RBR Viewpoints

Experience Is a Great Teacher, But ...

When it comes to fixing problems on the bicycle — or in life, in general, for that matter — starting the fix at the right point is a great benefit, but that seems to be a lesson I have to relearn from time to time. My bicycle saddle is a recent case in point. It’s a Brooks B-17, a classic leather model that’s been in production in England since the 1890s. It’s been virtually unchanged over that time, and for good reason: Many riders find that, like a good pair of leather shoes, the saddle is among the most comfortable available once broken in.

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The Great Helmet Debate - Pros and 'Cons' of Helmet Use

RBR believes in helmets and their usefulness. And we will continue to follow their evolution as a safety tool. We have a long history of being a proponent of helmets and of helping teach road riders the skills and provide the knowledge and tips to help readers learn to ride as safely as possible. If we do nothing else, I’d be fine being known only as a strong advocate of rider safety. (I certainly hope – and believe – we offer much more than that.) So, with that introduction in mind, following is Tom’s article, The Case Against Helmets, and my rebuttal article, The Case For Helmets.

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‘Bicycles May Use Full Lane’; It's About Time!

A little less than a year ago, I wrote about a study by two bike-commuting professors at North Carolina State University who found that a simple change in the wording of bicycle-related roadside signage can help clarify the rules of the road for motorists and cyclists, and potentially make cycling safer. Just the other day, as my wife and I drove through Decatur, an Atlanta suburb, I saw a Bikes May Use Full Lane sign for the first time. Two days later, a reader sent me an article showing that this movement may be gaining steam.

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Oh, The Mistakes We Make

"Rooke Mistakes" aren't just for rookies. I don't care how experienced a roadie is, he or she is quite capable of making dumb mistakes seemingly forever. I should know. I still make them. And the stupid stuff we've done recently – and over the years of riding together – is a fairly regular topic of conversation on group rides with my buddies. In fact, there are more than enough "rookie mistakes" we've made to fill this article. Some actually were made early in our respective riding days, but others as we were much more "seasoned," shall we say.

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On the Road Again, Reflections on Trainer Time

I knew that the only way I could hope to keep some cycling fitness through the spring as I recovered from surgery – and have any realistic shot at being prepared for the Tour de Wyoming in mid-July (my long-planned big ride for the summer), the trainer was my only option. So I embraced it fully. In doing so, it became somewhere between bearable and something I semi-looked forward to. It's hard to draw meaningful lessons from a forced trainer regimen necessitated by an injury, but in thinking about diligently following Coach Hughes' plan, I did come away with some thoughts I'd like to share.

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My Run-In With the Lawnmower Man

Virtually every road cyclist has had a few encounters with rude or aggressive drivers, but I may be unique in that one of my most memorable incidents of harassment came from a man on a lawnmower. It happened like this: On ride when I lived in Ohio, I had to pedal a short distance on one of the area’s busier roads to get to a low-traffic side street. The busy road was narrow, with no paved shoulder, so though I stayed near the right side of the lane, the couple of cars behind me couldn’t pass because of oncoming traffic in the other lane.

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Nicknames and Descriptives: Recognize Anyone?

My buddies and I often joke with each other (and about each other) on rides, giving nicknames or descriptives to ourselves and others based on the way we (they) ride. A couple weekends ago, my buddy Steve – who's a tall guy – needed to spit a few times on the ride. As I was/am still in "recovery" mode, I wasn't taking many pulls, so I was comfortably ensonced behind him with a clear view of his technique. Repeatedly, he would "gather his ammo," cock his head and fire, like a bird pecking the ground in search of a worm. From the second expectoration on, Steve became "Big Bird."

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Giving Back to Cycling

If you are a reader of RBR then it’s safe to assume that you spend some serious time in the saddle. But have you ever thought about using some of that time to give back? There are a number of ways to do this – whether sharing your talent/knowledge or raising money for a good cause. Over the years I’ve used my skills and my bike in a number of charitable ways and am writing this article in hopes of encouraging others. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking.

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Planning a Cycling Getaway, Part 1

If you're thinking about a cycling getaway, there are any number of great options to consider, from an organized tour, to hooking up with a bike club in another city, developing your own self-supported trip, attending a gran fondo or multi-day event, or perhaps a cycling camp, among others. I’ve gone on a number of cycling vacations that covered the full gamut of the above choices, so I thought I’d share some of my experiences.

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Cycling Getaway, Part 2: Ship, Schlep or Rent a Bike?

In Planning a Cycling Getaway, Part 1 we talked about different types of cycling trips and some of the considerations when deciding on the right trip for you. Now that you’ve decided to venture out, and you have your trip planned, it’s time to decide how you'll get your bike to your destination: ship it or schlep it? Or, whether you should rent a bike there instead? There are pros and cons to each option. Following is some information – again, gleaned from my personal experience – to help you decide what works best for you. 

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Correcting the False Equivalencies in the Cars vs. Cyclists Debate

“A couple of years ago I was at a fairly busy intersection waiting for the green light on my bike when some guy blows through the light on his bike. Even though I was in street clothes with a backpack and he was in his team kit, I had to catch the guy. When I did and I told him what he did was dangerous and made all cyclists look bad, he basically told me to f___ off and that he knew what he was doing on a bike. …” – Coach Peter Wimberg

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Cycling Advocacy Keeps our Wheels Turning

As you are riding down the road in a designated bike lane or on a local trail, you probably take for granted its existence. But more than likely a cycling advocacy group had something to do with it. So what are these advocacy groups all about and why the heck should you care? Cycling advocacy organizations fall mainly into four major groups – national, state, local, and special interest. For the most part their goals are fairly aligned: designing bike-friendly roads; creating more trails; helping communities become bike-friendly; influencing legislation; providing planning resources; and education.

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