How To Ride In A Group

Group bike

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. 

Read On Line

This article is provided courtesy of 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.


Top 10 Reasons To Bike Instead Of Drive


With gas prices at an all-time high, and likely to rise even more, you’re probably already driving less and bicycling more. But, just in case you’re having a hard time breaking the 4-wheel habit, we put our heads together and came up with our top 10 “other” reasons to ride rather than drive.
10: You get ultra-cool tan lines!
We’ll start with a fun one, and you can laugh if you want. We wear our cycling tans like a badge of honor, a sign of our healthy lifestyle choices, a tangible token of membership to an exclusive group.It says, “hey, I ride a bike,” or “I grow turnips.” Either way, or both, people are bound to be impressed at the beach. Just be sure to use sunblock so you don’t overdo it!
9. You see your city like drivers can’t!
On two wheels and moving at a comfortable pace you can enjoy your environment and see, smell and hear things you never notice in a car. Which of your neighbors has the best-landscaped yard? What bakeries smell so good you just have to stop? How many different architectural styles can you spot? On a bicycle you can take the scenic route and explore and become a tourist in your own city. Every ride is an adventure.

8. All those we-miss-you cards from your doctor!
Pedaling only 10mph, a 140-pound cyclist burns about 400 calories an hour. And studies prove that biking a few times a week reduces blood pressure and stress while increasing your energy and elevating your overall mood. Your doctor may have to wait a little longer to buy that yacht!

7. You never get stuck in traffic and always have a great parking spot!
If you ride in a city and bike during commuting hours you’ll love being able to cruise past long lines of vehicles held up at red lights (be sure to watch carefully for right-turning traffic who might not see you). While drivers breathe exhaust (studies have shown that cyclists breathe less exhaust), and honk at each other, you feel the breeze and enjoy the sights off the roadside. Not to mention that you always get a great parking spot and often even beat your coworkers who drive to work.

6. You have one less car payment and don’t pay registration or insurance fees, either!

According to our very unscientific study (read: quick Google search), the average car payment is $500 a month. On top of that, add the cost of insurance, registration, gas, maintenance, etc. By eliminating that vehicle and using your bicycle instead, just think of all the bike gear you can buy!

5. You find cool free stuff on the side of the road!
By observing the flotsam and jetsam along America’s streets and highways, you never know what you may find. Loose change, designer sunglasses, cool tools, $20 bills – heck, maybe an entire bag of money? Of course, you’ll have to come back to grab that awesome Naugahyde sofa with the “free” sign you spotted on someone’s lawn.

4. You can cancel your gym membership!
Riding outside sure beats the treadmill, elliptical machines and the three pieces of cardio equipment you still haven’t figured out. No waiting in line for those machines, either. Best, you’ll no longer have to spot for Rocko while he’s bench-pressing weights equivalent to a small car.

3. You’ll never be late for work again!
Because you can avoid traffic and cruise faster than jammed vehicles, it’s likely you’ll commute faster on 2 wheels and never be late again. Plus, if you are late sometime, it’ll probably be because you decided to take the scenic route in. We’ve done it, too. But tell your boss instead that you got a flat tire. We know you can fix a flat tire in a matter of minutes, but he doesn’t. And, he should be impressed that you’re making the effort to bike in, keeping yourself healthy in the process and saving a parking space for someone else.

2. Cyclists make better lovers!
According to a study led by Dr. Romualdo Belardinelli, director of the Lancisi Heart Institute in Ancona, Italy, the results of aerobic exercise are comparable to those of Viagra, because both widen blood vessels. Hmmm… that’s a little scary. Our point is that regular exercise like cycling, will make you feel better, increase your energy and even help you look better, too. All of which make you more interesting to and interested in the opposite sex.

1. Bicycling is a Fountain of Youth!
It’s an amazing thing. You feel younger and actually get more years out of your muscles, joints and organs simply by using your highly capable self to pedal around instead of sitting statue-like behind that steering wheel. In fact, cycling might just be the closest thing you can find to a genuine Fountain of Youth. Like few other sports it keeps you fit and young with very little risk of injury. For example, we know plenty of 55-year-old regular riders who look and move like they’re closer to age 35, and also 80-year olds who still love to ride – and can because they’re been riding for years.

Teaching Kids To Ride

One of the great memories of childhood is your first bicycle ride without training wheels. After many miscues, probably even a few scrapes, you finally pedal away from your parent’s grasp and take flight. Holding your breath and hanging on, you wobble down the sidewalk, building confidence and picking up speed. It’s exhilarating. You can hardly believe you did it. And you can’t wait to ride farther and faster.

That first ride is one of your biggest accomplishments as a kid and something you’ll never forget. Maybe that’s why, as a parent, you can’t wait for your children to learn to ride. Here are some tips to help.


How Young Can They Start?
Typically, children learn to ride between the ages of 3 and 7. How early and how fast they learn varies considerably. Kids who’ve owned tricycles sometimes take to bicycles more quickly because they already know how to steer and pedal. Yet, this can work against them, too. They may not want to move up to a two-wheeler because they’re so comfortable on their tricycle. Usually, they’ll change their mind as their friends start to ride two-wheelers because they don’t want to be left behind.

In order to ride a bicycle, a child has to be able to sit on the seat and reach the ground comfortably with his feet. The smallest bicycles usually have 12-inch wheels and training wheels. These bikes accommodate children as young as 3 years old (of average size).

Next up in size is the 16-inch bike, which is also equipped with training wheels. It’s right for 5- to 6-year-olds of average size or smaller 7-year-olds. The next bigger bicycle has 20-inch wheels, but because these are taller and more tippy, they’re not ideal for training wheels, so it’s best for a child to learn to ride on a smaller model.

When looking for a “first bike,” keep in mind that children learn fastest on bikes they feel safe on, which are usually the smaller sizes. Of course, how fast they learn also has to do with their personality, coordination and confidence.

Safety First
The most important cycling safety rule is always wearing a helmet, and it’s the first thing about bicycling to teach your child. Get them in the habit of putting on their helmet before riding so that the act is as natural as using the seatbelt in the car. Be sure to show them how to put the helmet on so that it sits squarely and snugly on their head. And, let them know how good it looks. If you’re riding with them, put your helmet on, too, to reinforce the message that all cyclists wear helmets.

It’s best to teach kids to ride where it’s completely safe (no traffic) and where there are few distractions. A sidewalk with grass on both sides, such as you’ll often find in a park or housing development, works nicely. Go there early before the crowds arrive, though, so you’re not dealing with skaters, dogs and other hazards. The good thing about a path like this is that if your child weaves off the cement, she’ll quickly stop on the soft grass. And, if she happens to fall, there’s a good chance that it’ll be a soft landing.

Pick a section that’s fairly straight and flat. While a little downward slope can help kids learn to pedal and balance, you definitely don’t want anything too steep because it’ll cause the bike to roll on its own, which is scary.

Check The Adjustments
When you picked out the bike, you got a model that fit your child. Now it’s time to make sure that the seat and handlebars are adjusted to fit correctly.

The seat height should allow the child to rest both feet comfortably on the ground. This lets them use their feet for control and confidence. So, don’t raise the seat too far. If the bike is equipped with training wheels, the seat can be slightly higher because the trainers will hold the bike upright. But, listen to your child if they tell you that it feels too high, and lower it until they’re comfortable.

The handlebars should be close enough to the child so that they can easily be reached. Otherwise, the action of steering the bike will pull them forward and off the seat, which could cause a loss of control. On most bikes, the bars can be raised and rotated to improve the fit.

It’s important to get these adjustments right so that your child feels comfortable and safe when learning to ride. If the seat’s too high or the bars are too far away, your child could lose control and fall over, which could give them a scare and slow the learning process.  If you’re not sure how to adjust things, bring the bicycle and your child back to the shop where you purchased the bike and ask for help.

Let Them Learn At Their Pace
To ride, children need to learn how to pedal and steer the bicycle. When they’re ready to ride without training wheels, they need to know how to balance, too. Depending on coordination, some kids learn these things fairly quickly. Others find it challenging and frustrating. The important thing is for you to be patient and keep it fun and safe. By the age of 7, most kids can learn to ride without training wheels, but every child is unique and it might take longer.

When you’re practicing with them, let your child decide when he’s had enough and don’t push the issue. Ten minutes of trying at a time might be enough at first. If they don’t take to it right away, don’t worry. Just try to keep it fun and let them stop when they’ve had enough. Taking time away from the bike can help, too. Sometimes, they’ll be more determined than ever after a few days doing something else.

Keep in mind that one of the greatest motivators is peers who ride. When kids see their friends riding, it usually fires them up to figure out how it’s done so they can join the fun.

Pedaling, Steering And Balancing
If your child had a tricycle first, they’ll know how to pedal. If not, they’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Childrens bicycles are usually equipped with “coaster brakes” (also known as “foot brakes”), which are operated by applying backward pressure on one pedal. So if the child mistakenly backpedals while trying to pedal forward, they’ll apply the brake, which feels strange at first. Just let them keep trying and they’ll figure out which way to pedal to go and to stop.

If you’re using training wheels, they must be adjusted correctly in order to get results. The wheels should be set so that the bike can lean a little before the wheels touch the ground. This helps kids get the feel of balancing the bike and leaning it to steer. It also ensures that the training wheels can’t lift the driving wheel off the ground on uneven surfaces.

As your child gets used to bicycling, you should gradually raise the training wheels so that he has the opportunity to lean and balance more. And in time, you should be able remove the training wheels.

At this point, there are different things you can try. Walking/running along behind your child holding him up can work nicely. Don’t hold onto the handlebars because you want your child to get a feel for how steering affects balancing the bike. You can grab the back of the seat instead. Or, try holding onto Junior’s shoulders.

An alternative is to get a handle that attaches to the bicycle and lets you hold the bike upright from behind. This feels the same from the rider’s perspective, but is much easier on the pusher’s back. At least two companies make these inexpensive devices and they work well.

It’s also possible to teach balancing by removing the pedals. Balancing a bicycle is basically a matter of wobbling down the road making minor steering corrections to keep the wheels beneath you. If you remove the pedals and have your child use their feet as outriggers, touching down when necessary, you might find that they get the knack for steering to balance the bike more quickly. It’s easier to learn this on a very slight downhill so that the bike will coast without pedaling. Once they can hold their feet off the ground and coast comfortably, they’ll be ready for the pedals again. Good luck!

How To Climb Like A Champ

Vertical terrain is responsible for the biggest thrills — and the most intense pain — in cycling. In races, the crunch almost always comes when the pavement tilts up. Recreational tours such as Colorado’s Ride the Rockies feature several thousand feet of climbing each day. And, of course, climbs are followed by swooping, twisting descents where the grin-per-mile quotient is literally sky high. For all these reasons, it pays to get good on hills.

Article on Bike N Hike

While the following training tips, climbing strategies and skills are written from a racing/competitive point of view, they’ll help recreational road and off-road riders who would simply like to climb better, too.

Because climbing is a fight against gravity, your ultimate ability is determined by your power-to-weight ratio. Lean, small-boned riders need proportionally less power to climb well compared to big people. That’s why great climbers are nearly always diminutive. The few exceptions, such as Lance Armstrong and Miguel Indurain, generate so much power that their greater size doesn’t matter.

The good news is that you can improve your climbing regardless of your genetic makeup. In this article, I show you how to use climbing days to your best advantage.


Example: At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, my partner at, Ed Pavelka, is not built for climbing. But he lived for years in Vermont and Pennsylvania, where he had to climb at least a couple thousand vertical feet on every ride. Over time, this improved his fitness and technique, which made him feel it wouldn’t be too futile to try some hilly events. He surprised himself by finishing 9th overall in the Assault on Mt. Mitchell, which ends with a 25-mile climb. Later, he placed 2nd of 55 masters in the Mt. Washington Hill Climb, which gains 4,700 feet in 7 miles, including grades of 18 to 22 percent. If you think you’re too big to become a better climber, work at it and you might surprise yourself, too.

Hills For Intervals
Because you should often be training on hills to improve your vertical ability, it pays to scout out the best climbs within a reasonable distance of home. I hear what you’re saying: “I live in Pancake, Indiana, and the biggest hill in four counties is a two-foot rise over a culvert.” Don’t worry. Wind can substitute for real hills. So can highway overpasses. You could even use your indoor trainer with your bike’s front wheel raised 4 inches to simulate a grade.

Assuming there are some hills in your area, categorize them for specific kinds of training. Ideally, you’ll have these 3 types:

  • Sprinter’s hills. These are short and fairly steep. Highway overpasses work fine. So do abrupt climbs out of stream-cut valleys. You may find these hills in city and state parks. I know of some good ones In Cleveland’s park system.
  • Hills for repeats. The best hill for intervals takes 2 to 4 minutes to climb, has a steady grade of 6 to 8% and no traffic lights or stop signs. A road with several consecutive hills like this, separated by about 5 minutes of riding time, is ideal. It makes training more interesting. But one lone hill is fine, too. Simply climb it hard, turn around at the top and recover as you ride back down and on the approach.
  • Long climbs. These can vary from a hill that takes 5 to 8 minutes to climb to real mountains. Classic examples are the canyon climbs and mountain passes of western states, and the steep grades of the Appalachian Mountains and New England.

True Confession: I live in a western Colorado town with arguably the most varied climbing in the country within a 20-mile radius. A dozen steep, kilometer-long climbs reach the tops of mesas. Longer ascents include 6 tough miles on the entrance road to Black Canyon National Park and the fearsome 3-mile, 16% East Portal climb. If I want to do a century, I can climb 13-mile-long Red Mountain Pass to the south or the 30-mile, 5,500-vertical-foot grind up Grand Mesa.

Guess what? All of this great climbing terrain hasn’t made me into a great climber. I do okay, but smaller or more talented riders can outclimb me even if they’re restricted to a training diet of predominantly flat rides. You may not live in ideal terrain, but you can still close in on your potential.

Stand or Sit?
Is it better to be in the saddle or out when climbing? It’s one of the questions asked most frequently by riders seeking stronger climbing.

On short sprinter’s hills, you should stand because you need to generate power. Standing produces more short-term oomph. You can use body weight to push down the pedals. There’s a downside, though. Standing uses more energy because your legs do double duty. They support your weight while also propelling the bike forward (and up). This is why heart rates are about 5 bpm higher for a given speed while standing.

When you’re sitting, the saddle supports your weight, letting all of your leg strength be used to overcome gravity. Generally, bigger and heavier riders prefer to sit more while smaller riders like to stand more. It’s essential to find which method works better for you — or whether you’re more efficient when alternating sitting and standing, as many riders are. If a mix is best, you need to determine the percentage of each that leads to fast, efficient climbing. Here’s how:

  • Ride 4 times up a hill that takes at least 3 minutes. Use different methods. Do one repeat entirely in the saddle. Do another standing all the way. Do a third sitting for one portion and standing for the rest. Do the fourth by alternating stretches of sitting and standing.
  • Keep your heart rate or perceived exertion the same on each repeat. Effort should be steady and hard, but not all out. Time yourself on each ascent and then compare times.
  • Don’t do all 4 climbs the same day. You’ll be tired before the end and your times won’t mean much. Instead, spread the climbs over several days or a week.

If you see more than about 10 seconds improvement in each 2 minutes, you know you’re more adapted to that style of climbing. Continue experimenting. Find out how much or which part of a climb should be done seated as compared to standing. How steep does a section need to be before it’s more efficient to change positions?

Tip! When climbing out of the saddle, the standard hand position is on the brake lever hoods. This puts you slightly upright to see better, breathe better and use body weight to come down on the pedals. But more and more pros are seen climbing on the drops, as if sprinting. One reason is that climbing speeds have increased, making a lower, more aerodynamic position an advantage. Another is that it puts more of the shoulders, arms and lower back into the pedal stroke for greater power. At first it might feel awkward to climb in the drops, but try it for a while to see if it has advantages for you.

Training Techniques For Faster Climbing
Not all of your hill training should consist of hammering up the climb, recovering and doing it again. Variations not only boost your improvement but also add variety to training. Here are some excellent drills:

  • Power accelerations. Here’s a climbing drill you can do on flat roads. Shift to a high gear and roll slowly at about 5 mph. Staying in the saddle, accelerate as hard as you can for 10 seconds. Push down and pull up forcefully. Your ability to power a large gear on hills will improve dramatically. So will your uphill sprint.
  • Finish the hill. Most attacks on climbs take place near the top when riders are easing from the effort. Use this drill to respond. During most of the climb, stay in the saddle and spin a slightly easier gear than normal. With about 200 yards remaining, shift to a bigger gear, stand and go hard. Don’t slow abruptly at the summit. Instead, charge over the top for another 100 yards or until gravity takes over. This drill builds power and the positive psychology to finish climbs strongly.
  • Surges. Good climbers don’t ascend at a steady pace. Instead, they throw in surges of faster pedaling in an attempt to drop competitors. Here’s how to develop the ability to hang on: Ride at a pace about 5 beats below your lactate threshold (the exertion level marked by muscle fatigue, pain and shallow rapid breathing). Surge for 10 to 20 seconds by increasing your cadence about 10 rpm. Ease back to your cruising speed for a minute, then throw in another surge. Repeat all the way up, then accelerate over the top.

Uphill Skills
Climbing is a matter of fitness, but technique counts, too. Practice the following tips till they become ingrained.

  • Move on the saddle. As the grade wears on, push your hips to the rear and concentrate on smooth, round pedal strokes at a moderate rpm. Then scoot forward to the tip of the saddle and spin at a faster cadence. Next, slide to the middle and pedal normally. Moving and varying your stroke refreshes your legs by relieving muscle tension. You can feel the difference almost instantly. Many riders, however, lock into one location or continue moving to the rear, missing the benefits of spinning from the nose.
  • Shift to an easier gear just as the grade begins. Most riders go too hard at the bottom of a climb and run out of steam. To counter this tendency, don’t wait to shift till you begin to bog down. In fact, use a lower gear than you think you need for the first two-thirds of the climb. Keep your cadence up to keep your speed up. With about 100 yards to go, shift to a bigger gear, stand and roll briskly over the top.
  •  Slide back for more power. On steep climbs when your gear isn’t quite low enough, move to the rear of the saddle. Grip the bar tops. Slow your cadence just enough to feel your legs pulling the pedals around the entire 360 degrees.
  • Monitor your breathing. If you begin to gasp, you’re going too hard. Slow your cadence slightly.

Tip! Try a breathing tip from Alexi Grewal, an Olympic road race champion. When you’re working hard on a climb (or anytime), exhale forcefully and inhale passively. This prevents panting and improves air exchange. Breathe in rhythm with your pedal strokes and you’ll feel smoother and in control.

  • Go to the front. If you’re riding with a group and aren’t the fastest climber, work your way to the front before an ascent. Then climb at the pace you can handle. If riders start passing, let them. You’ll still be in contact (or close) at the top. If you avoid blowing up, you won’t have a problem rejoining on the descent.
  • Keep a good attitude. Sure, hills are hard work. But they’re part of riding a bike, and nothing spikes your fitness faster than time spent climbing. Hills are good for you!

This article is provided courtesy of 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 to Deal With Bad Dogs While Biking

barking dog

Dog attacks are high on the list of cycling fears. Maybe you can’t stop Fang from giving chase, but you can outsmart him if you know how dogs think — assuming that stinkin’ mutt even has a brain!

Know dog psychology. The majority of dogs who chase cyclists are merely defending their territory. When you pedal off the section of road that they consider their turf, you no longer pose a threat to their ancestral instincts and they lose interest. Incidentally, this is why you’ll rarely be chased by a dog you encounter way out in the boonies. He’s not on his turf so he couldn’t care less about you.

Know dog tactics. Dogs want to attack from the rear, coming up from the hindquarter. Even one who sits up in his yard ahead of you may wait till you pass before giving chase. You can use this to your advantage in the next tip because it gives you a head start.

Sprint! You often can outsprint Fido when he’s more interested in fooling around than in actually attacking. You can tell his intent by how hard he’s running and his expression. An easy gait with woofing and ears and tail up, no problem. A full-out sprint with ears back, tail down and teeth out, problem. Still, the territorial gene can save you. If the road is flat or downhill, stand up and sprint to get past the dog’s invisible boundary.

Guard your front wheel. When a dog sees you coming, he might make a beeline for your bike, then attempt to turn up beside you. The danger here is that his poor little paws will skid on the pavement and he’ll plow into your wheels. If he hits the front one, you’ll crash. Sprint so that you move forward faster than he expects, and give him a margin for error by steering farther into the road — if traffic permits!

SCREAM! Most dogs know what happens when a human is angry with them. A sudden shout of “No!” or “Git!” or “Stay!” will surprise Fluffy and probably make him hesitate for just the second you need to take the advantage. If he’s hard of hearing, raise your hand threateningly as if it contains a rock. Outlaw mutts usually have had experience with bad things flying at them when a human makes a throwing gesture.

Play douse the Doberman. If you see big, fast Prince up ahead and know that he sees you, sprinting might not work. Especially if the road is tilting up. Take out your water bottle. Just having it in your hand may make him stay away. If he does come near you, give him a faceful and a loud yell. This distraction will slow him down, though he may come back for more. Just don’t distract yourself and ride off the road.

Some riders swear by Halt pepper spray that they clip to their handlebar. This stuff works great — if you hit your target. That’s a big if when you and Spot are going different speeds, the air is moving, and you’re trying to stay on the road. Pepper spray stings a dog’s eyes, nose and mouth, but it doesn’t cause lasting damage. It also works on human attackers, but that’s a different story.

Give up and get off.  If nothing works and Toodles has the upper hand, dismount quickly and hold your bike between you and those sharp teeth. Swing it like a weapon if necessary, and start calling for help. Someone may eventually come out of a house and yell, “Oh, he won’t hurt you!”

Call the cops. If you are attacked and bitten, report it to the county sheriff or other authority immediately. Include the location, a description of the dog and the owner’s name and address if you know them. Get medical attention without delay. If the dog was rabid, you are at risk of serious illness or even death. Demand proof of rabies vaccination or insist to authorities that the dog be quarantined.

If the same dog accosts you every time you ride the road, report this to the authorities, too. You have a right to life, liberty, pursuit of cycling happiness and public roadway access free from fear of fanged attack. Keep following up with calls to make sure steps are taken to put PupPup on a rope.

Thanks to Bike N Hike for this article. Bike N Hike This article is provided courtesy and was written by its founders Fred Matheny (left) and Ed Pavelka (right). Fred and Ed were longtime Bicycling Magazine editors, are noted cycling authors and rode together on a world-record-setting Race Across America team in 1996.

RoadBikeRider offers cycling books, many more cycling guides and even a free weekly e-mail newsletter full of tips and news for aspiring bicyclists.Receive a FREE copy of the eBook “29 Pro Cycling Secrets for Roadies” by subscribing today.barking dog



Washing your Bike

From Bike n Hike, Longmont CO

Oddly enough, the most important thing to know about washing bicycles is how not to do it. Do not hook up the high-pressure nozzle on your garden hose and blast your bike clean. And absolutely do not visit your local do-it-yourself car wash, plug the machine full of quarters and supersonically blast your pride and joy clean.A bucket, water, soap, sponges and brushes is all it takes!

While these approaches make short work of cleaning, they have the nasty side effect of obliterating the precious grease that’s lubricating your all-important bearing components, such as the headset, bottom bracket, hubs, cassette and pedals.

And, if you ride your shiny new steed without grease in these parts, you’ll ruin them quickly and incur quite an expense having them repaired or replaced. What’s more, car-wash sprayers are so powerful, they can actually strip decals and paint off certain frames!

Besides, it’s easy and quick enough to clean a bike with a bucket of soapy water and sponges and brushes (photo). Plus, you won’t have to break into your piggy bank. In fact, some folks set up bike-cleaning stations at home so that after muddy rides they can get their machines spic and span before storing them.

Keep It Clean
In case you need extra motivation to give your bike the scrub-a-dub, bear in mind that clean bikes are easier to work on and spot problems on. On a filthy machine, you have to wipe away grime and you might not notice a glitch that could cause problems on your next ride. Plus, if your bike’s a mess, simple on-the-ride maintenance, such as fixing a flat becomes a miserable job and should you have to carry your bike in a car, it’ll trash the upholstery.

But, perhaps the best reason to keep a bike clean is because it’s easy and also because, as long as you wipe it down once in a while, it’ll stay clean. For this article we’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’ve taken care of your bike and want to know what’s involved in keeping it clean so it never gets too dirty.

All that’s required is a bucket, warm water (cold water works, but it doesn’t make as much suds), dishwashing detergent (use a type that cuts grease), 2 sponges and a few brushes. If your drivetrain’s clean, you can get away with 1 sponge. The other one comes in handy when you need to clean a grimy chain and crankset (you save the clean sponge for the rest of the bike). Ideally, though, you’ll maintain this important part of your bike and never need to spend too much time on it when washing your bike, which is mainly done to remove dirt.

Depending on what type of bike you’re cleaning, you can experiment with brushes that you have around the house to determine which ones work best for cleaning the nooks and crannies on your bike, such as around the front derailleur, crankset and hubs. The green scrubber in the top photo works great for cleaning salt marks from sweat and fingerprints off of titanium frames with brushed finishes.

While you can certainly clean a bike with it leaning against a wall, it’s a lot easier on the lower back if you suspend it so there’s no need to lean over. If you don’t have a repair stand (photo), you could hook the tip of your bike seat over a branch, use your hitch-mount car rack to support the bike or suspend your rig from bungee cords attached to an overhang. Just don’t flip the bike upside down or lay it on its side to work on it because this increases the chance that water will reach bearings you want to keep dry.

You needn’t remove the wheels, however, it’s a good idea to remove your accessories, such as the pump, seat bag and computer. Just don’t forget to reinstall them when you’re done cleaning.

Fill your bucket with warm water and enough detergent to make a good bunch of suds, which make cleaning easier.

Bike Bath
Begin washing getting the bike wet by dribbling water from above with a hose or by dipping the sponge and squeezing it over the bike to wet it entirely. Or, you could pour warm soapy water from the bucket. The idea is to wet the entire bike to loosen any dirt, mud or grime before you touch the bike with your sponge. That way, you won’t scratch the paint, which is what would happen if you just started rubbing.

Let the water set a bit and then dip the sponge so it’s loaded with suds and start cleaning the bike. Plenty of suds a clean bike make!It’s good to work from the front to the back or from the top to the bottom to keep track of what you’ve done in case you get interrupted. Remember to only use the second sponge on the drivetrain parts. Otherwise, the grime will spread to the frame, handlebar tape, tires, etc. making a mess.

The brushes come in handy for behind the crankset; around the brakes; under the fork; around the hubs; etc. If there’s some build up of dirt or grime in the drivetrain, such as between the chainring or cogs or on the derailleur pulleys, use a thin screwdriver to scrape it out and then clean it again with the right sponge.

If you have standard brakes (not discs) be sure to scrub the rims, especially the sidewalls because they’re your braking surfaces. Keeping the rims clean ensures positive braking. Rubber deposits that won’t come off with the soapy water can be removed with rubbing alcohol or lighter fluid. This trick will also work for stickies you might find on your bike, too, such as tar.

It’s a good idea to inspect as you clean your bike. For example, while cleaning the tires you can look for sidewall cuts or tread wear, signs that it’s time for a new tire. When working around the brakes and derailleurs, check the cables to see if they’re fraying or rusting. And look at the cable housing for cracking, a sign that it should be checked and possibly replaced.

Once you’ve washed all the dirt off your bike, finish the job by rinsing and drying. Dribble water from above to remove any remaining suds and soapy water. Or, fill the bucket with clean water and pour it over the top of the bike. Then dry the bike (use a soft towel or chamois) and apply a spritz of lube to the chain, derailleur and brake pivots and you’re ready to roll.

Cool Old Bikes

As we kick into the summer riding season, you can check out our “new” bikes in the store. Rick from Bike-N-Hike in Longmont was kind enough to let us display 4 really cool bikes. The first two are 1986 reproductions of the Columbia Mfg. RX-5. (See story below).

The other bike is a 1970’s era racing bike made by Pogliaghi. It must have been a fantastic bike for the time, because it is still nice today. (See below)

And the 4th one is a Simoncini racing bike from the same era as the Pogliaghi. It was difficult to find much information on the Simoncini on the internet. Rick knew a little bit of the history saying that prisoners in Italy learned how to make bikes in prison. When they got out they started their own bike companies and this Simoncini was one of these.

All of these bikes are hanging from the ceiling and these bikes are for sale through Bike-N-Hike. Bike-N-Hike


The Pogliaghi

Pogliaghi was an Italian racing bicycle manufacturer, based in Milan, Italy.

The company was founded by Sante Pogliaghi in 1947. Pogliaghi did much of the work, but had up to six staff by the late 1970s, when production increased from 300 frames a year to 800. [1]

Cyclists such as Patrick Sercu and Eddy Merckx used Pogliaghi frames.

Sante Pogliaghi’s speciality was tandem , stayer and track bicycles.

Sante Pogliaghi died in 2000.

Pogliaghi sold or transferred rights to build bicycles under his name in the 1983-84. The difference between a Pogliaghi made under his direct supervision and one that was not may be the *PSM* stamp on the seat-lug, and a serial number on the seat-lug or the head-lug. Pogliaghi is on record stating he would retire by 1980, when he was interviewed for the book “The Custom Bicycle” but he officially closed his workshop on 1983. The PSM stamp and the serial numbers disappeared after the Brand sale.


Marc Rossin supposedly took over rights to the marque first, and a number of Pogliaghis appeared with Rossin-style pantographing. Probably by the late 1980s rights to the name had passed to the Basso brothers.



The RX-5

In 1986 Columbia Mfg. began production of the now famous RX-5 to commemorate their 110 year anniversary. This was to be a reproduction of the 1952 5-star Superb Men’s Motobike. The 1952 model in green and cream was itself made to commemorate the company’s 75th anniversary.

The plan was to make a limited production of 5,000.

One of the hopes for this bike was to stimulate a slumping U.S. bicycle market. Import bikes were selling in department stores for less money than one could be made in the U.S. For years Columbia had made lower end department store bikes for the kids market. Now they could not compete with the imports. Columbia Mfg. was loosing the war and needed to do something.

It was felt the answer was to return to making High-End bike shop bikes and the RX-5 would be the thing to get them noticed.


Ultimately this bike would not prevent the bankruptcy that would befall the company in a few shortyears.

This did not change the fact that this was an exceptional bike although it did have it’s flaws.


Some of the good things about this bike were the sheet metal parts. In the 50’s Westfield Mfg. had all their sheet metal parts made by McCauley Metal Products. McCauley was approached again in 1986 to reproduce the chain guards, luggage racks, fenders and tanks for the new RX-5. The good news was all of the original dies used to make the 50’s parts were still around. These were used to stamp ot these parts so they were exactly like the originals.

Some of the other “good things” were the frames, forks, rims, pretty much the rest of the bike was made at the Westfield Columbia factory.


Rick and his crew at Bike-N-Hike


Welcome to Bike-N-Hike, the friendly store that promotes human-powered transportation (bicycling, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing). 

Bike-N-Hike has been family-owned and operated since its inception in 1973, and has always been committed to excellence.

Rick and Jill Emerson and their staff are anxious to serve you in the industry of Human Powered Transportation; They have owned Bike-N-Hike for 4 years.  Before coming to Bike-N-Hike, Rick competed on the U.S. ski team for a 10 year period while training and racing bicycles in the off season.

We carry a comprehensive variety of bicycles, parts, accessories and clothing, plus, trailers, pedal trailers, car carriers and much more.

We have the most experienced sales and technical staff

in Longmont, with over 100 years combined experience in the bicycle industry.  Whether you are a beginner or an avid cycling enthusiast, our friendly staff will help you find the right bicycle, adjust it for proper fit, and make sure you have all the resources to enjoy riding and keep your bicycle running smoothly. Bike-N-Hike