May 2016

Stage 3 – 2016 Amgen Tour of California (Riders POV)

What’s it like to race at Amgen Tour of California?

Get an inside perspective of stage 1 with and GoPro and ATOC riders, including Team Novo Nordisk’s Javier Megias…

Meet the TA FRD


Every part of the TA FRD went through rigorous computational fluid dynamics modeling, wind tunnel testing and finite element analysis. We didn’t use any “off-the-shelf” airfoils. Everything was designed from the ground up and engineered in-house at FELT BICYCLES. Since track bikes only go around the velodrome in one direction, we exploited the aerodynamic advantage of the slight yaw angles you see when the bike is ridden through a velodrome’s banked turns. So the airfoil shapes are asymmetrical.


Just like with the asymmetry of the cross sections, FELT BICYCLES found that bikes test faster when the airflow is from the drive side of the bicycle. So by moving the drive side on the bike from the outside of the track, or right-hand side of the bike, to the inner part of the track, or left-hand side of the bike, the bike becomes more aerodynamic, and also handles better because the bike’s weight and center of gravity has moved inboard of the turns.


Chris Boardman’s top tips for tackling endurance rides and multi-day events


If you want to know how to tackle a cycling challenge such as a long distance day ride or even a multi-day event it’s worth seeking the advice of someone like Chris Boardman – a rider who’s been there and done it at the highest level. While Boardman is famous for his Olympic gold medal on the track and his time trialling prowess on the road – he also rode to good effect in numerous stage races over the course of an illustrious career as a pro. Tracy Norris caught up with him (well, at the start and finish) of the recent Etape Caledonia (link is external) for Boardman’s big ride advice.

I’m batting along a small road beside a beautiful Scottish loch, with only the sound of fast-spinning bicycle wheels around me and the rushing wind. Not a car in sight – this is a closed road event – so I can concentrate on the wheel in front of me and the occasional glance up to appreciate the stunning views of snow-topped Shiehallion – a munro who’s shoulder we will climb over before the day is done.

I’m in Perthshire, Scotland for the annual Etape Caledonia and so far, so good. The weather is fine (no minor consideration for this event that had near-hypothermic riders last year), I’m riding well and I’m catching every wheel I can to help me survive 81 miles of fast riding.

For me, this is a training ride that can be a race if I feel strong enough. My main event this year will be riding stages 17 to 20 of the Tour de France route, as part of the Tour de Force (link is external) event that I help to run. If you haven’t studied the 2016 route yet, I can tell you that these will be the Alpine stages, so I’ve got some serious work to do before I’ll be able to look up from the tarmac at those views! It won’t be my first time on tour – I rode 2 stages coming South from the Alps in 2012 and the three Corsican stages in 2013. But multiple stages in the French Alps raises the game and I’m keen to ride it as well as I can.

Riding with me today is Chris Boardman. Actually, that’s not exactly true. We both set off from the same start line at the same time, but I was left in a cloud of proverbial dust within the first few yards and I know enough not to try and stay on his wheel! Luckily I’ve already picked his brains and I plan to follow his advice to the letter:

“The equation you need to master is, number one; how far is it to go? Two; how hard am I trying and three; is it sustainable? Keep asking yourself all the time. In a race, if the answer to number 3 is ‘yes I can sustain it’, then you’re not going hard enough. If the answer’s ‘no’, then it’s already too late. So the answer you’re looking for, all the time, is ‘maybe’ … ‘I think so’”.

At this point, I’ve got an awfully long way to go, I’m trying very hard and I’m not at all convinced it’s sustainable. I’m riding with my training buddy who is already mumbling to me to go on and leave her – which makes me suspect I’m probably pushing too hard, too soon. But today is about learning as much as I can and so I decide to keep going. If I blow up, (which quite frankly, seems likely) then at least I’ll have discovered my limits and will be a step closer to knowing what is sustainable on a long distance ride.

“Never turn up and do anything different on the day that you haven’t been doing in training. Whatever you’re going to do for the event there should be no surprises … Find the right saddle, shorts and cream. Do it now – by trial and error. It’s very personal. On the upside, there’s loads of choice. There are companies that do fittings just for saddles – there are more experts involved than ever there were before. It’s trial and error. Me? I’m very robust … I could sit on the edge of a piece of wood and I’d be fine”.

I don’t know about sitting on the edge of a piece of wood, but I do know that I’ve got a great set up with my bike, my saddle is comfortable and my shorts are great. Saddle sores are something I’m determined to avoid so I’ve already taken care to get this sorted.

What else? Chris explains that for a multi-stage event, whatever I do on one stage, I need to be able to repeat day after day. It’s no good going flat out on day one, only to discover there’s nothing left in the tank for the next stages:

“You need to know how to pace yourself … staying on the wheel for the first couple of stages and learning to back off. Most of it is about not over-extending at the start and paying the price later. Most people – that’s where they make a mistake and blow up”.

Painfully aware that he could well be describing me today, I am nevertheless catching every possible wheel that flies past me. A guy pulls past with such lean, tanned legs that he must either be Italian, or have spent most of the winter training in Mallorca. Surrounded by startlingly white legs that haven’t seen the light of day since October in Scotland; his legs stand out. I decide that they look like a strong pair to follow, so I catch his wheel. 1.5 hours into the ride and I’m shoving pieces of energy bar into my mouth, remembering that Chris has told me I need to know how to feed properly. I’ve got a banana and a squished peanut butter sandwich in my back pocket, a couple of gels and a bar bag with my emergency stash of jelly snakes. It’s not gourmet, but it should cover all eventualities.

“You should know how to pace yourself because you should have tried out different pacing strategies until you know what works for you”.

It occurs to me that I don’t yet know much about pacing strategies, so I make a mental note to spend my last two months of preparation learning about and playing with pacing. Chris has assured me that I have plenty of time, as long as I’m focused with my training:

“Aim for three to four, 2-hour hard rides in a week. With a month to go, there needs to be at least one long ride of 5 hours or more each week, preferably two in order to get the muscle volume. If it’s going to be hot, over-clothe for your rides so you get a good sweat response and get used to it”.

Right now I’m luxuriating in the fact that for the first time this year I’m riding in shorts and am actually regretting packing a rain jacket in my back pockets (an unthinkable risk most days in Scotland). Over-clothing to get any sort of sweat response is more likely up here, but after the crippling 40° temperatures we had last year in France on tour, I know that Chris is speaking sense. I add to my growing list of mental notes.

I’ve been riding in a good group for 15 miles along the south side of the Lochs and I’m now heading towards the big Shiehallion climb at around the 45 mile marker. Now, I’m no climber and while this isn’t remotely on the scale of the Alps, it’s still ‘the big climb’ of the route: 3.1km long at an average 7% and 169 metres of ascent.

“The trick is don’t over-cook it at the start, be it a day like the Etape Caledonia, or multiple days, or even a single climb. If you’ve got bags of energy left and you want to go faster at the end – fine. But if you run out before you finish, it’s a horrible, miserable grind to the finish”.

Stage 18 of the Tour de France this year is a 17km time trial … uphill! So this is a good place to practice. Even though I’m not expecting to race the time trial in July, I’m intrigued to know how the pros will tackle an uphill time trial during the tour:

“The big difference with a climb is that once you blow, you blow. You can’t freewheel on a climb – you’ll come to a grinding halt quickly. In a time trial you can usually have micro-rests where you can back off for half a second or a second. You can’t afford to do that on a climb – the price is too high”.

A “horrible, miserable grind to the finish” doesn’t sound like fun today, and while I briefly consider what a micro-rest means to me, I’m not daft enough to try it on this climb. I take it steady, letting ‘Mr Italian-legs’ and the others pull ahead … except, not all of them do! And even those that pull away are soon back in my sights when I see the summit flags. To my amazement I’ve still got something left in the tank, so I click back up a couple of gears and catch them up. Before I know it, I’m accelerating past riders towards the longest downhill of the ride – an exhilarating 2 stage descent over 6kms which becomes even more exciting when I try to peel and eat the banana in my back pocket, in an attempt to stave off cramp later.


Tour of California: Laurens ten Dam revels in ‘home race’


The Amgen Tour of California is a home race of sorts for Laurens ten Dam (Giant-Alpecin). The Dutchman has spent most of his career in the Netherlands riding for dutch teams like Rabobank and Belkin, but he has spent a good chunk of 2016 living and training in Northern California.

“We wanted to live here for one year,” ten Dam said. “In 2010, me and my wife went in a mobile home to tour all of California. We started in L.A., went down to San Diego and everything. When we got to Santa Cruz we were like, ‘Oh man, if we could live here for a year it would be nice.’ This was the right moment so we just did it.”

Ten Dam has been a fixture in Santa Cruz for the last several months where he has been joining local group rides and posting photos of his Northern California Strava efforts. “It’s good to be with the locals and mingle a little bit,” ten Dam said. “It’s a good cycling community in Santa Cruz.”

So far it has been a quiet week for ten Dam. Giant-Alpecin has been focusing on team sprinter John Degenkolb, and ten Dam laughs when asked about his role in getting the team’s lead-out train organized.

“We have a lot of other big powerhouses with us,” ten Dam said. “I just follow the train.”

Ten Dam’s opportunities will come on the hillier stages of the race including stage 3 in Santa Barbara, stage 5 in South Lake Tahoe, and stage 6 in Santa Rosa. He is not familiar with the climb up Gibraltar Road but has ridden frequently around Tahoe and Santa Rosa. He recently left his base in Santa Cruz to train at altitude around the Lake Tahoe area.

“Tahoe I know and also Santa Rosa, but Laguna Seca I don’t,” ten Dam said. “They say it’s hard but we’ll see, those days you just follow the best guys.

Ten Dam is more animated when discussing stage 5, which finishes in South Lake Tahoe. Thursday’s race finishes at Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe and goes over Kirkwood summit (3.9 km, 6.3% grade) and Carson Pass summit (4.7 km, 4.6% grade), which is the highest point in the race at 2,615 metres.

“know Luther, I know Carson, those are just long grinding climbs. I think it will be difficult racing at altitude for the other guys,” ten Dam said. “I got an advantage because I lived there already for weeks now, and I go back there after the tour.”

Ten Dam will return to California after his summer racing schedule but will return to Europe next spring so his children can go to school in their home country. Though his California journey will end next spring he plans on using the time to rack up more Strava KOMs and get ready for life after cycling.

“We stay for sure until next year until March but then the oldest goes to school in Holland,” ten Dam said about post season plans.”

With regard to his plans after racing he said, “I don’t know but I’m thinking about setting up bicycle holidays or something like that.”


Free Rides on Breeze!

Thursday May 19th – Saturday May 21st

To celebrate Bike-to-Work Day and the arrival of the Expo Light Rail, ride time will be free on Breeze Bikes Thursday May 19 th – Saturday May 21 st.

Monthly and annual members will not be charged for riding over their daily ride time amount. Pay-as-you-go members will not be charged for their ride time. Not a member? Give it a try by signing up for a Pay-as- you-go membership at or download the Social Bicycles app.

Learn more here.

How to get more aero without spending a fortune


Aerodynamics has become the hottest word in road cycling, with deep section wheels, aero frames, and helmets a common presence not only in the professional peloton but also with amateur racers and club riders.

At higher speeds it is air resistance that consumes almost your entire power output. Travelling at about 20mph, up to 90% of your effort is used to overcome the air resistance, to push the air out of the way. You might think that only racers can benefit from improving aerodynamic efficiency, but in fact, most cyclists can benefit from a few aerodynamic tweaks.

The latest aerodynamic equipment can cost a small fortune, though. It’s even possible to book time in a wind tunnel if you’re feeling particularly flush and want to do a proper job of reducing your drag and have results to validate the improvements.


Close-fitting clothing

The cyclist causes about 80% of the air resistance (drag) so there are significant performance gains to be had by taking a closer look at your outfit. Loose and flappy clothing just catches the wind and massively increases your drag.

So close-fitting clothing is good, then. Choose a jersey and shorts that have a snug fit and in particular fit really well around the torso and shoulders. It’s not just racers that benefit from close-fitting clothing, you’ll benefit during a sportive even at lower speeds because a slower cyclist spends more time on the road so saves more time.

Most of the professional teams now wear clothing that has been developed in the wind-tunnel, with aero suits (skin suits with pockets and long zips) a common sight in the peloton. But you don’t have to drop your month’s salary on the latest aero clothing, going down a size is a simple way to achieve this.


Zip up your jersey

Riding along with your jersey or gilet unzipped and flapping in the wind might keep you cool, but it will generate loads of drag. You might as well wear a parachute. Unless you’re grinding up a steep climb below the speed at which air resistance is a factor, keep the jersey zipped up. You might be hot, but you’ll be fast.


Get your head down

As your body causes most of the drag, getting your head down is a simple way to reduce drag. You’re aiming to reduce your frontal surface area, and keep your position as sleek and low profile as possible. A dropped riding position can reduce your drag by as much as 7.8% according to a study by Engineering Sport.

The drops aren’t just for the descents you know. Get your head and back down low by using the drops on the flat roads, you’ll be surprised at the difference. If your drops are hard to reach, consider putting some spacers under the stem to raise them. The more you ride in the drops the more you’ll get used to the position as well. Additional core work can also be beneficial.

Alternatively, use the hoods to adopt an aero position by keeping your forearms straight and your elbows tucked in and at a 90-degree angle, this will reduce your frontal surface area. This position isn’t always as comfortable as riding in the drops, but it has the potential to be faster because your arms aren’t straight like they typically are in the drops.

How do you know if any changes you make have reduced drag? In an ideal world, you’d be in a wind tunnel to validate the changes, or taking to a velodrome with a power meter. A power meter can be used out on the road, but controlling the variables is tricky. A simple roll down test doesn’t cost anything and can easily be repeated with just simple cycle computer required to track changes. This provides an easy way of trying different positions.


Shave your legs
Racing cyclists are famous for their shaved legs, and as much ridicule as removing leg hair can generate, the science says that smooth legs are faster. Specialized aerodynamicists used their wind tunnel to show that shaved legs can save as much as 80 seconds over 40km. So when your other half asks why you’re shaving your legs, just tell them it’ll make you quicker.


Tape up those air vents

All those vents in a cycling helmet are designed to suck in cooling air to prevent overheating on a warm ride, but if you cover them up, you have yourself an aero road helmet without spending any dosh. An aero helmet, with no vents, could save you as much as 40 seconds over a 40km course compared to a regular vented helmet, according to wind tunnel tests by Specialized.

Take a leaf out of the British Cycling book, which in 2011 provided a helmet with a thin plastic covering, to smooth over the vents, for Mark Cavendish to ride, and win, the world championships. You could get a similar result with some cling film. It might lead to overheating in warmer weather, but what price for reduced drag?



That’s right, get on another cyclists wheel and hide in their slipstream, it’s an easy way to reduce drag. Make sure to pick a cyclist that’s bigger than you, and you could reduce your drag by as much as 40%. You may be required to do a turn at the front, though.


Get a motorbike to follow you closely

Okay, so we’re not actually advising you do this, but an interesting study recently showed that a close following motorbike can actually help to improve your drag.

– See more at:

Bicyclists Invited to Stop by City Hall on Bike-to-Work Day This May 19

All bicyclists commuting to work in Pasadena by pedal power are invited to stop at Pasadena City Hall’s official “Pit Stop” (the Euclid Avenue side) to help celebrate Bike to Work Day on May 19, 2016.

The City’s Prideshare Program in conjunction with METRO will host a two-hour bicycle-friendly event 6:30-8:30 a.m., May 19. Free snacks, giveaways and raffle prizes will be available for participants. Local bike shops Pasadena Cyclery, and Incycle,, will provide free bicycle tune-ups while Pasadena Transit will be there with public transit info and the Pasadena Fire Department will showcase its bicycle paramedic team!

A main goal of Bike to Work Day—held during Bike Week Pasadena, May 16-21—is getting participants to make bicycling a regular part of their work commute and to introduce first-timers to the joys of bicycling for business and pleasure. Bike to Work Day celebrates the green power of the pedal over the accelerator and promotes bicycle safety.


Metrolink offering free rides during Bike to Work Week

Metrolink is offering anyone with a bike a free ride during Bike to Work Week, May 16-20.

Train riders must board with a bicycle and accompany their bike during the entire trip.

The promotion includes Bike to Work Day, Thursday, May 18.

May is National Bike Month, established in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists.

Metrolink has transported 1 million bicyclists since the multi-county agency introduced its bike cars in July 2011, according to the agency. A bike car is usually on the lower level of a train and is equipped with multiple stalls designed to hold three bikes in each stall. A bike train can hold 18 bikes. A bike car has a decal on the side of the train or a train wrap.

Metrolink operates seven routes of commuter rail service in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. For more information, go to

It has two wheels, prevents obesity

It has two wheels, prevents obesity and helps with 2025 Carbon Neutral goal of UCLA Health

Now is a great time for physicians at UCLA Health to realize the full potential of the bicycle: For their patients AND for our environment.

The UCLA Bicycle Academy says: Cycling is not just a hobby, one that many physicians share. Cycling can address the obesity epidemic, it can slow global warming, and it is fun.

The Bicycle Academy asks: Where are the physicians who recognize the connection between health and environment and who would like to grasp the opportunity of the UC 2025 carbon neutral goals. Where are the physicians who want to embrace the bicycle as a way to prevent disease, to improve health, and to design their facilities with cyclists in mind.

In early June 2016 the Bicycle Academy will meet with Paul Watkins, CAO of the Santa Monica hospital, to talk about ways in which the Health System can better serve those who do not drive. To improve access and facilities for those who do not drive, we will suggest that all UC branded health facilities covered by a bicycle master plan.

But this conversation should also include the bicycle as medicine. If you want to offer “a ride with the doc,” if you want to work with a educational “pharmacy” which could fulfill a prescription for cycling, if you would like set up a research program which evaluates the effectiveness bicycle interventions, if bicycle therapy can save money over alternative interventions, I think UCLA Health (and the UC Health Centers) are now ready to listen to you.

Together with Mark Needham MD (Faculty Practice Group), the Bicycle Academy looks forward to co-ordinate the voices from the medical community.


Injured Rider Crushes Pro Road Race on Fan’s Old Stumpjumper


Zack Allison of Elevate Pro Cycling got resourceful at the Tour of the Gila with the help of a fan in Silver City, New Mexico.

When Zack Allison’s derailleur essentially exploded halfway up the final climb of the Tour of the Gila Stage 1—which started Wednesday in Silver City, New Mexico—the Elevate Pro Cycling rider didn’t have a lot of options. His team car was several miles back at the foot of the climb, and walking the remaining four kilometers would mean missing the stage’s time cut—a disappointing outcome, considering he had been part of the lead group for most of the 92-mile stage before a dog in the road caused a group-wide crash.

Ultimately he settled on possibly the weirdest Plan B available to him: He grabbed a bystander’s early ’80s Specialized Stumpjumper and used it to crush the final 4,000-foot ascent to Mogollon, New Mexico.

“He was rolling down the hill cheering on the riders and I quickly explained what happened and that I could finish the race within the time cut if I borrowed his bike, and traded him my road bike as collateral,” Allison says. “He said, ‘Oh yeah, sure thing! I’d be honored!’ so he took his bottles off and I put my bottles on like it was a normal bike exchange.”

After a few stops to adjust the seat height, Allison says he made pretty good time on the old mountain bike and even caught up to a few other racers who were starting to crack. He felt good, despite road rash from the crash. But other riders seemed upset to see him making such good time—and no one really wanted to cross the line next to the guy on a badass old beater with a rack.

Initially, race marshals weren’t sure what to make of his dramatic finish, either—which easily fell within the stage’s time cut.

“The officials were like, ‘Wait, did you just finish?’” he says. “They thought I’d found that old bike and was jokingly crossing the line again. I was like, ‘Yeah, I had a bike change, it’s not against the rules!’ Maybe there’s some UCI rule about the wheel size, but they didn’t penalize me.”

Now Allison will probably go down in Gila history as the first pro rider to finish a stage on an old Stumpjumper—though he says he’s pretty happy to be back on a road bike for the race’s remaining stages.