CYCLING GEAR: The Summer Season Basics
Aug 2011 09

The sport of bicycling can be compared to numerous other athletic hobbies or pastimes from an equipment point of view. You could simply own nothing more than a bike, or you can own as much as a garage full of gear that goes with the bike, or like me, be somewhere in between! Obviously, since bikes can be found for a few dollars at a yard sale, all the way to high end bikes in the tens of thousands of dollars price range, it’s also safe to assume the same is true for bicycling equipment.

Equipment would be defined as any accessory to enhance your bicycling experience, which can include, but is not limited to, helmets, clothing, shoes, pedals, reflectors and lighting, bike components, gloves, etc., etc.

Today, I am going to address some basic warm weather clothing equipment. As a road cyclist, I tend to only wear tight fitting clothing. This is for mainly for safety reasons and to help with wind drag. On a typical ride, Renaissance & Masher will spin up anywhere from 20-50 miles on the best back roads with the least amount of traffic as possible, and you will find both of us donning a helmet, cycle jersey, bib shorts, gloves, protective eye glasses, and clip-on shoes, which attach to the pedals.

As is the case with most sporting hobbies, there are brand name attire products, and also generics. The difference? Same as usual. You get what you pay for. What are you paying for? Comfort, fit, durability, and of coarse the look of a nice logo! Some of the big brand names include Pearl Izumi, Descente, Shimano, Sidi, Castelli, Louis Garneau, Giordana. The Masher seems to own more gear with the Pearl Izumi logo attached, not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the name. I will say this though, so far, my favorite and most comfortable bib shorts are another brand.

Okay, enough about the brands, let’s talk a little about the actual function of road cycling clothing. Most of it depends on whether you intend to ride around the subdivision with the family, commute to work, or in our case train for, and consequently complete century rides. I highly recommend one thing above all else on all of these rides. A HELMET! You never know when a fall could happen, and believe me, it only takes a split second for your head to make contact with the pavement.

Helmet:   A device worn on your head to protect your skull and brain. Currently, both Renaissance & Masher wear Bell helmets. They are light weight, designed to allow good air flow, and comfortable. Masher has unfortunately also tested the durability of his once.

Cycling Jersey:   The shirt worn on a bicycle ride. These are typically very light weight and tight fitting with zippers on front for extra ventilation and three pockets on the rear for storing important things that can easily be accessed, such as, maps, cell phone, snacks, money, etc. We both have various brands of jerseys, including a couple that were earned. Some of the big ride events offer a cycling jersey for sale, and we wear them as a token of an accomplishment. Others are plain, and a couple show our true colors (when it comes to who we root for in college sports).

Shorts or Bib Shorts: A spandex material lined with padding in the seat that are worn as shorts. This is one of the most important articles of clothing on a ride of any significant distance. RAM prefers to wear the bib shorts because they are more secure, don’t move around as much when in the saddle, and they also do a good job of assisting in forming the body which ultimately aids in support and comfort over a long trek on the bike. This is truly where you get what you pay for, especially in the comfort of the padding.

Cycling Socks: A high compression sock that is designed to wick moisture away from the feet, they come in all sorts of lengths and colors. Try to avoid cotton socks at all cost when cycling for more than a few miles, otherwise you may experience feet fungus and/or other problems associated with wet feet – all that equates to uncomfortable and possible even time off the bike. RAM prefers the ankle length, either way, you’re destined to get numerous tan lines that are impossible to hide at the beach, when you commit to wearing the full cycling gear.

Clip-On Shoes:   The name says it all. Cycling shoes are true to the uniform in regards to weight, and similar to the bike frame in regards to stiffness. Road shoes are designed to be attached to the pedals in order to prevent foot slippage, and also to help provide more power to the pedaling process. Yes, you will forget to unclip from the pedal at some point and inevitably fall, stuck to the bike. Hopefully, you won’t get hurt, it usually happens as you’re stopping, therefor, at least you’re at a slow speed. More importantly, hopefully, you don’t have a huge audience when it happens, because it can be more hurtful to your pride than your body.

Other Accessories Recommended:   Gloves – fingerless in the hot season, and preferably a wicking material with some light padding. It is important for your entire outfit to breathe, otherwise your body will overheat very easily. Head Beanie or Buff – similar to a do rag, it’s purpose is to keep the sweat out of you eyes, keep the head cool, and protect from sunburn. Protective Eye or Sunglasses – also, the name says it all. RAM always recommends wearing glasses to protect your eyes from bugs, road debris, rain, or whatever else may be in the air, and we recommend tinted lenses during high sunlight times, and clear or polarized during low visibility times. Last, but not least, RAM highly recommends wearing a Road ID – this is, as their slogan says, “It’s who you are!” In case of emergency, in any case, this will allow folks to help you without jeopardizing your health until paramedics can arrive on site. It could save your life.

Now we need your feedback. Please send us a message, and let us know what your favorite gear is, so we can try it out. In the near future, RAM Cycling intends to design some custom cycling gear and we want to use the best. So make a recommendation of a particular brand and we will try it out over the upcoming riding seasons, then we will rate them, and decide to make a brand “Our Brand.” It only takes a second to post a comment or drop an email, either way, let us know what you wear.

The right or wrong cycling gear, can ultimately be the difference in your enjoyment level while on the bike.

 

Tech Review: Cyclemeter – Basic review
Aug 2011 31

As some of you may know, The Renaissance Man is a technology junkie!  I love all things technical.  So when I started riding a bike about a year ago, I searched out how tech could help me achieve my goals.  It did not take me long to find an app for my iPhone called Cyclemeter from Abvio.

I have been using Cyclemeter for over a year and it accompanies me on all of my rides. There are so many good ideas built into this app, it would be impossible for me to detail them all.  So I will focus on my top 2 things that make Cyclemeter the best cycling app out there.

#1 – Tracking My Ride Statistics – Like most road cyclist, I have a small cycling computer attached to my handle bars that I use to monitor my speed and mileage.  I use this just for reference during the ride.  For tracking and collecting data, Cyclemeter stores all of my relevant data for all of my rides.  This data includes many items but the ones I find most important are:

  • Map of the Ride (interfacing with Google Maps) showing mile split times and speeds.
  • Average Speed
  • Distance Traveled
  • Calories Burned
  • Fastest Speed
  • Elevation Changes and Profiles

The really cool aspect of tracking these stats is that I can integrate these into my calendar on my iPhone.  This gives me a complete record of ALL of my rides.  Since I sync my calendar back to an Exchange Calendar, I have a permanent record of every ride I have ever taken.

#2 – Peace of Mind – Outside of my Road ID, the second most important safety gear I own is the combination of my iPhone and the Cyclemeter app.  As road cyclist, we have all had are fair share of close calls while on the road.  But with the built in notification system in Cyclemeter, your loved ones, friends or family can know exactly where you are at all times.  So if there is an accident or a flat or any other incident that leaves you stranded on the side of the road, your friends and family will be able to locate you.   How is this done?  There are multiple ways to notify people and you can control how much or little information to give them.

The most secure method of giving out your track is through email.  You can configure Cyclemeter to give an update at start, stop or any time/mileage interval.  Other methods of communication include Twitter, Facebook and Daily Mile.  I use most of these methods on every ride, giving out specific stats depending on who I am communicating with.

So there you have it, why I believe Cyclemeter is the best cycling app available.  There is much more to this app and I will detail the advanced items in a future post.

If you have questions or comments, please let me know.  I would be more than happy to assist you in getting the most out of Cyclemeter.

- Renaissance Man

 

Bike Review: 2011 Jamis Zenith Pro
Nov 2011 07

Masher’s new ride as of October 15, 2011 is a brand new 2011 Jamis Zenith Pro carbon frame road bike with SRAM Force components. As you can see, it is a beautiful black, white, and yellow machine, and it rides as good as it looks. I purchased the bike from Troy Hearn at Capital City Cycles in Frankfort, KY.

I took it out for my first ride on my birthday, although it wasn’t an actual b-day gift. I was joined by some friends and family for a 30 mile out-and-back ride including the Legacy Trail. My initial impression was that it begged to take off from the group, but I didn’t think that was necessary, considering we had two teenagers with us. I was able to satisfy that craving on my second ride, though, and it delivered excitement as I hoped. The bike is very responsive, handles like no bike I’ve been on before, and turns on a dime. It is very quick, climbs well, and in general, it’s fun to ride. I’m sure when I take it to it’s first big group ride, it will be a head turner. I am still getting used to the SRAM Force “double-tap” shifters, but the bike as a whole is AWESOME! I would compare it to my Trek Pilot road bike as though I went from a sports sedan to a true sports car. For example: from a Nissan Maxima to a Nissan 370Z. Oh yeah, it’s like that!

Why a new bike? Not totally sure the correct answer to that yet. I have hit a spot in my cycling career and fitness training where I feel like I needed a change of scenery, change of pace, and I hope this bike will help provide that much needed bump in my road. I also feel like I was ready for a step up in bike including upgrading frame, components, etc. and decided it is more cost effective to buy new than try to upscale. I’m super excited about receiving free lifetime tune ups, as well.

Why Jamis? This is a little easier to answer: first, I trusted all of Troy’s (Capital City Cycles) recommendations in relation to bike, size, components and cost. I feel like I got the most bike for my bucks spent. I also did some research online, and decided I wanted the SRAM and Jamis has built a solid name for themselves over recent years. I did notice some pretty good close out deals by purchasing a bike from a direct dealer online, but my final decision was to go with Capital City Cycles and the Jamis Zenith Pro.  (The bike weighed in at 17.2 pounds fully built with computer and water bottles mounted.)  My philosophy is, “if you can’t support local people, you shouldn’t expect them to support you!”

I know we are nearing the end of the 2011 riding season, and I’m sad about that, but I am very excited about training through the winter and rolling out early in 2012 with goals to accumulate more miles than ever in a single year, and attending one “Big Ride” charity event every month from April through October. In fact, please post a comment and let us know when and where your favorite ride is, so we can add it to our most wanted list and try to attend in 2012! And stay tuned for the first ever RAM Cycling Ride Event, it is still in planning phase, and we hope to have some more solid details by the end of the year!

In closing, thanks again Troy Hearn, Capital City Cycles, and Jamis for my new Zentih Pro road bike! I am looking forward to the next phase in my cycling like, thanks to you and your product!     *Masher

Constant Goals Focus is Necessary
Dec 2011 08

I began road cycling in 2006, and have ventured somewhere between 15,000 & 20,000 total miles on a bike since that first ride on my dad’s Trek hybrid. I challenge myself to stay in shape year round, and complete century rides throughout the riding season, however this year is the first time I ridden more than one century in a single year, having completed 3. I enjoy the time I spend on my bike, and thoroughly look forward to any challenging ride, it helps me motivate myself to train a little harder in preparation. Recently, I was thinking as the 2011 season begins to wind down, now is a great time to set some goals for next year. So many folks, myself included, wait until New Years Day to start trying to achieve new goals, and our thought process behind this idea is that we can waste all of our hard fought effort to be healthy for the first ten or eleven months out of the year, and just be a slob around the holidays. After all, it’s cold, wet, dark earlier, etc. All good reason to slow down on exercise, and pig out on the season’s comfort foods, right?

The answer to that question is, as one of my drill instructors at Parris Island notoriously repeated to us, “Not only no, but oh hell NO!” In fact, it is as simple as efficiency! In this day and age, with so much focus on people to make use of their time wisely, and use products that are highly energy efficient, taking care of  our body is no different. I know in my line of work, a couple of simple techniques: never set your heating and air unit thermostat more than six degrees away from where you intend to run the unit when you are at home, because it kills the efficiency of the unit trying to play catch up when you thought you were conserving, it actually uses more energy to get back to normal operation and causes more wear and tear than needed. Likewise, it makes little to no sense to heat water in a storage tank, and keep reheating until you are ready to use it, and then hope you have enough, when the technology is now available to heat your water on demand using less energy and never run out. Well we can get so much better results out of our workouts and stay healthy if we utilize these same concepts, and just like professional athletes, stay in shape throughout the off season.

The reason so many “New Years Resolutions” fail, is simple. We dig our hole too deep in the months leading up to that day when it is supposed to suddenly automatically change for us. In reality, yes our bodies do need an off season, but that doesn’t mean to shut it down 100% and lose focus on what you are truely trying to achieve in life. I propose that goal setting is essential to surviving the down time in the off season, and the more regular you can stay healthy, the more efficient your body will remain. Maintaining constant focus on your goals is necessary to achieve them! Also, it is important to set new ones as you reach your current goals, and don’t get discouraged if you have a minor set back in your routine, understand that any set back is only as temporary as you allow it to be. The better you stay focused, the better chance you have to not only achieve, but exceed your goals.

Having said all that, now it’s time to follow through! The warm riding season is officially over, I think it left with daylight savings time, so let the off season begin. What are my goals? I have given serious thought to these, and a couple are very lofty, but I feel like I’m ready for some tough ones, because I’m not going to let all of my 2011 fitness and shape go down the drain over the holidays, like I normally do. This year I’m getting a jump start on the next season, there is no better day to set out to achieve your goals than today! So today, I begin the path towards Masher’s 2012 Cycling Goals:

1. PARTICIPATE IN AT LEAST ONE BLUEGRASS CYCLING CLUB RIDE PER WEEK. I did this a few years ago, riding mostly with the folks in Frankfort out of Capital City Cycles, and it improved my speed and stamina greatly. The club offers rides every day of the week in different locations, so I can’t use work as an excuse, if I miss Monday, I still have 5 days to get to one!

2. PARTICIPATE IN AT LEAST ONE BIG GROUP RIDE PER MONTH. Most of these will be charity or fundraiser rides, and will allow me to visit different places and ride on new roads. April through October is the bulk of the riding season, and there are plenty of rides to find. I will.

3. COMPLETE THE RAIN RIDE WITH MY CYCLING COMPANION, THE RENAISSANCE MAN! RAIN Ride stands for ride across Indiana, it is a one day trek of about 160 miles one way across the Hoosier State. We talked about it this year, but were at Panama City Beach on vacation. The most miles I’ve ridden in a single day is about 115, and it felt like enough at the time. I will need to be in top shape to complete it.

4. LOSE FIFTY POUNDS. I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s where I need to be, where I want to be, where I will be.

5. INFORM MORE PEOPLE ABOUT RAM CYCLING AND ADD AT LEAST 5 NEW BIKES TO THE IMMEDIATE AREA. This one has nothing to do with my personal fitness, it has everything to do with my passion for cycling and how Renaissance Man & Masher intend to raise cycling awareness. This will always be on my goals list, hopefully, the others will get checked off and replaced about this same time next year.

*Masher

A Glance At The Past, & A View Of The Future
Jan 2012 13

Wow, time certainly flies and I can’t believe 2011 is now history. Well, it was a memorable year, one that helped me find focus on cycling again, after a great finish to 2010. We recently posted short blogs by Renaissance Man & Masher with their Goals for 2012, but we have yet to publish the Goals for RAM Cycling, until now.

First, let’s reflect on the awesome happenings by RAM Cycling in 2011, then we can take a look at where the road leads for 2012 and beyond. Some simple, but important events accomplished by Renaissance & Masher in ’11:

*   First century ride of the year (first ever for Renaissance Man) was the “Wheels O’ Fire” in Hamilton County, Georgia on April 2, 2011

*   The idea of RAM Cycling first came to light on a Renaissance & Masher shared spring break vacation at Jacksonville Beach, FL during the week following that 1st century ride

*   Our second century ride of the year was “Horsey Hundred” in Georgetown, KY on Memorial Day weekend 2011

*   RAM Cycling was officially launched on the world wide web & twitter around the start of July 2011, we are claiming 4th of July as our Birthday

*   Renaissance & Masher cycled in the sunshine state some more on vacation at Panama City Beach in July

*   The months of August and September saw RAM put in miles and miles in prep for GABRAKY

*   RAM Cycling rode in GABRAKY 2011 in October, a 3 day cycling event that travels around Kentucky (this was our second consecutive year, and included our 3rd century of the year)

*   RAM Cycling closed out 2011 moderately by posting several hundred more miles before rolling into 2012

Now that we have reflected on the recent past, RAM Cycling can only move forward by setting some Goals, just like Renaissance & Masher did personally. The good news is, RAM is a reality, and here are some of the goals we hope to achieve this year or in the very near future:

***   Bring excellent news and memories from our charity and group ride events to life right here at the RAM Cycling website

***   Fight to have legislation introduced and passed into Kentucky Law to raise awareness and safety for bicycling, including a 3-FEET TO PASS LAW, more bike lanes, more Share The Road signs on roadways, more local bicycling events for the public & more

***   Gain corporate backing of some close partners, in order to help support our push for legislative updates and help us promote a more healthy and bicycle friendly America, and also help us support  local charity groups that host events we intend to ride in this year and in years to come

***   RAM Cycling intends to host it’s own bicycle ride event, however the details are still in the planning phase for time of year, course, total miles, and location (expect this to be 1st class when it happens!)

***   Design and purchase our own cycling jersey to wear at events to help promote RAM Cycling, and t-shirts to give away

***   Obviously, we intend to support Renaissance & Masher in all of their bicycling endeavors

***   We want to develop a free membership club for the purpose of distributing important cycling information and legislative updates through a monthly newsletter

***   Finally, we will be excited to publish all of the good news we can find and relate to regarding bicycling

Thanks for visiting RAMCycling.com We hope you will continue to visit throughout 2012, as we try to accomplish our mission. So far it has been a wonderful ride, but it’s a journey that we are glad you are sharing with us. PLEASE feel free to leave a comment on any post we publish, or send us an email at any time. Your feed back is important to us and helps us improve our site for you. You can also follow us on Twitter @RAMCycling. Here’s to a great year in 2012!

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