Cycling thread

So I know there are some hobbyist cyclists in our forums…and some commuters…and even some professional trainers! I’ve always enjoyed cycling. Where I grew up we lived close enough to Mt. Vernon that me and my friends would ride the 32 mile round trip to Gravelly Point at DCA to watch airplanes land on weekends. I sort of gave up riding when I went to college and didn’t pick it back up until my early 30s when I picked up a mountain bike and started doing that.

The past five years, I’ve dabbled in triathlon biking, and more recently road and gravel bikes. I’m pretty addicted to the gravel bike now…it is a blast. My wife and I are planning on doing the 340 mile C&O Canal and GAP trail from Pittsburgh to DC next month, so it has been fun outfitting for that.

This morning I took the bike I’m planning to ride (Raleigh Willard 2) on an 18 mile (1.5 hour) ride. On the big ride, it will also have two panniers on the back rack…giving another 30 liters of storage…

Yesterday I installed the handlebar bag. I had been hoping to mount some Mainstream MSX handlebar bags, but there were some trademark issues in getting them shipped to the United States. @TeTeT offered to help me out with that…but to keep us all out of jail I found an alternative in the M-Wave Ottawa bag. Waterproof and quick releasing…after mounting it feels very secure. We’ll see…

The rack is a nice Ibera Rack with a PakRak clip on trunk and (not shown) side panniers…

I also picked up something that I was unsure of, but fell in love with immediately - Trekz Air Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones. These connect via BlueTooth to my phone, and instead of going in your ear, they press against your bone below your ear and the music comes into your head via vibration. It is freaky, but effective. Bass isn’t very good of course, but the advantage is that your ear canal is free to hear all the other ambient noise around you (what your bike is doing, other people talking, oncoming traffic). It is really nifty. About 20mph on downhills you can’t hear much due to wind noise, but on normal flat and uphills the music is a nice thing to ride to…

Rounding out our tech tour are my relatively new Crank Bros. Doubleshot pedals. These are flat on one side and clip-in on the other side. I am using them with my Shimano MT33 shoes with the Crank Bros cleats. They are recessed enough that you can walk across a store or restaurant without click clacking and the shoes look semi normal. Being clipped in on gravel is not as terrifying as it sounds if the surface is good and predictable.

The GPS on the stem is a Garmin Edge 830 that I’m learning to love as I explore it more. It has features that I probably won’t use (HR monitor, cadence, power meter) but I like it for the GPS tracking and route finding. I’ve already preloaded the Pittsburgh - DC route on it, so that will be nice.


Nice ride and route.

I’m lucky in that my wife likes cycling, we did a cycling holiday last year in Northern Spain (Bilbao to Santiago) 450 miles in 8 days which was challenging but an amazing experience.

It was a supported ride though, so I wasn’t carrying anything on the bike like you. I dislike riding with a rack or panniers, have you test ridden fully loaded up?

I’ve just checked the profile of your ride and there’s a long drag around 200 miles. Just thinking with the added weight, what gear ratios have you got? Semi compact 50-34 on the front and 28-11 on the back??

Have you got some arm warmers? Depending on what time you start riding it could be chilly when you set off and get moving. They’re handy as they’re quickly and easily removed.

Good luck with it. I’m looking forward to reading the AAR. :slightly_smiling_face:


That sounds like a great trip. I wish that I could convince my wife to do something similar. Have done France twice, but would really enjoy Spain or Italy at touring pace.

After a long break, which more or less coincided with the birth of our first child 8 years ago, I did a one hour road ride yesterday. Legs felt like I was spinning water-logged redwoods. Forearms, neck, back, and arse ached. But very much enjoyed the ride otherwise. Cycling apps and headphones have come a long way. I ditched the old Garmin watch which made you upload your ride to your PC, and went with my phone and AirPods. Tried a new to me app Cyclemeter. Seemed to check a lot of boxes, while having a readable display and kept track of my music played. Took three phone calls too. You know the deal about your mom calling at the worst times. Completely valid. I’m interested in what apps you guys are using. Nice Garmin 830 @BeachAV8R.

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Well, we won’t be carrying stuff like food, stove, sleeping bags since we are staying in B&Bs along the route. It is slightly uphill from Pittsburgh to the continental divide (near Cumberland, MD) and then mostly downhill along the C&O canal to DC. I’ve ridden with my packs stuffed and it isn’t as maneuverable as a clean bike, but at least we don’t have front panniers to worry about.

32-11 on the back and a 46-30 on the front…it was the stock setup and seems to be fine. I’m riding some pretty good hills here at home and it works.

Yeah…it shallows out there…but the good news is I’ll be riding toward home (my parents home), so we will be flying for tacos and margaritas. :sunglasses:

Marisa has some of those - I have a fleece lined jacket, a rain jacket, and regular jersey. I’m really hoping the weather holds up. Pittsburgh to the continental divide could be a sleety mess under the wrong conditions. We have under helmet skull caps for warmth, gloves, and rain covers for the helmets and equipment.

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Wait to you go to put on socks tomorrow morning. LOL…that took a while to get through. After a couple months of fairly steady riding, I’m feeling pretty good now.

I find it interesting how my heart rate stays somewhat elevated for a few hours after riding before settling back to resting. I was also trying to calculate peak for me. General guidance says 220 - Age which for me is 220 - 48 = 172. I’ve never reached that and feel like I’m at my very limit at 160. My wife says we should carry aspirin on our rides…might not be a bad idea…


Wait to you go to put on socks tomorrow morning. LOL…that took a while to get through. After a couple months of fairly steady riding, I’m feeling pretty good now.

I’m wondering if I should carry some spare spokes. I have tubes, small pump, pressure gauge, patch kit, tire levers, duct tape, zip ties, bike tool with chain breaker and hex wrenches, spare chain links, and a few other things. There are plenty of bike shops on the route though…so I don’t want to overdo it.

Back when I cared about these things :grinning:, I found that it was incredibly hard to get to your max HR. I thought that I was getting there during hard training rides, but was surprised to show that I was capable of a few more bps during a race.

Really great trip you have planned btw. I bet that the C&O is amazing on a bicycle.


The chain breaker and chain links are a must :+1:. Having broken one on a hilly century, I’d bring an extra rear derailleur cable. Breaking one of those sucks. Unless you guys are digital of course.


So you pedal to KPIT, get on a plane, land at KDCA and the ride a couple of miles to the DC Mall? That’s the way I’d do it. :wink:


It does feel like your pedalling in squares after a long break. :slightly_smiling_face: it’ll come back.

Apps wise, for stats I use Strava to upload and log my rides. This does this automatically at the end of the ride.

I have Garmin connect on my phone, which allows my Garmin 1000 access to the internet. This is so I can use Garmin’s live track functionality, whereby when I hit the start button on my Garmin, it will email a number of contacts a link to view my ride. Should the worse happen, they know where to send help.

If you don’t have a live track capable Garmin, you can use an app on your phone, there’s a number that do this same thing, but with mobile numbers (e.g Glimpse).

That should be fine. :+1: A lot of the gravel bike setups have gone towards Mountain bike gearing with 1x12 (30 on the front and up to 52-11 on the back). I was ok in the alps with 32 on the back and 34 on the front as my lowest ratio.

It’s always good to have an endpoint/reward like that. :grin:

In that case I’d recommend some neoprene overshoes, something like these They won’t keep your feet bone dry in a major shower, but like a wet suit, they’ll be toasty. You might also want to think about some winter gloves.

…and ibuprofen. Along with chamois cream, it’s a must.

Are you taking a basic first aid kit?

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I wouldn’t bother with the spokes.

Take some pre-cut sections of Gaffa/Gorilla tape wrapped round your cycle pump. If you break a spoke you can tape it to another one and get to a bike shop. You won’t want to be swapping it out on the trail as you know it’ll be inclement weather if you have a mechanical. :slightly_smiling_face:

The only thing you may want would be a spare mech hangar for both bikes. Failing that you could break the chain and make it a single speed until you got to the bike shop.


Nice setup, looks a lot of fun!

Regarding the heart rate, it’s highly individual. This rule is a good indicator to get an idea of what your max heart rate could be but it can still vary greatly, even day to day. I have a max heart rate of about 195. My brother in law who is a year younger than me has a max heart rate around 175… A good way to check your max heart rate is to find a short, steep climb, of min 1km and go as hard as you can.

A much better indicator is your heart rate threshold. Basically the maximum rate that you can sustain for an hour. To find out what it is you can do the test over an hour but much more common is to test for 20min after a 10min warmup as it still gives you good results without taking a lot of time. It’s also much easier to find an uninterrupted stretch of road that you can ride. I can think of only two routes that I can ride uninterrupted for about 30min around here. There’s no route I can ride uninterrupted for an hour. For long tours I usually go about 10% below my hrt. With enough energy bars and water I can sustain that tempo all day.

That’s pretty awesome. I love watching professional cycling and I just have no idea how those guys manage to sustain the watts they do for as long as they do (I mean, I know some of them juice, but still…). They have tuned their bodies into supreme machines…it is unfathomable to me as a recreational rider.

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Yes, the Edge 830 has this too and I have it paired to my phone. It has an accident detection feature that I haven’t experimented with yet…but it would probably be a good idea to get it set up correctly.

Good thought!

I hadn’t considered it because there are towns pretty accessible throughout most of the route. The section through Ohiopyle might be a bit remote though, so maybe a small kit.

A hearty +1 on these. A must for cold weather riding.

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I am jealous of your setup. Looks like an amazing ride in the making.

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Mostly I’m incredibly fortunate to have met a gal that loves to do challenging stuff like this. This ride was actually her idea that she got from one of the pilots that came through the chief pilot’s office a few months back. Now if I can just get all of them to bring her Patron instead of chocolates we’re in business…

No matter how close the towns, I recommend a first aid kit…nothing fancy…bandaids, antiseptic, some gauze, tape and a little scissors …(and maybe a bone saw :open_mouth:). Just a little something to get you to the next town and a drug store for more serious stuff…because you don’t want to walk into the Rite Aid looking like an extra from Walking Dead…just say’n.


It’s pretty insane what some of them are capable of. I mean putting out >350W for hours is just incredible. And then you have sprinters who can hit >2000W. Even if it’s just for a couple of seconds…

I don’t have a powermeter so I don’t really know how much power I put out but I know that I’m really quick up hills so I guess my power to weight ratio is pretty good. According to online calculators I put out about 150-200W so my overall power output isn’t the highest but I only weigh ~55kg. When I’m out cycling I often overtake cyclists on climbs that overtook me on flat parts just before, even if they’re on cf bikes that weigh half as much as my steel bike.

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