March 2020 WheelPeople


Message from the CRW President

Larry Kernan


We’ll start this month’s column with a short travelogue.  As many of you will appreciate, New England winters can be long and cold.  I’ve always understood that the best approach is to embrace it and find activities suitable to the climate – skiing (both downhill and cross-country), hiking, snowshoeing, fat tire biking and even road biking when the opportunity presents.  Mary and I have done that in the past but we miss the road biking and we aren’t as hardy as some CRW members, e.g., Eric Ferioli and others.  So, we’ve been trying out warmer climes to make our winters more bearable.  We call it Spring Training and we’d like to think it gives us a headstart for when spring finally arrives to New England.  Starting in 2016, we’ve headed south, usually for a month or so.  The first year was New Zealand which was fabulous and exotic, though we generally rode trails rather than roads.  If you ever get the chance to ride the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, I highly recommend it.  It begins at the base of Mt. Cook and ends at Oamaru on the east coast of the south island on the Pacific.  The ride began with a helicopter hop across the Tasman River for ourselves and our bikes.  I mistakenly left my Garmin turned on, and the data shows an incredibly steep climb.

New Zealand was a one-off, and we started searching for warmer locales a bit closer to home.  First, we tried Englewood on the Gulf Coast of Florida.  We found a nice bike club, Coastal Cruisers, and had a great month of cycling with a total elevation gain of about 300 feet.  You also have to enjoy riding north or south, because west is impossible and east is pretty undeveloped unless you like swamps and crocodiles.

Last year, we travelled to the Austin area, specifically Lake Travis.  We found some great rides both to our east and west.  Hill Country definitely lived up to the name and we were riding alongside huge ranches, seeing cattle and few cars.  On the downside, we often had to drive 45 minutes or more to get to good ride-start locations.  We found the weather a bit cooler than we had hoped for and very windy.  Given a choice between a mountain and a headwind, give me a mountain any day.  On the other hand, I need to mention some of the best BBQ that I’ve ever eaten.

That brings me to this year.  We are spending February in Tucson.  The weather has been fantastic – mid 70s during the mid-day but dropping to the low 40s at night.  Nearly every day has a bluebird sky with hardly a cloud.  We’ve joined the local bike club, Greater Arizon Bicycling Association (GABA) to meet fellow riders and learn how they organize rides.  We ran into Dave McElwaine, a GABA ride leader, who used to lead CRW’s Saturday Fitness Ride.  We generally leave right from our front door and the routes are incredibly varied.  One day, we’ll ride in Saguaro National Park with a spectacular 8.5 mile loop through the Sonoran Desert.  Or, we’ll pedal The Loop, a 54 mile bicycle trail that encircles the city of Tucson.  There are no speed limits for bicycles and you can really haul.  Most of Tucson’s streets, though filled with traffic, have great bike lanes.  It’s been a wonderful month and we’re giving some thought to returning next year rather than continuing our quest for the perfect Spring Training location.

Member Party and Annual meeting. Although I will ride 1000+ miles by the end of our Tucson trip, I still get to spend some of my off-bike time on CRW matters.  First, let me turn your attention to an important club event this month.  The CRW Member Party and Annual Meeting will be held on March 29th at 1 PM.  This is a great opportunity to socialize and interact with club members and officers.   Rami Haddad has conducted a member survey to understand better what club members are looking for with CRW.  We look forward to sharing the results with you as well as tell you our plans for 2020.  Please sign up if you plan to attend  SIGN UP HERE.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Plan A Bike Vacation Presentation. Additionally, we’ve got some other great events in March.  On March 6th, Rami Haddad is giving a talk at the Lexington Depot, “Plan your next bicycle vacation”.  In addition to being VP of Communications for CRW, Rami is Board Vice President of Adventure Cycling, an adventure cycling non-profit with 52,000 members.  Rami is extremely experienced with bicycle touring and looks forward to sharing that excitement with you.  Register now at  REGISTER

Reverse Heart Disease Presentation.On March 9th in Bedford, Dr. Peter Megdal describes his journey from heart-disease patient to world-class cyclist.  Peter will share how he cured his heart disease to remain a competitive cyclist.  He’ll tell you how to prevent and even reverse heart disease, sharing exercise, diet, medications and lifestyle changes that really work.  CRW will serve some heart-healthy snacks prior to the talk.  Register now at REGISTER

Climb to the Clouds. Finally, as I mentioned in my last column, CRW is running Climb to the Clouds as the Club’s official supported spring century on May 30th.  Some of you are wondering what happened to our previous Spring Century,“North to New Hampshire” out of Wakefield, MA.  Well, I’m glad that you asked.  John O’Dowd and I are running it as a regular CRW ride on Sunday, May 17th.  This ride will feature 50, 63 and 100 mile routes.  Although it is unsupported, don’t be surprised if there are some refreshments at the end.  This ride is free to CRW members, but sign-up is required and is limited to the first 200 riders.

Let’s hope Punxsutawney Phil got it right this year and there will be an early spring.  I’m looking forward to returning home and hitting some CRW rides in March!    



Ride-Leader Training and Kickoff

Mary Kernan


If you’ve ever thought about leading a ride for CRW, now is your chance. On Saturday, April 11, 2020, we’ve got two great events scheduled. The first is Ride Leader Training. This is for anyone who has ever considered leading a ride, led a few and wants to learn more, or never went through training. We’ll cover topics such as:

  • What makes a good ride
  • How to plan a ride and the details you need to consider
  • What to do on the day of the ride
  • How to give a good ride description and safety talk
  • How to deal with common issues

Even better, come to Training with a ride in mind and we’ll help you work out the details and team you up with an experienced ride leader to make it happen.

Following Ride Leader Training is our annual Ride Leader Kickoff. This is a great chance to catch up with your ride leader friends or meet some new ones, learn about the programs planned for the upcoming season, make sure you get your choice dates on the rides calendar, find out what’s better than getting a neck gaiter and more!

Ride Leader Gift. Have you seen those cool CRW neck gaiters? Those were given to any leader who led or co-led a ride in 2019. We’ve got something even better planned for 2020, and it’ll be another ride-leader exclusive.

These events are open to any CRW member.

Here are the details:

Saturday, April 11, 2020
Lexington Depot
13 Depot Square
Lexington, MA

Parking. There is ample on-street parking (metered), fee parking in the adjacent lot and free on-street parking if you’re willing to walk a block or two.

Sign in for Ride Leader Training and coffee    8:30 – 9:00
Ride Leader Training                                  9:00 – 12:00
Sign in for Ride Leader Kickoff and lunch       12:00 – 1:00
Ride Leader Kickoff                                    1:00 – 2:30

Registration is required; please click here to RSVP.

The link to the registration form is


From Heart-Disease Patient to World-Class Cyclist

Eli Post


From Heart-Disease Patient to World-Class Cyclist

Dr. Peter Megdal Describes His Journey


In some sports, you peak in your twenties. Fortunately, biking is not one of them, and we have many members over sixty who are still riding strong. At the same time, numerous health issues come with age, and heart problems are not uncommon. One of our members struggled with heart problems, but was determined to not let them interfere with his love for biking.

Peter Megdal is a PhD in the biomedical sciences. In his own words: “For the past three years, I’ve had a singular focus on reversing my heart disease. My presentation, Reversing my Heart Disease, is designed to bring my story and knowledge to the public, to help anyone who is trying to decide what to do about their health care. I will share how I cured my heart disease to remain a competitive cyclist. You too can benefit from the current science of preventing - reversing and even curing the biggest killer world-wide! I will cover exercise, diet, medications and lifestyle changes that really work.”

We are sponsoring a lecture by Peter, and you should not miss it if you have heart issues or want to learn about health-oriented lifestyle changes. RSVP required.

When: March 9, 2020

Check-in: 6:00 pm (heart-healthy refreshments served)

Presentation Start Time: 7pm

Where: Saint Michael's Church, 90 Concord Road, Bedford Google Map Link


For more information on Peter Megdal: Video showing Peter’s heart treatment and subsequent modifications in life style. Peter sets record at 28.8 mph in Aguascalientes Mexico Peter takes 4th Place at the World Championships Prior lecture by Peter.

Aerodynamic testing at the A2 wind tunnel, North Carolina 



Mounts for Cell Phones

Eli Post


Sometimes a device based on space-age technology fails due to an old-fashioned engineering issue. Or to put it another way, you still need good engineering no matter how advanced the technology. This brings us to the mount you need for your smartphone when it’s used to provide navigation as you bike along, and don't have to worry about getting lost.

There are literally hundreds of mounts to choose from, and you may decide depending on budget, convenience, and yes even fashion. We can’t list every model, but will feature two, a basic model and a more sophisticated one, so you can hopefully meet your needs without extensive research or shopping. You could chat with other riders who have a phone mount and learn about that device's pros and cons. You also need to think about handlebar real estate and make sure there's room; you may need to move things around.

A picture containing skyDescription automatically generated                                                 Basic Model

There are many basic models available, we present one that caught our attention. The Roam Universal Premium Bike Phone Mount is available on Amazon for $16.98 as of this writing. It’s a universal fit for all phones and reviewed as sturdy. The mount attaches to the handlebar  with a simple bar clamp, and the phone is held in place with rubber grips that stretch over it. This is an inexpensive, basic model that works. We caution that the rubber grippers have to be firmly in place or your phone could go flying when you hit a bump. You should check the specs if you have an especially large phone.


                                                                          Advanced  Model

The Quad Lock is a more advanced mounting system. The base is secured permanently to your bike, your phone is enclosed in a case, and the case snaps onto the base. The complete system is about $70 either on Amazon or from the company. We recommend the base which moves the phone forward for better visibility. Members who use this product consider it a worthwhile investment. Installation is easy and the phone stays put even on rough roads. Note that the phone case adds thickness and weight but offers an added measure of protection. Also, the case is specific to the phone and will have to be replaced if you get a new phone of a different size. 

Some members recommended solutions that worked for them like a mount that also provides  storage.

Inertia Designs Tri Phone Bag The phone is protected by clear vinyl and sits on top of a storage bag. It’s about $24 and available from Walmart and bike shops.




You may wish to review our prior article on battery backup, as the information there is related. Our plan is to update the website with information on mounts and other accessories associated with using a cell phone for navigation. editor [at] (Let us know) if you found a solution that works well for you. 



Seeking Grant or Donation Nominations

Steve Carlson

As a member of Charles River Wheelers, I am sure you are proud of our granting efforts to give back to our cycling community!   

As a non-profit organization, we are pleased to donate our annual surplus to advance biking in our community and nationwide. Although we do not intend to limit the purposes and scope of grants, CRW is principally interested in programs and events that support bicycle usage, advocacy, safety, infrastructure development, and skills development. We would like to put your charitable interests first and we are asking members for nominations for the first half of our bi-annual grants/donations effort.  Please send nominations to: grants [at], as soon as possible, but before April 1.  Please refer to the grants section on our webpage to further understand details and qualification guidelines. The Grants Committee will work with all potential recipients to help ensure a successful submission.

This year’s Grants Committee is an ambitious team made up of Andy Brand, Ellen Gugel, Amy Wilson and Steve Carlson and we want to thank you in advance for your help!




Fountain of Youth

Bernie Flynn


It Wasn't the Altitude: Last June a group of us rented an Airbnb in Breckenridge, Colorado to acclimate for a few days before we rode the 2019 Ride the Rockies. This was my fifth consecutive year doing RtR and I felt relatively fit and motivated. The elevation at the house was about 9400 ft. The plan was to do a short ride to get used to the altitude. This was the route:

It was a sunny day and a great group of riders, and the scenery was stunningly beautiful. I was often riding in the front of the group with that playful enthusiasm that recalls the simple joy of being a child.

Then, at around mile 26, we started up the first real climb of the ride. Soon I was off the back and struggling, my heart rate was spiking, and I had to stop several times before I reached the summit of the climb. The grade wasn’t even that steep, but I could hardly breathe and had no energy.

I blamed it on the altitude since just the week before I had been climbing steeper and longer climbs in Vermont and New Hampshire in preparation for RTR.

But it was something more than the altitude. I was able to climb Monarch Pass on the second day of RtR but after that I needed to sag up all the serious climbs. I didn’t know what was happening to me.

Then Came the Flu: Then many of us started to get sick with a cold/flu bronchitis type disease. This caught up with me on the flight home.  Four days later I was in the ICU with a bad case of pneumonia.

The medical advice was simple but disturbing. I needed to moderate my biking and other types of effort like backcountry skiing, winter hiking etc. I had a combination of cardiac issues like Afib and restrictive lung disease that resulted from lung surgery that I had a few years back to deal with another even worse case of pneumonia.

But what does moderation mean when you are climbing a long hill? I really couldn’t go much slower, asI tried explaining to various doctors. So, I just kept riding. I thought all I had to do was get in better shape as usual. Then in late September I went on a weekday group ride and nearly passed out on a small climb. I was able to stop safely and return to my car, but it rattled me.

Time for a Change: Just about the same time all this was happening last summer, Specialized announced a new lightweight Road E-Bike called the Creo. I asked Belmont Wheelworks to let me know when it came in so I could test-ride it.

I wasn’t convinced I “needed” an e-bike. Over the years, I had developed a healthy disdain for people who rode those clunky monsters. Yes, they could go faster than me, but it wasn’t exactly fair and not the same thing as strictly human-powered cycling. My friends who weren’t really cyclists bought and rode them and it annoyed me when they bragged about passing people like me on climbs.

I tried some man-splaining about proper road biking etiquette, and reminded them that e-bikes were just completely different. Of course, at this point I had never ridden an e-bike, but I didn’t let my ignorance get in the way of my strong opinions.

Then in early October I did a 47-mile group ride and pushed myself a bit. Afterwards, I was really exhausted. During the ride I got a message from Wheelworks that the Creo was now available to test ride.

So, on my way home, I stopped at the bike shop with my friend Bob and we test rode the new Specialized Creo SL Evo. This was my first ride on an e-bike. My initial impression was that it seemed just like riding any of my regular bikes but a bit easier. I can be impulsive or maybe because I was tired from the day's ride or just ready for a change, I yanked out the credit card and bought the bike on the spot.

The next day, I was truly exhausted and was having difficulty climbing stairs. The following day I ended up in the hospital once again. The next three days were full of more tests. I think I just needed a rest, because I felt fine after the first day.

My First Ride on an EBike: I went home and put that new e-bike in my car and drove to our house in Vermont. Then, on the following day, I went for my very first long e-bike ride.

Here is the ride

I couldn’t believe how much fun it was to ride the new Creo. I was riding solo, so I flew up the hills just like I was 20 years younger. My average speed was like what I used to be able to do on this route. What’s more, I wasn’t totally exhausted at the end of the ride. In short, I loved it. My Fountain of Youth!

The bike rides like a high-end road bike and you can put out as much energy as you want. You just go faster. The only time you really “feel” the assistance is on the steeper hills and when you use the motor at the higher settings. The motor only works when you are pedaling, so there is no sense of being propelled forward. The harder you pedal, the faster you go. Also, your cadence affects speed and difficulty. So, shifting is just as critical as it is on a normal road bike. I think I expected that an e-bike meant the bike would do the “work” for me. That is not the reality.

The way it works on the two types of e-bikes that I have ridden is that you put out watts in the form of power to the pedals. The motor is set to provide a predetermined number of extra watts depending on what level of assist you choose. There are 3 levels. On my bike, the lowest level of power is 84 watts, Level 2 offers 140 watts and level 3 is 240 watts. I rarely use level 3 and only occasionally use level 2 (useful if you want to chat with the faster riders in the group). Mostly I leave it at Level 1. This amount of assistance, in addition to my remaining abilities, seems adequate for most of the rides I do, solo or in a group. All these settings are adjustable with an app.

My e-bike is a Specialized Creo Sl Evo which means it’s set up for gravel riding. I bought an extra set of wheels on which I mounted some 28 mm road tires that I can switch out with the 38 mm gravel tires the bike came with. Hence the bike is both a road machine and a gravel grinder. One bike does everything but single-track mountain bike trails.

Recently I was in Maui and I rented an Orbea Gain e-bike. This bike was a few pounds lighter than the 28 lbs. Creo but was a Class 1 e-bike which means the power assist ceases once you reach 20 mph. My Specialized is a Class 3 e-bike which offers motor amplification up to 28 mph. At first, I thought that difference wouldn’t matter but on the flat Hawaiian coastal roads it was easy to ride at 20 mph but not so easy once the motor cut out. As soon as I slowed to 19.9 mph it turned back on. Then off then on then off. Annoying was the word that came to mind. Also, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my faster friends on that bike since they ride at 20+ regularly. One of the best things about my new e-bike is that I’ve been able to spend some quality time chatting on group rides with my faster friends.

Of course, you can always go slower. Another myth that I had to unlearn was that e-bikes just naturally go up the hills faster and you don’t really have a choice. Not true, you can go as slowly as you want. The motor doesn’t propel you up the hill. It only amplifies your efforts. It’s entirely up to you how fast you go.

How it Feels; All recreational road cyclists are a bit obsessed with speed. The faster you go, the better you are as a cyclist and a person. It’s sort of a moral sorting out. Kind of like income inequality. Poor people must have made the wrong choices just like the slow people on bikes. Fast riders could show magnanimity or empathy or just ride away. Many bike riders don’t like riding with anyone who is too slow compared with them. At the same time no one likes getting “dropped”. At different times in my cycling life I’ve been off the front and off the back and there is always someone faster. Now with an e-bike I can basically ride with almost anyone. (I do know a pro rider who I can’t wait to see if I keep up with him, we’ll see). I think this is one of the main reasons so many cyclists don’t like the idea of e-bikes. It confuses the moral calculus of speed. Since faster means superior, how can one account for someone who is basically a bionic human? Human, but powered by a machine.

Which brings me to the touchy subject of group rides. Can e-bikes be integrated into rides that are primarily human powered? The answer is a qualified Yes. If the e-bike rider understands and respects the group dynamic, then there is no real problem. I have my short list of rules. Don’t pass everyone on the hills! Choose some riding companions and ride at their pace. No matter how slow it is.

Second, try not to be first. Third, just be kind and considerate and friendly to everyone. Who really cares what bike you are riding if you are a friend? Strangers might judge you, but your friends know who you are, and the quality and depth of friendships count for more than any technology.

I ride for the basic bliss that cycling offers and for the camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts. It’s been difficult to accept the limitations my age and health have made on my lifestyle choices, but I’m truly grateful to have found this piece of technology which I hope will keep me on the road for years to come. I highly recommend to anyone who is aging or has any limitations due to health or whatever to get out, get on an e-bike. It will put a big, silly smile on your face that won’t fade with time.

Photo by Jack Donohue. Left to right; Frank Hubbard, Bernie and his electric bike, Gene Ho and Curt Dudley-Marling


Let’s ride,

Bernie Flynn is a past President of CRW.



Film Festival

Eli Post


It’s been a long winter and most of you have hung up your bikes until the warm weather arrives. However, you can still maintain your connection to biking from home. Youttube has countless videos on biking to amuse or educate you. We assembled a list of unusual videos that were available as of this writing. Some start with a dreaded commercial, but all are ultimately entertaining and perfect for watching, especially on a rainy day. We caution against attempting any of the stunts pictured. Many violate basic safety considerations. 

Stunts Amazing performance with a road bike. Crazy stuff not to do on club rides. This is not for the faint of heart. It has a staggering 116 million views.

Fun in the Snow There’s a fine line between courage and foolishnes: you be the judge watching these riders zipping downhill in the snow. This annual race is in the French alps, and it’s 12 miles and 8500 vertical feet. If you happen to have a spare helicopter around, you can try this at your local ski area.


Beautiful Terrain A beautiful setting is worth the effort getting there. Even by boat. Beautiful bike routes around the world. Beautiful southwestern landscape, but you can't make a false move.

Events Classic events including cows crossing the road. No listing would be complete without the Tour de France and a few crashes.

Hope you enjoyed the watching. If there is interest, we will make this a regular feature of WheelPeople.

This article was prepared with the assistance of Alex Post.



Some Thoughts About E-Bike Control

John Allen


As of 2020, new battery technology and electronics have led to practical e-bikes -- machines powered by both the rider and an electric motor. E-bikes are increasingly popular. People ride them for different reasons. Some cyclists are aging, or out of shape, and want to keep up with friends on group rides. Other cyclists are transporting children or bringing home shopping.  Some have a commute to work which is a bit too long or hilly for the time available, or want to arrive without having worked up a sweat. I’m sure that there are other reasons too.

And so, I am moved to ask: how does the addition of an electric motor affect control of a two-wheeler? What is the difference if power is applied at the front or rear wheel, or at the cranks?  

Safety concerns.

There are three main safety issues when e-assist is added to or designed into a bicycle:

  • The bicycle can just go faster.  Greater speed increases the potential for crashes, and their seriousness. There has been a spike in fatalities to older people in the Netherlands riding e-bikes.
  • Related to this, infrastructure designed for slow bicycling (or not even well for that) works poorly for people riding at 20 miles per hour or more. Yet people tend to think “it’s just a bicycle” and maintain the same poor riding habits. My hair stands on end with YouTube videos I’ve seen of people riding e-bikes at speed in the door zone of parked cars, etc.
  • Different options for motor location and control raise special safety issues, and this article will describe them in more detail.

Rear, Mid and Front Drive

An e-bike may be powered directly through the front or rear wheel, or from the crankset (“mid drive”). A front or rear hub motor is an easier retrofit to an existing bicycle than a mid motor, because no moving parts other than the wheel need to be replaced or modified. The battery may be placed along a frame tube or on the bicycle’s rear rack. Only an electrical connection to the controls and battery is needed, the battery is even incorporated into some popular hub motors, with wireless control. But an integrated system, designed from the ground up, provides different and often better options.

Rear Hub-Motor Control

Differences in rear hub-motor control can be subtle under tame conditions, but sometimes, not so subtle.

I once rode an e-bike with a rear hub motor. Starting out in a low gear nearly reared the bicycle up like a horse. Evidently, the bicycle had a torque sensor which applied power from the motor in proportion to the torque at the rear wheel --  higher torque in a low gear signaled the motor to produce excessive power. With a rear hub motor and more than single-speed gearing, torque in proportion to pedal force requires more sophisticated control, with an additional speed sensor at the rear wheel, or a torque sensor at the cranks.

A rear-hub-motor e-bike can have derailleur gearing, can coast with the pedals stationary, and can be programmed to initiate regenerative braking (charging the battery) when the rider turns the pedals backwards, also allowing backpedaling to position the pedals for starting and stopping -- unlike with a coaster brake, which prevents the pedals from spinning backwards. Regenerative braking is, however, rather weak due to the slow rate at which batteries can charge: the bicycle should have front and rear handbrakes .

Mid-Motor Control

Torque with a mid motor and torque sensor is directly proportional to pedal force, and is also compatible with a conventional gearing system that requires reducing force on the pedals while shifting.  A mid motor will wear the chain and sprockets, though, and can pose complications with shifting unless the gearing is integrated into the motor assembly.  

Front-wheel Drive

The main advantage of a front hub motor is that it is an easy retrofit. It has to be throttle-controlled unless there is a separate sensor at the crank or rear wheel. The motor’s mass makes steering less responsive.  

A cyclist in the conventional riding position can stand and shift body mass forward and backward with each pedal stroke so almost all the weight is on the rear wheel during the high-power part of the stroke, increasing traction when the most power is being applied. This advantage is retained with a torque sensor and rear-wheel drive, but lost with a powered front wheel.

The driven wheel can skid when powered and the surface is slippery. A rear-wheel skid is usually recoverable, but If the front wheel skids, you can’t steer to balance and you fall.

No torque sensor?

Less versatile and responsive than torque sensing  is crank rotation sensing alone. This activates the motor if the pedals are turning, but he motor supplies the same amount of power all the way around the pedal stroke. The level of power production is steadier, and a motor can produce more power overall, but power production is not interrupted when the rider "soft pedals".  With a mid-motor then, all gear shifting is under power unless the rider stops pedaling -- impossible with derailleur gears. 

Some e-bike motors are controlled only by a throttle. Throttle control is most practical with a single-speed drivetrain or a hub motor, because reduction of power while shifting gears is not intuitive as with pedal control or unassisted pedaling. With a throttle, the fingers can't be kept in position over the brake lever to shorten reaction time, and so the throttle should be on the side with the rear brake lever, the one less useful for situations that require a quick stop. The usual twist-grip throttle is practical only with flat handlebars.

One “feature” of throttle control is that the bicycle can be powered without pedaling. The rider isn’t getting any exercise, which is obvious. Take it or leave it… But also, to another road user used to seeing bicycles that require pedaling, a throttle-controlled e-bike can appear to be slowing down – a confusing mixed message. Probably brake lights should be required in connection with throttle control. There is certainly enough energy stored in the battery to power them.


There are many ways to add electric assist to a bicycle. I hope to have clarified some of the differences, and issues with them. I have a good background in the science of this, though I’ll admit that my e-bike riding experience is limited. Please feel free to respond to this article with your comments.



PSI RX Tire Pressure and Load

This article was reprinted from Bicycle Quarterly ( with permission.


PSI RX - Tire Pressure and Load

by Jan Heine



With optimal tire pressure, you get both the best performance and most comfort from your bicycle. What is the optimal tire pressure for your bike, both when riding empty and when touring with camping gear? Tire makers print either a maximum pressure or a recommended range on the sidewalls of their tires, but these generalized values provide little guidance about what is right for you and your bike.

The Function of Tires

We tolerate pneumatic tires and their inevitable punctures only because the alternative — solid tires — is even less appealing. Pneumatic tires use air to absorb road shocks. This not only makes them more comfortable, but also much faster. Have you ever used a handcart with solid tires? Then you know how hard it can be to push, compared to a bicycle with pneumatic tires. To understand how pneumatic tires work, we need to look at two different types of resistance.

Suspension losses

A bike that vibrates and bounces from one bump to the next is lifted up time and again. Lifting the bike requires energy. Part of this energy is absorbed in the rider’s body and, on a touring bike, by the luggage. The rest is returned as the bike rolls off the bump. When you accidentally ride into the rumble strips that separate many U.S. highways from the shoulder, you are not only very uncomfortable, but you also slow down immediately as energy is absorbed in your body. By smoothing out the bumps, pneumatic tires save energy.

Deformation losses

The downside of a soft and squishy tire is the deformation of the tire as the wheel rotates. Most of the energy necessary to bend the tire casing is returned as it springs back into shape at the rear of the contact patch, but some of it is lost to friction within the tire and is no longer available to drive the bicycle forward.

Optimal tire pressure

For the best performance and comfort, you need a tire that is neither too hard nor too soft. Instead of inflating your tires to the maximum pressure, run them at the optimal pressure, where they deflect enough to keep the bike from vibrating too much yet are not so soft that they slow down due to excessive deformation losses.

Tire drop

Tire drop measures how much the tire deflects under the load of rider and luggage (Figure 1). For example, if your tire is 30 mm tall without a load and 27 mm tall once you sit on the bike, your tire drop is 3 mm or 10 percent.

As part of Bicycle Quarterly’s tire performance tests, we looked at the influence of tire pressure on the speed of areal rider on an average road surface. As expected, performance increased with higher tire pressures, but only up to the point that corresponded to about 15 percent tire drop. Higher pressures no longer brought meaningful performance improvements. Tubular tires even became slower at higher pressures. This means that if you want the optimal speed and comfort from your bike, you should try to obtain a tire drop of 15 percent. With more tire drop (lower pressure), you will be more comfortable but slower. With less tire drop (higher pressure), you will be less comfortable, but not significantly faster, because your bike bounces so much more. Perhaps not coincidentally, many tire manufacturers recommend a tire drop of 15 percent.

Click Here for Larger Image

Tire Pressure

Measuring tire drop requires a relatively complex setup. Fortunately, Frank Berto has done the measurements for us (Figure 2). His chart shows the tire pressure that results in a tire drop of 15 percent. Obviously, tire drop depends both on the weight resting on the wheel and the air volume of the tire (which correlates to tire width). For the width, you can either use calipers or, as a rough estimate, the markings on the tire. For the weight, place a scale under the front wheel of your bike and a brick under the rear wheel so the bike is level. Sit on the bike, have a helper hold you upright, and read the scale. Then turn the bike around so that its rear wheel rests on the scale and repeat the measurement.

Depending on how you load the bike, the weight distribution may be very unequal. You can use the values in Fig. 3 as starting points for your bike. For example, if you and your racing bike together weigh 200 pounds, your front tire probably carries about 80 pounds. (40%) and the rear tire carries about 120 pounds. (60%).

To find the ideal tire pressure, follow the line for your tire width until it intersects the weight on that wheel. Now you can read the tire pressure that results in 15 percent tire drop. Round it off to the nearest 5 pounds per square inch (psi). For example, if you use 23-mm tires in the example above, your front tire should be inflated to 80 psi and your rear tire to 125 psi.

Of course, you should not exceed the maximum pressure rating of you tires.  If you find that the table suggests a pressure that your tires cannot support, you probably should use wider tires.

Wider tires carry loads better

When you look at the slope of the lines in the chart, you will see that the lines for narrow tires are much steeper than those for wide tires. With wider tires, you don’t have to increase the tire pressure by much as you load the bike. If you add a 40-pound load (20 pounds each on front and rear racks) to the bike in the above example with its 23-mm tires, your tire pressures should increase by 25 psi to 105 psi (front) and 150 psi (rear). However, if you use 37-mm tires, the tire pressures should increase only from 35 to 45 psi (front) and from 55 to 65 psi (rear).

Properly inflated, wider tires provide much more comfort. When you hit a bump and your tire drop increases from 15 to 18 percent, the 23-mm tire will give you only 0.69 mm suspension, whereas the 37-mm tire deflects 1.11 mm. The added suspension of the wider tire makes it faster and more comfortable on rough roads. This opens up many backroads to enjoyable bicycle touring.

Tire width and speed

But aren’t narrower tires faster? Not really. The key to a fast tire is a supple, thin casing that requires less energy to deform than a sturdier, thicker casing. For a variety of reasons, many wide tires use heavy-duty casings, which are indeed slow. Wide tires with high-performance casings can be very fast. In Bicycle Quarterly’s tests, the five fastest tires ranged in width from 24 to 37 mm. Many narrow “racing” tires did not make it into the top five.

A thin, supple casing is faster because it absorbs less energy as it deforms. Thus, it will deform more for a given bump, making it more comfortable than a  sturdier tire with a thicker casing (for the same tire width and pressure). The downside of a thin, supple casing is reduced resistance to punctures.

When you plan your tour, it is useful to think about tire sizes and pressures. However, once you’re on the road, don’t obsess about tire pressures, as long as you have enough air in your tires to avoid pinch flats. Especially with wide tires, a few psi more or less make little difference, and you can focus on enjoying the ride.

Jan Heine is editor of Bicycle Quarterly, a magazine about the culture, technology, and history of cycling. More information can be found at www.bikequarterly .com.



Bicycling History Exhibit at West End Museum (February 18 – May 30)

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, The West End Museum premiered a new exhibit, “Cycling Legends of the West End,” focusing on three key characters in bicycling history; two residents and a long-time physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. The invention of the bike, its popularization and innovations in the 1800’s to the craze of the 1890s and the renaissance of the 1970s are recounted through vintage bicycles, photographs, artifacts, and graphic panels. The show reception takes place on Saturday, February 29 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Concurrent programs— film screenings, author talks, roller racing, bike tours and the New England Builders Ball (NEBB)—complement the show, which runs through May 30, 2020. The exhibit and reception are free; concurrent programs require small admission for non-museum members.


“Bicycling legends, Kittie Knox and Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, were residents of the West End during the progressive era, and in their own way activists for women’s freedom.” said Duane Lucia, museum director and exhibit curator, “Dr. Paul Dudley White, long time cardiologist at MGH, led the charge for the fitness movement starting in the 1950’s, which in turn saw the reemergence of bicycling in the 1970s.”

Kittie Knox, a woman of color, was a seamstress and member of the League of American Wheelmen (LAW) who lived at the corner of Irving and Cambridge Streets in the 1890s West End. She confronted racism and gained national attention when she attended a LAW meet in Asbury Park, NJ, in a year when the LAW tried to restrict the membership of African Americans. Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, AKA Annie Londonderry, left her family and Spring Street home in the West End in 1894 and proceeded to ride a bicycle "around the world." 

With the popularity of the automobile in the first half of the twentieth century, the bicycle faded to the status of a toy; mostly marketed to children. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower had a heart attack on September 24, 1955, noted Mass General cardiologist Dr. Paul Dudley White was called on to treat him. White, an avid exerciser and bicyclist recommended that the President develop a regimen to increase his daily activity. Dr. White would become influential in getting Americans to focus on the benefits of exercise, diet and weight control; his advocacy for safe biking would lead to the designated bike path along the Charles River Basin.

Today, climate change and a desire for healthier and more active lifestyles has led many, including Bostonians, to embrace the bicycle once again as a way of reducing carbon emissions while providing transportation that many find healthier and more rewarding. While the show looks back in time, much of what happened in the early 20th century is happening again today. However, where the 1900s - 1920s saw the bike yielding to motor vehicles, today it’s bikes that are challenging the car’s dominance on urban and suburban roadways.

Antique bikes will be exhibited, including a boneshaker, a high-wheel, and a “safety” bicycle.”

The first concurrent program: “A History of African American Cycling in Boston,” was held Saturday, February 22, 2020 from 4-6 PM.Boston Globe Article 2-25-20

The West End Museum is located at 150 Staniford Street, Suite 7. Nearest subway stop is North Station (within 200 feet). Phone is 617-723-2125.

Museum Hours:

Tuesday – Friday (12 pm- 5:00 pm)
Saturday (11:00 am – 4:00 pm)



Looking Back

Brandon Milardo

In the March 1970 issue of Wheelpeople, John Vanderpoel (any relation to Matthieu?) wrote the first of three articles about cycling in Japan. It would be interesting to see whether any of his pointers are still the norm today, as well as to see how much some advice may have changed in 50 years. Some of the better bits:

  • There are two types of Japanese bicycles: the “beast of burden” bike and the lightweight 21” frame size. Of the two, the former “is so strong that I have seen one ridden with three sacks of cement on the carrier”, while the latter “is of inferior quality”.
  • Travel with your own bike, if possible, but be ready for the shipping process to be challenging. In sending his own bike ahead, John notes: “Not much money was involved, but an awful lot of nuisance.”
  • While Tokyo has a high volume of traffic, it’s not an unsafe place to ride. “Without any exceptions, all the auto and truck drivers are ex-bicycle riders, and in my opinion, do all in their power to give the bike rider a good break.”
  • Tokyo is an expensive place to stay, but a cheap one to get around. John suggests getting out of the city or finding a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) to save money, and notes that cab fares are only 25 cents for the first 2km of travel and 6 cents for every few hundred meters after that.



Photo of the Month

On a cold day in January, following a snowstorm the night before, CRW held a Fixing Flats Workshop. Ride Headquarters, in Sherborn hosted the event, and participants were asked to bring the front wheel from their bike to get the most out of the workshop. Larger Image



The Athlete’s Kitchen: Eating Clean: Unintended Consequences

Nancy Clark

The Athlete’s Kitchen: Copyright Feb. 2020: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD 

Eating Clean: Unintended Consequences

I’ve started eating clean; quinoa and brown rice. No more white rice.

I haven’t had cookies for ages. I’m eating clean—no added sugar.

When I visit my parents, I bring my own food. It’s healthier….

The clean eating movement has raised a lot of questions about what you should and should not be eating. I hear athletes chatter a lot about good (nutrient-dense) foods, bad (nutrient-poor) foods, and clean foods. Hence, if you are feeling confused about what’s best for you to eat for health and performance, you are not alone. 

Clean foods are generally defined as being unprocessed, all-natural, free of GMOs, added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined grains, and perhaps gluten. Clean foods are also free of antibiotics, hard to pronounce ingredients, and wrappers. Some athletes talk about avoiding un-clean food with an air of superiority: I don't do sugar or white flour anymore. This often includes denying themselves of some fun and special foods (birthday cake, dessert with friends, warm dinner rolls). Clean eaters can easily instill guilt in a friend or relative who eats, let’s say, warm rolls from the restaurant’s breadbasket, as if that person is sinning. (Note: Eating is not a sin!)

 Please understand there is no such thing as a good, bad, clean, un-clean, or junk food. An apple, for example, is commonly considered to be a good, clean (health-promoting) food, but a diet of all apples is a bad diet.

I encourage you to stop labeling specific foods (white bread, red meat) or ingredients (sugar, salt) as being good or bad. Instead, you want to look at how the food fits into your sports menu for the entire week, month, and year, and evaluate a food in context of a balanced or unbalanced diet. Even so-called bad foods with little nutritional value can be balanced into an overall wholesome sports diet. (Note: the only bad foods—that you really don’t want to eat—are moldy, poisonous, or cause an allergic reaction.)

The dirt on clean eating

  Clean eating often comes with unintended consequences. Please keep the following dirt in mind if you have stopped eating salt, red meat, refined grains, and added sugar. 

—Eliminating table salt when cooking and at the dinner table reduces your intake of iodine. This mineral was added to table salt in the 1920s to eradicate goiter (a thyroid disorder). Iodine is in dairy milk, saltwater fish, and seaweed. If you rarely eat those items, and add no salt to your food, your iodine intake could be quite low. Iodine deficiency is associated with infertility, poor brain development in infants, low metabolism, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

 Pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, or other specialty salts are not iodized. Nor is the salt used in commercial foods. If you are an athlete who sweats heavily and craves salt, don’t hesitate to enjoy a sprinkling of iodized salt.

—Cutting out red meat reduces your intake of iron, a mineral needed to prevent anemia and needless fatigue. Anemia is prevalent among females who lose iron via menstrual bleeding. Studies suggest 20% to 50% of collegiate female athletes experience anemia. Male athletes are also not immune from becoming anemic. A study with collegiate male runners suggests about 20% were iron-deficient.

     If you choose to abstain from eating iron-rich red meat, be sure to consume alternate sources of iron, such as chicken thighs, tuna fish, dried beans, and iron-enriched breakfast cereals. Note that all natural cereals, like granola or Puffins, have no additives. That means, they have no added iron. For people who eat no red meat, this further reduces their chances of consuming adequate iron.

—Eliminating enriched white bread and other refined grains also reduces the intake of iron, as well as B-vitamins such as folic acid. These nutrients are added to help prevent deficiencies. Folic acid is of particular importance for women who might become pregnant; it helps reduce the risk of birth defects. A diet with some enriched and fortified refined grain foods boosts intake of this important nutrient. US Dietary Guidelines recommend half of the grains you eat should be whole grains, the other half can be enriched grains. Yes, white pasta and breads do offer nutritional value! Mix ‘n match your grains.

—Eliminating “carbs” (starchy foods, such as bread, bagels, pasta, rice, etc.) can easily lead to “dead legs” and poorly fueled muscles. I counsel far too many athletes who train hard and eat just protein and veggies for dinner, with no “carby foods.” Even athletes who eat a lot of veggies with a meal will unlikely consume the recommended 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight that optimally replenishes the muscle glycogen stores of competitive athletes. This comes to at least 1,200 calories of carbohydrate a day for the 150-pound athlete who exercises 1 to 2 hours a day. This is far more carbs than found in a large salad doused with 500 calories of dressing! No wonder I hear so many complaints about fatigue, dead legs, and poor workouts from athletes who have “knocked off the carbs.” Eating a grain food as the foundation of each meal resolves the problem.

—Eliminating foods with added sugar eliminates a lot of (fun) foods. Do you really want to never enjoy cookies or birthday cake ever again—without feeling guilty, that is? Is something wrong with enjoying a sweet treat in moderation? No! US Dietary Guidelines state 10% of total calories can come from refined sugar. For most athletes, that’s 200 to 300 calories of added sugar a day (50-75 g) that helps fuel muscles.

     Athletes who avoid sugar (with hopes of curbing their so-called sugar “addiction”) commonly end up binge-eating sugary foods. Denying sugar is not the solution. Rather, routinely balancing in a sweet such as a daily cookie, can help keep cookies from become an all-or-nothing food.

The bottom line:

        Instead of aspiring to eat clean, how about focusing on eating a variety of foods that offer 85% to 90% quality calories? Balance in unclean foods, if desired, with the remaining 10-15% of your calories. No need to suffer through a perfectly clean sports diet, because an excellent diet is good enough. Despite popular belief, a little bit of “dirty food” will not ruin your health forever.

Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875). The 6th edition of her Sports Nutrition Guidebook (2019) can help you eat wisely and well. Visit For her online workshop, visit




Dr. Mirkin: Large Doses of Vitamin D Can Be Harmful

Large Doses of Vitamin D Can Be Harmful

Lack of vitamin D can cause weak bones that break easily, bone pain, and muscle weakness, and may increase risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, nerve damage and autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis. However, taking very high doses (>3000 IU/day) of vitamin D can harm you (Laboratory Medicine, 2018;49(2):123-129). Some of the conditions thought to be caused by lack of vitamin D may not be cured by taking vitamin D because they actually may be caused by lack of sunlight. For example, people who get little sunlight are at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, several types of cancers, infections, bone fractures, diabetes, obesity, depression, auto-immune diseases and other diseases, and these increased risks have not been shown to be prevented or treated by taking vitamin D pills (J Intern Med, Oct 2016;280(4):375-387). See my report on Sunlight: More than Vitamin D

How to Tell if You Are Low on Vitamin D
The only dependable blood test to check whrther you are deficient in vitamin D is for hydroxy vitamin D. Measuring dihydroxy vitamin D, the active form of vitamin D, is not dependable because its levels do not drop until you have almost no vitamin D left in your body. The current consensus is to get your blood level of hydroxy vitamin D above 20 ng/ml. Previous recommendations for hydroxy vitamin D as high as 50-80 ng/ml are not supported by adequate research. Recent studies suggest that 30 ng/ml is more than adequate and most experts feel that any level above 20 ng/ml is normal (Osteoporosis International, February 2017;28(2):505-515). Most of the studies extolling the benefits of vitamin D pills for various diseases show association, not cause and effect, and thus are likely to be due to chance (BMJ, Apr 1, 2014;348:g2035). There is no evidence anywhere that people with hydroxy vitamin D levels above 30 are healthier than those between 20 and 30. If “normal” blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D were set higher than 20 ng/ml, more than 80 percent of North Americans would probably be misdiagnosed as having low blood vitamin-D levels.

Sources of Vitamin D
The main source of vitamin D is usually sunlight, because ultraviolet rays convert cholesterol in your skin to vitamin D. You cannot get an overdose of vitamin D from sunlight (Am J Clin Nutr, 2004; 79: 362–371) since the sunlight also breaks down vitamin D in your skin (Science, 1982; 216: 1001–1003). The best food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon and so forth), liver, cheese, egg yolks, spinach, kale, okra, collards, soybeans, and various fortified foods, but it is very difficult to meet your needs for vitamin D from foods. The people most likely to suffer from vitamin-D deficiency in the winter are those with darker skin and those who avoid sunlight.

How Much Vitamin D Should You Take if You Are Deficient?
There is disagreement on how much vitamin D healthy adults should take. Recommendations run between 200 IU to 2000 IU per day. In the U.S., the Institutes of Medicine recommend 600-800 IU per day for adults, while the Endocrine Society states that optimal vitamin D status may require 1500-2000 IU per day. In the winter, people have a reduced ability to make vitamin D when they go outside, so amounts of at least 600 IU per day of vitamin D from supplements or foods would help to maintain vitamin D status at summer levels.

The major expected benefit of vitamin D is to help keep bones strong, but raising blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D from 20 to 30 ng/ml with high doses of vitamin D pills increased calcium absorption by only one percent and did not increase bone mineral density or physical function, when compared with placebo (Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes, Dec 2016;23(6):440-444). Higher blood levels of vitamin D (greater than 20 ng/ml) do not make bones stronger than lower blood levels, as they do not reduce levels of parathyroid hormone or bone resorption (Curr Rheumatol Rep, June 2011;13(3):257-64). Large doses (4000 IU/day) of vitamin D did not slow declining physical function in sedentary men over 70 (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 11/22/2016).

Too Much Vitamin D Can Harm You
High vitamin D levels have been reported to be associated with increased risk for skin, prostate and blood cancers (American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Chicago, April 16, 2018) and high blood calcium levels that increase risk for kidney stones (Lab Med, 2018;49(2):123-129). I have never seen vitamin D toxicity from too much sunlight or from foods that contain vitamin D. Most experts recommend no more than 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D. Calcium pills, which many people take with vitamin D supplements, can harm you by increasing risk for heart attacks and kidney stones (BMJ, Sept 29, 2015;351:h4580).

Avoiding Skin Cancers from Too Much Sunlight
Excessive sunlight exposure causes skin cancers, so any recommendation for increasing sunlight exposure must be accompanied by precautions:
• The people who are most susceptible to skin cancer are those with the lightest skin pigments, so they should limit their exposure to sunlight. On light skin, it takes only a few minutes of exposure of a small area to reap the benefits of sunlight.
• People with dark skin may be at increased risk for diabetes and heart attacks specifically because of their skin color, and they may need, and can safely tolerate, larger doses of sunlight exposure.
• Protect the areas of your skin that have received the most exposure over your lifetime. For most people, this will be the face and lower arms. Wear a hat and long sleeves, or use sunscreen to protect these areas. Target your sun exposure to less-damaged areas such as your legs and expose them only for short periods of time. Use clothing and/or sunscreen for any activity that keeps you in the sun for more than about 15 minutes.

My Recommendations
Most people can get all the vitamin D that they need by exposing a few inches of skin to sunlight for a few minutes three times a week during the warmer months. I believe that sunlight offers benefits that cannot be obtained just by taking vitamin D pills, but take proper precautions to avoid skin cancer. During the winter months, you can take up to 1000 IU/day of vitamin D pills if you wish.

If you are concerned about your vitamin-D level, get a blood test for hydroxy vitamin D. All other vitamin D blood tests are not dependable. If your hydroxy vitamin D level is above 20 ng/ml, you are presumed to be normal, unless your doctor is concerned that you have a condition that possibly may benefit from higher levels.

Most researchers and clinicians now feel that, with few exceptions, doses of vitamin D3 greater than 1000 IU/day are not beneficial and are potentially harmful. You should not take doses higher than that unless your doctor diagnoses a specific reason to do so. People who may benefit from treating low blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D include those who:
• are inactive and do not go outdoors
• suffer from generalized muscle and joint pain
• are athletes with recurrent injuries and decreased performance
• have weak bones, called osteoporosis
• are diabetic, particularly if their harmful LDL cholesterol level is over 100
• have an auto-immune disease
• are very obese
• are critically ill or debilitated
• suffer from muscle pain from taking statin drugs
• have difficulty absorbing food because of diseases such as sprue or irritable bowel syndrome