Dave Moulton

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Going around corners

Roll a wheel or for that matter any round flat object on a flat surface and it will roll in a circle. Even something as small as a coin. It will continue rolling in ever decreasing circles until it finally falls and settles in one spot. This is a demonstration of gyroscopic action, and the way it works.

That is, a spinning wheel will remain upright as long as it keeps spinning. When it loses momentum and starts to fall it will turn in the direction it is falling, which is why it rolls in a circle.

This law of physics gives a bicycle a simple built-in self-steering capability. You can demonstrate this to yourself by holding a wheel in both hands by the spindle and spinning it. The first thing you will notice is that the wheel wants to stay upright in the same plane, demonstrating the first law mentioned in the paragraph above.

If you forcibly move the top of the wheel to the left or right as it is spinning it will also turn in the direction you are leaning it. Just as a rolling coin will turn in the direction it is falling. As you lean a bicycle into a corner it will steer itself around the corner.

Let’s not forget the rear wheel. Although it is in a fixed position and cannot turn within the frame, it is still spinning and leaning therefore assisting in steering the bike as a whole around the corner. 

Because the steering tube on a road bike is angled forward, usually at an angle of 73 degrees, when the steering is turned, the fork blade that is on the inside of the turn drops and the other side raises. Therefore, the front and rear hubs are not in the same plane. (See top picture.)

If the head angle of a bicycle was vertical (90 degrees.) when you turned the handlebars to round a corner, the front and rear hubs would remain in the same plane. 

Going through a turn the front wheel is leaning slightly more than the rear wheel. This adds to the stability of the bike because the front wheel is outside the centerline of the frame. 

Because the front wheel is leaning slightly more than the rear wheel, it is turning at a slightly tighter turning radius, creating over steer. This is a good thing, centrifugal forces are pushing the bike wide on the corner, over steer is counteracting this.

Again, the law of physics states that a moving object will travel in a straight line until an opposing force causes it to change direction. These centrifugal we speak of are nothing more than momentum causing the bike and rider to continue straight while attempting to turn left or right.

We lean into the corner; the wheels steer us in the direction we need to go, and gravity counterbalances the forces that want us to keep us going straight.

At slow speeds this is an instinctive move, higher speeds require more skill. Lean too little and you will go wide and off the road on the outside. Lean too far and the bike will slide out from under you, and you will slide across the road in the direction momentum wanted to take you in the first place.

The design of the bike, in particular the frame will give the bike these desired steering qualities. Head angles, fork rake and wheelbase, even the weight distribution of the rider, all play a role. After that it is the skill of the rider. Done right it is a joy to execute, and a joy to watch others do properly.


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Dave’s Bread Pudding

When I started racing in the 1950s there were no protein bars, the food we carried in our jersey pockets while racing, or musette bags on long training rides, was prepared at home. One of my favorites was my mother’s bread pudding.

Many bread pudding recipes turn out so soft that you need a spoon to eat them, and too wet and sloppy to carry in your pocked and eat in your hand. This bread pudding could be cut in handy size pieces, wrapped in grease proof paper or aluminum foil, and would not fall apart in your pocket or your hand as you ate it.

However, it was moist like a pudding, rather than dry like a cake. Therefore, easy to chow down while riding. I can pretty much remember what went into it, having watched my mother make her bread pudding for many years, long before I even got into bike racing.

The main ingredient was left over stale bread, milk, eggs, butter, etc. like any cake or pudding, but what proportions for the ingredients?

There was only one way to find out, actually put one together, bake it and eat it. Maybe my mother was looking over my shoulder as I assembled it, because it turned out exactly as I remember.

The main difference was my mother always added cocoa or cooking chocolate. I used Dr. John Gray’s Protein shake mix. (Left.)

I used this because it is something I drink daily, and it was on hand. It is not cheap, so I don’t suggest you buy it just to make the occasional bread pudding. But if you have something similar on hand, use it, or substitute cocoa or cooking chocolate.


8 cups white bread, cut into ½ inch cubes. If you can crumble the bread further into breadcrumbs, even better.

3/4 cup raisins.

3/4 cup brown coconut sugar, (Substitute regular brown sugar.)

4 cups whole milk.

3 Large Eggs.

2  Tablespoons Coconut oil. (Substitute butter.)

4 Tablespoons Cholate Protein Mix. (Substitute Cocoa or cooking chocolate.)

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon


Mix the cubed or crumbled bread thoroughly with the raisins, then place in a greased dish, to fill the bottom of the dish to the halfway line. (Grease dish with additional coconut oil or butter.)

Place all the other 6 ingredients in a blender and blend. If you don’t have a blender mix thoroughly by hand.

Pour the liquid from the blender over the breadcrumbs to cover the bread completely, but not excessively. Use a little extra milk if it doesn’t.

I used a fairly large oven proof casserole dish, 10 in. x 10 in. x 2 ½ in. deep. It took 8 cups of bread (About 12 slices.) to half fill the dish. If you use a smaller dish, discover how much bread it will take to fill the dish to the halfway line, and scale back the other ingredients proportionately.

The pudding will rise slightly as it cooks, hence you only fill the dish halfway. But the dish needs to be deep enough that the uncooked pudding is at least one inch deep, or it may dry out in the center.

Place the open dish in the center of the oven and bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a knife pushed in the center comes out clean. I baked mine for 55 minutes, a smaller dish may take less time.

Allow to cool, then refrigerate. The bread pudding should be hard and crisp on the outside but soft and moist on the inside. Cut into handy size pieces, and wrap in aluminum foil, or place in a zip-lock sandwich bag.

A good size piece like the one pictured above should be good for 50 miles. Your mileage may vary.


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Are Socks the New Necktie?

It used to be men wore suits and neckties, the tie was the way a man expressed his individuality, often his personality. Men had large collections of ties and would choose a different one each day, often his choice would reflect his mood that day.

If there was an important business meeting, job interview, or promotion in the offing, the choice of tie for that day was extremely important. Men would seek tie choice advice from wives, friends and colleagues.

Today, apart from certain businesses and formal wear, men wear suits less often. Some men don’t even own a suit.

If you see a man in a suit at McDonalds’ or riding a bus, he is probably on his way to court.

It used to be if a man wore a brown suit, it would be worn with brown shoes and socks.

The whole ensemble would match and blend in. Today it's okay to wear brown shoes with a dark blue or grey suit.

On occasions it seems men will wear a formal suit and tie and wear a pair if bright multi-color socks.

One doesn’t see the socks until the wearer sits down. They are a surprise item. 

I always think, ‘Wow, that man has balls. He is either the boss, very good at what he does, and therefore indispensable, or he’s a celebrity.’

With more and more people abandoning the suit and tie altogether, and opting for casual wear, it occurred to me that without the necktie to express individuality, a person can do so by his choice of socks.

This thought came to me when I was contacted by Ozone Socks who asked if I would review their socks on my blog.

They offered to send me a free pair, and although it is nice to get free stuff, I opted to buy a pair of my own choice. If I am to wear socks that express my personality, then I need to choose them.

The socks I chose are mid-calf, I was impressed that they stay up but are not at all tight, they were light and extremely comfortable.

Check out the large selection of men’s and women’s socks at Ozone, the art of socks.

By the way, I took a selfie of my own socks, (See top picture.) not easy without a selfie stick. Just goes to show for an old guy, I’m still pretty flexible.


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Cyclists Misbehaving

“There is nothing wrong with the world except for people misbehaving.”

Think about it. If people behaved themselves, there would be no crime, no wars. No need for armies or police.

There would be no need to lock our doors, and we could leave our car or bike anywhere unlocked.

Utopia of course, a fantasy world that will never happen.

Here is a comment on the bikes vs. cars situation in New York City from a Jack Brown, a former bike store owner no less.

I think his words sum up the situation probably as good as any I have read.

"Cyclists can be anywhere, at any time: on the sidewalk, riding the wrong way down the street, and you have no peace. The anarchy that has been allowed to prevail is astonishing.

According to butterfly theory, according to chaos theory, I am sure that the level of emotional and psychological damage wrought by the bicycle far exceeds the damage done by cars. The cumulative effect is equivalent to what happened on 9/11."

I think the comparison to 9/11 is a little strong, however, he is talking about “Emotional and Psychological” damage, not actual physical harm being done. The fact that cars have far more potential to do physical harm than bikes is not the issue here.

Pedestrians are not being mowed down in large numbers and killed or seriously injured by cyclists, but the fear that it could happen causes emotional stress, In the same way that living in a high crime area causes stress.

Like living in the constant fear that you could catch a stray bullet at any time, it the fear that is real, not the odds in your favor that you will never actually be shot.

The problem is being caused by a minority of cyclists, just as a minority of people misbehaving can turn a community into a high crime area. No one notices the dozens of cyclists riding in an orderly and proper manner along a street or bike lane.

It is the cyclist brushing past you on the sidewalk at 15 or 20 mph that you notice, or the one who blows through a red light and you don’t even see until he flashes past the hood of your car. It is not the fact that either encounter was not even that close, it is the emotional stress caused by the shock, the surprise.

The stress causes fear, a fear of what could have happened. Fear is then transformed into anger, it is the natural human way of coping. Pretty soon just the sight of a cyclist makes a person angry, and there is a loss of sympathy for the cyclist’s vulnerability. An attitude of, “If these maniacs don’t care for their own safety, why should I care?”

I don’t feel by writing here I can change the situation, anymore that I can stop wars or crime, all I can do is speak to those who do care. Half the battle is understanding the other person’s point of view and trying to understand why some pedestrians and motorists are angry with all of us.

Know that the fear and resulting stress caused by this anarchistic minority is all too real. Fear breeds anger, and anger breeds hate.

I refuse to live my life in fear, I will not ride my bike in fear. By not riding in fear, I am not riding in anger. Knowing that the motorist’s anger towards me is basically born out of a fear that he/she might hit me, is in a small way comforting.

And by riding in a responsible and courteous manner I am soothing the fear, thereby calming the anger. It is one of the few things a responsible cyclist can do.


Footnote: I wrote this piece in 2011. My question is, has the situation in New York City improved in the last eight years, or has everyone accepted this as normal behavior that is not going to change?

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Flat Tires: More or Less?

Last week's post about three times Tour de France winner, Louison Bobet, brought up a question about the atrocious condition of the roads back then, and did it lead to more punctures? From my own experience and my memory of it, I would say, no.

Back in the 1950s and prior top that, the Tour de France went over the same mountains as they do today, but many of these same roads were unpaved dirt, or at best, tar and gravel. Many of the minor country roads in England were periodically sprayed with hot, wet tar. Fine gravel was then spread over the tar and a steam roller would press the gravel into the soft tar.
Passing cars would tend to sweep the loose top gravel to the side of the road where people rode bikes, and much of this fine gravel consisted of very sharp flints. In spite of this, I remember going long periods without getting a flat tire, often as long as a year. I rode exclusively on tubular tires, (Sew-ups in America.) as did all racing cyclists, amateur and pro. There is a reason professional cyclists still ride on tubulars to this day. The ride is superior. I also believe, a good quality tubular tire is less prone to puncture. 
You never get a pinch flat for a start. For those who don't know a pinch flat is when a tire is low in pressure and the wheel hits an object like a rock, or the edge of a pothole. The bead of the tire is forced away from the rim and the inner tube then blows out though this gap in the form of a bubble. The bead of the tire then snaps back to the rim, pinching or trapping the inner tube between the two. A pinch flat is sometimes called a "Snake bite" as the result is two small cuts in the tube, one caused by the rim and one by the edge of the tire.
Also, on a clincher tire wheel, spoke nipples and the countersunk holes for the nipples, have sharp edges. They are usually covered by a rim tape to protect the inner tube from these sharp edges. But if the rim tape moves over time the inner tube can be chaffed and worn through, or cut on a sharp edge. 
Both the situations are not possible with a tubular tire. the inner tube is sewn inside the tire itself, and there is nothing to chafe of cut the tube from the inside. It can only puncture if it is penetrated from the outside. A tubular tire can even be ridden flat for at least a few miles. With a clincher you would destroy the tire and possibly the rim too.
Back in the 1950s and possibly even today, high quality tubulars were made with pure rubber. We would buy our tires ahead of time, and store them in a cool, dark place, like a closet for six months or more. This would allow the rubber to "Mature" and it would become tougher with age.
Modern tires are made from synthetic rubber, and aging them probably has no affect. I do remember, if I was forced to use a new tubular, because it was all I had at the time, it would seem to puncture in a very short time. 
Great strides have been made in the manufacture of clincher tires over the last twenty or more years. For the leisure cyclist and even for all but the pros and top amateur ranks, tubular tires are not worth the expense and hassle of maintaining them. But the original question was, did we get more flats back in the day, and my answer was "No," in spite of worse road conditions. Good quality tubulars were probably part of the reason why.
There was a time when the rules of the Tour de France were that riders had to carry and change their own tubular tire. Later they were allowed to receive help from others, (See top picture of 1951 Tour winner. Swiss rider Hugo Koblet.)
I have punctured on occasions during a road race in the 1950s and 1960s. It is possible to change a tire and be on your way in a minute and a half or two minutes, if all goes well it is possible in a little over a minute. We did have Co2 pumps that inflate a tire in seconds. (Koblet has one behind his seat tube in the above picture.)
Road racing in the UK was on the open roads with normal traffic. There was a lead car in front of the race with a large sign saying "Bicycle Race Approaching.(It was rather like a fast moving "Wide Load Approaching.") There was always a long line of traffic held up behind the race, and therefore moving at the same speed as the race. If you could change your tire quick enough, and you made a big effort, you could catch up to the end of this line of cars.
Cars back then had door handles on the outside that were convenient to hold onto and take a rest. Then it was a matter of ride hard and move up a few cars. Grab a door handle, rest and repeat the process. Door handle, rest, sprint, door handle, rest, sprint, and in a very short time you were back in the race. 
All very illegal of course, but effective, and without the complication and expense of team support.
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