Ask Ian Jenner The Coach…
Q: We are taking a cycling trip around the French Alps (near Bourg D’Oisans). Do you recommend any epic port or pass around that area?
Ian Jenner: Well, you have certainly picked a great place to cycle! Of course, the big monster looming over you is Alpe d Huez, but you also have Col de La Croix de Fer, Col du Lautaret and of course, The Galibier too. Plus, loads of “smaller climbs” to get your teeth into. The best tools to use are things like “Kamoot” or “Map My Ride” where other people have mapped rides that they have shared. You can then simply upload these to your phone and off you go.
It’s important to intersperse the hard days with some easier riding down the valley and a couple of rest days sitting in a hot tub or by the pool sipping a cool glass of rosé from Provence. On trips like this, we tend to do a lot more cycling than we would normally – this makes no difference in the level of cyclist either. Your time can increase by more than 50%, so plan a few big rides, easier and leisurely ones.
Also, prepare to be riding uphill for sometimes as much as 2hrs too. It’s no mean feat for the first time doing that. The views and the downhill more than make up for it though. Enjoy the trip, stay safe and have fun.
Q: How many KM do you get out of the chain? I only get about 2000 – 2,500KM and I weigh around 115kg to 120kg. And yes, I am looking after it. I also want to know; do you carry a spare chain with you? I use XT Deore 10X3 speed.
Ian Jenner: A chains life is approx. 3,000km to 8,000km but it can be more, can be less. It’s hard to say exactly how long it lasts due to several factors. Namely: the different weights and sizes of riders, how they ride, how often they shift the chain. Also, how many watts they produce, whether they ride in poor conditions, hills or flats, also how much tension the chain is under. As well as how much care they take of the component itself also. I change mine twice a year along with the cassette.
My rule, change one change both. Put a new chain on an old cassette then it’s going to wear quicker, slip etc. I am not sure how long your trip is but let’s say it’s 14 days. That would mean 142km every day for 14 days before you felt that you needed a new chain. So, maybe fitting a new one just before you go will mean you won’t need to worry about taking a spare. I always ensure that I carry a chain tool in my bike bag so I can replace, and repair pins should the need arise.
Likewise asking a local where is a good bike shop should prevent any dodgy bike shop issues. If you want the comfort of taking a chain with you then do it. If you bring it back home, then no bother either. Better not to have the stress of wondering about your chain, then you can enjoy your trip!
Q: I’m worried this is a stupid question, but why don’t road bikes have disc brakes like a mountain bike?
Ian Jenner: No question is ever dumb, you ask, and I shall answer! The first road bike with disc brakes was Colnago’s C59, unveiled at the Taipei Bike Show. Antony Charteau, king of the mountains at the 2010 Tour De France, and Tommy Voeckler’s 10-day stint in yellow, really turned things when they rode disc. And since then, it’s been disc all the way.
They have become, lighter, smaller with each year that passes with more and more innovation. Now companies like Specialized don’t even offer rim brake variations with others limiting options if you don’t like the disc. Lots of pluses and minuses for both but bear in mind the last three Grand Tours have all been won on rim, so don’t write them off just yet…
My cycling journey has brought me to be fortunate enough to live, work and train in Italy, at Italy’s largest lake, Garda. However my 40+ years of riding bikes started when I taught myself to ride at a young age. Having a bike gave me freedom and that freedom soon culminated in me wondering how I compared to others. TT’s and Road Races soon followed then of course Club Events and in later life Sportives and Granfondos, some of Italy’s toughest as well as a few MTB events too.
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