Next Stop on My Yoga Journey

A group Yin Yoga class was the next stop on my yoga journey. Yin Yoga is a slower-paced and meditative form of yoga as compared to other yoga disciplines. The poses are held for longer periods of time. In my case we spent about one minute on each pose.

The 75 minute class was designed to target the body’s connective tissues, rather than the muscles. It was billed as the perfect complement to athletic training and recovery plans. While I don’t know if that is true, I do know that I did enjoy the class and I continue to see improvement in my flexibility, so I signed up to continue classes.

My yoga experience reminds me a lot of my cycling experience. I returned to cycling as an adult because I felt it was a beneficial sport for my health that I could continue into old age (I am now into my seventies and still riding strong). I feel the same about yoga. It is a beneficial activity/exercise for my body that I can hopefully continue until the day I die. And I’m enjoying my journey with yoga as much as I enjoy my journey on my bicycle. Stay tuned, I’m sure I will have more to say about yoga and my journey in the future.

Ken Whittaker

Is a Yoga Evalution Worthwhile?

My private yoga evaluation paid off immediately. The yoga instructor noticed that I had lost some of my range of motion in my right arm resulting from being struck by a car several years ago while cycling (see “My Biggest Challenge“). In addition, she noted that I was more flexible on the left side of my body than the right side. She showed me how I could modify the yoga exercises/poses and use yoga tools to accommodate my specific situation.

While I would have loved to continue the private lessons indefinitely, I only had six lessons and I was destined to join a group yoga class. However, the private lesson gave me the specific training I needed for my situation and physical limitations. More importantly, it gave me the confidence that I need not worry that I would be doing my yoga poses differently than the others in the class.

In addition, while my instructor didn’t develop a special yoga routine for cyclists, she did point out the poses that were the most beneficial to offset the negative impact of the repetitive use of the same muscle groups used in cycling. After only six lessons, I felt better and could see a noticeable improvement in my flexibility. While it might only be my imagination, I feel like I’m cycling better too.

Ken Whittaker

Yoga for Cyclists

I’ve been cycling for decades. While I’m not a world class cyclist, I consider myself a strong cyclist. However, my increased strength hasn’t come without a cost. Although the repetitive motion of cycling has strengthened some muscles groups, it has also weakened others. As a result, overtime as my strength has increased, my flexibility has been decreasing.

Yoga Pose

In essence, it is the same reason cyclists have skinny arms. While our sport helps to develop strong calf, thigh and glut muscles, it doesn’t work the biceps and triceps nearly as much. But it doesn’t end there, our whole muscle structure is impacted by cycling both in a positive and negative way.

The first step to resolving the negative impact of cycling on the body is to identify the problem. To help me identify the negative impact of cycling on my body, I started with three private sessions with a yoga instructor. The first session was to evaluate my flexibility. While this approach is a bit more expensive than simply starting yoga classes, I was hoping it would pay off by having the yoga instructor develop a yoga routine that would target my cycling specific problem areas.

Ken Whittaker

Bafang Chainline Fix

Back in December 2020 I wrote a short post about my Bafang Chainline Problem and how I fixed my chain from dropping off the front chainring. It was a simple solution. I reinstalled the front derailleur and adjusted the derailleur limiter screws to perfectly align the front derailleur with the chainring. The derailleur served as a chain drop guard to keep the chain from falling off the chainring.  While this solution cured the chain drop problem and I was able to use all the gears on my rear cluster, I was getting an annoying chain rub on the front derailleur on my top (highest) and bottom (lowest) gears.

Derailleur Limiter Screws Adjustment

Although I could live with the chain rub on short rides, on longer rides it was becoming unbearable and I avoided using the top and bottom gears. With the Bafang Monster Bike Build I wanted to solve this problem. I was hoping I could adjust the Shimano XT indexed triple chainring front shifter to micro adjust the front derailleur just enough for a top, middle, and bottom gear range shift. However, the index shifter cable pull was too long because the derailleur limiter screws were significantly limiting the derailleur movement to stop the chain drop.

SunRace SLM10 Friction Thumb Shifter

To solve the problem, I used an old school SunRace SLM10 Friction Thumb Shifter, approximately $15 for a set. Now when I hear the chain rubbing on the front derailleur, I just give the thumb shifter a little nudge to make a micro adjustment on the front derailleur to eliminate the noise. And I don’t have to worry about the chain dropping off the front chainring because the front derailleur limiter screws will not let the derailleur move far enough to drop the chain. I can use all nine gears on the rear cluster with no chain drops and no chain rub on the front derailleur. Problem solved!

For detail on the original e-bike build see Bafang E-bike Conversion.

Ken Whittaker

Bafang Monster Bike Build

Cannondale E-bike conversion

I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I’ve been focused on a new bicycle project.  A few years ago, I outlined my step-by-step build of an e-bike using a Bafang 750W BBS02 mid drive motor kit and a Cannondale road bike,  You can see the details of the build here at “Bafang E-bike Conversion”.  I’ve been extremely happy with the bike since, and I’ve ridden it more than a thousand miles without a problem. 

Although I really enjoy riding the Bafang, my Bafang and Cannondale Synapse Neo 1 e-bikes are very similar bikes (see “BUILD OR BUY AN E-BIKE”), so I felt it was time to diversify my e-bikes.  Since I enjoy Rail Trail riding, and the trails I ride can get very slippery after it rains, I decided to move the bafang motor off the road bike with narrow tires and onto a Cannondale mountain bike with the widest tires I could fit on the bike.  I also added racks so the e-bike could be used on multi-day touring rides.  

After a few more test rides to work out any problems with the build and to determine the range of the bike and battery, I plan to give it the ultimate test by riding the C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park) and the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage), a 334.5-mile ride from Washington, DC to Pittsburg PA (COGAP). I have ridden this wonderful traffic-free route approximately 12 times in the past, but never on an e-bike. 

It’s always an adventure that I would highly recommend to cyclists of all skill levels.  Here is my planned itinerary.  So, stay tuned to hear how I make out on the e-bike. Or even better, join me on the ride.

Ken Whittaker

Bicycle Tire Bead Tool

Kool Stop Bicycle Tire Jack Tool

I’ve been using the Kool Stop bicycle tire jack ever since I first learned about it when I was cycling across the United States, see Day 35 – Silsbee, TX to De Ridder, LA – Cycle Across America. It is a fantastic tool for mounting tight fitting bicycle tires. While I would still highly recommend the Kool Stop as a great compact tool to stuff in a seat bag for quick puncture repair when touring, in my home shop I’ve switched to a generic plier-like tire jack pictured below.

Generic Plier-type Bicycle Tire Jack Tool.

The plier-like tire jack makes grabbing the tire bead and rim a faster and easier one-handed operation. However, although the plier-type jack is easier to use, I don’t think I would ever carry this bulky tool in a seat bag for emergency tire repairs. Nevertheless, I found it easier to use while servicing my tires in my home shop.

If you struggle with mounting bicycle tires like I do, I highly recommend the Kool-Stop Tire Bead Jack or the generic plier-like tire jack. Pick one or both up at your local bike shop. If your local bike shop doesn’t have them (many bike shops don’t), they can easily be found online.

Ken Whittaker

Topeak Road Morph Pump

Full disclosure first. I rarely do product reviews. When I do, it is always of a product that I chose for my own use and paid for with my own money. I do not benefit in any way by a product review. I share my opinion of a product with the visitors to this website so they might benefit from my experience with the product.

With that said, you may have noticed in my post Don’t Forget to Service Your Bicycle Pump that I use a Topeak Road Morph Pump. While this pump looks like other mini pumps, the Road Morph transforms smoothly into a floor pump. This compact, easy-to-carry pump has all the features of my shop pump with a head that fits both Presta and Schrader valves, an in-line pressure gauge that reads up to 140 PSI, a flexible hose, T-type handle and fold-out foot pad.

Topeak Road Morph Pump

While you might think that a full featured pump like this will be big, it is barely noticeable on the downtube of my bike in the picture below. If you struggle with a small but ineffective mini pump consider the Topeak Road Morph. My Topeak Road Morph pump was essential to me on my coast-to-coast adventure and is still an essential piece of equipment for me today.

Day 52 – Victory

Ken Whittaker

Don’t Forget to Service Your Bicycle Pump

Cartoon of cyclist pumping up a bicycle tire.

When I replace the sealant in my tubeless tires, I find it is also a good time to service my bicycle pump. Like most touring cyclist, I prefer the reliability of a pump over C02 cartridges because I just never know how many CO2 cartridges I’ll need. For example, while cycling coast to coast across America, I set a personal record with four flat tires in one day. With a good reliable bicycle pump, I can inflate unlimited tires and never run out of air.

However, without regular service, my pump might not work when I need it, especially after not being used over the winter. The seal on the plunger tends to dry out resulting in air leakage inside the pump. Simply servicing my pump in the spring helps to prevent this problem.

Bicycle Pump Servicing

Servicing a pump is simple. Disassemble the pump and remove the plunger. Clean the inside barrel and the plunger with a silicon spray like WD-40 spray lubricant. I don’t use petroleum-based products in fear that it will damage any rubber seals. Finally, I apply a generous amount of silicone lubricating grease to the seal. After reassembling the pump I test it to make sure it works properly and hopefully I’m good until next season.

Ken Whittaker

Spring Cleaning – Tubeless Tires

Cartoon of bicyclist waling bike with a flat fire.

As spring approaches in the Mid-Atlantic United States, it means it’s time for me to start getting my bikes ready for the new riding season outdoors. I have a policy of fixing bike problems immediately. If I don’t, I find it is just too easy for me set my bike aside and ride another bike until all my bikes have problems and I have nothing to ride. However, even with my fix problems immediately policy, there is always maintenance that needs to be done at the start of every riding season.

Servicing my tubeless tires is one of those maintenance jobs. At first glance, it may not be obvious that tubeless tire maintenance is required. Although tubeless tires are holding air, unlike tires with tubes, that doesn’t mean they are ready for the new season. Since the tubeless tires on my bike will hold air without any sealant in them, it is easy to be fooled into thinking there is also sufficient sealant in them to seal a puncture.

Consequently, I make it part of my spring maintenance routine to dismount my tubeless tires, clean out the old and dried sealant, remount the tires and refill them with fresh sealant. That way I know that my tires will function as expected if I get a puncture.

Ken Whittaker

Zwift, Gaming or Training App?

Example of Badges Earned on Zwift

I’ve been using Zwift for my indoor training sessions during the cold winter months for a couple of years. While I’ve strived to move up levels (currently at level 11), earn achievement badges (currently at 59 achievement badges), and accumulate Zwift currency in the form of drops that I use to buy virtual cycling equipment in the Zwift virtual store, I never really considered Zwift a gaming platform.

I guess, I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees. It wasn’t until I learned that Zwift was ranked as one of the 10 most innovative gaming companies by Fast Company that I realized what Zwift was doing. Zwift had turned my indoor training sessions into a cycling game, and I didn’t even know it. My bike became a video-game controller while my legs, lungs and heart were getting a meaningful workout, not my thumbs. Wow, what a surprise. I was playing a video game!

And I must not be the only one that enjoys the video game. Zwift users peddle over a million miles a day while cheering on fellow Zwifters with “Ride On” and giving thumbs up. If you aren’t enjoying your indoor training sessions or spin classes give Zwift a try. You might enjoy it.

Ken Whittaker