Thursday, March 31, 2011


We have one more indoor class at the Cycling Centre and, as many of you know, riding inside is much different then riding outside.  Expect 2 weeks to pass before you really start to feel the effects of the winter training; this is roughly the amount of time it takes to get used to riding in wind again, the resistance provided by the road, the ups and downs that roads naturally take, and getting used to choosing your gears for the new rider that you have developed in to over the winter.  Changing gears effectively will result in riding more efficiently, staying stronger at later stages of the ride, and being able to better react to changes in speed by your riding mates ... but I'll touch on gear changing in another post.

Since many of the riders in the Cycling Centre have not been outside since before Christmas I wanted to remind you about the importance of tire pressure and using the floor pump on a regular basis.  There are many factors that affect the amount of air that should go in to your tube and I am going to touch on a few of them.

Written on the side of your tire will be the maximum and minimum amount of PSI (pounds per square inch).  If you go below the minimum then you risk a flat tire as the tube does not have enough air/shape to hold it in place and when you go over a bump it can squish between the tire and the rim and result in a pinch flat.  The tube can also burst if the maximum PSI is exceeded as it is already completely stretched and has no give that may be asked of it on a ride.  Flexibility can be a good thing as it will deflect potential particles that will cause a flat, such as a pebble.

Many people think that riding at the maximum PSI is going to result in less resistance and a faster ride, but research has shown that this is not necessarily the case.  

Not only does riding at maximum pressure create a harsher ride as the tire offers less give, but traction is also reduced.  If it is wet outside, or if you will be riding on gravely roads, then reduce the tire pressure to improve traction.  For example, if you are riding a road tire that has a maximum psi of 120 and a minimum of 85, then consider riding around 90 psi for maximum traction; however, take in to account your body weight, ride with more air if you are on the heavier side as your body weight will also increase the surface area of the tire.

Tires should be inflated every time you ride to ensure that they are at the correct psi for the road/weather conditions that you will be riding in/on.  At the very least, check the tire pressure every 3-4 days.  If you use latex tubes you will need to inflate every ride as they loose air quickly.

As I often say to my athletes when faced with different ways of doing things, then try them all and see what works best for you.  Start somewhere in the middle of the recommended range and if it feels too harsh then try a little less air the next time, feel to soft, then add air.

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