Rec.Bicycles Frequently Asked Questions Posting Part 1/5
Subject: 1 Introduction
Last modified: October 28, 2004
Answers to Rec.Bicycles' Frequently Asked Questions and Interesting Information
The following monthly posting contains the answers to frequently asked
questions posed to rec.bicycles.* and interesting information that cyclists
might find useful. Some of the answers are from postings to rec.bicycles.*,
and some are condensed from postings. Answers include the name and
email address of the author. If no author is listed, I'm the guilty party.
If you're the author and I've misspelled your name or have the wrong email
address, let me know and I'll fix it.
****NOTE****: I am not the moderator or "person in charge" of the
rec.bicycles.* newsgroups. I also have no way to help you with problems
reading the newsgroups unless you are at UCI; you'll need to talk to your
system or news admin for help.
If you have something you feel should be included in the FAQ, please write
it up and send it to me at the address below.
Note: I don't read each and every posting to rec.bicycles.*, so suggesting
that something be included in the FAQ may not be seen. If you want
something included, summarize the discussion and send me the summary.
This FAQ is posted to rec.bicycles.misc, news.answers, and rec.answers
around the 15th of the month. It is also available via anonymous ftp from:
Check the "Archives" section for information on how to obtain the FAQ via
Subject: 2 Index
(! means updated since last FAQ. + means new section.)
3.2 World Wide Web access
3.4 Posting Guidelines
3.5 Electronic Mailing lists
3.6 Posting Guidelines for rec.bicycles.marketplace
4.2 Touring supplies
4.3 Taking a bike on Amtrak
4.4 Travel with bicycles - Air/Rail/Other
4.5 Warm Showers List
4.6 Touring Europe Guide
4.7 More information on Amtrak and Bicycles
4.8 Getting Weather Information
5.1 Tour de France Jerseys
5.2 Major Tour Winners 1947-1996
5.3 Rating the Tour de France Climbs
5.4 How to follow the Tour de France
5.5 Tour de France Time Limits
5.6 Tour de France Points Jersey Competition
5.7 Bicycle Racing Movies
5.8 Guide to Spectating at the Tour de France
6.1 Bicycling in America
6.2 League of American Bicyclists
6.3 Rules for trail riding
6.4 Commuting - Is it possible for me to commute by bike?
6.5 Commuting - How do I choose a route?
6.6 Commuting - Do I really need to look that goofy?
6.7 Commuting - Do cyclists breathe more pollution than motorists?
7.1 Marketplace hints/guidelines
7.2 Bike Trailers
7.3 One Less Car T-Shirts
7.4 Panniers and Racks
7.5 Clothing materials
7.7 Women's Saddles
7.8 Women's Bikes
7.9 Bike Rentals
7.10 Bike Lockers
7.11 Bike computer features
7.12 Recumbent Bike Info
7.13 Buying a Bike
7.14 Kids Bike Clothes
7.15 Repair stands
7.16 Updated Bike Locker listing
7.17 Electric Bikes
7.18 Cycling loaded: bags, panniers, and trailers
8a Tech General
8a.1 Technical Support Numbers
8a.2 Using a Quick Release
8a.4 Workstands 2
8a.5 Working on a Bicycle Upside-down
8a.6 Where to buy tools
8a.7 Common Torque Values
8a.9 Sheldon Brown's web pages
8b Tech Tires
! 8b.1 Patching Tubes
8b.2 Mounting Tires
8b.3 Snakebite flats
! 8b.4 Blowouts and Sudden Flats
8b.5 Blown Tubes
8b.6 Tube Failure in Clinchers
8b.7 More Flats on Rear Tires
8b.8 Tube and Tire Casing Repair
8b.9 Presta Valve Nuts
8b.10 Rim Tape Summary
8b.11 Talcum Powder for Tubes and Tires
8b.12 ETRTO numbers for tire sizes
8b.13 Tires with smooth tread
! 8b.14 Rolling resistance of Tires
8b.15 Wiping Tires
8b.17 Clinchers vs. Tubulars
8b.18 Tubular Fables
8b.19 Tubular Tire Repair
8b.20 Gluing Sew-up Tires
8b.21 Another way to glue sewup tires
8b.22 Folding a Tubular Tire
8b.23 Coiling a Wire Bead Clincher
8b.24 Measuring the circumference of a wheel
8b.25 What holds the rim off the ground?
8b.26 Making a tubular tire
8b.27 Things to check after a flat
8b.28 Mounting Tubular Tires
8b.29 Presta vs Schrader valves
+ 8b.30 Valve stem separation flats
8c Tech Wheels
8c.1 Stress Relieving Spokes
8c.2 Anodized vs. Non-anodized Rims
8c.3 Reusing Spokes
! 8c.4 Ideal Tire Sizes
8c.5 Tied and Soldered Wheels
8c.6 Machined Rims
8c.7 Wheel Bearing adjustment
+ 8c.8 Wheels for Heavy Riders
8d Tech Chains
8d.1 Lubricating Chains
8d.2 Chain cleaning and lubrication; wear and skipping
8d.3 Adjusting Chain Length
8d.4 Hyperglide chains
8d.5 SACHS Power-links
+ 8d.6 Cleaning chains
8e Tech Frames
8e.1 Bike pulls to one side
8e.2 Frame Stiffness
8e.3 Frame repair
8e.4 Frame Fatigue
8e.5 Frames "going soft"
8e.6 Inspecting your bike for potential failures
8e.7 Frame materials
8e.8 Bottom Bracket Drop
8e.9 Bent Frames
8e.10 Aligning a Fork
8e.11 Stuck Handlebar Stem
8f Tech Moving Parts
8f.1 SIS Adjustment Procedure
8f.2 SIS Cable Info
8f.3 STI/Ergo Summary
8f.4 Cassette or Freewheel Hubs
8f.5 Cassette or Freewheel Hubs take 2
8f.6 "Sealed" Bearings
8f.7 Ball Bearing Grades
8f.8 Bottom Bracket Bearing Adjustment
8f.9 Crank noises
! 8f.10 Cracking/Breaking Cranks
8f.11 Installing Cranks
8f.12 Biopace chainrings
! 8f.13 Indexed Steering
8f.14 Roller Head Bearings
8f.15 Brakes from Skid Pads to V-brakes
8f.16 Brake Squeal
8f.17 Electronic Shifting
8f.18 Bearing Seals
8f.19 Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed Hubs
+ 8f.20 Loosening Splined Shimano Cranks
8g Tech Accessories
8g.1 Milk Jug Mud Flaps
8g.2 Storing NiCad Batteries
8h Tech Ergonomics
8h.1 Seat adjustments
8h.2 Cleat adjustments
8h.3 Adjusting SPD Cleats
8h.4 SPD cleat compatability
! 8h.5 Shimmy or Speed Wobble
8h.6 Soft Bicycle Saddles
8h.7 Black vs White Helmet - Thermal Test
8h.8 Ankling, a pedaling style
8i Tech Misc
8i.1 Weight = Speed?
8i.2 Traffic detector loops
8i.3 The Continuously Variable Transmission
8i.4 Alenax Bicycle
! 8i.5 Stuck Pedal Removal
8i.6 Removing Pedals
8i.7 Bikecurrent FAQ
8i.8 Fretting damage in Bicycle Mechanics
+ 8i.9 Left hand threads
9.1 Books and Magazines
9.2 Mail Order Addresses
9.3 Road Gradient Units
9.4 Helmet FAQ now on-line
9.6 Avoiding Dogs
9.7 Shaving Your Legs
9.8 Contact Lenses and Cycling
9.9 How to deal with your clothes
9.10 Pete's Winter Cycling Tips
9.11 Nancy's Cold/Wet Cycling Tips
9.12 (Moved to 8b.16)
9.13 Cycling Myths
9.14 Descending I
9.15 Descending II
9.17 Front Brake Usage
9.18 Slope Wind, the Invisible Enemy
9.19 Reflective Tape
9.21 Nuclear Free Energy Bar Recipe
9.22 Powerbars Recipe
9.23 Calories burned by cycling
9.24 Road Rash Cures
9.25 Knee problems
9.26 Cycling Psychology
9.28 Another Powerbar recipe
9.29 Lower back pain
9.30 Saddle sores
9.31 Group Riding Tips
9.32 Riding in echelon
9.33 Mirrors II
! 9.34 Thorns aka Puncture Vine
! 9.35 Gyroscopic Forces
9.36 Going over the bars
9.37 Yet another powerbar recipe
9.38 Custom Jerseys
9.39 Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Patelar Tendonitis
9.40 Staying up in a crash
9.41 Applying Merlin Decals
+ 9.42 Flats from Beer and Cigarettes
+ 9.43 Riding on Ice
10.1 Suspension Stems
10.2 MTB FAQ no longer available
10.3 Installing new rear derailleur spring
! 10.4 A Brief History of the Mountain Bike
10.5 The Mike Vandeman FAQ
10.6 Ode to a Usenet Kook
Subject: 3 Administrivia
Subject: 3.1 Abbreviations
Some common abbreviations used here and in rec.bicycles.*:
FAQ Frequenly Asked Question. What you are reading now is a file
containing answers to some FAQs.
IMHO In my humble opinion.
TIOOYK There Is Only One You Know. Refers to the Tour de France.
See the glossary in the ftp archives for more bicycle-related terms, or
check out Sheldon Brown's Glossary at
Subject: 3.2 Gopher and World Wide Web access
I've made the rec.bicycles ftp archives available via the Web using
the URLs below:
Again, please ask your local gurus for information on how to use Web
The FAQ used to be available via gopher but since I upgraded my system
the software is no longer available. Please use the web or ftp site instead.
Subject: 3.3 Archives
I've made available via anonymous ftp a copy of the current FAQ and a
few other items on draco.acs.uci.edu (220.127.116.11). This is the
workstation on my desk, so I'd appreciate it if people would restrict
their use to 7pm-7am Pacific time. The files are in pub/rec.bicycles.
For those without Internet access, you can use an ftpmail server to get
copies of items in the archives. I really don't have time to email copies
of files to people who can't get at them easily. These servers come and go
all the time but a daily status report can be found:
On the Web at http://www.netservs.com/mrcool/stats.htm
By FTP at ftp://ftp.cix.co.uk/pub/net-services/stats.txt
Mail to and say
"send file stats.txt" (no quotes)
README for Rec.Bicycles Anonymous FTP area
arnie.light Arnie Berger's ) "Ultimate bike light"
Lawrence Hare's ) copy of a
Hypercard stack to calculate gearing. Lawrence says
there is a newer version on major bbs systems.
bike.lockers David H. Wolfskill's ) summary of
bike locker vendors.
bike.painting Sam Henry's ) collection of articles on
how to paint a bike.
bike_power.* Ken Roberts program to calculate power output and power
consumption. See bike_power.doc for more info. Updates
now include wind speed, altitude, and size of rider.
updated by Mark Grennan ) is available
biking_log.* Phil Etheridge's ) hypercard stack
riding diary. It keeps track of dates, distance, time,
average speed, etc., and keeps running weekly, monthly,
and yearly totals. See biking_log.read_me for more
CA-veh-code A directory containing the California vehicle code sections
that pertain to bicycles and gopher bookmarks. See the
README in that directory for more information.
camera.tour Vivian Aldridge's ) collection of articles
on cameras to take on a bike tour.
Roger Marquis' ) article from the
Feb 91 Velo News on nutrition and cycling.
Sheldon Brown's ) universal bike
computer calibration chart and installation suggestions.
cyclesense Larry Watanabe's ) copy of
the "Cycle Sense for Motorists" ready to run thru LaTeX.
faq.* The current Frequently Asked Questions posting
first.century Pamela Blalock's ) tips on training
for your first century ride.
frame.build Terry Zmrhal's ) writeup of
a frame building class he took.
gear.c Larry Watanabe's ) program to
print gear inch tables.
glossary Alan Bloom's ) glossary of bicycle terms.
lab.info Erin O'Brien's ) article on the
League of American Bicyclists.
lights Tom Reingold's ) collection of
articles on bike lights.
lights2 More articles from rec.bicycles.* on lights.
mtb.faq Vince Cheng's ) MTB FAQ.
pam.bmb* Pamela Blalock's ) report on her
pam.pactour* Pamela Blalock's ) writeup of her PAC tours
across the country.
pbp.info Pamela Blalock's ) information
on her Paris-Brest-Paris ride.
pictures Bicycling gif pictures.
prof.sched Roland Stahl's ) list of
scheduled professional races in many countries.
pwm.regulator Willie Hunt's ) design notes
on a pulse width modulated voltage regulator. Originally
designed for caving, this design is adaptable to bike
lighting. The author has parts available in kit form.
ride.index Chris Hull's/Bill Bushnell's )
explanation of a way to "index" rides and compare the
difficulty of different rides.
ridelg22.* Found on AOL by Gary Thurman ), a
ride diary program. The .exe file a self-extracting archive
spike.bike Bob Fishell's ) Spike Bike series.
They are numbered in the order that Bob posted them to
rec.bicycles. All the Spike Bike stories are
"Copyright 1989 by Robert Fishell, all rights reserved."
spokelen11.bas Roger Marquis' ) spoke length
calculator, written in Microsoft Quickbasic.
spokelen.c Andy Tucker's ) port of
Roger Marquis' spokelen11.bas to C.
spokelen.hqx Eric Topp's 's Hypercard stack that
computes spoke lengths.
studded.tires (Name removed by request) compilation
of messages on studded tires, including how to make your
tandem.boxes Arnie Berger's ) notes on how
he built a box to transport his tandem to Europe and
back. It's taken from a longer travelogue on his trip - if
you want more information, contact him at the above
tech.supp.phone Joshua Putnam's ) list of technical
support numbers for various manufacturers. This list
used to be in the FAQ but now is too long to include there.
trailers A summary posting of messages about bike trailers. Good
stuff if you're thinking of buying a trailer.
wheelbuild.txt Sheldon Brown's ) instructions on
how to build a wheel.
wheels.*.hqx R. Scott Truesdell's ) Hypercard
stack to calculate spoke lengths. See wheels.readme
for more info.
wintertips Pete Hickey's ) notes about
how to cycle in the winter.
wintertips.pam Pamela Blalock's ) winter cycling tips.
More files are available from http://spiderman.novit.no/dahls/Cycling and
Subject: 3.4 Posting Guidelines
The rec.bicycles subgroups are described below - please try to post your
article to the appropriate group. The newsgroups were designed to minimize
cross posting, so please take the time to think about the most appropriate
newsgroup and post your article there. Most postings to rec.bicycles.* should
not be cross-posted to groups outside of rec.* (alt.* is ok).
For archives of rec.bicycles.*, you might want to check out
rec.bicycles.marketplace: Bicycles, components, ancillary equipment and
services wanted or for sale, reviews of such things, places to buy
them, and evaluations of these sources. Not for discussion of general
engineering, maintenance, or repair -- see rec.bicycles.tech.
rec.bicycles.tech: Techniques of engineering, construction, maintenance
and repair of bicycles and ancillary equipment. Not for products or
services offered or wanted -- see rec.bicycles.marketplace.
rec.bicycles.rides: Discussions of tours and training or commuting routes.
Not for disussion of general riding techniques -- see rec.bicycles.misc.
Not for products or services offered or wanted -- see
rec.bicycles.soc: Social issues, cycling transportation advocacy, laws,
conduct of riders and drivers; road hazards such as potholes, dogs, and
sociopaths. Not for products or services offered or wanted --
rec.bicycles.racing: Race results, racing techniques, rules, and
organizations. Not racing equipment -- see rec.bicycles.marketplace
rec.bicycles.misc: General riding techniques, rider physiology,
injuries and treatment, diets, and other cycling topics.
Not for products or services offered or wanted -- see
rec.bicycles.off-road: This group is moderated. Discussion of riding
on unimproved roads, gravel, dirt, grass, sand, single track or 4x4 roads.
Also discussion of environmental issues related to mountain biking, trail
issues, backcountry travel, how to handle conditions (technically and
evo-sensitively), off-road magazines and other media. See
http://rbor.org/ for more info and moderator information.
alt.rec.bicycles.recumbent: Discussion of recumbent bikes.
alt.mountain-bike: Discussion of mountain bikes and mountain biking.
Subject: 3.5 Electronic Mailing lists
A mailing list for tandem bicycle enthusiasts.
Suitable topics include questions and answers related to tandem
componentry, riding technique, brands and equipment selection,
prices, clubs, rides and other activities, cooperating on a section
on tandems for the rec.bicycles.* FAQ, etc. For more information
send mail to " with the body of the
message having the line "info tandem", or point your WWW client at
BOB is the Bridgestone Owner's Bunch, and this is the internet
edition of it. This is a mailing list, not a newsletter, and has no
connection with the real Bridgestone-sponsored BOB except in name and
in spirit. Get more information by sending mail to
HPV list The HPV list is for the discussion of issues related to the
design, construction, and operation of human powered vehicles
and closely related kin. (Hybrid human/electric, for example.)
For further information, send a mail message containing the
following single line in the message, to :
The BICYCLE list was formed to provide a forum for cyclists to
discuss all topics related to bicycles, mtn. biking, and cycling in
general. This is NOT the place to discuss issues related to
To subscribe to BICYCLE send the following command to
in the BODY of e-mail:
SUBSCRIBE BICYCLE real name
For example: SUBSCRIBE BICYCLE John Doe
Owner: Chris Tanski
A new regional internet discussion group has been started to discuss bicycle
advocacy issues in the midwest area. BikeMidwest was started to connect
cyclists in L.A.W. Regions 6, 7, 8 and 9. That is, the states of Ohio,
Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Iowa and Missouri. Of course, people from outside this area are welcome
Subscriptions to the list are handled by a computer program called
Majordomo. To subscribe, send a message with the following command in the
body of the message to :
BicycleBBS offers free access to cyclists. The # is 619-720-1830.
The BBS is run by Neil Goren, .
BicycleBBS also has a mailing list. Anyone can join by sending e-mail to:
and put "JOIN" in the text body anywhere.
VeloNet has a list of some 200 cycling-related mailing lists,
all run under standard majordomo protocols, with both live and
digest formats. Subscribe/unsubscribe requests should go to
Here are the "international/general" lists:
* bikecurrent - Discussions regarding Bicycle Electronics
* bikeham - Cycling and Amateur Radio Operation
* bikemedic - Cycling and Emergency Medical Services
* bikepeople - General/International list for Bicycle Advocacy
* bike-station - Bike commuter centers at transit stations
* bikes-n-transit - Taking your bicycle on public transit
* bmx - General BMX Discussion List
* coaching - Coaching discussions for racers
* commute-logistics - Discussions regarding bicycle commuting logistics
* facilities-n-planning - Transportation infrastructure affecting cycling
* iccc - International Christian Cycling Club
* icebike - Winter cycling
* ifcmc - International Federation of Cycle Messengers and Companies
* imba - International Mountain Bicycling Association
* marketplace - Discussions regarding buying a bicycle or components
* messengers - Bicycle Messengers and Couriers
* mtb - General Discussions about Mountain Biking
* mtb-trials - Mountain Bike Trials Riding
* moulton - The Moulton Bicycle Club Mailing list
* patrol - Discussions regarding Mountain Bike Patrols
* power-assist - Power-assisted HPVs
* promoters - Race promotion
* race-results - International, Cat A & USPRO Race Results
* randon - Randoneering (touring and non-competitive ultradistance)
* safety-n-education - Discussions of Bicycle Safety and Education
* team-internet - International Team Internet Racing Team
* touring - Bicycle Touring
* ultra - Dicussions regarding ultra marathon cycling events
* velonet-admin - Discussions regarding the operation of VeloNet
Trento Bike Pages
Subject: 3.6 Posting Guidelines for rec.bicycles.marketplace
From: "E. Paul Stanley"
Date: Sun, 09 Mar 1997 19:14:59 -0500
All subject lines in rec.bicycles.marketplace should stick to the
Where CODE = FS (for sale), WTB (wanted to buy), WTT (wanted to
Size would, of course, be omitted for some items.
Commercial vendors could use the following:
Where spam would be the crap enticement to go to the web site, email,
There is no space between the Code, the colon, and the size of the item
to conserve space and make sure the complete subject comes out.
Following this nomenclature would permit newsreaders to see similar
items grouped together and would highlight spam which would not follow
The argument that "I have a buch of stuff to sell/buy so it would
require bunches of posts" is without merit. First, "Regular" people
don't have bunches of stuff so it would be a "COM:" post. Second, if a
regular person does have a buch of stuff, simply post the same message
with the proper subject lines for each item. Several posts, but only
one copy and paste from your word processor.
Subject: 4 Rides
Subject: 4.1 Maps
From: Jim Carson
Updated-From: Joel Spolsky
Adventure Cycling Association maps are not free, but you can get them
without joining. To order stuff with Mastercard or Visa, you can call
+1 (406) 721-1776 (24 hr). Maps are currently (Feb 1995) $8.95 each to
"non-members," $5.95 each to "members." There are also small discounts for
sets of maps and members in the continental US don't have to pay for
surface shipping and handling.
Scale of the maps is generally 1" = 4mi/6.4km. Certain areas are more
detailed when necessary. I like the maps because they have lots of
interesting features labeled (campgrounds, grocery stores, major
changes in elevation, historical info about the region,...), they're
printed on a water-resistant paper, and they fit nicely into a handlebar
bag map case.
As of Feb '95, there are three transcontinental (W-E) routes an east coast
(N-S) route, a west coast route (N-S), and a middle route and numerous
routes among the various parks in the western U.S. and Canada.
Membership is $25 individual; $35 family; $19 for students/seniors.
Lifetime is $475; $650 for couples.
Members get copies of Adventure Cycling Association's magazine, Adventure
Cyclist, published 9 times annually, a list of tours run by Adventure
Cycling Association, and the annual _The Cyclists' Yellow Pages_. _The
Cyclists' Yellow Pages_ provides *LOTS* of interesting information on
touring and points of contact for more information about cycling and
touring all over the world. (For example, they have an arrangement with
The Netherlands Service Center for Tourism whereby you can purchase
full-color, 21" x 38", 1:100k scale, Dutch-language maps.)
Adventure Cycling Association's address and phone:
Adventure Cycling Association
(406) 721-1776, fax (406) 721-8754
PO Box 8308
Missoula, MT 59807-8308
Subject: 4.2 Touring supplies
From: Scott "gaspo" Gasparian
Recently, I asked the group: what do you bring with you on medium
trips? (medium being more than one nite, and less than a week). I
received some excellent replies, a few great stories, and lots of things
that I never would have thought of. (at least not until I needed that
spare spoke that is).
Ok, for all of you who don't know what to bring with you on that
next medium trip...
Here, just whatever you normally consume. If you plan on
staying in a hotel/B&B, then obviously 1 day's worth is enough.
Standard things like power-bars and drink mixes should do the trick.
Since I'm not going to BFE, I have no idea what to pack for a real
"camp-out" type tour. This subject is enough for a discussion in
itself, but I just eat what I want.
Almost everybody suggested something different, rangin from hi-
tech bodysuits to cutoffs and T-shirts. However, everybody agreed on the
indispensibleness (tm) of rain gear. Specifically, light waterproof
pants and jacket are not only good for staying dry, but have a very high
A spare change of skivies, and a pair of dry socks were also
highly recomended. A pair of jeans or a "smushable outfit" can come in
handy, but I usually smell so bad after a day of riding that anybody who is
talking to me doesn't care what I wear. If it might be non-warm, a
watch-cap or other non-helmet type hat can help.
Outside of the standard band-aids/antiseptic-goop bit, sunscreen
and bug-away topped the lists. Asprin or Ibuprofen and rolaids were
mentioned, but I guess thats a personal thing, just like...
I stick with: soap, toothbrush/paste, deodorant. That covers
all I need, but everybody has different needs, and I'm not even gonna
touch the "personal hygeine" stuff. A razor is handy too, it can help
keep that road-rash dressing from ripping all your remaining hair out.
I'll put the tent/pit stuff into this category. Robyn Stewart
gave an excellent testamony to the uses of rope and tarps. A piece of
rope stretched between two trees can keep the food above the
critter-level, and can also provide a rudimentary tent with the aid of
an old shower-curtain. Again, there is a whole area of discussion here
on the pits and mattresses, but if it keeps you warm and dry, it works.
Basically, this could be split into two different classes, with
things like tire-kit being in the "fix it yourself" category, and other
stuff like a chain remover tool is in the "how far will I be from
civilization" range. This was what I really wanted to know about when I
posted my request, so a little more info than the first groups.
Most of this depends upon how much work _YOU_ do to your velo. If
replacing spokes is trivial to you, then you already know what tools to
bring. Also, wrenches and screwdrivers are very velo dependent: handy
sizes for a MTB might be useless for a nice racer, and vice-versa. Tools
that tune more than repair are also an individual call. I always carry
a hex-wrench that fits my brake-shoe adjustment bolt, but never the larger
one that actually removes the entire caliper.
wrenches (sizes and type for your velo)
hex(allen)-wrenches (sizes and type for your velo)
tire levers (plastic)
Again, these fall into "distance from civilization" categories.
For example, that nut that connects your front mudguard to the forks
is essential, but could be fixed with the safety wire until you find a
velo-shop/store that might have a replacement. Then again, one little
nut is easy on space/weight, and it may be hard to get a replacement if
your velos measurements are non-standard. If you have a hard-time
finding a replacement for that random part at your local store, bring
one with you.
spokes (labeled if different, tied to the frame)
nuts and bolts for rack/fenders/etc.
tire (if you're _really_ out there)
cable (especially if yours are longer than normal).
cable housing (for the shimano special shifter ones)
Here are some of the better inside tips that I found both
humorous and usefull....
A sock (to keep tools inside and for keeping grease off my hands
during rear wheel flats)
The most important article to take along on a long ride
seems to be faith.
15cm of old tyre
Enough money to get Greyhound home if something goes terribly wrong.
bungie cords - you never know when you might want to get that
set of six beer mugs as a souvenir and transport it on the
back of your bike.
(Catherine Anne Foulston)
ZAP Sport Towel. I think it is really useful because you can
get it wet and it still dries you.
Subject: 4.3 Taking a bike on Amtrak
From: Carlos Martin
The following article relates my own experience in taking a bike
as luggage on the Amtrak in the summer of 1992. It is intended to
offer advice to those who might choose to do the same, and is not
intended to reflect the views or policies of Amtrak. For reference,
I traveled from Trenton to Pittsburgh at the start of a tour.
Traveling with a bike on Amtrak can be problem-free if you take a few
precautions. Amtrak handles bikes at stations that check in baggage.
(Smaller stations and some trains don't check baggage at all.)
There is a $5 baggage fee for bikes, and it includes a box. Call
the station several days before your trip and notify them that you
will need a bicycle box.
The box they provided was big enough to accomodate my relatively
long-framed touring bike (Specialized Expedition) without taking off
either wheel, and with room to spare lengthwise. You will, however,
have to remove the pedals (even clipless ones) and turn the handlebars
to fit the bike in the box. Plan on putting only the bike in the box -
no helmet or panniers. (You may want to check with Amtrak on this point -
they may not cover damages to the bike if you packed other stuff
in the box.)
Before leaving home for the station, loosen your pedals and stem
enough to make sure you won't need heavy-duty tools at the station.
Plan to arrive at the station one and a half hours before departure
time - Amtrak wants all checked baggage at least a half hour before
departure (they may tell you one hour). Don't forget to keep your
At the station, go to the baggage room, get your box and some tape
from the attendant, remove the pedals, and loosen the stem bolt and
the bolt that holds the handlebars in the stem. Hold the front
wheel between your feet as you turn the handlebars parallel to the
top tube. Roll the bike into the box and seal the ends.
If everything goes smoothly, you can do the above packing in
ten minutes. Now go have lunch before you get on the train
unless you want to take your chances with train food.
BTW, the trains are very roomy and comfortable, particularly if
you are accustomed to traveling in airline cattle coaches.
I would travel by Amtrak again in a similar situation.
(The usual disclaimer applies: I have no connection to Amtrak,
other than being a taxpaying subsidizer and occasional user
of the rail system.)
Subject: 4.4 Travel with bicycles - Air/Rail/Other
From: George Farnsworth
I checked the FAQ for information about taking bikes on common carriers
and riding in and out of airports some time ago.
At that time there was little information so I initiated a mini survey on
these subject on rec.bicycles.rides, etc.
Now I have collected information on cycling in and out of about 100
airports around the world and using trains in the US and Europe.
This information is at http://www.GFonline.ORG/BikeAccess. Although the web
may have eclipsed the FAQ for certain purposes, it might still be possible
to provide a pointer to this data, almost all of which was contributed by
readers of r.b.r (who's email addresses appear in the listings).
Subject: 4.5 Warm Showers List
From: Warm Showers List
Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2000 05:32:05 EST
The Warm Showers List is a list of Internet and off-Internet
persons who have offered their hospitality towards touring
cyclists. The extent of the hospitality depends on the host
and may range from simply a spot to pitch a tent to meals, a
warm (hot!) shower, and a bed.
This list works on the reciprocity formula. What this BIG word
means is simply this: if you want to use the list you have to
submit your name on it. If you don't have room but could still
help a cyclist, please add your name to the list.
The Warm Showers List is free.
If you wish to be included on the Internet Warm Showers List,
please fill the application form (if it is not included below
or in the separate file please ask for it) and return it through
one of these two manners:
by E-mail, to: (Roger Gravel)
by S-mail, to: Warm Showers List
You can also apply through the bicycles related Internet page:
[ http://www.rogergravel.com/wsl/ ].
The whole of the FREE Warm Showers List can be obtained via
E-mail and S-mail but not at any Web site. A list of some
of the coordinates (i.e. Name of host, Email addresses,
City/Country/State) of some of the hosts are available to
everyone on Internet via this Web page:
[ http://www.rogergravel.com/wsl/vh_wwwsws.html ].
Keep in mind that if you want a hard copy of the list you will
have to pay for the postage stamps. Please contact me and we can
talk about the best way to implement this.
On behalf of the touring cyclists I thank you for your generosity.
Wisdom should be cherished as a means of traveling from youth
to old age, for it is more lasting than any other possession.
- Bias of Priene, circa 570 B.C., one
of the Seven Sages of ancient Greece.
It is as easy as 1 2 3 and it is FREE
Because machines tend to break and people make mistakes, if I have
not answered your request in a few days, please send me a message,
I will try to correct the glitch as soon as possible.
98.08.01 PARTICIPATION FORM
Best read with Screen Format at Courier New 9
2000.01.05 PARTICIPATION FORM
Organization: (name of organization)
EMAIL address (For pre-trip communication)
Name: (Who are you?)
Home phone: and/or Work phone:
(non mandatory but the work phone can be helpful)
LOC: (Non-Email Contact)
Address (line two)
Address (line three)
Nearest largest city (50,000 people):
(It's much easier to find a large city on a map than a small one,
and some small ones aren't even on some maps!)
Direction and Distance from above city:
(Some cities are very large and getting through or around a city
can be very difficult.)
SLEEP: Lawn (for tent or sleeping bag)?
SLEEP: Floor (for sleeping bag)?
SLEEP: Bed (Wow!)? (Cyclists' gotta sleep.)
Food? (or distance to nearest grocery store or restaurant - if known)
(Cyclists' gotta eat.)
Shower? (or distance to nearest motel - if known)
(It can be a real boost to know shower is waiting at the end of the
Local advice/help? (If you don't have room but could still help a cyclist)
(You can provide as much, or as little, as you want.)
Availability: (If only available some months, please indicate this,
Cost to Cyclist: (Do you wish any money for your hospitality? if any: How
much?) (please, no more than $5-$10)
Preferred Notice: (Do you require advance notice? If so, how many days
Maximum Number of Cyclists: (You don't want a major tour coming through :-)
Storage: (Is there a safe place to store bikes? If so, storage for how many
Motel: (Distance, Cost - if known)
(In case a host is not home, for an emergency, etc.)
Local Bike Shop: (Name, Phone, Distance, Reputation - if known)
(In case bike repairs are needed - good to know where good
Any additional comments you would like each interested person to know before
p.s. To allow the manager of the list to put your coordinates on the Web
page please make sure to include the following sentence :
ROGER, PLEASE PUT MY NAME, MY EMAIL ADDRESS AND THE
NAME OF MY TOWN ON THE WEB PAGE FOR EVERYONE TO SEE
in the body of your message.
Roger 'velo-hospitalite' Gravel
Subject: 4.6 Touring Europe Guide
From: (Bruce Hildenbrand)
Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 22:30:56 -0700
GUIDE to BICYCLE TOURING in EUROPE
This guide has been written in an effort to help prospective cyclists get the
maximum out of their European cycling experience. It based on knowledge gleane
from my many European tours and those of others, most notably, Chris Wiscavage
who never gave me an incorrect piece of advice.
WHY GO TO EUROPE?
It is important to set some sort of goal for your trip. This can be as simple
as "I just want to have fun!" or, "I gotta get up the north side of the
Stelvio" . For instance, in 1988 my goal was to see as much of the European
Alps as possible, particularly those passes that have played roles in major
European professional cycling races (Tour de France thing, Giro de Italia,
Tour de Suisse) as could be had in about three weeks US to US.
One thing that will be noticeably different to the American cyclist is the
respect that European drivers have for cyclists. Cyclists get much more
respect in Europe then they do in America.
SELF SUPPORTED or with a TOUR GROUP?
There are two basic ways you can tour Europe. The first is to sign up with an
organized tour group. The tour package usually includes lodging, meals, guide
service and transport of gear to and from each day's destination. The other
basic option is to self plan a tour where you, or your small group of friends,
are responsible for lodging, meals, route selection and hauling your gear from
place to place.
The big advantage of guided touring is that you can benefit from the experience
of your touring company and its guides. These people usually have a familiarit
with the area you will be visiting and they can make arrangements for decent
lodging, meals and cycling routes. If you are new to traveling in Europe and/o
you cannot speak the language of the countries which you will be visiting, then
a guided tour may help ease the tension of being a stranger in a strange land.
One disadvantage to guided touring is that you are part of a heterogeneous grou
of people who may differ widely in cycling ability. Also, there is no guarante
that everybody will get along and become friends. Some may see the chance to
meet new people as a positive side to guided touring.
Another disadvantage to guided touring is that in most cases, hotel reservation
have been made in advance which means two things. First, your daily route is
not particularly flexible since when you leave town A, you must be in town B
that evening. Secondly, if the weather is bad, you usually do not have the
flexibility to layover and let the weather clear. You either have to ride in
bad weather, which is a real drag in the high mountains, or take the support
vehicle or other forms of transportation to the night's destination.
Self-guided touring has the advantages that you can choose your companions,
you can choose the dates you want to travel and if you haven't made hotel
reservations in advance, you can vary your itinerary to meet your prevailing
attitudes and weather conditions.
The downside to self-guided touring is that you are basically on your own.
You make all the decisions. If you are somewhat familiar with the area or
have down some research, you are more likely to make good choices of cycling
routes and places to stay. However, every once and a while you may pick
an unfriendly town or a horribly busy road, both of which looked good on a map
or came recommended in a book. Also, if you experience any equipment failure
you will be responsible for either making the repairs or finding someone who
can do them. Most guided tours bring a mechanic and enough parts to be able
to handle most equipment problems.
This may seem counterintuitive, but I think the more ambitious the tour, the
better off you are doing it in a self-guided fashion. If you are going to be
riding lots of miles with lots of climbing you want to know who you are going
with and also have the flexibility to be able to modify your route if something
Because I prefer self-guided touring, this guide is written with that type of
touring in mind. However, I feel it contains enough valuable information for
those taking a guided tour to make it worthwhile reading for all potential
When planning which flight to take, there are a few guidelines that may be
helpful. I think the key here is that you want to go through customs and
change planes as close to your final destination as possible. If you miss
a connection because of flight delays or custom delays, you have a better
chance of catching a flight out the same day. Reasonable places to clear
customs are Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Washington DC and Newark.
New York's JFK is hit-or-miss. I have had both very good luck and very bad
luck at JFK.
Also, allow 2-3 hours for making your international connections. Most
airports have separate terminals for international and continental flights.
There may be some distance to be covered to make plane changes which may
result in either you or your baggage not making the flight if you cut the
connection time too closely.
I have had both good luck and bad luck with just about every major airline, so
think all carriers are basically OK. One thing to note is that Delta Airlines
and United Airlines are smoke-free on every international flight. Also,
Alitalia offers good fares to Italy but be forewarned that the workers for this
airline like to go on strike at very short notice.
Most airlines have beefed up their security on International flights, they now
verify that all passengers who checked luggage are on the flight. This means
that every time you change planes you have security checks and potential delays
Suffice it to say, the fewer plane changes the better.
Air fares differ between high and low seasons, arrival and departure
locations, date of purchase(I am a terrible procrastinator), etc.. In 1986
I flew Denver- Frankfurt-Denver during low season for $620. In 1988 I
flew Denver-Geneva- Denver during high season for $1050. In 1990 I flew
San Francisco-Barcelona then Geneva- San Francisco on the return during
high season for $1200. High season runs from about June 1 to September 30.
An interesting note, one year I was flying to a town near Pisa, Italy. The
far e from San Francisco to Rome was $1000. If I added the Rome to Pisa
connection the fair only increased to $1007. The extra $7 charge was well
worth getting closer to my final destination as the alternative was to take
a 4 hour train ride. So, check when booking fares to see if you can get
closer to your final destination for just a little extra money.
Chris Wiscavage advised against flying by charter. He said that charters are
notorious for being overcrowded and if they run out of baggage space on the
plane, then the bikes are one of the first items to be left behind. On one of
his trips flying charter, he had to wait 5 days for his bike to arrive.
Obviously, the conditions vary between charter companies, if you have one that
you trust and the price is right, go for it!
On most international flights, if you check your bike as one of your 2 pieces
of luggage you will save the $50 (or whatever) charge(each way). Current
international baggage requirements (as of 6/94) a 1st bag - may not exceed
62 linear inches and 70lbs.; 2nd bag - may not exceed 55 linear inches and
70lbs. I have checked two bikes as my two pieces of luggage and not been
charged for an overage.
Flight delays seem more and more common. I have found that if your flight is
delayed going to Europe, unless there is some catostrophic problem that
cannot be fixed, it is best to stay with your original flight and wait out the
delay. If you try routing yourself through another airline or reaching your
destination by hopping through many cities, you may have a much bigger problem,
especially with your luggage catching up to you. Be patient, sitting out
delays seems to be the best alternative. This is a good reason to avoid
booking hotels in advance. You can almost always get a room somewhere, but
trying to stick to a regimented schedule may cause for major stress.
TAKE a BIKE or RENT?
This is a commonly asked question. There are a number of pros and cons to both
renting a bike in Europe and bringing your own bike. Also, there are several
factors that can influence your decision. Note that on international flights,
your bike can be checked as one piece of luggage, so there really is no added
expense to bringing you own bike on the plane.
First off, if you are planning an ambitious trip with lots of miles and/or
lots of climbing, you will definitely feel better riding your own bike
rather than renting. Add to that the fact that, these days, most rental
bikes are are mountain bikes. This may be an advantage if you are planning
lots of climbing since the gearing tends to be lower, but a mountain bike
is not as nimble as a road bike and can be significantly heavier than a
road bike. Of course, if you r primary bike at home is a mountain bike,
these differences may be less noticeable than if your primary bike is a
Secondly, if you are combining your cycling vacation with large portions of
non-cycling segments at the beginning or end of the trip, it may be better
to not worry about lugging a bike halfway across Europe, especially if you
are going to use trains as your primary mode of travel (see "Taking Your
Bike on th e Train" in a later section). Another option in this case, is
to ship your bikes , by train, to the destination where you will need them
if your cycling comes at the end of the trip or to your departure
destination if your cycling comes at the beginning of the trip.
Personally, I prefer to bring my own bike. I know the condition of all the
components and since everything should be in good working order, I can be
assured that barring any catastrophe, my bike will not let me down. Also, it
just feels a lot better and hence more enjoyable to be astride my trusty steed.
PACKING A BIKE
There are many ways and specialized containers to help facilitate packing a
bike. I have flown frequently with my bike for the last 10 years and have
never had any damage when my biked was packed correctly.
Get a cardboard bike box from your local friendly bike shop. Mountain bike
boxes are best because they are a bit wider and easier to pack, but as mountain
bike frames get smaller, road bike sized mountain bike boxes are getting harder
and harder to find.
Here is how I do it:
1) Use 3/4" foam pipe insulation to protect the 3 main tubes (top, down and
seat) and tape in place. Make sure to get the insulation with an inside
diameter that most closely matches the diameter of your frame tubes.
2) Take the seat, pedals, and front wheel off the bike.
3) Use a bit of string to attach the LEFT(non-chainwheel) crankarm to the LEFT
4) Remove the rear derailleur from its hanger and just let it hang.
5) Remove the handlebars and stem from the frame(this may necessitate removing
the cyclocomputer mount, and the front brake cable from the brake - a good
reason for soldering the ends of your cables!) and hang on the top tube.
6) Place a spacer in the front fork (see below).
7) wrap downtube shifters and brake levers with thin foam to minimize
8) Put the seat, pedals and other small parts in a bag and place the bag in the
front of the bike box.
9) Slide the frame in such that the forks are just ahead of the bag.
10) Spread the box a bit and slide in the front wheel on the LEFT side(non
chainwheel) of the bike with the front axle about 8-12" in front of the
seat tube. The end of the handlebars should fit between the spokes of the
11) take the pump off the bike and securely tape it to one corner of the box.
12) use foam squares(I have about 20 1' X 1.5' X 2" pieces procured from
shipping crates at work) to pad the bike from any potential metal to metal
contact. Be sure to put padding on top of the bike, as you never know which
way the bike box will end up.
13) Close the box and tape with strapping tape. Check to make sure the bike
cannot move around inside the box, there should be sufficient padding to keep
any shifting from occurring.
You can make a very inexpensive, yet very effective spacer to prevent damage
to the front fork from an old front axle. Leave the cones and lock nuts in
place and use the quick release skewer taken off your front wheel to secure
the spacer in the fork.
Bring a small amount of grease (35mm film cannisters work great for this)
to aid in re-assembly and throw in some rags or paper towels for wiping
off the excess grease.
Also, note that if your bike has Campagnolo Ergo levers, it is much easier
to remove your stem and handlebars if you leave a little extra cable during
installation. Another alternative is to loosen the brake and shifter cables,
but this is a last resort as it requires that you re-adjust the shifter cable
tension when you re-assemble the bike, which is a bit of a hassle if you have
One nice thing about bike boxes is that you can pack a lot of your extra gear
(and presents) inside the box. I have traveled to Europe using just the bike
box as my only piece of luggage!
I also bring a roll of the 2" wide clear packing tape. This stuff can be used
to reinforce or repair any damage to the bike box that might have occurred in
One note of caution here. I would try and obtain a bike box that closely fits
the size of you bike(i.e. if you have a 58cm frame get a box for a 58cm frame
bike). You want to minimize movement in the box and the box should be packed
tight enough so that you can stand it on end or even possibly upside down. I
would not recommend getting a box that is too big and trying to cut it down to
size. I tried this one year and suffered minor damage to the bicycle because
when I cut down the top of the box, I could not get it to fold over very well
and lost some of the structural integrity of the sides of the box. A heavy ite
was placed on top of my box and the sides of the box could not support it.
Different bike manufacturers use different strengths of cardboard with their
boxes. And the same manufacturer can change the strengths of their boxes from
year to year. Suffice it to say, the stiffer the better.
I have had poor results using the soft sided bags (both padded and unpadded
versions) and I would not recommend them. I think the foam padding gives a
false sense of security to the consumer, but more distressingly to the baggage
personnel who may attempt to place heavy items on top of the bag.
Another method is to use minimal packing and minimal padding to force the
airlines to handle your bike with care. This method entails removing the
wheels, crankarms and rear derailleur. Turn the handlebars and lash the
wheels to the sides of the bike frame. Enclose the whole package in a
sturdy plastic bag. I have never used this method, it works for some
but necessitates some tools like a crank extractor and crank bolt wrench.
Hard plastic cases are becoming popular. However, I am not particularly
fond of them. Besides being expensive, their weight empty(i.e. no bike) is
between 25 and 30 lbs. Ouch! In comparison, an empty cardboard bike box
weighs only about 5 lbs. The extra 20-25 lbs. can be a real factor if you
have to carry your baggage any substantial distance.
In any event, if you would like to begin and end your trip from the same
airport, you can leave the bike box in "checked" or "left" luggage and pay
a small daily fee for storage. One nifty trick if you have multiple bike
boxes is to tape them together and check them as a single box. Hotels near
an airport may also allow you to store your bike box, usually for a small fee.
PRE-TOUR BIKE MAINTENANCE
In general, the availability of bike parts varies greatly from bike shop to
bike shop. The larger European cities contain well stocked shops, however the
smaller towns(as you find in the mountains) are not as well stocked and parts
may be hard to find. This goes for service as well. It is a good idea to come
prepared to be able to deal with about anything, or have a bike that is low
maintenance (sealed components).
Here is my pre-tour bike preparation:
1) new chain
2) new tires and tubes
3) 4 new cables(2 - brake, 2 - derailleur, esp. if STI)
4) repack or replace bottom bracket
5) repack or replace headset
6) repack hubs
7) clean derailleurs
8) check brake pads for wear
9) true wheels
10) oil/grease freewheel/freehub
11) wash bike thoroughly(check frame for any cracks!)
I would recommend soldering the ends of your brake and derailleur cables. This
keeps the cables from fraying and you can take them in and out of their fitting
and housing when packing and unpacking the bike or doing maintenance and you
don't have to worry about losing those silly little aluminum end caps!
This portion deals with the equipment that I take. Note that my lists reflect
that I am doing lightweight "credit card" touring where I sleep in hotels at
night and eat food at restaurants. Some of this equipment may also be
appropriate for fully loaded touring, but that is not discussed here.
Also, since the riding clothes that you will be wearing during the day will mos
likely get washed every night, an important consideration is that they be made
of a quick drying material.
When it comes to cycling footware, I think the best option seems to be one of
the walkable clip-in shoe systems such as the Shimano SPD. Having a shoe that
you can walk in has two big benefits. First off, if you have never toured, you
will be surprised at the amount of off-the-bike walking that is done during the
course of the day in order to buy food, take photographs and check out historic
sights. Secondly, having to carry a pair of walking shoes means extra bulk and
I would not recommend Look cleats for touring. I do a lot of walking which is
unavoidable. It has been my experience that even a little bit of wear on the
Look cleat can make it behave differently in the pedal. While Look cleat cover
are available to protect the cleat during walking, during a normal day on the
road you do so much on and off the bike activity that it seemed like too much
bother to take the covers on and off and on and off, etc.
There are many options to holding gear on the bike, I will describe two that I
The first method of carrying gear uses the Quix brand Max Contour Trunk rack an
bag in one. A small clamp slips onto the seatpost and the bag clicks into the
clamp. One restriction is that the seatpost must be round (i.e. non-aero) to
hold the clamp. Another restriction is that the bag must ride high enough to
clear the rear wheel by 2-3" as the bag may bounce a bit up and down. The Quix
bag is incredibly stable, it is easy to attach and detach and it does not
require a rack(just a small seat post clamp). It is a very nice system for
The Quix system is ideal for carrying about 550 cu. in. of gear, however severa
easy modifications to the bag should be made. First, I removed all the foam
insulation from the bag and replaced the two side pieces with .8mm ABS plastic
pieces cut to the same dimensions as the foam pieces they replaced(round off th
edges to prevent abnormal wear). Adding the side stays gives the bag some
integrity and allows it to stand up making it easier to pack. I purchased a
small tool bag shaped like a pack of cigarettes and added some velcro tabs whic
allowed it to be attached in front of the Quix bag, giving about an additional
50 cu. in. and bringing the total carrying capacity up to about 550 cu. in.
This is enough space for a multi-week tour, see my equipment list below for
One nice advantage of the Quix bag over the standard rear rack mounting systems
is that for rain protection you can slide a waterproof sack completely over the
For occasions where I needed to carry over 550 cu. in. of gear, I have used a
Blackburn SX-1 rack and rear trunk bag. I have a racing frame, so I had to use
the "eyelet mounts" which worked fine. I replaced the outer washer(black
neoprene) with a wider one, (get them at a plumbing supply store) and used a
piece of bicycle innertube as padding between the frame and the aluminum piece,
which worked well. I had to file off the protruding tongs on the bottom of the
rack so it would not contact my seatstays; I left enough of the tong so that a
bungee cord could still be hooked onto it.
The bag I use with the Blackburn rack is a Cannondale rear trunk bag. This is
one of the multitude of shoe box shaped bags that sits on top of the rack.
Unfortunately, most of these bags are foam lined(for 6-packs) and they do not
have the 800 cu in. minimum capacity that was necessary for my gear. I removed
the plastic liner and sewed nylon sleeves into the two sides(not front or back
side)of the bag. I made two 5"x12"rectangular pieces of 1/32" plexiglass (or
..8mm ABS plastic) that fit into the sleeves to hold the bag up and give it some
shape. I also sewed some lash points on top of the bag in case of overflow.
The Cannondale bag listed at 800 cu in., it had one big compartment, two side
pockets, a rear pocket(with reflector) and a top pocket. All my medical stuff
fit inside the rear pocket, eliminating the need for a toilet kit/stuff sack.
I put my long sleeve shirt, hat, gloves, leg warmers and jacket in the side
pockets so they were easily accessible. The camera, map(s) of the day, money,
road food go in the top pocket. I hit upon a great way to pack the tennis shoe
which takes up minimal space. Rather than crunch them together and lose the
dead air in between, pack them to each side and stuff clothes in between.
A friend has used a rack top bag made by Lone Peak of Salt Lake City. It was
a 1200 cu in. top loading bag and worked well.
I bought a plastic "rack top" that snaps onto the top of the Blackburn rack to
provide a flat surface for the pack and also, some rain protection. I made a
rain cover which fit over the entire bag, since panniers are notorious for
Another option for holding a rack top bag is the new rigid, aluminum racks whic
attach to the seatpost. Headlands is one popular brand. These racks weigh in
at about 1 lb. and offer an interesting alternative to a full rack. They
require an aforementioned rack top bag and a non-aero seatpost and may provide
a good alternative to the Quix system if more than 550 cu in. of gear is
My normal equipment list(7-8lbs. total weight) is the following (assume you
are starting with a completely naked cyclist). The current miracle fabrics
are Thermax, Coolmax and Capilene. Polypropylene is no longer recommended.
1 pr. cycling shorts(with quick drying synthetic chamois)
1 short sleeve cycling jerseys (quick drying synthetic)
2 pr cycling socks
1 pr cycling shoes(SPD type)
1 helmet and/or cotton cycling cap(washable)
1 pr leg warmers(Pearl Izumi are the best!)
1 medium weight Thermax long sleeve top(converts SS jersey to long sleeve)
1 waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex, etc.)
2 pr gloves 1-cycling, 1-warm(Patagonia Capilene)
1 pr sunglasses
1 pr lightweight pants(North Face North Shore)
1 polo shirt or t-shirt (Patagonia Capilene)
1 pr walking shorts(Patagonia Baggie Lites are light and not bulky)
1 pr undershorts(or Speedo swimsuit, doubles for jacuzzis and swimming)
1 handkerchief/bandana(for cleaning glasses and neck protection from the sun)
1 rain cover for pack(panniers are notorious for leaking)
2 spare tubes(new)
1 patch kit with 8 patches and new glue + several tire "boots"
1 tool kit(spoke wrench, tire irons, chain lube, screw driver, chain tool,
3-4-5-6mm allen wrenches, Swiss Army "Classic" knife)
2 water bottles(20 oz. or 27oz. depending on your preference)
Maps(see below for brand recommendations)
Toilet kit(aspirin, cortisone cream(saddle sores), neosporin, toothpaste,
toothbrush, shampoo, razor, soap, sunblock, comb, fingernail clippers)
Camera + film(see below for recommendations on type to purchase)
Small "hotel" type sewing kit for emergency repairs
1 extra derailleur cable (a must for those with STI)
1 extra brake cable
Notepad and pen
Credit cards(Visa or Mastercard, not Amex)
Driver's License (and extension if expired)
Health Insurance Card
Earplugs(for sleeping at night)
Watch with alarm
Wallet (leave the stuff you don't need at home)
Some optional items may include (if you have the space!):
second pair of cycling shorts
second short sleeve cycling jersey
1 foldable clincher(can be shared with another rider)
1 pr Tennis Shoes(get something with good support for days off)
Bike cable and lock(5/16" X 5' coated Flexweave(TM) cable)
1 pr pajamas
1 Freewheel puller + spokes - if you have a habit of breaking spokes
10-15' of thin cord to use as a clothesline
Electronic language translator (see below)
Having a cyclometer can help to keep from getting lost. A cyclometer that can
be switched to kilometers (standard unit of distance in Europe) is a big plus.
Also, I like having an altimeter function as well. On the big passes it really
helps me to know how much climbing I have done and how much I have left before
The synthetic material used in Federal Express envelopes, called Tyvek, makes
great thin, lightweight tire boots. Cut them to fit the size of your patch kit
"Fiber Fix" makes an inexpensive kit for use in an emergency to replace a broke
If you are going to begin and end your trip from the same destination, you can
bring extra clothes for the flight over and the flight back which can be stored
in your bike box while you are on your tour.
The "going light" method does not leave much room in your bike bag for momentos
or gifts. However, if you find something you really like, it is quite easy and
not expensive to mail the item back home. Most post offices sell an assortment
of boxes so finding the correct size is easy. Also, if the item is valuable,
I would suggest sending it air mail. For smaller, more valuable items like
film I put everything in one or two well-sealed plastic bags before placing it
in the box. That way, if the box somehow springs a small leak, you won't lose
that one roll of film wth the killer photos.
I would recommend a good set of brakes, some of the descents are long, steep
and quite tricky with off camber and decreasing radius turns, usually
accompanied by lack of guard rail. Make sure your brakes are working well!
For gearing a 39x26 or 39x28 seem to be a reasonable low gear for the sustained
climbing in the Alps. Some people prefer triple front chainrings. Your mileag
TIPS WHILE ON THE ROAD
This section deals with the basic trip details, road conditions, weather, food,
hotels, changing money.
The yellow Michelin regional maps are the best. There is so much detail, it
is almost impossible to get lost. Having the elevation of the towns helps
plan out the climbs and having the different types of roads(see below) marked
out helps me stay off the more heavily traveled arteries. The Michelins are
only available for France, Switzerland and, parts of Italy. Also, note that
these maps now bear a date(on the back at the bottom) as to when they were last
updated, get the latest version. The yellow maps are in 1cm:2km (1/200000)
Michelin is now making green regional maps that are 1cm:1km (1/100000) scale
and are much more detailed than the standard yellow maps. They are also more
expensive and larger which makes them great for pre-planning a route before you
leave home but maybe a bit too bulky for taking with you on your trip. These
maps are also date labeled and have numbers in the 100-200 range.
For Italy, I would recommend the Touring Club Italiano (TCI) maps, they are
almost as good as the Michelins and come in 1cm:2km (1/200000) scale.
Also recommended are the Institut Geographique National(IGN) maps, which are
marked with contour lines. There are three flavors green is 1cm:1km, red is
1cm:2.5km, and blue is somewhat finer than the green (blue is usually used by
First, there are different classes of roads, delineated by the color of the
signs. For example, in Switzerland, the freeways use green signs (verboten for
bicycles), the blue signs are for primary roads(bikes OK) and the secondary
roads are in white (bikes OK). Primary roads tend to be a little more direct
than secondary roads, but they have more traffic as well.
The colors for road signs may differ from country to country. Note that in
France, freeway signs are in blue and primary road signs are in green.
One important sign to note is that in Europe, a red circle with a bike in the
center means that the road is closed to bicycles. In the US we are more
familiar with a red circle with a red slash through it meaning the activity in
the sign is prohibited, but in Europe, just the red circle means the activity i
the center is prohibited.
Many tunnels in Europe do not have lighting, and some are very long. For the
most part the road surfaces inside are OK, but it's best to play it safe and
slow way down, don't forget to pop up the sunglasses.
The mountain roads are generally good, but deteriorate as you go higher. Also,
the width of the roads can change dramatically from 2 lanes to 1 lane, etc.,
tunnels spring up out of nowhere, and the turns are not marked. However you
can avoid just about anything by being careful.
The roads in Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein are the best. France, Ital
and Spain are very good as well.
Guides to Paved Climbs
Written guides to paved climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees exist. There are four
separate guides to the mountainous regions in France that describe the paved
mountain passes which may be of use to anyone planning a trip. The guides are
written in French, but each pass has a sort of topographic layout of the actual
climb, giving the percent grade for each kilometer, which is very useful.
The four guides are(denoted by the subtitle "ALTIGRAPH Edition"):
1) Atlas des Cols des Alpes - North(everything north of the Col du Galibier)
2) Atlas des Cols des Alpes - South(everything south of the Col du Galibier)
3) Atlas des Cols des Pyrenees
4) Atlas des Cols du Massif Central
They cost about 110ff($20 US) each (they take credit cards!) and are
Au Vieux Campeur
14 Rue des Ecoles
75005 Paris France
Telephone # +33-18.104.22.168.32 (magasins/shops, librairie/book shop)
Fax : +33-22.214.171.124.66 & +33-126.96.36.199.38
POINTS of ENTRY to EUROPEAN MOUNTAINS
Choosing the correct port of entry can depend on a number of factors. If you
have lots of time and resources, but not much money, you might try to fly into
an airport that has great fares, but is relatively far from your starting point
Frankfurt is a good example, with lots of reasonable fares from the US and with
rail service right out of the airport to many of the starting points for popula
If you have a time constraint, you may want to try and get as close as possible
to your starting point. Another option is to get a one-way rental car so that
you can drive directly from the airport to your starting point. Be warned that
with gasoline prices in Europe between $4 and $5/gallon and with freeways in
France and Italy charging tolls to use their roads, the oveall cost of renting
a car can be much greater than the actual car rental charge.
Below is a list of points of entry to the various mountainous regions of Europe
1) Geneva - good for the Alps and the Jura mountains. There is a train station
in the airport to get you out of town fast.
2) Milan - good for the Italian and Swiss Alps. You can leave luggage in the
airport. The airport is a fair ways northeast of the city, there is bus servic
to the train station downtown.
3) Nice - very nice starting point for the Maritime Alps and Provence. You can
ride your bike right out of the airport.
4) Barcelona - about 100 miles south of the eastern end of the Pyrenees.
5) Paris - you can take a TGV (bullet train) south to the Pyrenees or east to
6) Zurich - close to the Swiss Alps.
First off, it should be noted that Europeans are embracing credit cards. One
big advantage to using credit cards to pay for everything is that you get a muc
better exchange rate than by changing your US cash (or Traveler's Checks) into
local currency. In 1996, using credit cards gave about a 7% savings over cash.
ATM cards are also becoming popular. They offer similar savings as credit card
as long as you are not charged a high fee by your bank for using it. I have
heard that sometimes the transaction fee can be as high as $5. Interestingly,
most banks charge about $5 for exchanging money!
If you are in the Alps, you should keep a good supply of the local currency as
banks are not always easy to find(except resort towns). Hotels will change
money, use this as a last resort as the exchange rate is not always good.
I have found that most banks have the same exchange rate, so shopping around is
seems to be a waste of time. Remember, you can change your current currency as
well as your US stuff when you change countries. However, if you are in France
and want to change US currency into Italian lire, you will most likely be
charged two transaction fees, one for changing from US to French francs and one
for changing the French francs to Italian lire.
As a general rule, you cannot change small denomination coins. If you are
anticipating leaving a country be sure to use up all your small change or be
prepared to just give it away at the border.
DEALING WITH JET LAG
Jet lag is a problem, especially if you are coming from the West Coast which
means an 8-9 hour time difference. It is advised that you try to get on the
local time standard as soon as possible. If you arrive in Europe in the mornin
try to stay up and sleep when night comes to Europe rather than taking a nap
right away and then lying awake when it is dark outside.
Except in big cities, everything in the towns shut down from 12pm(noon) to
around 3pm. This means markets, banks, basically everything you need.
Restaurants are open, but a big meal is a no-no. I found it was better to buy
food at a super market in the morning and just munch a bit about every 2 hours.
Typical road food was fruit(bananas, nectarines, peaches), cookies, candy bars
In Spain, everything shuts down from 1pm-4pm and dinner is not usually served
until 8:30 or so. In Italy and France, everything shuts down from about 12:30
pm to 4pm and dinner is not usually served till 7pm.
The "Office of Tourism" is a good place to start looking for hotels. The
tourist office can provide a list of hotels graded by stars and may also make
recommendations. I prefer the 2 and 3 star hotels(out of a possible 5), the
firmness of the bed and noisiness of the street outside were the major factors
influencing my decision.
The average price of 2-3 star hotels for 2 twin beds and a toilet with shower
was $40-$70. I have found that in France and Italy, 3 star hotels are quite
nice and 2 star hotels are adequate. In Switzerland 2 star hotels are very
It should also be mentioned that since most hotels do not have air conditioning
you need to do everything possible to get a cool room. If you need to keep the
windows open, try and get a room away from the street side of the hotel or the
noise will keep you up(believe me, this is important). Earplugs help somewhat.
A couple of tricks to stiffen up soft beds are to put the mattress on the floor
or you can take a door off of a closet and put it between the springs and the
Many European hotels use down comforters instead of blankets on their beds. If
you sleep hot, like me, you can remove the comforter cover and use it as a
Most hotels in Europe are now charging ($5 to $7) for their continental
breakfast (le petit dejuneur). If you are unsure if there is a charge it is
best to ask. If you don't need a latte to get going in the morning a less
expensive alternative is to buy some pastries at the local bakery the night
before and eat them in your hotel room before departing. Most hotels are open
for breakfast from 7:30am to 9:00am.
Most bars and restaurants offer simple sandwiches at reasonable prices. A
cheese sandwich runs about $3, while ham and cheese is around $4. In Italy,
these simple sandwiches are called paninis.
I'm not a big food gourmet. For dinner, I stick with the basics. Spaghetti,
lasagne, pizza, grilled meats, etc.. If you try something exotic and your
stomach gets upset, you won't be able to ride. If you are looking for good
food, get some recommendations before you leave or be prepared to swig some
Pepto. As we say in America, "If you can't pronounce it, you might not want
to eat it".
You should come to Europe prepared to get wet. Yes, it rains there in the
It can be hot at the lower elevations in the summer, if you sleep at higher
altitudes(1000 meters) you may be able to beat the heat.
Some regions have predictable weather conditions such as the 15-20mph wind that
seems to always blow up the Sion valley from Maritgny towards Brig.
The best month to tour in the Alps is July. The weather is reasonably settled
and the days are warm. September is a good second choice, though the weather i
a bit more unsettled and it can turn cold and actually snow. Also, in
September, it is possible that the hotels at major ski resorts, like Sestriere
and Isola 2000, may be closed as they prepare for the upcoming season. Check
before heading up that next climb.
I would not recommend going to the Pyrenees Mountains during the month of July
(possibly even August). Even though there are a lot of 4000' climbs, the passe
are for the most part low altitude compared to the Alps(1500-2000 meters versus
2000-2700 meters) and because of this it is quite hot. A better time for the
Pyrenees is May, June or September. Also, I found the Pyrenees to be quite
beautiful but, I really like the ruggedness of the Alps and the roads in the
Pyrenees did not pass by much of this type of scenery(though it does exist via
August seems to be a bad time for a tour. All of Europe goes on vacation. Thi
means that the roads and accommodations are crowded and the air pollution is
BEING IN SHAPE
Because I am on vacation, I am not going over to Europe to suffer on every
climb, so being in shape is of tantamount importance. Plan your pre-trip
riding depending on the type of trip you are going to do. I live for
switchbacks so I go to Europe to ride the passes, so I try to do a lot of
climbing on my rides in the US.
I find everybody pretty friendly. In most countries, the people attempt to
speak English once you attempted a conversion in their native tongue (especiall
the French). Try to respect the native customs.
TAKING YOUR BIKE ON THE TRAIN
I would avoid checking baggage(this includes bikes) on a train unless you
can afford to be separated from it for up to a week after you reach your
destination. This is because on European trains, the baggage cars are not
necessarily hooked up to the passenger trains which means you can wait for
days for your luggage to arrive(I saw this happen to a Canadian guy in 1990).
I have been told that there are some trains in Italy that include a special
baggage car the will hold bikes. You may want to check into this if your
proposed itinerary includes travel by train. The key here is that you want
to make sure that both you and your bike are on the same train.
On Swiss and German trains there is space at the end of most cars where
you can leave baggage, which is where I put my bike. In France and Italy,
I suspended the bike above the seats in the two opposing luggage racks(great
trick!). There is a chance that a conductor may be displeased by the bike
and start making all sorts of gyrations about the bike having to be sent
as baggage. Just play dumb and as long as you are not taking up too much
space they will usually let you slide.
Unfortunately, in 1992, I came under the wrath of every train conductor in
Europe. I never got separated from my bike, but I had to pay an extra charge
for having my bike with me on the train($30 US). However, I would rather be
verbally abused than be separated from my bike!
On interesting thing about bikes on passenger trains, in 1992 I took the
TGV from Paris to Pau and was not hassled about my bike because it was
still in the box and in the back of the car. You may be able to cut
down on your hassle quotient by keeping you bike in your box until you
really need it. Just a thought.
Train service is not available in all towns (especially in the mountains).
However, bus service usually is available and you can use the bus to connect
to a train station. Your bike has to travel in the baggage compartment,
it is a bit risky since the bike may move around a bit with all the luggage
so take care in helping the driver put it in a good location.
1) I have a ritual for taking care of necessary business (most notably
washing my cycling clothes) when I arrive at my day's destination and
get into my hotel room:
a) take off all my cycling clothes and place them in the sink with soap
b) after 5-10 minutes rinse soap out of cycling clothes and use the fresh
clean bath towels to ring them as dry a possible. A quick way to help
wring out your freshly washed riding clothes is to spread the wet garment
on a dry towel. Roll the garment up in the towel and use your knee to press
the rolled towel. Unroll the towel and hang the garment to dry.
c) hang the clothes to dry, if done properly they should be ready for the
next morning. Theft proof hangers may present a problem. One trick is to
bring some thin clothesline to hold the hangers.
d) take my shower and use the slightly wet towels to dry(this works fine).
e) there are some really good, super-concentrated laundry soaps such
as ultra-strength Wisk which work well for washing clothes and are
concentrated enough so that a little goes a long way.
2) Be careful when buying film in Europe. Some of the film prices include
processing charges. It is best to ask what's what.
3) I did not find it necessary to take a travel guide(such as the Michelin
Red Guide), but it may be helpful for pre-trip planning.
4) There are a number of pocket calculators that serve as language translators.
I have one that translates between English, French, Spanish, German and
Italian. It also converts miles to kilometers, degrees farenheit to degrees
centigrade and currency rates(you enter the ratios) and all for about $40!
5) Beware of national holidays. Once I was out of francs in France during
Bastille Day, not pleasant.
6) Many mountain passes have restaurants on top which is great for getting
a soda or candy bar. However, be forewarned that a can of Coke can cost
3-4 times as much at a bar than at a supermarket.
7) If you need to make long distance phone calls you can save a significant
amount of money by using a pay phone and your calling card rather than
using the phone in your hotel room. Most hotels use a computer to estimate
the actual phone charges and these estimates can sometimes be over three
times the actual charges. The calling card method bills you for only the
8) Phone cards are becoming the norm in Europe. You can buy them at newstands
and at Bar/Tobacco shops.
9) Some countries may require a separate Visa(like France used to), be sure
to check with your travel agent or the State Department.
10) When buying stamps for postcards, make sure you ask for Air Mail stamps
otherwise it can take up to 3 months for the cards to arrive in the US.
Also, it is much cheaper to mail postcards in France ($0.80 US) than
Switzerland ($1.80 US), so if you are sending lots of cards you can save
quite a lot of money by mailing them in the correct country.
11) If you are shipping and parcels to Europe(or vice versa), allow 8 weeks
for delivery if sent surface, about 2 weeks for air mail.
12) If you have Shimano Hyperglide shifting, I would consider also carrying
a chain tool. In the past several years, with the popularity of STI,
I have noticed more and more people stopped by the side of the road
with a broken chain. Some emergency versions of a chain tool, such as
the Ritchey CPR 5 are very light.
13) If you buy bus or train tickets, you should specify up front if you
would like a one-way or round trip ticket. Some locations assume the
default is one-way, others assume round-trip.
14) Staying hydrated(i.e. drinking water) is really important. Most towns
have fountains or pipes flowing into water troughs. The general rule is
that unless there is a sign that says the water is not fit for drinking
("eau non potable", "verboten") then you can drink it.
15) Instead of carrying lots of medicines that you may or may not need
like cold medicines, write down the name and amounts of the ingredients
of your favorite US medicines so that you can compare and buy the same
products if needed.
16) Plastic bags can be your savior in wet and/or cold weather. Plastic
bags placed on your feet before putting on socks, plastic inside your
leg warmers or on your chest can help cut the cold dramatically.
17) Food labeling is not the same as it is in the US. For example,
the Nutrasweet label is not found on diet soda, so beware.
18) I take 2-3 energy bars for use from the time my plane touches down
and I have my bike together and have hit the road. There are a lot of
things to do when you arrive at the airport and before you reach your
first town. Having an easy source of food makes those hectic moments
19) if you are going to leave your bike box at the airport (or hotel)
you can stash things like extra clothes, et. al. to make the trip over
and the return a little more comfortable and hygenic.
20) rather than change your foreign currency back to US money when you
return home, save it for future use when you return for your next adventure.
21) There is an interesting effect that seems to occur in Europe. Early
in the morning the combination of low light and some haze can make it look
like a bad day of weather is coming. However, once the sun climbs a bit
in the sky, everything burns off and a glorious day arrives.
22) In Italy, it is cheaper to mail packages back to the states if you
give the customs officials the permission to open the parcel when it is
leaving the country.
23) One way to make a great vacation with a short amount of time is to
arrange a one way drop-off car which can be used to get you to the prime
cycling territory quickly. Arranging for the car in the states can save
a lot of money.
24) People like to smoke a lot in Europe, especially in their hotel rooms.
If your hotel room is filling up with smoke, place a towel against the
floor of the door jam to stop the flow.
25) If you anticipate doing any cycling in your street clothes, you might
want to think about including a seatcover. The seatcover keeps any
grease, grime, etc. on your saddle from transferring to your good clothes.
26) A neat trick for drying out wet cycling shoes is to pack them tightly
with dry newspaper. I have had totally soaked shoes dry out overnight.
27) Some antibiotics increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Be certain that
you know what the side effects of your medications are before you leave on your
28) On the top of many of the mountain passes, the shop(s) selling postcards
usually has a rubber stamp. Geting your postcards stamped on top of the pass
makes them more "official" ("you were there") in some circles.
If someone wanted to avoid the hassles of carrying gear and just wanted
to find a nice town for some day trips, my first choice would be
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Situated in the heart of the Dolomites, Cortina
has incredible, and I mean incredible, scenery and many great passes(don't
miss the ride up to the Tre Cime de Lavaredo, it's a great walk to
circumnavigate the base as well). You can plan trips from 30 to 150+ miles
of some of the best riding in the world.
My second choice would be Andermatt, Switzerland gateway to the Susten,
Furka, Gothard and Oberalp passes and close to Wilhem Tell's birthplace(he
didn't really exist but, there's a monument anyway). The day rides here are
longer and more strenuous but, you won't be disappointed.
Also recommended is the northern Italian town of Bormio. The Stelvio,
Gavia, Bernina, Foscagno and Mortirolo are all within a day's ride.
Subject: 4.7 More information on Amtrak and Bicycles
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 97 13:31:13 -0800
In the summer of 1997 a group of us decided to take Amtrak to the
northern Californian town of Dunsmuir. This is the last stop before
Oregon and we wanted to ride from the California boarder to Sacramento
through the Central Valley since we had never heard of anyone doing
After several calls to Amtrak we finally found out that we could take
the train from Fremont to Dunsmuir with only one transfer in
Sacramento. But since neither Fremont nor Dunsmuir had passenger
services (which allowed baggage loading and unloading) we couldn't
take the bicycles with us.
We made other plans for the bicycle transport. We had a sag wagon
going up there but most people would probably opt just to send the
bike via Greyhound which is cheap, reliable and goes more places than
the train does.
The train was a bit late at Fremont but we finally got out only a few
minutes off of their schedule. The view and the trip to Sacramento
were very nice. The trains are extremely comfortable in the seating
position though the overhead luggage section isn't suitable for normal
sized carryon stuff. This line had bicycle carriers that would accept
ONLY single bikes. Tamdems would definitely not fit.
The connecting train was a real problem. It was 2 hours late and the
Sacramento station is something built around 1925 or so and extremely
uncomfortable, drafty and cold at night. Moreover, Amtrak personnel
generally know nothing at all about what is going on, what the delays
are or when you can expect the train to arrive. This isn't because
they are stupid or don't want to be helpful, it is because no one
knows what is going on and the railroad won't tell them.
There was another bike rider there who was going between major
stations and so was loading his bike into a box provided by Amtrak.
However, they had no tape and it was late evening and there was no
place for him to get tape. I don't know how he resolved the problem
since he was gone when we got back from dinner. But if you intend to
take your bike on Amtrak be aware of this possible problem.
Amtrak loads passengers into cars in some manner that keeps most of
the passengers getting off at any specific station in the same car so
that it is easier for the conductor to remind you to get off. The
problem with this is that the more popular stations will crowd some
cars while others will be almost empty.
If you want a good view the upper levels are best, but that is also
the level though which the children run continuously fore and aft as
the train is traveling. Because of this you will get no sleep
whatsoever if you seat yourself at either end. The doors are
continuously opening and closing and have air mechanisms that are very
Instead sit near the center of the car. The lower level seating is
very quiet in this regard though there is more track and traffic
noise. I would sit on the lower levels in the future since our trip
was almost exclusively at night and there was nothing to see anyway.
We had other members of the tour arriving the next day but that train
was 8 hours late and no one knew where it was stopped. This was a
nightmare for the people involved and it took the sag wagon away from
the ride for the entire day trying to recover these riders. Without
the sag wagon to wait for and sag these late riders up, we would have
had to lose a day of the tour and we would therefore have had to
reroute the trip missing the most scenic portion of the trip.
Be aware that while there are some advantages to taking Amtrak, there
are a lot of disadvantages and you cannot count on time schedules
being kept. I would always allow at least an extra day for travel to
or from an event knowing what I know now.
We had planned on a day to recover from the trip and booked rooms at a
local motel for the day after the trip and that was definitely the
right thing to do. The owner of the motel also allowed us to use their
garage to store the 15 bikes after they were reassembled from
Subject: 4.8 Getting Weather Information
From: Bob Kastigar
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 07:18:09 -0500 (CDT)
I'm planning an excursion for next summer, and I was trying to find
weather statistics for where I wanted to go, to get important things like
average temperatures, average rainfall, etc. for different times of the
year. I found a *great* resource at:
which I thought I'd share with you, if you need to take into account
climatic information when planning a bike trip.
To give credit where credit is due: I was steered to this place by Jeff
and Alan at another resource:
and thought they should be thanked for their help.
Subject: 5 Racing
Subject: 5.1 Tour de France Jerseys
From: Chris Murphy
Chauner and Halstead (1990) in "The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling"
YELLOW Jersey -- Overall leader, first awarded during the 1919 race (TdF
started in 1903); yellow to match the paper used to print L'Auto
(Automobile Cyclisme), a French newspaper about bike racing.
POLKADOT Jersey (White w/red dots) -- Best climber, determined by points
scored by the first 3 to 15 riders finishing selected mountain
stages (number of riders awarded points varies with the
difficulty of the stage). First awarded 1933.
GREEN Jersey -- Points jersey, usually won by sprinter-types, with points
given to the first 25 riders to finish each stage. First awarded 1953.
YELLOW Hats -- First place team, determined by combined elapsed times of the
the team's top 3 riders.
In the event of a rider leading the race and also deserving one of the other
jerseys, the race leader wears yellow, and the 2nd place in the category wears
the category jersey.
Subject: 5.2 Major Tour Winners 1947-1990
From: Tim Smith
[Ed note: I'm hoping Tim won't be too upset if I add to the list he posted.
I need some help filling in the last few years.]
Winners of the Big Three National Tours -- Since 1947:
Tour de France Giro d'Italia Vuelta d'Espana
1947 Jean Robic (F) Fausto Coppi (I) E. van Dyck (B)
1948 Gino Bartali (I) F. Magni (I) B. Ruiz (E)
1949 Fausto Coppi (I) F. Coppi (not held)
1950 Ferdi Kubler (CH) Hugo Koblet (CH) E. Rodriguez (E)
1951 Hugo Koblet (CH) F. Magni (nh)
1952 Fausto Coppi F. Coppi (nh)
1953 Louison Bobet (F) F. Coppi (nh)
1954 Louison Bobet C. Clerici (CH) (nh)
1955 Louison Bobet F. Magni J. Dotto (F)
1956 Roger Walkowiak (F) Charly Gaul (L) A. Conterno (I)
1957 Jacques Anquetil (F) Gastone Nencini (I) J. Lorono (E)
1958 Charly Gaul (L) E. Baldini (I) Jean Stablinski (F)
1959 Federico Bahamontes (E) Charly Gaul A. Suarez (E)
1960 Gastone Nencini (I) Jacques Anquetil (F) F. de Mulder (B)
1961 Jacques Anquetil A. Pambianco (I) A. Soler (E)
1962 Jacques Anquetil F. Balmamion (I) Rudy Altig (D)
1963 Jacques Anquetil F. Balmamion J. Anquetil (F)
1964 Jacques Anquetil Jacques Anquetil Raymond Poulidor (F)
1965 Felice Gimondi (I) V. Adorni (I) R. Wolfshohl (D)
1966 Lucien Aimar (F) Gianni Motta (I) F. Gabica (E)
1967 Roger Pingeon (F) Felice Gimondi (I) J. Janssen (NDL)
1968 Jan Janssen (NDL) Eddy Merckx (B) Felice Gimondi (I)
1969 Eddy Merckx (B) Felice Gimondi Roger Pingeon (F)
1970 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Luis Ocana (E)
1971 Eddy Merckx Gosta Petersson (S) F. Bracke (B)
1972 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx J-M Fuente (E)
1973 Luis Ocana (E) Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx (B)
1974 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx J-M Fuente
1975 Bernard Thevenet (F) F. Bertoglio (I) Tamames (E)
1976 Lucien van Impe (B) Felice Gimondi J. Pesarrodona (E)
1977 Bernard Thevenet Michel Pollentier (B) Freddy Maertens (B)
1978 Bernard Hinault (F) J. de Muynck (B) Bernard Hinault (F)
1979 Bernard Hinault Giuseppe Saronni (I) Joop Zoetemelk (NDL)
1980 Joop Zoetemelk (NDL) Bernard Hinault (F) F. Ruperez (E)
1981 Bernard Hinault Giovanni Battaglin (I) Giovanni Battaglin (I)
1982 Bernard Hinault Bernard Hinault Marino Lejarreta (E)
1983 Laurent Fignon (F) Giuseppe Saronni (I) Bernard Hinault (F)
1984 Laurent Fignon Francesco Moser (I) Eric Caritoux (F)
1985 Bernard Hinault Bernard Hinault Pedro Delgado (E)
1986 Greg Lemond (USA) Roberto Visentini (I) Alvaro Pino (E)
1987 Stephen Roche (EIR) Stephen Roche (EIR) Luis Herrera (Col.)
1988 Pedro Delgado (E) Andy Hampsten (USA) Sean Kelly (EIR)
1989 Greg Lemond (USA) Laurent Fignon (F) Pedro Delgado (E)
1990 Greg Lemond (USA) Gianni Bugno (I) Marco Giovanetti (I)
1991 Miguel Indurain (E) Franco Chioccioli (I) Melchor Mauri (E)
1992 Miguel Indurain (E) Miguel Indurain (E) Toni Rominger (CH)
1993 Miguel Indurain (E) Miguel Indurain (E) Toni Rominger (CH)
1994 Miguel Indurain (E) Eugeni Berzin (RUS) Toni Rominger(CH)
1995 Miguel Indurain (E) Toni Rominger (CH) Laurent Jalabert (FR)
1996 Bjarne Rijs (DK) Pavel Tonkov (RUS) Alex Zulle (CH)
1997 Jan Ullrich Ivan Gotti (I) Alex Zulle (CH)
1998 Marco Pantani (I) Marco Pantani (I) Abraham Olano
1999 Lance Armstrong (USA) Ivan Gotti (I) Jan Ullrich
2000 Lance Armstrong (USA) Stefano Garzelli (I) Roberto Heras
2001 Lance Armstrong (USA) Gilberto Simoni (I) Angel Casero
2002 Lance Armstrong (USA) Paolo Salvoldelli Aitor Gonzalez
2003 Lance Armstrong (USA) Gilberto Simoni Roberto Heras
2004 Lance Armstrong (USA) Damiano Cunego Roberto Heras
The Tour started in 1903, and was not held 1915-1918 and 1940-1946.
The Giro started in 1909, and was not held 1915-1918 and 1941-1945.
Source: 1947-1982: "La Fabuleuse Histoire du Cyclisme" by Pierre Chany.
1982-1988: my fallible memory. Would someone complete 1983 and
1984, and correct any mistakes? Thanks.
One interesting observation: almost all the winners of the Tour were
big names in their time (yes, even Charly Gaul and Jean Robic.)
There were no same-year winners of the Tour and the Giro before 1949.
In fact, the first year a non-Italian won the Giro was 1950.
Subject: 5.3 Rating the Tour de France Climbs
From: Bruce Hildenbrand
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 00:28:53 -0800 (PST)
One of the most frequently asked questions is how do the organizers
determine the ratings for the climbs in the Tour de France(TIOOYK).
The Tour organizers use two criteria 1) the length and steepness of
the climb and 2) the position of the climb in the stage. A third,
and much lesser criteria, is the quality of the road surface.
It is important to note several things before this discussion begins.
First, the organizers of the Tour have been very erratic in their
classifications of climbs. The north side of the Col de la Madeleine
has flip-flopped between a 1st Category to an Hors Category climb,
even though it seems to be in the same position of a stage every
Secondly, rating inflation, so rampant in other sports has raised
its ugly head here. Climbs that used to be a 2nd Category are now a
1st Category, even though, like the Madeleine, they occupy the same
position in a stage year after year.
Let's talk about the ratings. I will give you my impressions
on what I think the criteria are for rating the climbs based on
having ridden over 100 of the rated climbs in the major European
Note that gradual climbs do not receive grades. It has been my
observation that about a 3-4% grade is necessary for a climb to get
rated. Also, a climb must gain at least 70m for it to be rated.
The organizers of the Tour de France also claim that the quality of
the road surface can influence the rating of a climb. If the surface
is very poor, like some of the more obscure climbs in the Pyrenees,
then the rating may be bumped up.
4th Category - the lowest category, climbs of 200-500 feet(70-150m).
3rd Category - climbs of 500-1600 feet(150-500m).
2nd Category - climbs of 1600-2700 ft.(500-800m)
1st Category - climbs of 2700-5000ft(800-1500m)
Hors Category - the hardest, climbs of 5000ft+(1500m+)
Points awarded for the climbs ranges are as follows (from the 1990
4th Category: 3 places: 5, 3, 1
3rd Category: 5 places: 10, 7, 5, 3, 1
2nd Category: 10 places: 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1
1st Category: 12 places: 30, 26, 22, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1
Hors Category: 15 places: 40, 35, 30, 26, 22, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1
Steepness also plays a factor in the rating. Most of the big climbs
in the Alps average 7-8% where the big climbs in the Pyrenees average
Please remember that I am giving very, very rough guidelines and
that there are exceptions to every rule. For example, L'Alpe D'Huez
climbs 3700ft(1200m), but is an Hors Category climb. This is because
it usually comes at the end of a very tough stage and the climb itself
is unusually steep(~9%) by Alpine standards.
More confusing is the Col de Borderes, a mere 1000ft(300m) climb outside
of Arrens in the Pyrenees mountains. I have seen it rated anywhere from
a 3rd Category to a 1st Category !!! This is most likely due again, to its
placement on the stage. The 3rd Category rating came when it was near the
beginning of a stage where its 1st Category rating came when it was near
Flat or downhill sections can also affect a climb's rating. Such sections
offer a rest to the weary and can reduce the difficulty of the climb
considerably. This may be one of the reasons that the aforementioned
Col de la Madeleine, which has a 1 mile downhill/flat section at mid-height,
flip-flops in its rating.
I am often asked how climbs in the United States compare to those in
Europe. Most of the US climbs are either steep enough by European
standards(6-8% grade), but are short(5-10km) so they fall into the
3rd Category or 2nd possibly; or the climbs gain enough altitude, but
are too long(they average 5%) so again they would fail to break
the 1st Category barrier and end up most likely a 2nd or 3rd Category.
Fear not, there are exceptions. Most notable to Californians is
the south side of Palomar Mountain which from Pauma Valley climbs
4200' in 11 miles, a potential 1st Category ascent, though it may
fall prey to downgrading because of the flat section at mile four.
The east side of Towne Pass in Death Valley is definitely a 1st
A popular Northern California climb, Mount Hamilton, is similar to
Palomar Mountain but, fails to be a 1st Category climb because of two
offending downhill section on the ascent and an overall gradient of 5%.
For Coloradoans, you can thank the ski industry for creating long,
but relatively gradual climbs that rarely exceed 5% for any substantial
length(5+ miles). I never had to use anything bigger than a 42x23
on any climb in Colorado, regardless of altitude. Gear ratios of
39x24 or 26 are commonplace in the Alps and Pyrenees and give a very
telling indication as to the difficulty of European climbs.
One potential 1st Category climb for Coloradoans may be the 4000 ft.
climb in about 15 miles from Ouray to the top of Red Mountain Pass.
Also, remember we are rating only paved(i.e. asphalt) roads. Dirt roads
vary considerably in their layout, condition and maintenance because there
really are no guidelines for their construction. This makes it difficult
to compare these climbs and inappropriate to lump them with paved roads.
Also, it should be noted that there is not a single uniform rating scheme
for all the races on the UCI calendar. What one race might call a 1st
Category climb, may be called a 2nd Category climb, even though the stages
of the two races are almost identical.
One last note. I think it is inappropriate to compare the ascents of
climbs by the European pros with the efforts of us mere mortals.
I have said this time and time again and I will repeat it now. It
is very, very hard for the average person to comprehend just how
fast the pros climb the big passes. Pace makes all the difference.
Riding a climb is very different than racing it.
Subject: 5.4 How to follow the Tour de France
From: Tom James
A question was recently posted to r.b.r concerning ways to follow the
Tour de France. Here are a few comments about my own trips to France over
the last five years, which may be of relevance to people who want to
watch the race and have access to either a bike or a car.
I've seen the Tour every year since 1991, always in the Alps or the
Pyrenees. In addition, I've watched the Paris Stage in 1993/5, and the
British stages in 1994, so all in all, I've a fair amount of experience.
In 1991 and 1992 I watched as part of longer cycle tours in the Alps,
stopping off to watch in the course of a ride from one place to another
(in 1991 in the Arly Gorge, and in 1992 on the Galibier). On both
occasions, the combination of my own abilities (only averaging ca. 60
miles/day) and the Tour's itinery meant that seeing the race more than
once was not really feasible.
In 1993, 93 and 95 we (myself + 3 friends) organised things differently.
Basically, we took a car with the bikes on the roof and camped in the
vicinity of the tour. It was then normally possible to see two days of
racing (ie, somewhere near the end one day and near the beginning the
next) before moving on to a new campsite perhaps 100 or 150 miles away
to get another couple of days in. For example, in 1994, in addition to
the Brighton and Portsmouth stages, we also saw the tour on l'Alpe
d'Huez; on the Col de la Colombiere; on the Col de Joux Vert (2km from
the finish of the Avoriaz time trial) and at the stage start in Morzine.
Now some general notes. If you elect to see the Tour as we did by car and
bike, be prepared for some long days with a lot of climbing. Bear in mind
also that after the voiture balai has passed, it can still sometimes take
almost as long to descend a mountain as to get up, due to the large
number of pedestrians, cars, other cyclists etc also trying to get down.
This problem is compounded at mountain top finishes, because firstly the
field is spread over a long time (maybe 3/4hr from first to last rider)
and secondly because after the stage, all the Tour vehicles and riders
generally also come back down to the valley. For example, when we watched
on Alpe d'Huez, it was nearly 5.00pm before we got down to Bourg d'Oisans
and we then had a 40 mile ride with 1300m of climbing back over the
Lautaret to get to where we were camping in Briancon
Secondly, aim to get to the foot of any mountain you want to watch on at
least 2 hours in advance. Even then, you might find some policemen want
you to get off and walk. The attentiveness of policemen to this detail
varies widely. For example, in Bourg d'Oisans, one policemen wanted us to
walk, even though we were 2km from the foot of Alpe d'Huez; then 100m
further on a second gendarme told us more or less to stop mucking around,
if we had bikes then why weren't we riding them! Similarly, one Gendarme
in 1995 gave an absolute flat refusal to let us even start on the climb
of the Madeleine (admittedly we were quite late, and the first 8km are
very very narrow) whereas on the Colombiere, I rode up in the middle of
the caravane publicitaire. (NB this latter trick has oodles of street
cred as a) about 50 million people cheer your every pedal stroke, b) the
caravan showers you with freebies and c) you can beg chocolate from the
Poulain van and pretend you're a domestique sent back to the team car to
pick up extra food - and let's face it, being even a domestique is way
above what 99.9% of the readers of rbr can aspire too!) If you travel by
car and then hope to walk up, the roads get blocked even before they are
completely closed - for example, in 1995 we ran into a terrible traffic
jam south of Grenoble on the day of the Alpe d'Huez stage whilst we were
heading south, though fortunately we avoided it by going via Sisteron
rather than Gap, as had been the initial plan.
Thirdly, come prepared for all weathers and with plenty of food and
water. Both TT's I've been to (outskirts of Paris in 1993, and Avoriaz in
1994) took over 5 hours to pass, and even a run of the mill mountain
stage may take 2 hours from first vehicle in the publicity caravan to the
"Fin de Course" vehicle. The weather can change markedly - for example,
at Avoriaz, we started the day in hot sunshine with girls sunbathing in
bikinis, and finished in freezing rain. So make sure you have some warm
clothing, even on an apparently hot day; plenty of water and plenty of
food. Remember, once in place , you can't easily nip off to the local shop!
All of the above was written from the point of view of watching in the
mountains. I guess flat stages are easier as there are more small roads
around, and the crowds are not so concentrated at certain key points. For
Paris, it's best to travel into the centre by RER/RATP and then walk; you
may need to wait several hours if you want a place on the barriers on the
Champs Elysees, but at the Jardin des Tuileries end of the circuit, the
pressure is not so bad.
Finally, is it worth it? Yes! OK, you only get a fleeting glimpse of the
riders, but it is all the incidentals that make it fun - spinning yarns
with Thierry on the Galibier; riding up the Colombiere in the publicity
caravan; being at the exact point on l'Alpe d'Huez where Roberto Conti
made his winning attack (and hence being on Television); seeing Zulle
ride effortlessly near the top of the Colombiere, 5 minutes up on
everyone else; getting a grin from "Stevo" on l'Alpe d'Huez when a bunch
of Ockers I was with shouted "hello Aussie!" as he rode past; and many
many more in similar vein. Go! - you'll have a lot of fun!
Subject: 5.5 Tour de France Time Limits
From: Bruce Hildenbrand
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 00:28:53 -0800 (PST)
Below is an explanation of the time limits that are imposed on the riders
for each stage of the Tour de France. If a rider does not finish within
the prescribed time limit, then, barring extraordinary circumstances, they
are not allowed to start the next day's stage and are eliminated from the
Tour de France(TIOOYK). There is no time limit on for the prologue. This
information comes from the 1990 edition of the racer's bible, it may
be a bit out of date, but you get the general idea.
Each stage of the Tour falls into one of six categories:
1) flat stage
2) rolling stage
3) mountain stage
4) individual time trial
5) team time trial
6) short stage
The "short stage" category is used for stages that are short on distance
by Tour standards(80 miles) and usually flat or rolling hills.
The important thing to note is that faster the overall average speed
of the winner, the greater the percentage of the winning time.
For flat stages the scale goes from:
5% for less than a 34km/h average
6% for a 34-35km/h average
7% for a 36-37km/h average
8% for a 38-39km/h average
9% for a 40-41km/h average
10% for a 42-43km/h average
11% for a 44-45km/h average
12% for a 46km/h average or greater
For rolling stages the scale goes from:
6% for less than a 31km/h average
7% for a 31km/h average
8% for a 32km/h average
9% for a 33km/h average
10% for a 34km/h average
11% for a 35km/h average
12% for a 36km/h average
13% for a 37km/h average or greater
For mountain stages the scale goes from:
6% for less than a 26km/h average
7% for a 26km/h average
8% for a 27km/h average
9% for a 28km/h average
10% for a 29km/h average
11% for a 30km/h average
12% for a 31km/h average
13% for a 32km/h average
14% for a 33km/h average
15% for a 34km/h average
16% for a 35km/h average or greater
The individual time trial 4 has a single cut-off and that is 25% of the
For the team time trial the scale goes from:
13% for less than a 42km/h average
14% for a 42km/h average
15% for a 43km/h average
16% for a 44km/h average
17% for a 45km/h average
18% for a 46km/h average
19% for a 47km/h average
20% for a 48km/h average or greater
For short stages the scale goes from:
10% for less than a 34km/h average
11% for a 34-35km/h average
12% for a 36-37km/h average
13% for a 38-39km/h average
14% for a 40-41km/h average
15% for a 42-43km/h average
16% for a 44-45km/h average
17% for a 46km/h average or greater
Subject: 5.6 Tour de France Points Jersey Competition
From: Bruce Hildenbrand
The green ("points") jersey is awarded from points accumulated from
finishing places and intermediate sprints. Riders receive points for
all stage finishes based on the type of stage.
Each stage of the Tour falls into one of four categories:
1) flat stage
2) rolling stage
3) mountain stage
4) individual time trial or prologue
From the 1990 racer's bible:
Flat stages: 25 places: 35, 30, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13,
12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Rolling stages: 20 places: 25, 22, 20, 18, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8,
7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Mountain stages: 15 places: 20, 17, 15, 13, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Individual Time Trial and Prologue: 10 places: 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Intermediate Sprints: 3 places: 6, 4, 2
Subject: 5.7 Bicycle Racing Movies
From: Michael Frank
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 22:12:33 -0500
THE OBVIOUS ONES
Local cyclist in a small town (townie's aka 'cutters), lives, eats, and
breathes cycling and everything else Italian, comes of age in a race
against college kids. Based on Dave Blaze, and his experiences at Indiana
University and the Little 500. Lots of trivia in this one, look for a
current USCF board member, a current regional USCF coach, some former
One story I had heard was that one of the plot inspirations for the race
scene in Breaking Away was Wayne Stetina. Wayne made the 1972 Olympic team
at the age of 18. According to the story, after riding in Montreal he
enrolled at IU, joined a frat, entered the Little 500 as part of his frat's
team, rode the entire race himself and won. Just like the Cutter's plan for
Dave Stohler in the movie.
I think the term "Cutters" referred to the principle industry of the
community, which was large (building) stone quarying, or "cutting". The
race was sponsored by a local university and there was a strong "us against
them" mind set between the University team and the non university or cutter
team. The whole movie was loosely based on fact. The race does in fact
still occur. It's still the cutters against the college crowd, and I saw
it on TV about a year ago on ESPN2. Can't for the life of me remember the
name of the university.
Does anybody if this actually happened?
I've heard basically the same story, and I do know that Wayne (and also
Dale, I believe) went to IU and was on a frat team that won the Little 500.
However, whether he did it singly-handedly I don't know.
I *can* tell you for a fact that if you were a decent cyclist and were
interested in attending IU, fraternities were willing to pay for your room,
board, and tuition. After the Stetina's domination, however, the rules of
the Little 500 were changed to limit it to only Cat 3 riders (there were no
Cat 4 or Cat 5 categories back then). A friendly rival of mine (Bill
Brissman) from Indy moved from Junior to Cat 3 (instead of Junior to Cat 2
like I did) just so he could pick up this "scholarship". He had to be
careful about when and where he raced, so that he didn't draw too much
attention and get bumped up to Cat 2 against his wishes. As soon as he
graduated, he moved up to Cat 2.
The IU alum and USCF racer who did the riding "stunts" for Dennis
Christopher (the actor who played the protagonist) is now a woman. No need
to mention his/her name.
2 brothers, one, a former National caliber rider (Kevin Costner), and his
enthusiastic 'newbee' brother, take an adventure to the 'Hell of the West'
(aka Coors Classic) stage race. Lots of good 'Coors Classic' footage in
this one, even Eddy Merckx makes an appearance.
Trials and tribulations in the tough world of bicycle messengers in New
York City. Stars Kevin Bacon, and Nelson Vails.
THE LESS OBVIOUS ONES
LITTLE MISS MARKER
A depression era bookie (Walter Matthau) gets stuck with a little girl,
left as an IOU (marker). Only about 5 minutes of 6-day racing in this one.
The track is a portable one, built by the same builder as the portable
Atlanta Olympic Velodrome.
JOEY BROWN, 6 DAY RACER
A 1940's Bike messenger wins the Big 6-day race. A hard to find BW film
from the 40's. Lots of 6-day footage, starring era comedian, Joey Brown.
THE BICYCLE THIEF
A family in Post war Italy struggle to make a living, taking their life
savings to buy the Husband/Father a bicycle for work, only to have the bike
stolen. Often shown at art festivals, or 'Study of film' classes. This
film is by one of those famous 'Fellini' -types . No racing, but lots of
old bikes, and definitely a different lifestyle, where the bike is King.
Italian with Subtitles.
EVEN LESS OBVIOUS ONES
HUGO'S MAGIC PUMP
Hugo is the winningest 6 day racer in Italy, beating everyone, incuding the
Mafia's 'Fixed' riders. To stop losing gambling monies, the Mafia decides
to wear Hugo down by throwing beautiful women at him, hoping to reduce his
endurance and stamina. This Adult movie from the late 70's was 'Competive
Cycling' magazines choice for best cycling footage in the era before
'Breaking Away'... Dubbed.
THE YELLOW JERSEY
A PBS Documentary from the Early 70's, showing the trials of the American
team at a stage race in Canada.
BREAKING AWAY, the TV Series Shawn Cassady plays the role of Dave Stoller,
bike racer, in the TV series, based on the movie of the same name. This
one is tough to find, as it only lasted one season in the early 80's.
Don't forget "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" whose opening scene is Pee Wee
Herman dreaming about winning the Tour de France.
Wasn't there a movie (french) called the Maillot Jaune? I do remember some
talk a few years past and even some speculation about a remake starring
Another movie filmed in New York City in the 80s was Called "Key Exchange"
with Dany Aeillo and one of the actors from "Breaking Away"
UN AFFAIRE D'HOMMES (F)
(there seems to be no dubbed version of this one - you could translate the
title to "a men's affair", maybe?)
Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Claude Brasseur
JL-T is an architect and joins a bicycle racing group where also a
detective (C.B) is member. he uses this friendship to cover, that he
mudered his wife. Film includes several scenes of the group's weekly race
(which also plays a part in the murderers alibi), and even the final
confrontation is not done using guns, but bikes.
On a far tangent anyone ever see the Euro 'Vanished' (I think there was a
poor attempt at an American version with Jeff Bridges)? There was a
reference in the bizarre dialogue about Joop Zotemelk (sp?) and bicycle
racing. Never figured out what it had to do with the rest of this
Neither do I, except maybe that the Dutch couple in the French/Dutch movie
"The Vanishing" was on bicycle vaccation in France when the wife was
THE YELLOW JERSEY
A PBS Documentary from the Early 70's, showing the trials of the American
team at a stage race in Canada.
BREAKING AWAY, the TV Series Shawn Cassady plays the role of Dave Stoller,
bike racer, in the TV series, based on the movie of the same name. This
one is tough to find, as it only lasted one season in the early 80's.
One great movie to watch is "A Sunday In Hell 1976 Paris-Roubaix" available
from World Cycling Productions. Not one of their regular videos, but a
real movie about pro racing.
Yeah.. great flick, but if I remember correctly, isn't that the one with
the endless "PAREY RABO.. PAREY RABO..." chant in the background that goes
Of course this one is slightly disappointing after you hear all of the
build up. Another one, Stars and Water Carriers is a better movie with much
better scenes of Eddy (The Cannibal) Merckx and how he won so much.The film
shows the strain on Eddy's face and clearly shows how much effort he put
into his racing. This is a Danish documentary with added english sound
track so it sounds a bit funny, but it takes my vote for best cycling video
John Forrest Tomlinson wrote
There was also "Key Exchange," though it might be better termed "mid-80s".
I was in it ;-)
So was Nelson "The Chettah" Vails, (a.k.a., the fastest cat in the jungle).
He races the cabbie in the opening scene.
Nope ... that scene is from Quicksilver ... Kevin Bacon is the passenger in
cab... and the star of the movie.
From what I understand, he did a lot of his own stunts ... the boy could
My favorite scene was when KB was racing one of the other messengers, and
COASTED down one of the major S.F. hills on his fixed gear without brakes
.... that and the freewheeling noises whenever he was riding his fixie.
That and when Nelson shifts *from* a 14 *to* a 28 to race the cab.
Speaking of.... Doesn't Dave Stoller drop into his little ring to motorpace
the semi at the beginning of Breaking Away?
From: Jonathan Good
JOUR DE FETE is a great French film starring Jaques Tati. It's about a
bicycling postman's misadventures (Tati) as he seeks to become a faster
deliveryman (and cyclist). It is charming and absolutely hilarious, and
features exciting and ridiculous bicycle riding in almost every scene in
the film. No silly special effects here, this old film features the
actors doing all sorts of cycling feats, including "mixing it up" with a
pack of French racers on a training ride. Very hard to find, but not to
be missed if you get the chance to see it!
Also, I've seen JOEY BROWN, 6 DAY RACER, but it was just called
6 DAY RACER. (No JOEY BROWN in the title, but he is the star of the
Subject: 5.8 Guide to Spectating at the Tour de France
From: Bruce Hildenbrand
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 00:24:10 -0800 (PST)
There are two basic ways you can watch the Tour de France. First off, you can
join an organized tour group. The advantages with a tour group are that all
the logistics are taken care of for you, all you have to do is watch and ride
your bike. The disadvantages are that you must stick to the schedule of the
group and there is a potential to be staying farther away from the venues
because it is harder to find accommodations for a group. There are many tour
groups which provide this service. Surf the Internet or check out the back of
any major cycling periodical for the names of the touring companies.
This guide explains the second option, doing it by yourself, in more detail.
If you are on a very limited budget, you might try to use trains and buses to
get to the locations of the stages. This is not too difficult an option when
viewing the flatter stages, but gets more difficult as the Tour enters the
mountains. If you can afford it, a car is a definite plus, especially if you
want to bring your bike and do some cycling. Renting a car runs about $300-400
a week then you have to add in gas ($5/gallon) and tolls, so figure about
$400-500/week total expenses.
Because of the large entourage (riders, press, support personnel) who follow
the Tour, hotels can be hard to find. This is especially true, in the
mountains, but there are some tricks. Many mountain stages finish at the top
of ski resorts with the Tour entourage staying in the hotels at the resort.
You may be able to find accommodations in the large towns at the bottom of the
resorts or at the end of the valleys, such as Grenoble when the Tour comes to
l'Alpe d'Huez. Better yet, try another moutaintop ski resort near the stage
finish such as Les Arcs when the Tour finishes at Courcheval. It is best to
make accommodations as early as possible to ensure getting a room. Also,
others have reported that even if you have confirmation of a reservation,
the hotel may deny any knowledge when you arrive. If you do pre-book a
hotel, bring all the confirmation information with you on your trip to prove
that you do, indeed, have a reservation.
Another option that gives more flexibility is to camp along the route. If
you are driving by car, you can toss in a tent and a sleeping bag(s) and
camp almos t anywhere along the route. It is important that you bring a
tent since afternoo n and evening thunderstorms are common.
A number of cycling related magazines such as the French magazines Velo and
Mirroir du Cyclisme as well as the American VeloNews publish guides to the Tour
which includes some route information to help you plan where you would like to
watch the Tour. Sometimes, you can obtain a free copy of the official route
map, I have seen these in years past, but don't know how to request one.
Getting on the Route
Obviously, the actual route of each day's stage is closed to both car and
bicycle traffic at some during the day. The problem here is that the
policy fo r closure seems to vary from year to year. One year the road up
to l'Alpe d'Huez was closed at 6am the morning of the stage finish and
another year, the police were letting cars on the road 2 hours before the
riders arrived (about 3 pm)! Suffice it to say that if you absolutely need
to be somewhere at a specific time, you should give yourself lots of time.
The gendarme's seem to be more lenient towards letting bicycles on the race
route, most times they start asking riders to dismount with about 1 hour to go
before the riders arrive. However, recent incidents between spectators and
racers have caused the Gendarmes to be more stringent in enforcing the rules.
If you really want to ride a stage or portions of it, your best bet might
be to do it the day before or the day after the Tour has come by, but that
defeats th e purpose of going to see the Tour in the first place.
On the flatter stages, there are more options of roads to follow to
intersect the Tour. This helps if you want to see a lot of a particular
stage and you have a car. In the mountains, the options are much more
restrictive. One thin g you can do is to stay at the stage finish and then
on the morning of the stage, ride backwards over 1 or 2 climbs, then climb
back up to the finish in time to watch the stage on the big scree TV that
is present at most stage finishes. You then drive to the next stage finish
in the evening after all the hoopla has quieted down.
Visiting teams after stage
At the stage finishes it is difficult to actually visit the teams at their
hotels. The riders need to prepare themselves for the next day which means
getting massages, eating some food and resting are very important. While
it is not advisable to attempt to visit the riders, the team mechanics are
usually out in front, or back, of the hotel washing and adjusting the
riders bicycles. As with the riders, the mechanics have important duties
to attend to after each stage, but they usually don't mind if you watch
them work. You might even curr y their favor by offering to buy them a
Gear to bring
The weather is totally unpredictable during the Tour so you should bring
clothing for hot, cold and wet weather. If you are touring by car and will be
camping, in addition to your personal gear, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and
tent will give you a lot of freedom.
Daily newspapers/TV coverage
The French sports newspaper l'Equipe has excellent daily coverage of the
Tour. It costs about $1 a day. Daily TV coverage of the Tour starts around
2pm giving about 3 hours of coverage as all stages are designed to finish
around 5pm in the evening. On the days of the more important stages such
as the time trials and mountains, TV coverage may follow the entire stage and
begin as early as 9am. If you have access to cable TV, you should be able to
find coverage in the major European languages.
Also, there usually is a large TV screen present at the finish of most stages
which carries the video of the normal TV coverage.
For those of you fluent in French, the radio coverage is also quite good.
Subject: 6 Social
Subject: 6.1 Bicycling in America
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 17:08:29 PDT
(or How to survive on a bicycle)
In America, bicycling appears to be an unacceptable activity for
adults. It is viewed as a pastime reserved for children (people who
are not old enough to drive cars). Adults who sense they are
violating this stricture, excuse their bicycling as the pursuit of
physical fitness, referring to their bicycling as training rides.
Rarely do you hear a cyclist say "we were bicycling" but rather "we
were on a training ride". Certainly most of these people never race
although one might assume, by implication, that their other rides are
races. Some also refer to themselves as serious cyclists, a term used
to describe riders who, typically, keep track of pedaling cadence and
other bicycling statistics, thereby giving proof that their riding is
not child's play.
In contrast, Europeans seem able to accept bicycling as a proper
activity for all ages. That is to say, motorists do not treat
bicyclists with apartheid and bicyclists do not feel the need to
justify their pursuit as anything other than bicycling, for whatever
reason. In Europe cadence on speedometers is an un-marketable
function for no obvious reasons, however, one could imagine that for
the average cyclist it is a useless statistic, except for "training
With this perception of bicycling in America, non cyclists and some
occasional cyclists are offended by others who bicycle on public roads
in the presence of automobile traffic. "Get the f#%k off the road!"
and similar epithets are heard from drivers, some of whose cars are
equipped with bike racks. I find it is similar to gay bashing; by
expressing public outrage they demonstrate abhorrence of unacceptable
behavior. The same is true of bicyclists who deride others in public
for not wearing a helmet. Aggressive self righteousness is probably a
Another motive behind such behavior may be a sense of dissatisfaction
with ones life. Anyone who is perceived as having fun, or at least
more fun than the subject, needs to be brought down a notch.
Psychologists who have interviewed youths that go "wilding" have
gotten responses to the effect that "my life is terrible and I can't
stand people who are having fun". So these youths attack others and
beat them bloody. In a manner that may not make sense to others, they
bring their victims down a notch to achieve parity.
There is little doubt that bicycling has its hazards. You can fall by
running into a pothole or an obstacle, by riding into a grating, or
falling on loose gravel or a slick manhole cover. There are enough
hazards without the threat of being run down by a car. However, the
whole sport loses its appeal when motorists, who believe that adult
bicycling is offensive, actively engage in making it a deadly
In a typical encounter a driver says to his passenger "You see that
guy on the bicycle? That's a dangerous place to ride." while slicing
within inches of the cyclist. The passenger is truly impressed with
the danger of bicycling, especially in the presence of this driver.
I don't understand how drivers justify such behavior but I think I
know what is going on.
o The buzz and swerve routine:
A driver slices dangerously close even though there is no opposing
traffic. Then he drifts to the edge of the pavement to make clear how
far he went out of his way for the cyclist. His desired path was even
nearer the road shoulder than at the passing point. The buzz and
swerve is executed equally well consciously and subconsciously.
o Center court, extra point:
The car, on a visibly empty stretch of road, travels perfectly
centered between median and edge stripes, even when this requires
passing within inches of a cyclist. It appears that the driver is
awarding himself points for not flinching when passing cyclists and
extra points for proximity. In the event of a collision it is, of
course, the cyclist who swerved unexpectedly. The precision with
which the driver executes this maneuver, in spite of the danger, makes
the center court game conspicuous. People generally don't drive
exactly centered in a lane, especially when there is an obstacle.
o Honk and slice:
The buzz and swerve or center court routine can be enhanced by honking
a single one second blast. This is usually done at a far greater
distance than a sincere warning toot; about 200 yards works best.
This is a great crutch for the driver who subsequently collides with
the cyclist. "But I warned him!"
o The trajectory intercept:
A car is traveling on a road that crosses the cyclists path at right
angles. The car and bike are equally distant from the intersection
but at different speeds. With skill, the driver of the car can slow
down at a rate that lets him arrive at the intersection at the same
time as the cyclist. The bicyclist who has a stop sign may now come
to a complete stop and wait for the driver who is only looking out for
the cyclist's safety. If the cyclist doesn't stop, the driver honks
and yells something about breaking the law.
Extra points are gained by offering the right of way to the cyclist,
in spite of moving through traffic in the adjacent lanes.
o The contrived hindrance:
A driver refuses to pass a cyclist on a two lane road until the
passenger asks how much longer they must follow this bicyclist, or
until the following cars begin to honk. Then, regardless of
visibility or oncoming traffic, an inopportune pass is executed after
which each of following drivers makes it clear when passing that it
was the cyclist who was responsible for a near collision.
o The rear-ender:
While riding down a mountain road, the cyclist catches up with a car
that notices his rapid approach. If an oncoming car approaches the
driver slows down, obviously for safety sake, and then suddenly slams
on the brakes when there is no place for the cyclist to go. Bicycles
cannot stop as fast as cars since cars can safely skid the front
wheels but bicycles can't. This game is the more dangerous variation
of speeding up every time the cyclist tries to pass but to drive as
slowly as possible everywhere else.
One explanation for these maneuvers is that the driver recalls that
riding in the mountains was always too hard and riding down hill was
scary. This cyclist can't do what I couldn't do and I'll show him a
thing or two. Thus the driver proves to himself that not riding in
the hills was for safety's sake, it had nothing to do with physical
ability. It fits into the "I'll teach that smartass a lesson." There
is little risk for the car because in a rear-end collision the vehicle
behind is, with few exceptions, found at fault.
So why does all this go on and on?
It is not as though they are all hostile drivers; some are just
frustrated drivers. They may still be getting even for some bicycle
accident they had in their youth and don't want others to get off any
easier. Some are angry at having to spend the time behind the wheel
while other "irresponsible adults" are playing on their bicycles. I
believe the meanest ones are insecure people who don't feel as though
they are accomplishing what they expect of themselves and don't like
to see others have it any better. Many drivers believe that the only
part of the road to which a bicyclist is entitled is the road
shoulder, unless it occurs to the driver to use that part too.
A bike rack on a car may lead you to believe that the driver has a pro
bicycle attitude. Some people use bike racks to transport family
bicycles to a park where they can be ridden safely without venturing
onto dangerous roads; roads that are meant for cars. Among these
people are some of the strongest opponents of general bicycling. They
take refuge in the belief that, if they should run you down while
playing center court, it would prove that you should bicycle as they
do, and not get in the way of cars.
What to do? Don't fuel the flames. Don't return the rudeness that is
dished out. Take legal action where appropriate (and possible).
Don't posture in traffic drawing attention to some undefined
superiority to people who sit in cars. Don't balance on your bike or
ride in circles in front of cars waiting at a red light. Don't make
moves in traffic that are either discourteous, or at best, awkward but
legal. If you hear loud knobby tires coming, believe it! That guy in
the extra tall pickup truck with the all terrain tires, dual roll bars
and multiple searchlights is not a friend of yours coming close to say
hello. Give him room.
Subject: 6.2 League of American Bicyclists
From: Brewster Thackeray
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 99 09:53:34 -0500
Orig-From: Erin O'Brien
The League of American Bicyclists, (founded as the League of American
Wheelmen) has been working to improve the quality of bicycling in America
almost as long as there have been bicycles.
In the 1870s the forefathers of bicycling banded together to lobby the
government for more paved roads and to put a stop to antagonistic acts from
other road-users. United in 1880 as the League, their mission has carried
on throughout the history of bicycling.
Fashioned after "The Good Roads Movement" of the 1880's, our current agenda
is embodied by the L.A.W. Safe Roads Movement, a comprehensive program that
aims to reduce the number of injuries and deaths to cyclists. Highlights
of this 10-pointaction plan include educating bicyclists and other road
users about thei rights and responsibilities to safely share the road, and
promoting the improvement of road design and maintenance to better
The League's Effective Cycling program is making great strides to advance
this agenda. Taught by certified instructors, it is the only national
bicycling education pro