faqs

Here is a list of frequently asked questions. We have filed them under appropriate headings to make it easier for you to find the FAQ you desire:

Club specific enquires

This is fairly self-explanatory. These are enquiries which apply directly to Old Bleach Cycle Club

Misc

The FAQs which didn’t seem to fit into any other category

Technical

Questions about the website, clothing care and more specialised information not necessarily pertaining to Old Bleach

Understanding cyclists

Wondering why people who cycle do what they do? Please look in this section

Club specific queries (26)
When do you meet?

Our weekend club runs take place on Saturday at 9-30am and at variable times on Sunday mornings (please click on the link for details) outside The Old Forge, John Street car park, Randalstown.

During summer months we also meet on Thursday evenings at 6-30pm (for a brisk run) and Wednesdays at 7pm (for a more sedate outing). As with almost all our other runs, these depart from The Old Forge, John Street car park.

The only club runs which do not leave from The Old Forge are our two Tuesday evening club runs. They meet at St. Comgall’s Primary School car park, Antrim at 6-30pm and 7pm. Like all our evening club runs, they only take place during summer months.

In addition to this, we do some occasional club runs, outings with other clubs, sportives etc. To keep up to date with such events, please look at our calendar regularly.

We have club meetings most months. These generally take place at 7-30pm on the first Monday of the month, although can vary. Please check our calendar to find out when the next meeting is scheduled.

Where do you meet?

All club runs (unless stated otherwise) meet in Randalstown, outside The Old Forge, in John Street car park (off Main Street and New Street).

 

One notable exception to our usual ‘Old Forge start’ is for the Tuesday evening club runs, which start from St. Comgall’s Primary School car park, Antrim.

All club meetings (unless stated otherwise) take place in Arches House. Arches House is at the edge of John Street car park (see top map) – on the first floor, running between the side of Costcutter and the back of the Mace – and looks like this. Access is via a ground floor door.

How fast do you go?

The basic answer to this would be that we go as fast the slowest person in the group. Nobody gets dropped on our club runs; it’s all about enjoying ourselves and getting healthier in the process.

Having written that, it would be necessary for someone coming out on a Saturday or Sunday club run to have some basic level of cycling fitness.

As a general rule, if you can do around two and a half hours solid at an average of 14½mph or more (cycling alone) you should find Saturday club runs within your capabilities. If you can do two and a half to three hours at 16mph+ Sundays may also be suitable for you.

Thursday’s runs don’t have any ‘average speed’. They are structured training rides purely for training purposes. One week may be an unofficial time trial and the next may consist of climbing one specific hill repeatedly. This being the case there isn’t such a thing as an ‘average speed’ for Thursdays.

‘Wednesday Sevens’ are run at a speed to suit everyone in attendance. Nobody will struggle with them no matter their level of cycling experience.

Being in a group helps a lot more than one might imagine. There is, not only, the benefit of people encouraging one another but – almost equally importantly – the added bonus of drafting.

‘Drafting’ is the process of riding in another cyclist’s slipstream. By having the cyclists at the front of the group ‘break the wind’ the cyclists behind can save up to thirty percent of the energy they would otherwise have to expend to maintain pace. In a club run, chances are we won’t be efficient enough to save quite that much but it makes a huge difference compared to cycling alone. If you have never cycled in a group before now, you should be delighted with how much easier it is. Unfortunately we all have to take our turns at the front.

For the specific details of some past club runs, please look at our Garmin Connect profile.

How far do you go?

The distances we cover depend on who is out with the group, how everybody feels and what the weather is like.

An average club Sunday run could be anything from around 50 to 60 miles but that isn’t ‘set in stone’. We will, of course, accommodate those who make up the group to make sure everyone is as ‘well matched’ to the run as possible.

It will be most suited to cyclists who are used to cycling at least 40 miles.

Saturdays will be roughly 30 to 55 miles long. We often start together and split into two groups along the way – one doing around 30 flat miles and the other ‘throwing a loop in’.

The T7s are the shortest runs we do and could be between 15 to 20 miles in length – set to suit the people in attendance.

You can see the details from some of our past runs on our Garmin Connect profile.

What club runs suit me best?

Ultimately this comes down to your own experience, fitness and choice. To help you make that choice, we have put together the following table…

 

 TuesdayT7s - TuesT7s - ThursSaturdaySunday
Do I need to be on a road specific bike? YesNoNoYesYes
Is it suitable for people who haven't cycled with a club/group before?NoYes - 100%Yes - 100%YesNo
How much mileage is it likely to cover?20 to 35 miles15 to 25 miles15 to 25 miles35 to 55 miles50 to 80 miles
What average speed is it likely to be run at?15½ mph+10 mph+10 mph+15 mph+16½ mph+
What time does it leave?6-30pm7pm7pm9-30am9-30am
Where does it leave from?St. Comgall's Primary School car park, AntrimSt. Comgall's Primary School car park, AntrimThe Old Forge, John Street car parkThe Old Forge, John Street car parkThe Old Forge, John Street car park
How long does it normally last?2½ hours2 hours2 hours3½ hours4 hours
Is there a 'coffee' stop during the club run?NoNoNoYesYes
Do I need to wear a cycle helmet to take part?YesYesYesYesYes

If you have any further questions about the specific club runs, please look through our website for information and contact us with any queries you may have.

How much will this cost me?

For your first few runs, nothing. We don’t expect people to part with any money until they know they like cycling with Old Bleach.

Once a rider has decided s/he wishes to join Old Bleach, we require him/her to register for the appropriate licence with Cycling Ireland (the division of the UCI which covers our area). This provides insurance both for the club and the rider as an individual. To see what cover it grants, please look here. Licence fees are paid directly to Cycling Ireland. None of that payment goes to Old Bleach.

Cycling Ireland membership costs and their details can be viewed here on the Cycling Ireland website (fees are listed among the information for each licence type).

In addition to paying Cycling Ireland, Old Bleach asks for an annual membership fee  – to cover administration such as poster printing, web hosting, the club’s Cycling Ireland membership, general advertising etc.

The Old Bleach membership fees are:

Adults – £24 per year (£2 per month pro rata)
16 or 17 years old on January 1st – £6 per year (50p per month pro rata)
Under 16 years old on January 1st – £0

What kind of bike will I need?

For the majority of our runs, we would recommend using a road bike when cycling with us, for comfort and ease. As our routes will take us almost exclusively on roads, road bikes make the most sense.

Additionally, we request people not use tri/aero-bars when cycling in a group – nobody wants a tri-bar poking him or her in the bum.

In relation to our T7s club runs, mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrids etc. are all suitable.

What clothing should I wear?

To a great degree, that’s up to you as an individual. The only item we’re strict about is wearing a helmet. We ask all people cycling with us to wear a helmet when doing so.

For your own sake, it’s wise to wear a pair of shorts/tights with padding in them. You can choose not to do so at your own risk but your undercarriage will not thank you for it; that only increases the more mileage you rack up.

Wearing highly visible clothing is always a good idea, as is making sure your clothes are tight-fitting – we all find headwinds difficult enough without making it any harder for ourselves.

Having multiple thin layers of high wicking clothing on helps with regulating body heat. You can remove and add layers as and when required.

It will be nice if you choose to wear club kit sometimes but whether you do or not is entirely one’s personal choice. We exist to serve our club members – not the other way round.

If you are just starting to use clipless pedals, we would ask you to get comfortable with ‘clipping in and out of them’ them before cycling in a group. Normally this takes a very short amount of time before it becomes second nature. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never forget – it’s like riding a bike.

Do I need to wear a cycle helmet?

Yes. Old Bleach requires all members to wear a cycle helmet while cycling with us.

Can I wear earphones/headphones?

No. For obvious safety reasons we require all club members to be able to hear and communicate at all times. Therefore it is not permissible to wear earphones/headphones while out on a cycle with Old Bleach.

I’ve got my bike and clothes sorted; What else do I need to bring?

Firstly you will need at least one bottle of fluid to keep yourself hydrated. Likewise, having something to snack on will stop you from (what cyclists, runners etc. call) ‘bonking‘. You don’t need to rush out and buy energy drinks and bars (although bicycle shop owners will be more than happy to help you if you do) – many of our group bring the likes of bananas, fig rolls, slices of malt loaf etc. As with so much, it all comes down to personal preference.

As well as food/drink, it’s very wise to bring at least one spare inner tube, tyre levers and some means of pumping the tyre up in the event of a p******e. There’s a good chance someone else in the group will have tyre levers and a pump (and will normally offer to change the tube for you, which is nice) but bringing your own will make sure you 100% definitely have the required items at hand.

In winter months (and for all evening cycling) lights are pretty much a necessity (particularly a rear light) and mudguards are a welcome addition to prevent filth from our wet dirty roads ending up on the face of the person behind you.

Other than the items already mentioned, bringing a mobile phone and a few pounds for a cup of coffee/tea (‘coffee’ stops form a regular part of almost all our club excursions) should cover everything you may need.

How come you don’t always stay within the speeds listed for club runs?

As you probably know, we have an approximation of average speeds, pertaining to specific club runs, listed on our club run overview. We emphasise this is an approximation; Sometimes we are slower and other times faster.

A lot of factors come into consideration – was it windy (thus slowing us down), was it hilly (again slowing us down), was it a large group (speeding us up), was anyone having an off day (slowing us down) etc etc.

The suggested pace is more related to effort level than actual speed. Sometimes we’ll go out and do a flat route on a calm day in a big group and it’ll be easier than doing a hilly route on a windy day in a smaller group but the former will generate a notably higher average speed.

A good source of information to ascertain our effort levels on different club runs is our Garmin Connect profile. In many instances it even shows a power output in Watts.

Some Saturdays are faster than some Sundays. What’s going on there?

Have you been looking at our Garmin Connect profile and noticed some Saturday club runs are run at a higher average speed than some Sunday club runs?

This doesn’t necessarily mean the slower Sunday club run was ‘easier’. Have a look at the distance, wind speed and direction, topography of the route etc.

Pay particular attention to (if stated) the average Wattage the cyclist put out over the club run. Wattage is the key statistic to show how easy or difficult a club run was. It’s a much greater indicator of effort than speed.

For example, someone could cycle ten miles down a hill with a tailwind, hardly pedal and still average a speed of well over twenty miles an hour without breaking sweat. If s/he turned round and cycled back up the same hill, into a headwind and having to pedal constantly to keep going s/he may average ten miles per hour or less but still have to expend a greater amount of energy to do it. That’s where average speed tells a very small fraction of the story but Wattage would reveal the truth. In such an instance the downhill Wattage would be tiny while the uphill Wattage reading would be considerably higher.

Getting back onto point, please don’t put too much stock in the average speeds – average Wattage is a much superior indicator of effort.

What age do you need to be to cycle with Old Bleach?

We request any cyclist coming out with Old Bleach is at least 11 years of age.

Any cyclist under 18 years of age MUST be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

None of this is ‘awkward club policy’ – we simply aren’t legally permitted to have under 18s in our group unaccompanied.

What is a ‘Run Skipper’?

At its most basic level, the ‘Run Skipper’ is the person who takes the club run.

He/She should introduce him/herself at the start of a club run and will be the route guide for the duration of the club run. He/She is also likely to be the person with the whistle; using it to let riders know when to change round positions.

In depth information about the “Run Skipper’s” role can be found in our Rules of the Road document (particularly Section 5). We recommend you read and fully understand the entire document to enhance your own safety and enjoyment and the safety and enjoyment of those around you.

Someone else (or a group of people) may take over some/all of the “Run Skipper’s” duties. In this event the change shall be announced so everyone is aware who is performing which role(s).

When someone says ‘Car up!’ or ‘Car down!’ what does that mean?

If you hear a ‘Car up!’,  there is a car coming ‘up’ from behind.

A ‘Car down!’ means you shall be meeting a car further ‘down’ the road, in front of you.

An effective way many people have been told to remember it is: ‘Down your throat and up your (we’ll not write what ‘up‘ is and leave that to your own imagination)’. It may not be the most mannerly way to remember but it works.

What do all the other peculiar things people say and gesture mean?

Generally people will point out an obstruction. If someone says ‘left’, ‘right’ or ‘middle’, that means there is a hole, parked car or something else you would like to avoid in that location. It’s a pretty safe assumption to take the shout of a location to mean ‘Keep away from the…’. About the only time someone will say ‘left’ or ‘right’ to mean anything other than that is when it is ‘Turning left’ or ‘Turning right’. In that situation it is fairly self-explanatory and normally accompanied with someone at the front pointing his or her straightened arm in the appropriate direction.

With gestures, there aren’t many you really need to know. There’s the ‘turning in a direction gesture’ we all know (addressed above) and you might see someone waving his or her left hand behind his/her back while saying ‘On the left’. That means there is an obstruction on the left – generally parked cars. That is (as you might guess) flipped for obstructions on the right of the road. In a country where we drive and cycle on the left, a ‘right side obstruction’ isn’t as common as a left side ‘obstruction’.

If someone stops at a junction and raises one hand with the palm facing forward, it means to stop as the way is not clear. Sometimes you’ll also see an action like someone patting an invisible dog or playing invisible basketball slowly – that means ‘Slow down’. Generally people will say things like ‘Stop’ and ‘Slow down’ too. It’s not difficult to pick up what’s going on.

You might see some other peculiar gestures along your way. We probably have no idea what any of them mean and, quite honestly, doubt the people doing the gesturing know their meaning either. We find it best not to make eye contact with those people.

NB It is important to note – If someone calls ‘Clear!’, always check for traffic yourself.

NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER trust a ‘Clear!’ 100%.

Even the most level headed practical people can get it wrong from time to time. Others will do their best to help but it’s still up to you to look after your own safety. Always look for traffic at junctions.

How do we ‘single up’ when it is called for?

There won’t be too many times when the group is called upon to ‘Single up!‘ but, when we do, it’s good to know how to go about it so we can manoeuvre efficiently and safely.

When the run skipper (normally, but not always, the person with the whistle) calls for the group to ‘Single up!‘ the riders on the outside should fall in behind the rider directly to their inside. That means, in a country where we ride on the left, a cyclist in the right-hand column should slip in behind the rider immediately to his or her left.

The riders in the inside column (aka ‘the line on the left’ in this country) should allow space for the ‘outside cyclists’ to integrate into a single line and let any rider moving in front of them know it is clear to do so by saying (unsurprisingly) ‘Clear‘ and the rider’s name. If you don’t know the rider’s name, a ‘Clear!‘ on its own is a heck of a lot better than nothing.

Why do people only ride ‘road bikes’ on most runs?

We ask people to ride road bikes on most runs because they’re designed specifically to be suited to on road usage.

Apparently the energy required to ride an average mountain bike at 20mph is twice that for the same speed on an average road bike. We think it’s best to have everyone getting roughly the same benefits.

We don’t require people to ride a specific type of road bike. If you want to use a race style bike, touring bike, flat bars, drop bars or whatever suits, that’s all good. The most notable exception to this is tri bars; we don’t permit them to be used on club runs as they can poke people in a rather unpleasant and painful manner and the position one adopts when using them is not suitable for group riding.

As long as you’re enjoying yourself, it’s safe and everyone is getting the most fun possible from the cycle, that’s all we ask for.

If we ever develop an Old Bleach off-roading section, we’ll ask people to ride the appropriate style of bicycle for that too.

Our ‘Wednesday Sevens’ run is open to most bicycle types – including road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids etc.

Can I join a club run part of the way along the route?

We often post up proposed club runs (see the ‘Weekend Route(s)’ section on the right side of this website).

If you look at the route and think ‘It would suit me better to meet part of the way along rather than at the start‘ you can do so.

Please contact Old Bleach well in advance to let us know where you would like to meet and wait for an acknowledgement agreeing that’s suitable and stating an approximate time when the club should be there.

Do not simply turn up part of the way along a proposed route and expect to meet the members of Old Bleach without confirmation directly from the Run Skipper. Routes may be altered without advance notice and if we don’t know someone is waiting ‘en route’ there is a distinct possibility we will miss him/her completely.

There is also a chance the club could be delayed before reaching an agreed meeting point. In this event we shall endeavour to contact the cyclist who is waiting around twiddling his/her thumbs. For this reason please make sure the Run Skipper has your up to date mobile phone number.

The easiest way to make sure you join with the rest of the group is, of course, to turn up at the start point at the start time. However we appreciate it might suit some people better to meet along the route occasionally and will do our best to accommodate everyone.

Do I get ‘three free club runs’ if I rejoin after a break?

No. If you were a member of Old Bleach, allowed your Cycling Ireland membership to expire and then want to come out again, you are not insured.

You will have to renew your membership with Cycling Ireland in order to come out on a group ride. WIthout doing that you are putting yourself and the club in a vulnerable situation by not having any legal cover.

The ‘three free clubs runs’ only apply to people coming out first time round, not those who have been out before and let their membership expire.

Is Old Bleach a racing club?

Old Bleach is both a race and leisure club. We treat all cyclists equally and try to provide suitable activities for each rider based on his or her personal desires and goals.

If you are interested in road racing, time-trialling etc. we would be delighted to have you represent Old Bleach in such endeavours. However, if you simply want to go out for a pedal and enjoy yourself merely by virtue of the cycle itself, we are equally delighted.

What matters most is that people are getting the maximum enjoyment they can in the safest environment possible.

Do you have any ‘woman only’ runs?

We don’t see the need for them. The cyclists in Old Bleach are not such a bunch of ogres we have to split people into groups based on their sex/gender.

In our experience, everybody has been able to cycle together in a friendly and welcoming environment regardless of what sex they happen to have been born. We like to cater for and treat everyone equally.

Who are Old Bleach’s club officers?

Like all Cycling Ireland clubs, Old Bleach has the following unpaid slaves club officers:

Other people who help out with the club are:

If you wish to contact any of these people, please click on their ‘role title’ and it will enable you to e-mail them.

 

 

What benefits do I receive as a member of Old Bleach?

As a member of Old Bleach you will get to:

  • Come out on club runs – Improve your fitness and happiness and enjoy the social aspects of group cycling
  • Enjoy ‘away days’ – From time to time we take our bicycles elsewhere and do a little ‘day tour’ on roads we don’t normally use or even go away for a couple of days
  • Go to meetings – Have your say in how the club is run and help shape its future while drinking tea and eating buns
  • Make friends – You can’t possibly hate us all. Well, probably not
  • Get involved in events – Help promote Old Bleach activities (club membership drives, races etc.)
  • Partake in despicable online chat – As a club member you will have access to our Old Bleach Facebook group
  • Join our ‘secret’ club runs – We occasionally enjoy cycles which aren’t listed on our website and are for members only. By joining you’ll have access to these. This includes autumn/winter night rides with lights and all sorts of fun and hijinx
  • Buy merchandise – Our club members have ‘first dibs’ on any clothing, crockery, badges etc. we get put together. Have a look here to see the kinds of things we’re babbling on about
  • Attend social events – Members can come along to our Christmas Dinner and various other events throughout the year

If it’s all about about the money:

  • 20% reduction on Oakley sunglasses – Convery Opticians, 11a Main Street, Randalstown (Tel: 02894 478 190)
  • £10 off a Sports Massage appointment – Sporting Angels, Ballymena

These, of course, are only ‘scratching the surface’. It’s entirely up to you as an individual to pick and choose what you want from Old Bleach and optimise your enjoyment of our cycle club. We’d say you can have a ‘bespoke’ cycling experience but that’s too awful a pun. Oh no it isn’t, we just wrote it.

Does Old Bleach host any sportives?

At present Old Bleach doesn’t host any sportives.

If you would like to come out on an Old Bleach organised cycle round the local area, please join us for a club run; We won’t even charge you for it.

Misc (11)
Why do cyclists shave their legs and should I shave mine?

Contrary to popular belief not all cyclists DO shave their legs, although some of the ladies who don’t might wish to give it a try.

The ‘cyclist leg shaving mystery’ has been debated for quite some time. The most popular theory is that it’s easier for post cycle massage, applying embrocation and removing tape or bandages. Any hairy legged people removing the likes of kinesio tape can vouch for the end part of the previous sentence.

Some people have suggested it is more aerodynamic to sport shaved legs although Graeme Obree (among others) argues that leg hair breaks up the wind and having hair grants a greater aero bonus than ‘bald’ legs. If there is an aerodynamic benefit to leg shaving, it is likely to be so minimal as to be completely irrelevant to the average club cyclist.

More likely than not, the main reasons cyclists shave their legs are:

Inclusion/Exclusion – To feel part of the ‘shaved leg gang’ and somehow different from ‘the norm’.

Vanity – Muscle definition is enhanced without pesky leg hair getting in way. Why bother doing all the exercise to create ‘a great pair of pins’ if you’re not going to flaunt them?

Tradition/Plagiarism – A good cyclist likely did it, someone saw him, copied him and thus it grew into the phenomenon it now is.

Ex-professional cyclist, Michael Barry wrote an article on just this subject, which you should be able to read here. He stands a good chance of knowing more about the subject than we do.

So, in summary, should you shave your legs? The only appropriate answer is ‘If you want to’.

I’ve seen people cycling in a ‘two lined group’; What’s that all about?

It’s a means of making things easier (and safer) for everyone.

One of a cyclist’s biggest enemies is wind resistance. By having two neat lines, the generous people at the front take the worst of the wind resistance. The people behind can (if performed particularly efficiently) expend up to thirty percent less energy than those on the front.

In the interests of fairness, we don’t leave the same people ‘hanging out at the front all day’; rather, we move round a give everyone a go. We change places in an anti-clockwise direction. That’s to say, when it’s time to change, the person at the front-left will allow the person at the front-right to move ahead of him/her and the entire right column will move up one place (with the person at the back-left moving over to the back-right). Perhaps this picture might help.

The person at the front-right shouldn’t have to accelerate in order to get into the front-left position. Instead it should be a fluid motion. It is the left column’s responsibility to make sure this can happen by slowing down slightly. This doesn’t mean any braking – simply ‘soft pedal’ or change down a gear so the left column’s pace decreases a little.

So how do people know when perform this move? Generally it’s quite a simple process: the group leader will blow a whistle to signify time to change round. Yes, that does sound terrible, we know. In practice it is a lot more pleasant than ‘blowing a whistle at people’ sounds. We’d like to be able to say ‘Okay, everybody move round now please‘ but that would be impractical in a large group. The whistle is a good sound for cutting through any other noises, meaning everyone can hear, knows what’s going on and it is safer for all involved.

When you are at the front-left and hear the whistle, it is a very beautiful sound. One back at the right? Not so much…

What is a sportive?

In essence, a ‘sportive’ is a ‘fun day out on your bike’.

It’s an organised non-racing cycle (often, but not always, in aid of charities) with a set route and large number of participants – normally hundreds and sometimes thousands.

They are sociable affairs where conversation and meeting new people have at least as much emphasis as the actual cycling.

Quite often, sportives will offer a few different routes to cater for cyclists’ desires. For example, one might put forward a ‘hilly 100 miles’ – for those wishing for a long day in the saddle – and a ‘flat 50 miles’ – for those who wish to do a run of that ilk. Not all sportives have such route options but most will.

Some local sportives, basic information about them and links to the appropriate websites are listed on this page of the Cycle NI website.

What’s the difference between a Road Race and a Time Trial?

Most of the cycle racing shown on television falls under the category ‘road racing’.

Road races are mass start events where competitors pit themselves directly against one another. The person who crosses the line before anyone else is the victor.

Often this leads to a bunch sprint at the end. Sometimes an individual or small group will form a ‘breakaway’ and manage to hold on until victory. Particularly strong riders can even manage this feat on their own; That’s extremely impressive.

A lot of one’s success in road racing is determined by choosing the right group to sit in with and positioning oneself well at corners, on hills etc. Many tactics have to be decided upon ‘on the fly’ in a road race; Experience counts for a lot.

Time trials are run with a very different structure to road races.

In the case of a time trial the participants are set off individually rather than in a bunch.

Usually there is a one or two minute gap between the start times of time-triallists. This is to stop them gaining an advantage by slipstreaming one another.

Time trials (aka TTs) are also known as ‘the race of truth’.  This is because it is ‘one man (or woman) against the clock’. There is nowhere to ‘sit in’ – the participant’s result depends primarily on his or her form and personal abilities without anyone else able to interfere.

Another popular, somewhat charming and possibly pretentious (unless one is from a country where French is the predominant language) name for a TT is the rhyming term ‘contre la montre’. Translated literally that means ‘against the watch’. You can clearly see why it merits such a name.

Of course there are Team Time Trials (aka TTTs) too. In their case a group will cycle together ‘against the clock’ and deliberately share the workload at the front. As with the Individual Time Trial (aka TTs or ITTs) the groups will be set off a minute or two apart to stop any ‘cross pollination’ between teams.

Most people participating in TTs on a regular basis will ride a TT bike. This is an extremely aerodynamic bicycle the design of which practically ignores comfort in favour of all out speed. TT bikes can be almost otherworldly in appearance. They certainly would not be bicycles suited to a standard group cycle.

The majority of local time-triallists will start off doing 10 mile TTs on a flat circuit but can move on to 100 miles+ TTs if they so wish.

Unlike most of our club runs, Road Races and TTs don’t have a coffee stop in the middle.

If I have a ‘mechanical’ and need to stop, how do I do so?

If you suffer from a flat tyre, ‘dropped’ chain (which you can’t get back on with this method) or any similar problems, it’s important not to panic.

Stick a hand up in the air briefly to let people know you want to stop and call out ‘Mechanical‘.

If you are cycling in the left column of the group signal left and pull in to the side of the road when it is safe to do so.

If you are cycling in the right column of the group try to move out further right (if possible) to let the group pass you safely. Wave the group through and, once the last person has definitely passed and you know the road behind is clear, signal left and pull in to the side of the road when it is safe to do so.

As outlined above, the most important aspect is to remain calm. Remember there are other people around you and their safety is, in part, your responsibility. You cannot simply pull over without warning or, even worse, cut in to the left from the right column because you have a mechanical problem. You HAVE to take other people into consideration and make sure your actions do not endanger them.

NB The guidelines listed assume one is cycling in a country where traffic ‘drives’ on the left side of the road. Reverse the directions if in a country where one ‘drives’ on the right.

Most ‘chain slips’ can be ‘caught’ without having to stop. Please see here for details on how to go about that.

What do I do if my chain comes off?

If you are cycling along, attempt to change from one chainring to the other and the chain falls off, don’t despair.

You may be able to get the chain back where it is supposed to be in a matter of seconds without having to stop or get your hands oily.

While pedalling gently, use your gear shifter to move your front derailleur the opposite direction from whatever caused the problem ie. if you shifted down and the chain popped off to the inside then click your gear shifter so you try to move up into the big chainring. If it was the other way round and the chain came off to the outside then shift down to the small chainring.

With any luck your derailleur will pull the chain back into place and you can continue cycling along to your heart’s content.

It is important to (as mentioned above) pedal gently to avoid nasty chain rub on your crankset etc. and make sure the chain does not jam. If the chain does start to jam, backpedal a little to release it and try again.

This method will work the vast majority of times a chain is ‘dropped’. If it does not, then hold your hand up to signal to the group (if riding in a group) to let them know you are having a ‘mechanical’ and pull over when it is safe to do so.

If your chain comes off reasonably regularly it means your front derailleur probably needs a slight adjustment. This should be a simple matter of turning an adjustment screw ever so slightly. If you are unsure what to do, please ask a club member to help – it will only take a few seconds (hopefully).

What speed do I cycle at when I get to the front?

The short answer is it’s not about speed – it’s about effort.

When the Run Skipper blows his/her whistle and you move round to front-right position stay in line with the person to your left. He or she has already been at the front and is aware what effort level is required to keep the group moving along well. Match his/her effort.

Attempting to keep a group together by maintaining speed doesn’t work. Speed on its own doesn’t mean an awful lot. For example a cyclist maintaining a speed of 15mph throughout an entire journey will cause others to drop off on steep hills and brake on downhills.

The way to cycle maturely in a group is to pedal to effort. That means attempting to maintain one’s power level while not worrying about pace. If you have a power meter this isn’t a difficult proposition; You merely look at the Wattage you’re pushing out and keep it round a ‘plausible group figure’ as much as possible.

Without a power meter it’s a bit more difficult to hold effort level ‘flat’ but should still be well within the abilities of anyone who can keep a bicycle upright. We all have some idea how hard we’re pushing to drive a bicycle forwards. Keep at the level of ‘perceived effort’ which holds the group together.

Remember to maintain the effort on the flat, uphill and downhill and you’ll find group cycling a pleasurable and safer experience for all involved.

What’s the difference between a turbo trainer and rollers?

If you’re the sort of person who is determined to abuse him or herself by cycling indoors, you’re probably considering a few options…

  • An exercise bike
  • A turbo trainer
  • Rollers

Pretty much everyone already knows what an exercise bike is (although, within that there are many options) but not everyone is au fait with turbo trainers and rollers, especially those new to the world of cycling.

Both turbo trainers and rollers use one’s ‘outdoors bike’ as an integral part of the equipment but in different ways.

The basics are (in the vast majority of cases) as follows…

Turbo Trainers
A turbo trainer (often shortened simply to ‘turbo’) is a device into which one’s rear bicycle wheel is locked. The wheel sits on a spinning drum, allowing the wheel to spin round. The ‘drum’ can be set to different levels of resistance. This means the rear wheel will require more (or less depending on the setting) power, from the cyclist, in order to turn.

Confusing matters slightly (although offering more choice) some turbo trainers require one to take his/her rear wheel out altogether. The trainer itself will have an inbuilt cassette assembly which one then attaches to his/her bike in place of the rear wheel. This kind of turbo trainer saves any wear on the rear tyre, which is nice.

Generally turbo trainers feature a handlebar mounted unit via which one may manually control resistance.

Some ‘smart’ turbo trainers will work together with pieces of software (or ‘apps’ if you aren’t an old fashioned Luddite like the person writing this) allowing them to automatically control the resistance. An obvious example of this is the cycling trainer/game Zwift. Say, for example, someone is using/playing Zwift and reaches a virtual hill – Zwift will tell a compatible smart trainer to increase the resistance appropriately. Once the hill has been crested, it will then reduce the resistance accordingly. This should all help, in as much as is possible with current technology, mimic actual cycling in a fairly seamless manner. Some turbo trainers will even vibrate a little when one reaches a cobbled or rough area using the likes of Zwift. Isn’t technology wonderful?

Rollers
Rollers are a slightly different kettle of fish to a turbo trainer. Rather than have a wheel locked into the device, one simply cycles on top of rollers.

It’s something which initially doesn’t sound like it should work  – ‘Hang on, won’t I fall over if there’s nothing at the sides to keep my bike upright?‘ – but it really does.

There’s a certain leap of faith in getting started on rollers but they aren’t as tricky as you may well hear a lot of people claim. Yes, they have a greater learning curve than a turbo trainer would and require more concentration but they’re not the deadly devices some appear to make them out to be.

Rollers (or any we’ve seen) consist of three spinning drums held in a long, fairly thin, frame. The rear bike wheel sits in the ‘valley’ between two, almost adjacent, drums and the bow end of the front wheel perches on a solitary drum at the front of the unit. One of the rear drums and the front drum are joined together by, what is basically, a large elaborate elastic band. This means, when you pedal and spin your back wheel, the drums rotate and make your front wheel turn in sync. All this spinning keeps your bike upright ‘as if by magic’.

One big advantage to rollers is, without one’s bicycle ‘locked in’, there’s no undue stress on the frame. With turbo trainers it’s generally recommended not to put your good carbon bike in it.

Another major thumbs up for rollers is that it improves ones balance and teaches a cyclist to keep his/her line. As turbo trainers are very stable and don’t allow much lateral motion, they’re a wee bit like using stabilisers and don’t really enhance some of the skills rollers would.

That all written, a lot of rollers have the option of buying a ‘fork stand’ for them. This is an attachment which bolts on to the front of the rollers. One then removes his/her front wheel and connects the forks to the stand. This means the back wheel can move freely but the front is locked in place. It also deprives one of some of the benefits of rollers but can help people who initially struggle with rollers get confident before trying them without the fork stand.

Resistance with rollers is usually done by pedalling faster or slower and using your bike’s gears. If you imagine a graph with speed along the x-axis and resistance on the y-axis, it would increase exponentially the faster one pedals, scooping upwards. For the cavemen and cavewomen out there:  fast pedalling = big resistance.

As with turbo trainers, although currently not as common, one may purchase ‘smart’ rollers. Like you’d imagine, they work with apps to vary resistance automatically. Rollers tend not to have the same level of variable resistance as a turbo trainer (or indeed exercise bike) but they can certainly add or remove a few hundred Watts of power.

This is conjecture on our part but we imagine they don’t do ‘big resistance’ because spinning is necessary to keep one’s bicycle aloft. If rollers slowed that down immensely, one’s steed would simply fall over. That would be no fun for anyone.

Some people simply don’t ‘get on’ with rollers. The starting off and dismounting bothers some cyclists and the increased concentration while riding is more than some people can be fussed with. That’s fair enough – different horses and all that. However, for those who do enjoy rollers, they offer an opportunity to practice a lot of practical skills which translate well to outdoors cycling.

 

Hopefully that helps give you some idea about the differences and pros and cons of turbo trainers and rollers. If you would like to ask us any more about them, we’ll do our best to help if you contact us.

What is the correct way to pass people on horseback?

Like cyclists (and ultimately every road user) horses and their riders are ‘vulnerable traffic’.

Some traffic is more vulnerable than other traffic and horses and their riders (along with cyclists, pedestrians and a few other groups) are at considerably greater risk than most motorised vehicles and their drivers. As such it is vital we treat horses and their riders with respect and consideration. Please take the following steps to do just that.

Approaching a horse and rider head on: Slow down if required/requested and give the horse plenty of space. While most horses on roads are generally calm and will do what their rider instructs, they are living breathing animals which can be startled and may react in a slightly erratic manner. Do not make any sudden movements or loud noises when approaching a horse.

Passing a horse and rider from behind: Horses (apparently) have poor peripheral vision and may not know you are there until you are practically in line with them. To make the horse (and rider) aware you are approaching, please announce yourself and keep talking as you pass. Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything interesting to say – the horse won’t mind bland conversation. As with approaching head on, please keep your speed low, give the horse a wide berth and don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises.

Behave in a thoughtful considerate manner and you should find horses, riders and cyclists can share the roads in a happy harmonious way.

What’s the best way to exhale bogies out of one’s nostril?

Eew! That’s disgusting. None of the members of Old Bleach would ever dream of doing such a thing.

However, if we were going to lower ourselves…

When ‘discharging’ to the left – one should rotate his or her head ninety degrees to the left (so s/he is looking directly left). Then use the index finger of one’s left hand to press the left nostril closed with the left elbow held high. Exhale sharply through the nose. Any unpleasantness should be dislodged and fly to freedom below the raised elbow, landing harmlessly behind and soiling neither bike nor rider. Please reverse these directions to clear the other nostril, you filthy beast!

It’s probably best to warn the person behind if you wish to clear your nose. Most people don’t wish to be ‘slimed’.

How should one leave a toilet post usage?

It’s quite the quandary isn’t it?

When using a public toilet (especially in coffee shops where both gentlemen and ladies shall avail of a single receptacle) what’s the best way to leave the lavatory, other than ‘clean’ which we take as read?

No, not ‘Through the same door you came in‘.

What we mean is how should one leave the seat? Up? Down? Only halfway up so it’s neither up nor down?

What if the toilet has a seat but no lid? How does that affect things? What if it has a lid but no seat? If the latter is the case we recommend using facilities elsewhere.

Fret no longer proud people. We bring you an answer to a lifetime of stress with our Lavatorial Etiquette Flowchart (please click to expand and forgive the terrible pun)…


Lavatorial Etiquette Flowchart

Technical (2)
How do I look after my club kit?

It’s good you want to look after your club kit. Treat it well and you’ll get plenty of wear out of it.

It is recommended you care for your Old Bleach kit by doing the following:

  • Wash at 30° (or lower)
  • Wash as soon as possible after use
  • Wash after every use (you can probably get away with wearing mitts a couple of times per wash)
  • Do not leave clothing ‘sitting in a wet heap’
  • Turn clothing inside out for washing
  • In the case of jerseys, zip up fully in addition to turning inside out
  • Wash bib-shorts in a mesh laundry bag
  • Do not put any Velcro in the wash with your cycling garments
  • Do not use any fabric softeners
  • Dry only by hanging
  • Do not wring to dry
  • Do not tumble dry
  • Do not dry in direct sunlight
  • When wearing club kit, try to avoid contact with belts – even seatbelts (wear/place soft material between the two to avoid rubbing in transit) – velcro is an absolute ‘no no’ and will scuff club kit very badly
Why doesn’t the website have…

If there’s anything you think this website is missing, please contact us to let us know. Be gentle – it’s important we get feedback but we don’t want to cry.

Understanding cyclists (2)
Why do cyclists try to hold me back when I’m driving?

There is a popular misconception people on bicycles have a desire to delay those in motorised vehicles. Please consider this logically and it is evident no right-minded person on a small and slow moving vehicle offering little protection would wish to detain a large fast metal ‘crushing box’.

It is in a cyclist’s best interests to get a motor vehicle past him/her as quickly as possible. Unfortunately it is not always safe for a motorist to pass a cyclist. When this is the case, a safety conscious and thoughtful cyclist will move into a road position which deters motorists from passing. This should create a safer environment for the cyclist, motorist(s) behind and any oncoming traffic.

Always consider why a cyclist is adopting a certain position on the road and make sure you assess the situation fully. Perhaps he/she can see or hear something you can’t and is aware of danger you are not. He/She may save your life.

 

Why don’t cyclists stay in at the side?

There are many good reasons for not staying tight in to the side of a road and very few in favour of doing so.

When there are no facilities to cycle with complete separation from other vehicles, cyclists must constitute part of ‘traffic’. This is sometimes referred to as ‘vehicular cycling’. What it means is that a cyclist has to cycle obeying the rules of the road (as must ALWAYS be the case) and being given the same respect any other vehicle user would.

There are two main positions a cyclist will adopt – Secondary and Primary:

Secondary Position is at least 1m out from the side of the road, preferably more like 1.5m.

Safety conscious cyclists will take this position on straight sections of roads where there are no obstacles such as parked vehicles etc. at the roadside. It means one is not cycling in among the stones, rough edges, greater propensity for potholes, poorly laid gratings etc. found close to the roadside. It gives the cyclist an ‘escape route’ if he/she has to swerve round a pothole. Rather than swerve out suddenly, potentially into the path of a vehicle, he or she can avoid most obstructions by temporarily moving inwards, toward the edge of the road briefly before returning to his/her original position.

Being in Secondary Position also increases a cyclist’s visibility. If you look at someone leaning tight against the side of a hedgerow and then see them again, standing 1.5m from the same hedgerow, you will find the latter considerably more noticeable. Being visible is highly important to any cyclist.

Primary Position requires the cyclist to be closer to the middle of the road, away from the edge. Often the cyclist’s right hand will be within 1m, maybe even 50cm of the white line, to be in Primary Position.

Primary Position is one cyclists usually adopt for a short period of time. It will be used by most thoughtful cyclists when there are obstructions – cars parked at the roadside, junctions coming onto the road on which the cyclist is travelling, traffic islands, approaching roundabouts, bends, up short hills etc. Within an urban environment, there can be so many potential hazards, a cyclist may have to stay in Primary Position for lengthy periods.

Elaborating on some of the listed hazards, to explain the purpose behind adopting Primary Position for each one:

  • Cars parked at the roadside – This is one is fairly obvious. A parked car has lots of potential for disaster. By keeping in a position well away from parked cars, a cyclist can save him/herself from having to deal with “surprise driver’s side door openings” and cars starting off without indication among others. It also means the cyclist retains a gap between him/her and his/her surrounds, enhancing that all important visibility.
  • Junctions coming onto the road – When a cyclist is pedalling along on a main road and there’s a junction with a side road, you could be forgiven for thinking ‘Sure why would anyone have to allow for vehicles coming off side roads when they have right of way on the main road?‘. Unfortunately these junctions are among the most dangerous for cyclists, with people misjudging speed, simply not noticing the cyclist etc. etc. By moving away from the junction the cyclist, as before, increases visibility – being seen before he/she otherwise would be by the motorist at the side road junction. He/She also prevents following cars from ‘nipping round the outside to turn left in front of the cyclist’ by blocking off the path. ‘Sure nobody would do anything THAT stupid, would they?‘ – unfortunately some people would, have and continue to do so. The main points raised in this paragraph also apply to roundabouts, which can be very dangerous for cyclists with poor overtaking, cutting up etc.
  • Traffic islands – It’s not safe to pass at a traffic island. There simply isn’t enough room. A cyclist may move out to dissuade the less discerning motorist from passing. This helps make everyone safer. If a cyclist does this, he/she is not accusing you of being a bad driver; He/She is simply taking a precaution in case the stranger behind may make a poor decision.
  • Bends – We were all taught, when learning to drive, not to pass on or coming up to a bend. Yet, people still do. A cyclist may move toward the middle of the road to put people off passing when they cannot see what lies ahead. Be grateful as any attempt to pass under such circumstances is at best pernicious and potentially could result in human beings being killed.
  • Up short hills – Much like ‘Bends’, anyone who drives knows not to pass on a short hill where visibility only extends to the top of the rise. It’s simply not safe to pass. Cyclists moving into the centre of the road here are doing their best to discourage ill-advised activity. It is not safe to pass anyone where visibility is poor or impaired. A few seconds of patience may save your life, the lives of those in your vehicle, a cyclist’s life and the lives of anyone in oncoming traffic.

When you see a cyclist in Primary Position, please assess the situation and try to think why he or she could be there. Treat it as a warning which may help you avoid danger yourself.

Often groups of cyclists will form two columns – one in Secondary and one in Primary Position. This is for safety and, among other reasons, to be sociable with one another. Please understand a group in this formation is much more ‘passable’ than a strung out line of single file riders. Any worthwhile person will give plenty of room when passing vulnerable traffic. Therefore a single line of cyclists cannot be safely passed on the same side of the road, unless it’s an unusually broad road. By ‘doubling up’ a group gives the motorist half the ‘obstacle’ to pass they would otherwise have. It’s safe, sociable and considerate. Please look at this video for an example.

If there is anything further you would like to ask about, please contact us and we shall do our best to come up with an informative and useful answer.