by Oliver Evans

Oliver Evans after crashing at the PoCo Grand Prix. Photo: Matt Lazzarotto/Stirl and Rae Photo

How do you measure the correct width of handlebar?
Gloria Cooper, Winnipeg

The absolute best way to determine anything in terms of bike set-up is to get a professional bike-fit. When purchasing a new bike, the salesperson should do a very basic fit to check the stem, bar and saddle.

There are several aspects to consider when selecting the right bar set-up, including reach, width and drop. Reach is perhaps the most important.

Depending on the riding you’re doing, there are certain advantages to different widths of bar. I won’t discuss mountain biking, but for drop-style bars I have a basic idea.

If you’re riding with your hands in the drops, your elbows should be in line with your shoulders, with your knuckles just outside that line. Wider bars mean less aero but perhaps more control, and narrower can be more aero.

Again, this is just what I’ve learned through riding. The absolute best thing to do is to go into a shop and ask for some help.

What are the worst injuries you’ve suffered due to cycling?
Hunter Loewen, Winnipeg

I broke my collarbone in 2013. That hurt.

In 2015 I managed to hit my head hard enough that when I was found I was face down bleeding out of my mouth. That’s what they tell me anyway. The recovery for the concussion was the worst. It gets to the point where there’s no more pain, but there are still symptoms. Sometimes there are no signs at all and since you can’t see any physical damage like you would with a broken bone, the healing process can be extremely frustrating, as you feel and look fine.

I had my first significant experience with depression during the recovery. Since then, and I have no idea whether it’s related or not, depression and anxiety have become extremely challenging for me. I also developed a minor stutter. I couldn’t tell you if that’s related or not, but I’m pretty sure it is.

Broken collarbones and concussions are two of the most common cycling-related injuries. Of course, a less serious but even more common one would be road rash. I’ve had patches of road rash many times a year for as long as I can remember. The worst, however, was this year, when I crashed at the PoCo Grand Prix at BC Superweek. I had a decent patch on the outside of my lower left leg, which swelled like a balloon. It became infected and I couldn’t stand or walk on it for several days.

Why don’t you eat dairy?
Josh Charles, Winnipeg

I stopped drinking milk a few years ago because I didn’t like how I felt after consuming it. Eventually, I started to eat less and less cheese for the same reason. This past winter though, when I was really fighting to be healthier on account of how unhealthy I was (mentally), I determined that I must be pretty sensitive to dairy and eggs. I cut it all out to see if my stomach felt any better without it, and it does. However, if I find a croissant or a cookie that has butter in it, I’m not going to say no. Some things are worth suffering for.

How do I choose the correct saddle?
Bill Keeling, Lake Louise, Alta.

Some shops have a gel pad for customers to sit on which measures the distance between your sit bones. This is a good way of determining your saddle size. Certain brands also have test saddles, which is a great program for customers to borrow different sizes and shapes to determine what works best for them (after measuring their sit-bones). Many new cyclists wonder how such a narrow saddle could possibly be comfortable, but the truth is that a wider saddle can cause more unwelcome rubbing, and a saddle too narrow will lead to pressure in sensitive areas.

Oliver Evans is a 19-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, who is currently based in Victoria. He races on the road with H&R Block Pro Cycling.

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