Preparing your bike
The three important issues to consider when preparing your bike for Cycle Queensland are:
There are simple things you can do to improve your cycling skills. The most obvious one is simply spending time cycling, and if you do this with others you can discuss your cycling and learn from them.
For assistance with your bike please speak with CQ13 sponsors Epic Cycles.
Bike Preparation Tips
- Give your bike a health check
Any comfortable bicycle suitable for sealed roads is best. If you have a mountain bike we recommend having "slick" tyres fitted for the ride. If you have a mountain bike and rarely take it off the road then slick tyres are a better solution for your general riding as they have a lower "rolling resistance" - you'll find you can ride in higher gears - try it, you'll like it.
Check your bike and accessories. Have your bike checked mechanically. Make sure your brakes are effective, well adjusted and the pads are not at the end of their life. Make sure that your gear changers are well adjusted and the chain is lubed. Good handlebars, pedals and saddle will make a big difference to your riding comfort and style.
If you do not carry out your own repairs take your bike to a bike shop to get it checked and adjusted. You should also book your bike in at least two to three weeks before the event if major repairs are needed otherwise you may not be able to get major work completed in time.
If you decide to upgrade your bike then do it well in advance of the ride so you have time before the ride to adjust to your new bike and to make small adjustments to suit you.
- Accessories that you should have at all times while riding are
- tube repair kit including pump, spare tube, patches, 2 x tyre levers (you need to know how to use these).
- water bottles (two for any ride longer than one hour).
- gloves (on rides more than 5km) - these allow you to grip the handlebars securely even with sweaty palms.
- Riding position set-up
A comfortable and efficient riding position is the key element in the bike-body interaction. It is therefore very important that your bike is properly set-up and adjusted. If your bike is adjusted to suit your particular body size and shape you will then feel more relaxed and will be able to ride longer distances with less effort. Once you have made the adjustments recommended below, ride gently for the next few days to give your body time to adjust to these new settings. To set-up your bike for an optimum riding position you will need a few bike tools and may also need a friend or two to assist you. You may find that some of them don't work for you but this is the best place to start and then make custom adjustments after you have ridden for a distance and determined what might need to change.
- Foot position
- Saddle position
- Saddle front/back adjustment
- Stem and handlebars
- Still not quite right
1. Foot position
The ball of your foot should be centred over the pedal axle. For small feet and high rpm pedallers place the ball of your foot slightly behind centre. If you have clipless pedals you can make this adjustment by clipping your shoes into the pedal and adjusting the cleat fixing bolts.
2. Saddle position
First adjust your saddle so that the top surface is parallel with the road surface. Then set the saddle height the following way: With the crank arm perpendicular to the ground sit on the saddle (you'll need a friend to hold the bike for you) and place your heel (shoes on) on the top of the pedal. With the saddle height correctly adjusted your leg should be in the straight "locked" position. Make sure to take account of oversize heels on your shoes if you have extra thick soles.
3. Saddle front/back adjustment
Sit on your bike in your normal riding position (you'll need a friend to hold the bike for you) with the cranks in the 3 and 9 o'clock position. Your saddle is correctly positioned when your tibial tuberosity (the bump at the top of the shin bone) is 1cm behind the pedal axle. You may need a plumb line and a helper to make this adjustment and you may have to readjust saddle height if you move the saddle significantly.
4. Stem & handlebars
Correct stem height can be between level with the saddle height or up to 6 cm below. The preferred range is 2.5 to 4.5 cm lower. As a check ensure that your knee just clears your elbow when seated on your bike with the cranks in the 3/9 o'clock position. To ensure good chest expansion and breathing your handlebars should be as wide as your shoulders. On a mountain or hybrid bike some riders may prefer a more upright riding position with a higher stem position. Extra wide flat-type mountain bike handlebars may give more stable control on unsealed roads but you may find them uncomfortable on long rides over sealed roads. Bar extensions and narrower handlebars will give you a greater variety of comfortable hand positions and also place your upper body in a slightly lower position to reduce your overall resistance to the wind.
If the handlebars are too far away you will be very uncomfortable. Sit on your bike in your normal riding position (you'll need a friend to hold the bike for you) and your arms should be at 90degrees to your torso (you may need another friend to check this for you or have a large mirror handy). Round and round in circles As you adjust each of the above the other adjustments may be effected.
Once you have adjusted everything for the first time go through them all again and check that they are all still correct. Adjusting to your new position It takes time to settle in to the new position and you may still have to do some fine tuning. Overall you should feel much better when you ride and less strained when you arrive back home.
6. Still not quite right?
If you can't get comfortable after making these adjustments and riding for a while then it is possible that your bike is not the right size for you, unfortunately a common problem. Considering changing bikes would be a good option for your long term cycling benefit.
- Riding in a group
Riding in a group deserves extra attention here because on Cycle Queensland there are lots of other cyclists (surprise!). Key things to pay attention to:
- Starting and stopping
- Gear changing, when and why?
- Consistent line and predictable behaviour
And keep in mind these important points:
- Keep your distance. Don't ride so close to the rider in front that you can't see ahead of them. If they try to avoid an obstruction and you are not aware of their movements you may hit it or run into them as they take evasive action. And/or you may hit the obstruction e.g. a nasty pothole or debris.
- Ride predictably. Make it easier for those behind you by riding a straight line at all times. Avoid swerving movements and when you do pull out to pass or turn call out "PASSING" to signal your intentions. The same goes for braking and when you do stop move well off the road to allow others a place to ride. It's always good to call out "STOPPING" to let those behind you that you are slowing to stop. This lets them prepare for your actions.
- Look ahead and around you. Be aware of the riders around you and the road conditions ahead. This reduces the chance that you'll be surprised by anything and subsequently be prepared for anything that may happen or better still simply avoid anything nasty happening at all.
- Practice group riding techniques. If you are new to riding in large groups you should try to ride at least some of your training runs with groups of six or more riders in a tight bunch. Riding in a group is very demanding and you need to be constantly aware of the movements of riders in front, to the side and behind you. The benefit is that the physical effort is much less because you can draft behind others.