save you some grief from your coach or just your riding buddies (they can be the worst) by going over a few of the more common newbie mistakes. And, yes, I did make just about all of the following mistakes. Now, you won’t have to.
1. Riding With Your Seat Too Low
You think: A low seat gives me the ability to put both my feet on the ground, which makes me safer.
Truth-of-the-matter: A seat this low is too low. It stresses your knees, can cause injury, inhibits proper balance and reduces your power.
The right way: Raise your seat until when the balls of your feet are over the center of the pedals and the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke, you have a slight bent in your knee (illustration). You should be able to just touch the ground with your tip-toes. If you have any questions, just drop by your shop and they’ll help you with this all-important adjustment.
2. Being Afraid To Use Your Front Brake
You think: If I use my front brake, I’ll go sailing over the handlebars.
Truth-of-the-matter: Because it’s the more powerful brake, it IS possible to “endo” (illustration) if you apply it too hard or at the wrong time, however, not using your front brake drastically reduces your stopping power. So, you should use it a lot.
The right way: It’s best to always use both brakes. Yet, there are times, such as on steep downhills, when your front brake accounts for up to 90% of your stopping power and determines how much control you have. So it’s important to practice and get good using it. An important tip is to shift your body rearward as you brake harder in front.
3. Riding In A T-Shirt
You think: Those bright jerseys are so trendy. Who needs ’em?! My cotton shirt is perfect — and it’s cheap, too!
Truth-of-the-matter: Cotton’s a great material to lounge around in. Once you start really riding, however, cotton holds onto every drop of perspiration leaving you soaked. Plus if the weather changes from warm and sunny to chilly, that wet tee will feel awful and could even cause chills and hypothermia.
The right way: There’s a reason cyclists wear what they do. Unlike tee shirts, jerseys feature wicking fabrics that actually keep you dry, warm and stink-free. Plus, they catch less air so it’s easier to ride, and they often have built-in pockets for your identification, cash and energy food. You can also stuff a jacket in a pocket for use should the weather changes. If you try a jersey it’s unlikely you’ll ride in cotton again.
4. Stretching The Truth
You think: Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t have run head on into that curb. But this is a mountain bike. It’s supposed to hold up to anything. I’ll tell the shop guy I was just riding along and WHAM! The wheel basically collapsed and broke.
Truth-of-the-matter: No bicycle is indestructible and warranties are designed to protect you against defects in materials and workmanship — not crashing or abuse (even if unintentional). Plus, mechanics have seen it all and they’ll recognize that what caused the damage is a different thing than your story.
The right way: Shops feel as bad as you do when something breaks on your bike, and they want to help. Telling them a story puts them on the spot because they know it’s not true. Instead, just tell them what happened and they’ll do their best to make it right as soon as possible and at the best price possible because they want you out enjoying your bike again.
5. Over-lubing Your Drivetrain
You think: The more lube I put on my chain, the better my bike will run.
Truth-of-the-matter: Excess lube quickly collects dust and dirt accelerating drivetrain wear. Plus, that grimy chain leaves hard-to-remove chain tattoos on your arms, legs and car. Yuk!
The right way: Lube your chain anytime the links begin to appear shiny and dry (squeaking is a sure sign that you’ve waited too long for lube). Let the lube sit for a few minutes and then wipe off the excess with a rag.
6. Ignoring Mechanical Issues
You think: Yeah, my bike seems a little loose up front (or plug in your particular problem), but I want to ride, not take my bike in to get it checked! I’ll just keep riding.
Truth-of-the-matter: Bicycles are relatively simple machines, however, they can travel as fast as cars and you can get in trouble quick if something serious is wrong with your bike and you neglect it.
The right way: Ride by the shop and have them take a look. They won’t charge to do this and it could save you the costs of a more serious repair, or more importantly, prevent a dangerous crash. For example, in the case of that loose front end, it could save you a ruined frame and a loss of control on a downhill leading to a bad fall.
When she’s not traveling the world racing, Lisa Myklak resides in Boulder, Colorado. A graduate of the University of Colorado, she raced on the CU Mountain-Biking Team and won the U.S. Collegiate Downhill National Champion Title in 2002. In 2004 she won the Mountain States Cup and she currently places in the top ten at NORBA races across the country. Lisa also enjoys teaching mountain-biking clinics. Her sponsors include Morewood Bikes and Velocity Racing.
How To Ride In A Group By Fred Matheny
Pacelines you see in pro racing are organized. They have specific rules. But in big groups like you find in centuries or charity rides, things will be disorganized. This can intimidate even experienced riders.
Sooner or later you’ll find yourself in a big group amid some riders with sketchy skills. It pays to learn how to survive (and also make yourself welcome) in a crowd.
• Look for Risky Riders. These are the unsteady people who wobble, appear nervous, have a tense grip on the handlebar, and frequently grab the brakes. Avoid them! Move up to keep them behind you, or slide to the other side of the road.
• Stay at the Front. This is easy to say but hard to do in some groups. At the front you have more control over your destiny because most crashes occur in the rear two-thirds of the bunch. It may take a bit more work to reach the front and stay there, but it’s worth the effort.
• Watch the Wind. Wind direction determines on which side the greatest draft is found. If the wind is from the right side of the road, smart riders move to the left of the wheel in front of them for greater protection. If you’re doing this, beware of overlapping wheels with inexperienced riders. They may swerve and take out your front wheel.
• Be Wary on Climbs. A major cause of group crashes is riders who stand abruptly. They slow for a second, causing the rider behind to hit their rear wheel and spill. To avoid this danger, let the gap open a bit on hills or ride a foot to either side. To avoid being the one who causes such a crash, pull your bike forward as you leave the saddle. Don’t lunge and make a hard pedal stroke. Keep your speed steady. When sitting again, push the bike forward a bit.
Practice Safety Skills
Cycling isn’t a contact sport, but it’s not uncommon to have your arm brushed when riding near others in a group. It pays to learn how to bump into other riders without swerving or falling. It’s easy when you practice this drill used at the Carpenter-Phinney Bike Camps. First, go with a cycling friend to a large grassy area like a soccer field. Ride side-by-side at a walking pace. Keep both hands on your bar. Start by gently touching elbows, then shoulders. As you gain confidence, lean more vigorously on the other rider. Soon, you’ll be bumping each other with abandon and throwing in a few head butts for fun, all without going down. (Of course, always wear your helmet just in case.) Riding relaxed is the key to absorbing contact without swerving. Have slightly bent elbows, a firm-not-tight grip on the bar, and loose arm and shoulder muscles. If you’re relaxed, your body can absorb the shock before it gets to the handlebar.
This article is provided courtesy of RoadBikeRider.com and was written by its co-founder Fred Matheny (left). Fred was the Training and Fitness Editor of Bicycling Magazine for a decade, has written many books on cycling including Fred Matheny’s Complete Book Of Road Bike Training; and is a world-record-holding roadie.
How far right…is right? by Mighk Wilso Fall, 2000
Now that the great clinchers-versus-sew-ups debate is far behind us, it’s time to address some other issues of importance. Two that are getting a fair amount of attention these days are “How far to the right do I have to ride?” and “When can we ride two abreast?”
The answers are mostly there to be found in Florida’s statutes (which you can find at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/citizen/documents/statutes/ if you have Web access), but you have to read them carefully.
Many cyclists are aware of statute 316.2065, which covers bicycles specifically, but since bicyclists are defined by the state as drivers of vehicles, many other areas of the traffic code apply to us as well.
So how far right is right? Let’s go through the “keep right” portion of the statute piece by piece. 316.2065 Bicycle regulations (5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…
“Practicable” means feasible or practical, and it is rarely practical for a cyclist to hug the curb or the edge of the road. You need room to maneuver in case of obstacles such as glass, potholes and roadkill, and riding at the edge leaves you only two options, veering left into overtaking traffic or running off the road or into a curb. Notice that you are not limited to any maximum distance from the edge. It is left to your judgment.
Unfortunately many law enforcement officers seem to be ignorant of everything but this first part of the statute, even though it goes on to state:
…except under any of the following situations:
1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
It’s a bad idea to pass on the right unless the vehicle ahead of you is signaling a left turn.
The second exception is: 2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway. Making a left turn from the right-hand side of the road is a common cause of bicyclist/motorist crashes.
Statute 316.151 further supports this with: “A person riding a bicycle and intending to turn left in accordance with this section is entitled to the full use of the lane from which the turn may legally be made.”
316.2065 goes on to explain other situations: 3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, or substandard-width lane, that makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For the purposes of this subsection, a “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
Basically, you can use any rational reason to leave the right-most side of the road (or a bike lane if one exists). You don’t want to be to the right of vehicles that could make a right turn in front of you, and you don’t want to let motorists pass you in the same lane when it’s too narrow.
How narrow is narrow? Simple. Look at the cars ahead of you while you bike. Does it look like there’s enough safe room within the right lane for the both you and the car? If not, move left a couple feet.
The narrower the lane, the further left you ride. Remember that some vehicles, like trucks and landscaping trailers, are extra wide.
Your right to safe passage supercedes the motorist’s desire to pass. This is covered in 316.083: “The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle”
and in 316.130: “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary.”
If the lane is too narrow then the motorist can’t pass at a safe distance without leaving the lane. If you hug the edge in a narrow lane you encourage him to pass when it’s not safe. Are you on a street with parked cars? Stay at least three feet from the sides of the parked cars and don’t weave in and out of empty spaces. Are there “traffic calming” features that squeeze the roadway? Take the lane.
Rarely you’ll find yourself on an extra wide lane, one wide enough to accommodate two cars. Ride a few feet to the right of where the motorists are, not up against the curb. If a motorist turns right in front of you you’ll have more room to avoid him.
Finally: (b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.
This can be useful if you intend to turn left from a one-way street. Get over to the left lane extra early.
An ironic quirk of the law is how it addresses cycling on paved shoulders.
Former state pedestrian and bicycle coordinator Dan Burden managed to get FDOT to adopt a policy to include paved shoulders on all state rural road projects, in part to make cycling safer.
But the “roadway” is that “portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder,” (316.003) and we are vehicle operators directed to drive “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” So you’re actually not allowed to bike on the shoulder!
I’m not recommending that you not use a paved shoulder if one is provided, but be sure to leave it and stay in the straight-through lane when you come upon a right-turn-only lane. If you’re going straight and to the right of a right-turn-only lane and a right-turning motorist hits you, you’ll get the ticket. 316.2065 (6) Two-abreast cycling
Cycling two-abreast is the other misunderstood matter. 316.2065 (6) states: Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.
So clearly, cycling two-abreast is allowed, but when is it not? When doing so impedes traffic. And what is “impeding traffic”? Ahh, there’s the tricky part. The law doesn’t tell you, but there are some circumstances in which you would clearly not be impeding traffic:
First is when you are traveling at or near the posted speed or the speed of the other traffic. This is not common, but there are some places where it’s fairly likely, such as Palmer Avenue in Winter Park, which is posted at 20 mph. (Palmer also has very narrow lanes, so you’d be allowed to use the whole lane as a solo cyclist anyway.)
Second is when there is another clear lane in which to pass. This could be a low-traffic two-lane road or a multi-lane road with light traffic. This is where your judgment comes in. Look back and see what the motorists are doing behind you, and ahead to the curves and on-coming traffic. Does it seem that it would be easy for someone to move over and pass? Then two-abreast is fine. Will they have to wait a while for a better line of sight or for on-coming traffic to pass? Best to single-up.
The essence of this part of the law is courtesy. Its purpose is to facilitate easier passing between roadway users, not to improve safety. Some time ago I did a study of all serious bicyclist crashes in Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties. Over a two-year period there were nearly 1,200 crashes, but not one involved cyclists driving two-abreast—unless you count the case where a dog ran into a paceline out on Jungle Road.
Trouble often comes when a law enforcement officer enters the picture. Many of them feel that just about anything a cyclist does can be construed as “impeding traffic.”
In one local story an officer pulled over two side-by-side cyclists even though there were no other motor vehicles around. Her reason was that she had to cross a double yellow line in order to pass them. Thing is, she would have had to cross that double yellow line to pass safely even if it were a single cyclist.
Bringing the paved shoulder element into the two-abreast picture: if two cyclists are driving side-by-side, with one on the paved shoulder and the other at the right edge of the roadway, they couldn’t be cited for impeding traffic while cycling two-abreast.
Why? Because one cyclist was actually driving legally on the roadway while the other was cycling illegally on the shoulder!
Finally, keep in mind that a bike lane and a paved shoulder are not the same thing. A bike lane has pavement markings and signs indicating that it is for the exclusive use of bicyclists; paved shoulders have no such markings.
Does this article make you feel your name is Alice and you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole? You might want to copy the statutes off the Web, print them in small type, and stick a copy in your seat pack.
If you have any questions about these issues I’d be glad to answer them during regular business hours at 407-481-5672 ext. 318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How To Survive Road Hazards By Fred Matheny and Ed Pavelka
Cycling is a unique sport because its arena is the open road. That’s the same place frequented by traffic, potholes, snarling dogs and absentminded pedestrians.
But sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. Inattention and poor technique can put us on the pavement as fast as any hazard. Use these tips and you’ll be less likely to take a tumble.
Always ride with your head up. While cruising along, it’s tempting to stare at the whirling pattern of the front spokes or fixate on your cyclo-computer’s numbers. A momentary downward glance that lasts just a second too long can mean riding into a problem that could easily have been avoided.
Focus. The smooth and rhythmic motion of pedaling can become hypnotic. Daydreaming cyclists have crashed into the back of parked cars, wandered far into the traffic lane or blithely ridden off the road. Don’t let yourself be separated from the outside world by the vivid canvases created by your imagination. Keep your head in the game.
Keep your bike in top mechanical condition. Repair or replace faulty parts sooner rather than later. It’s a loser’s game to milk “just one more ride” out of worn brake pads, a frayed cable, or tires with a threadbare tread or bulging sidewall. Your first line of defense against the challenges of the real world is a bike with all parts in good working order. Bring you bike into our shop for a free estimate and expert repair.
It’s every rider’s fate to flat. But it’s relatively easy to limit the frequency.
Choose your line with care. The best way to avoid punctures is also the easiest: Steer around broken glass, road rubble and potholes.
Use tires with a Kevlar belt under the tread. Kevlar does a good job of stopping nasty things from penetrating. Inspect the tread after every ride for embedded debris. Remember, most punctures are caused by something sticking to the tread and working through during numerous wheel revolutions. Replace tires before they become so thin that they’re virtually defenseless against pointy things.
Check inflation pressure every couple of days. Tubes are slightly porous and may lose several pounds of pressure each day. Soft tires slow you down, corner poorly, wear fast, and don’t protect your rims against metal-bending impacts.
Hitting potholes can bend your rims beyond repair. If the chasm is deep enough, it will send you hurtling over the handlebar when you bury the front wheel and the bike suddenly stops. Here’s a primer on pothole evasion.
Note where potholes lurk on your normal training routes. Plan your line well in advance to avoid them. Don’t expect the road to be in the same condition every day. Potholes have a habit of sprouting up out of nowhere, especially in the winter and early spring due to the daily freeze/thaw cycle.
Treat potholes like glass. Ride around them, first checking behind for traffic. Be mindful of riding partners when you change your line. Newly minted potholes present a double hazard — the chasm itself, and the chunks of shattered pavement around it. If the pothole doesn’t bend your wheel, the sharp bits of rubble might puncture your tire. Give these highway craters a wide berth.
Jump your bike over a pothole, if you have the skill and are unable to ride around it because of traffic or adjacent riders. Learn this move on a grassy field. Level your pedals, crouch off the saddle, then spring up and lift with your feet and hands. Start by jumping over a line on the ground, then graduate to higher but forgiving objects such as a rolled-up towel or a shoebox.
Unlike most dangers, tracks can’t be ridden around. You can suffer an instant crash if your tires slip on the shiny steel rails. Ride with extreme caution and follow these safety tips.
Slow down! Tracks are rough, and even if you don’t crash you could get a pinch flat. This happens when you ride into something abrupt, like a rail, and it pinches the tube between the tire and rim, slicing two little holes in the tube.
Rise slightly off the saddle. Have equal weight on your hands and feet. Let the bike chatter beneath you. Use your flexed arms and legs as shock absorbers.
Cross tracks at a right angle. If the rails are diagonal to the road and you cross them at an angle, your front wheel can be twisted out from under you. A perpendicular passage is essential in the rain. Wet metal tracks are incredibly slippery. The slightest imbalance or abrupt move can send you sprawling.
Jump if you’re real good. Racers who need to cross tracks at maximum speed will jump them. They use the same technique that works for potholes, but with more speed and lift because they must clear two rails. Coming down too early means the rear wheel will hit the second rail, guaranteeing a ruined rim or a pinch flat. In most cases, jumping isn’t worth the danger. It’s better to slow down, square up, and creep across.
Additional Slick Spots Painted lines. These can be slippery, especially the wide markings for pedestrian crossings at intersections. The paint fills in the asphalt’s texture, producing a surface that’s uncertain when dry and deadly when wet. The danger is worse when the paint is new.
Dry oil slicks. These may be nearly invisible, but you can spot them as darker streaks on a gray pavement. Be real careful in corners. You aren’t safe if you ride through oil on the straights. The greased tread might slip in a corner just ahead.
Wet oil slicks. If it rains, a small oily patch can grow until it covers the whole lane. Be on the lookout for the telltale multi-colored water. There’s no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, only a black-and-blue meeting with the pavement.
Wet metal. If it’s been raining and you come upon anything metal in the road (manhole cover, steel-deck bridge, road-repair plate), it’s as treacherous as riding on ice. Cross it with the bike absolutely upright. Even a slight lean can cause the wheels to slip. Smart riders walk their bikes across wet steel bridges.
Wet leaves. Be very careful in the fall, or you will. Even if the road is dry, there can be moisture trapped between leaves littering the pavement. When you see leaves in a corner, slow down and round the bend with your bike upright, not angled.
Sewer grates. Some old ones have bars that run parallel to the street and are wide enough to let a bike wheel fall through. If this happens, you can look forward to plastic surgery and possibly a lifetime of lawsuit riches. Many municipalities have replaced such grates with bicycle-friendly versions, but be careful in case a town hasn’t gotten the message yet.