Cycling

Pick a crank, any crank

There have been many attempts to quantify the ideal crankarm length for cyclists of different heights. At just under 6’7″ (2.0m) I’ve been particularly interested in this subject. I’ve ridden cranks from 170-200mm on various bikes over time, and broken several sets in the name of experimenting.

This CyclingTips article collects some of the research highlights, including one from 2002 which establishes that “mechanical power output and pedal speed, a marker for muscle shortening velocity, are the main determinants of metabolic cost during submaximal cycling”.

In layman’s terms, that means that longer cranks at a lower cadence will have the same cost as shorter cranks at a higher one. This was confirmed in 2017 by a study that found that crank length didn’t alter metabolic cost, but cautioned that too-long sets could cause joint issues.

So in the end, as the CyclingTips article suggests, cyclists can feel free to choose a crank length based on what feels best to them. For me, that’s 195-200mm for hilly road rides to help with low-cadence torque; 180mm on the rollers for seated spinning; and somewhere in between for flat roads and off-road riding (where pedal strikes are a concern). Anything shorter–and even 180s when standing–feels like I’m Homer Simpson riding the clown bike.

Finding cranks outside the 170-175mm range is still challenging and expensive, but worth hunting down a pair to try, especially if you’re on the extreme end of the height spectrum.

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring – Desmond Tutu

Bicyclopolis

A fun exploration of a future world where bicycles reign supreme

Big man power

Conor Dunne, patron saint of tall cyclists, shows what it would take for me to ride in the WorldTour:

“The average rider would do well to be able to hold 390w for five minutes,” he adds. “For Conor to be able to sustain that for over four and a half hours in this bike race shows you how much you have to have in the tank to compete at this level.”

Mount Umunhum opening at last

In 2004 I headed up Mount Umunhum for the first time, hoping to conquer my last Peninsula summit. Unfortunately I was thwarted by the private land which blocked the road, tantalizingly close to the summit.

Thirteen years later, and thanks to lots of hard work by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (donate here =) and the voters of Measure AA last year, Mount Umunhum is finally set to open to the public for the first time on September 17.

The Grand Opening ceremony is fully booked, but starting September 18 the summit (and the road there) will be open to the public. Exciting!

In other news, the famous red barn familiar to riders of Highway 84 West will soon become part of the new La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve, with 6 miles of hiking trails. Great news.

Like human-powered flight

My sentiments exactly:

Riding bikes is the closest any of us can come to human-powered flight, and the fact that we just happen to still be connected to the ground doesn’t diminish from the sensation.

Get a grip on it

Innovation in packaging:

I love how the handles swing out to let you feel what it’s like to ride with them.

How to run the fastest marathon ever

Some fascinating techniques:

At the start the three athletes were immediately joined by six pacers, who adopted an arrowhead formation behind a Tesla electric car with a giant clock timer on it. Wind tunnel studies show that this formation would help them as it saves energy…

Kipchoge was also using a new carbohydrate-rich sports drink, delivered by helpers on mopeds so he did not have to slow down…

Then there was the use of Nike’s Zoom Vaporfly Elite shoes, which some have suggested should be illegal because they contain a special curved plate that allows runners to roll through instead of bending toes and losing energy.

Meditation for pain and sport

Another connection between the mind and physical performance:

By the end of the cold shower you will have experienced all of the negative sensations without any of the negative perceptions. You’ve eliminated the fear and whining that a normal person would associate with a cold shower…

Competitive runners don’t feel less pain than you — they feel much more. It just doesn’t bother them…

One tip I’ve started doing is when pedaling hard, to wiggle my fingers and toes. Because, hey, if I can still wiggle my toes it can’t be that bad, right?

(previously)

Peloton by Harold Braul

I love the Peloton Series by Harold Braul; dreamy and beautiful.