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Musings on the bike

In theory I know how to change a flat tire on my bike.   


The execution of that theory however, often leaves a lot to be desired.

With a summer of riding and, more specifically, a weekend at Lake Placid and my race in Muskoka on the agenda, brushing up on my tire-changing skills seemed like a good thing to do.

Most bike shops offer free maintenance clinics to help you learn basic bike care. This is helpful because as much as I adore my friendly local bike mechanics, they probably won't be with me when I hear that awful noise of air being let out of my tires. Last night, I attended a clinic at Tom's Pro Bike Shop and got a chance to practice changing a tire and, my personal favorite, taking the back wheel on and off without screwing up the gearing.

I did OK. Granted, Tom was standing next to me, but I did all the work. The principles aren't that difficult but there are some tricky points -- like getting the last bit of the tire back into the rim. The key is practice, but then again, who wants to sit home and practice changing a flat tire? But the more you practice, the better you'll get. Just like, oh, pretty much anything in life. Right now, I think I'm proficient. I could get by. Which, at this point, is good enough for me.

Speaking of the bike, I had a slight problem during Sunday's long ride (besides the crash and duct tape bandage). I lost too much weight.

Not as in permanent weight loss but in water weight, weight through sweat. On long runs and long bike rides my coach likes to have me weight myself before and after. The actual number on the scale isn't important but the difference between the two is. Lose too much weight and that means you're not replacing enough fluid. Gain weight and you're consuming too many electrolytes and not enough fluid. 

Hydration is a very individual thing and depends upon not only the way in which you sweat but also weather conditions and the type and length of ride. (See this article on Active.com about cracking the hydration code for more specifics.)

I need to drink more water and sports drinks -- something I'll have to practice and experiment with during training this summer.

In other bike news, we are approaching the Tour de France and that means more talk of doping. In the news recently was an eight-year ban for American cyclist Tyler Hamilton.

Since Hamilton is 38, it effectively ends his career. Hamilton admitted to taking an herbal supplement for depression knowing it contained a steriod. 

Meanwhile, since one of the stages of the Tour de France crosses into Italy, there are questions as to whether Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde will be able to ride. Valverde recently received a two-year ban from competing in Italy though the sanctions are being challenged by Valverde and Spain.


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