E-bike Slackers

I admit that I’ve never been an advocate of electric bikes (e-bikes).  When I cycled coast to coast across America, I was determined to pedal every inch under my own power.  I viewed e-bike riders as slackers and lazy.  However, I’ve had a change of heart about e-bikes.  So, what changed my mind?  Old age!

As a young man, I start cycling for exercise.   I felt that cycling was a good sport for me because I could continue cycling into my old age, and I have.  I cycle across America in my mid sixties and I am still riding strong and doing centuries (100 miles) rides as I rapidly approach my seventies.  While I want to remain active and enjoy the outdoors, I know I can’t continue cycling like this forever.

As baby boomers like me age, cycling will become more difficult. E-bikes are the natural transition for us to stay active and enjoy our sport.  I like the idea that when I need it, an e-bike will give me a battery-powered push. Yet, I still will be pedaling my bike to get it.

Ken Whittaker

How to Patch a Tube

1. Locate the puncture. Assuming that you have already removed the tube, inspect it and locate the puncture. It can usually be found easily by pumping air into the tube to find where the air escaping. However, slow leaks can be a little more difficult to find. In those cases, inflate the tube and submerge it in water and watch for the escaping air bublle.

2. Prepare the tube. Use the tire rasp, to remove the outside coat on the tube. This coating is used in the manufacturing process to keep the tube from sticking to the mold. Unfortunately, this coating will also keep a patch from adhering to the tube. Prepared an area larger than the patch.  If your tube has seams that will interfere with gluing the patch to the tube, they can be shaved off with a disposable razor.  Note: If your patch aren’t sticking, it is most likely because this coating was not removed.

3. Apply the glue. Apply and work the glue evenly into the surface of the tube. While it may sound counterintuitive, in many cases the glue need to dry (no longer tacky) before applying the patch. So check the instructions for your rubber vulcanizing cement before hand. Here again, the area with glue should be larger than the patch.

4. Apply the patch. Press the patch onto the tube and hold it in place. Use the tire/tube stitcher tool to apply pressure to remove air bubbles under the patch while taking care to ensure the edges are firmly attached as it vulcanizes and cures. Don’t worry about the clear plastic film on the top of the patch, just leave it in place.

5. Check you work. Give the patch time for the vulcanization to cure. Generally, I leave them overnight. Inflate the tube and check for leaks. If it holds air you now have a spare tube.


Bicycle Tube Repair Home Workshop

Your home workshop should include:

1. Tire/Tube Rasp – The rasp can be as simple as a small piece of sandpaper or a tool made specifically for flat repairs. The rasp is necessary to remove the outer coating of the tube that is applied to keep the tube from sticking to mold in the manufacture process.

2. Disposable razor (optional) – Useful to shave any seams on the tube created during the manufacturing process that might interfere with the patch adhering to the tube surface.

3. Rubber Vulcanizing Cement – A special cement needed for gluing the patch to the tube.

4. Patches – Not all patches are of equal quality. I prefer Rema patches and have had good success with them.

5. Tire/Tube Stitcher Tool – Similar to the rasp, the stitcher tool can be any hard object like a coin or a tool made specifically for flat repairs. The stitcher is useful to help remove air bubble under the patch by providing pressure on the patch as it vulcanizes and cures.

You can find the items mention above by clicking on each below.

Tire/Tube Rasp

Rubber Vulcanizing Cement

Rema patches

Tire/Tube Stitcher Tool

Ken Whittaker

Bullet Proof Bicycle Tube Repairs

I am always surprise to see riders trash bicycle tubes after a puncture. A properly patched tube is just as reliable as a new tube. I can recall my son asking me if I didn’t think it was time to replace the tube, after seeing a tube I had been using and patching for years that had perhaps a dozen patches on it. The truth is, that I never considered replacing the it. Why would I? It was still a good tube!

In those days I never even carried a spare tube. I simply patched my flats by the side of the road and continue on my ride. However, since then I’ve learned the error of my ways. After getting flats in the rain or at night in an area with little light to make the repair, I now carry a spare tube so I can make a quick repair and take the punctured tube home to fix in my workshop.

The reason most riders don’t patch their tubes is because their patches fail. So, how do you patch a tube so it is a reliable spare? The first step is your patch kit. I’m not talking about the small patch kit you carry on a ride for emergencies. We’re talking a home workshop tube repair kit for making permanent reliable patches.

Ken Whittaker

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail – Other Considerations

A few other consideration before cycling the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.

Head Winds.  In the Keys, the wind is generally from the northeast.  While this is will provide a nice tail wind on the way to Key West, but it becomes a head on the way back.  Be prepared for headwinds, this can make it feel line like you are cycling uphill all day.  So, plan your daily mileage goals accordingly.

Cross Winds.   On the bridges a cross wind can be particularly dangerous.  Especially with large truck whipping along side of you.  Be prepared to make alternate arrangements if this becomes a problem.

Tropical Climate.  The Keys have a hot humid tropical climate with little shade.  Be sure to carry plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.  While services are available along the way, you may have to cycle a significant distance between services.

Lodging.  If you can’t sleep in the heat, don’t consider tent camping.

Flats.  There is a lot of debris along the trail.  Be prepared incase of flats.  Bring a spare tube, patch kit and pump or CO2 cartridges.

Uneven surfaces.  In the group I was cycling with a ride went down due to an uneven trail surface and had to airlifted to Miami for medical treatment.  Be prepare for uneven surfaces and ride an appropriate tire.

Ken Whittaker

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

With winter approaching and freezing temperatures at home it seemed like the ideal time to cycle the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. This 106.5 mile Rail-Trail offers a scenic tropical bicycling adventure without leaving the continental United States. See TrailLink.com for a trail description and map.

The trail runs on Henry Flagler’s old railroad from mile marker 106 in Key Largo to mile marker 0 in Key West, Florida parallel to US Route 1. While more than 75 miles of the rail-trail were paved, several large sections of the trail and bridges were recently damaged by hurricane Irma. Unfortunately, much of the damage has not been repaired yet. As a result, cyclists are forced on to the roadway on bike lanes or narrow shoulders with the usual road debris and hazards. I was riding a new bike and hadn’t bullet proofed my tires yet and I did experience a flat. See my post on “How I Eliminated Flats Forever!” for more details on how to avoid getting flats.

So, riders beware! Although this trail is classified as a rail trail, it is not for the faint of heart when it comes to riding on the road. Expect a lot of road cycling on a busy highway with cars and large trucks speeding by along side of you. In addition, the trail continually changes from side to side along US Route 1 forcing cyclists to cross the highway.

Ken Whittaker

My Life Summarized in Coffee Mug Sayings

Yes, I have a retirement plan. I plan on cycling.

I’m either riding, about to go riding or thinking about riding.

Eat, sleep, ride, repeat.

Am I a cycopath? A person suffering from uncontrollable urges to ride my bicycle.

So, I went to a cyclogist to help me with my problem.

While I might look like I was listening, in my head I was riding my bike.

Sometimes I wonder if my bike is thinking about me too.

Am I a Bikeoholic? A person addicted to cycling. They cannot control how often they think or talk about riding and their bike(s). They are sometimes known to start riding even before breakfast to take the “edge” off the day.

Is there a bike-o-holics anonymous?

Am I a Bikesexual? Someone who replaces human contact with a bicycle, whilst displaying very strong feelings towards their bike and / or cycling.

A ‘bikesexual’ could survive without any human contact so long as they were able to ride their bike. Being denied their bike could result in severe withdrawal symptoms, including becoming frustrated, upset and introverted. An overwhelming feeling of sadness could also be experienced.

You lost me at . . . I don’t cycle.

Good day for cycling.

I’d rather be Cycling.

Miles are my meditation.

The bicycle is a simple solution to the world’s most complicated problems.

Life Is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance you must keep moving.

The Journey Is The Destination.

Ken Whittaker

Tip 9 for Cycling a Century (100 miles) on Your Bicycle

Monitor physical exertion to avoid fatigue. I use a heart rate monitor to keep my heart rate from creeping up and ultimately overexerting myself. If I see my heart rate is getting too high, I take steps to lower it before I fatigue.

I’ve talked about this in detail in a series of blogs on How I Eliminated My Leg Cramps. See the following posts for more details.

Judging My Physical Exertion,
Knowing My Maximum Heart Rate and
Lowering My Heart Rate

Ken Whittaker

Tip #8 for Cycling a Century (100 miles) on Your Bicycle

Stay Comfortable. The biggest complaint I hear on centuries is from riders with sore butts. The first step in eliminating a sore butt and maintaining your comfort on a century is to get a bike that is properly fitted to you.

While I know cyclists that take their favorite painkillers before, during and or after a century, I never do. Painkillers don’t address the root cause of the problem. I find that there are many steps that you can take to eliminate the cause of a sore butt and I’ve discussed them in detail in my blog Sore Butt.

However, perhaps the best recommendation to eliminate a sore butt on a century  is to change your riding  position often.  By doing so, you are are reducing the pressure on the same points on your butt over the six or seven hours in the saddle.