Glen Rendall Q & A

The following 10 questions are excerpts from the old velodonnas blogspot.

The answers were provided by Glen Rendall, a member of the National Cycling team. A veteran cyclist with World Cup experience. He was born in Winnipeg and now lives in Ottawa, Ontario pursuing a career in marketing and cycling. He started his own cycling club to support his cycling career and to support others achieve their goals. Check out the Ride with Rendall website

How do I determine the right size of bike for me? 
The best way to determine the right size bike for you is to visit your local bike shop to have them help you with bike fit. In the past, a quick stand over test could be done but because of sloping top-tubes and varying reach, this method doesn’t address all the variables of today’s compact frame designs. It is important to get fit properly the first time so ask questions and talk to somebody in the shop who has the knowledge and training in proper bike fit not just the first salesperson you encounter.

What are the best types of foods to eat before/during/after riding?
Before you think about what to eat on a ride you should be considering what to drink. Water and energy drinks are the first things you should consider since dehydration is one of the main reasons for performance loss and decreased endurance. It is important to drink throughout the ride and continue afterwardssince minerals and electrolytes lost during riding can be replenished quickly with energy drinks.

When choosing foods to eat, the most important thing is to choose foods that agree with you. What works well for you may not work well for another person so experiment and try different foods. Gels, Figs, Bagels, bananas and energy bars are some of the items that are very popular for cyclists and are easily digested. Do not wait until your important ride to try the foods otherwise you might be spending more time in the port- a-john then actually riding.

The amount and type of food for a ride is determined by what type of ride you are planning to do. The length and speed of the ride all dictate how much food or energy you will require so plan wisely and take a bit of money with you incase you need to stop to restock. A timely Coke or Mars bar has saved many of my rides throughout my career. Conversely, if you are going on a short ride you do not need to bring the entire cupboard full of food.

On television professional cyclists pedal much faster then most cyclists, why?
One of the mistakes beginner cyclist often makes is to ride along in the too big of a gear thinking more effort means more speed. Speed comes from efficiency so being able to manage a gear is more important than being able to muscle it. Riding a big gear at lower rpm’s also limits the ability to quickly accelerate; a skill that is required in racing to respond to attacks. Pro riders “spin” the biggest gear they can comfortably manage but which also allows them to increase there cadence quickly should the pace change. This usually is a cadence between 90-100rpm.

What other sport activities will help to improve my cycling?
I am a firm believer that any sport can help your cycling since a strong body and mind obtained in other sports do not go to waste when you get on a bike. Sports that require a lot of cardiovascular fitness generally have the best transfer of fitness but strength (both physical and mental) goes along way on the bike as well. Core strength is often a weakness with cyclists and other sports naturally address this.

With the Canadian winter conspiring against cyclists, it is important to use the sports we have to gain an edge on fitness. Often, the break and change of pace afforded to us with other sports helps us in the long run by keeping us fresh and motivated.

What is a quick easy method of measuring my seat height?
Again, proper bike fit is essential when riding a bike so talk to someone who has experience in it. If the seat is too high or too low you will be uncomfortable and you the risk of injury. On top of that, efficiency is compromised.

If no one is available, a quick way to give you a starting point is to sit on the seat with the pedal at 6 o’clock. At this point, if you were to place your heal on the center of the pedal it would just barely touch. Remember, this is only a guideline so have someone set you properly and gradually adjust things until you find the proper height. It also assumes you are sitting in the middle of the seat and not dropping your hip to the side to reach the pedal. When clipped in, you foot should be level at the bottom of the pedal stroke with a slight bend in the knee.

What is the right way to wear a helmet?
On your head, centered and level with straps snug. The helmet should not be riding on the back of your head with straps hanging down “JR. Hockey style” nor should it be bouncing up and down on your sunglasses when you hit a bump. Never wear the helmet tipped back exposing the forehead. The strap should be positioned at the throat not the chin.

Why do cyclists not wear underwear under their shorts?
If you can’t sit on your bike you can’t ride it…Wearing underwear under the shorts goes against everything your mother told you when you were growing up but rebel and live free. Your bottom will thank you. Underwear will cause chaffing and cause pressure points when you sit on the bike seat that eventually will keep you off your bike. Bike shorts are designed to be snug and form fitting to prevent chaffing.

Why do cycling jerseys have pockets?
Jerseys have pockets so you know were to pin on the numbers. Ok, maybe this is an added benefit of the extra pockets on the back of a jersey. Having pockets on the back of the jersey provides easy access to food and items while riding. A rider can reach behind instead without stopping when they want to eat or put on an additional layer of clothing.

Why do cyclists ride so far away from the curb?
Riding close to the curb limits your options when you are faced with emergencies since the only way to react is into the lane of traffic. By riding out from the curb, you have two options when there is a pothole or another obstacle that appears in front of you. It also helps drivers see you and forces them to give you the space you require. It may go against what you may think, but if you ride next to a curb drivers thinks they can go by without any adjustment in their lane which effectively brings the car closer to you and provides you with less space.

Why do male cyclists shave their legs?
There are many reasons male cyclist shave there legs ranging from peer pressure to vanity. “The pros shave there legs so I should shave my legs” would be the answer that is likely true but rarely said. However, shaving the legs helps prevent infection in the event of a fall and also makes the legs easier to massage after a long ride. Some may say that there is aerodynamics gain but it is minimal and simply doing up your jersey has more of an aerodynamic impact. The simple fact is that legs feel and look faster if they do not have thick shag covering them which just could be the mindset that pushes you across the line first.