I’m still in training for my 1200K bike ride in France
for Paris-Brest-Paris next month. But after a quick
century ride with a friend, I was left with an afternoon
of solo riding. Figuring that if I’m going to ride solo
I might as well ride my Coker, I set out to best my
previous longest ride of 16 miles.
I rode out on the Natchez Trace Parkway, a nice two-lane
road closed to commercial traffic. It is pretty much up
and down, but not very steep. The sun was out, with probably
around 90 degree temps. I wore bike shorts, a camelbak,
helment and wrist guards. The camelbak was filled with
I didn’t have a cyclocomputer, but by checking the mileposts
against my watch I got a fairly accurate measuremtn of my progress.
I was slightly disappointed to have cycled only 8 miles in the
first hour. Even with the rolling hills I was hoping to
cover 10 miles.
One spectacular UPD on a descent – after getting too much
speed and unable to slow it down I sent the Coker flying
downhill about 50 meters into the brush.
At the halfway point, I rode off the parkway and took a
brief respite at a local market. For the ride back, I was
determined not to dismount until I returned back to my
car. I made it, but it wasn’t easy.
Some observations …
I’ve got a George Barnes handlebar attached to my
seat. I found that I could push down on it to give
my posterior some relief from the embrace of the
saddle. Every little bit helps.
I finished the entire ride in about 4 hours. I was
hoping to do it in less time. I’ll concentrate more on
my cadence, but I’m not sure how much I can expect to
improve. Thoughts of 140mm cranks are in my head …
I was pretty wasted after this ride. To do the
entire Natchez Trace Parkway, we’ll have to average
60-70 miles a day. I’m hoping with training my
disposition will improve. I’m also planning to ride
the MS150 “Jack & Back” charity tour in October on
The Natchez Trace is a great place for Cokering!
The other road users – cars, motorcycles, bikes, RVs,
and even SUVs – were especially considerate drivers.
… and a question:
Would switching from 150mm to 140mm crank arms be
advised for covering these kind of distances? I know
Mikefule regularly manages to cover over 12 miles in
an hour. I would be happy to average 10 miles per
hour over rolling terrain.
If you’re in training for Paris-Brest-Paris on a bike, it’s probably not fitness that’s slowing you down. Out of interest, how much training are you doing for it, are you intending to ride straight through, or to have a proper sleep? Whatever, you’re probably fitter than almost all of the coker riders around.
However, if you’re like a lot of road riders and you push really big gears at low cadences, you’ll have some trouble going fast on a coker. To average 10 mph, you really need to be able to spin 120 rpms or so comfortably, so that you can ride a steady 10-11mph really easily. You could even be drastic and put a triple on your road bike and try to improve your spinning at high cadences.
Cokering on road you can average 10 mph pretty easily on 150 cranks with a bit of practice. It’s possible to average over 12mph on 150s. With 140 / 125s or 110s, you can go quite a lot faster, in some particularly insane cases getting max speeds over 20mph. But shorter cranks mean more crashes like the one you described as they’re harder to control on descents. If you practice riding short distances very fast as well as doing long distance practice you can get used to riding at speed.
> If you’re in training for Paris-Brest-Paris on a bike,
> it’s probably not fitness that’s slowing you down. Out of
> interest, how much training are you doing for it, are you
> intending to ride straight through, or to have a proper sleep?
I’m training at around 300-350 miles per week. I’ll probably
ride to Brest without any sleep then take two sleep breaks on the
way back to Paris.
> However, if you’re like a lot of road riders and you push
> really big gears at low cadences, you’ll have some trouble
> going fast on a coker. To average 10 mph, you really need to
> be able to spin 120 rpms or so comfortably, so that you can
> ride a steady 10-11mph really easily. You could even be drastic
> and put a triple on your road bike and try to improve your
> spinning at high cadences.
Actually I’m more of a spinner than a masher on my road bikes.
Throughout the winter months (and whenever else I feel like it)
I ride a fixed gear 42x17. Both my geared road bikes already
> Cokering on road you can average 10 mph pretty easily on
> 150 cranks with a bit of practice. It’s possible to average
> over 12mph on 150s. With 140 / 125s or 110s, you can go quite
> a lot faster, in some particularly insane cases getting max
> speeds over 20mph. But shorter cranks mean more crashes like
> the one you described as they’re harder to control on descents.
> If you practice riding short distances very fast as well as
> doing long distance practice you can get used to riding at speed.
Thanks for the advice. Averaging 10 mph for long rides will make
me a happy camper.
Heck yeah. I was riding on 140s, but I thought they were 150s (long story) So when I went to change them to 140s I realized that’s what they already were. The 140s gave me solid control over the wheel, but my feet were definitely pumping too big of a circle for that kind of cadence.
Meanwhile, many other expert Coker tour riders kept recommending 125 all along. I had started with those, but felt not enough control, and got sore knees on my first Coker commutes. But that was last year.
So when I realized I already had 140s on there, it was time to go back to the 125s. Definitely a good length for long rides. A half dozen or so 16-mile round trips to work and back, and no UPDs yet (knock knock). Control is definitely not great on the short dirt sections of my ride, but it’s a price I gladly pay for being able to pedal faster on the rest of the ride. I’ve been timing the rides, and today’s (to work) was the quickest yet, at 37:04. My timing method is simple: start the watch before mouting, and stop it after dismounting at the destination. All stops for lights, etc. are counted in the total.
If you go straight to 125s it may be a bit of a shock, but don’t let first impressions rule you. You might be better off trying the 140s for a while first, to get used to them. I don’t know the amount of elevation gain on Paris-Brest-Paris, but unless it’s a lot, I think you should work your way down to 125s for the ride.
> Would switching from 150mm to 140mm crank arms be
> advised for covering these kind of distances? I know
> Mikefule regularly manages to cover over 12 miles in
> an hour. I would be happy to average 10 miles per
> hour over rolling terrain.
For general riding including hills, but not killer long steep hills, I
recommend 125mm cranks. Unless the terrain is pretty flat, you will probably
want to fit a brake on to save your legs on the downhills. On 125mm cranks,
riding along on the flat at 12mph is nice and easy, although if you include
the inevitable breaks, you won’t actually ride more than say 10 miles in an
hour. With practice and training you can ride faster. You might want to go
down to 140mm first, for a hundred miles or so, then stick on the 125s. Or
just go for it.
In Norway, we had one hard day that was 75km with almost 1000m of climbing
in the first 35km (which was dirt and some steep). Even though all that
climbing was harder on 125s, and most people actually walked a fair bit, I
am still glad I used 125s. Without the brake though it would’ve been pretty
Good luck on the Paris-Brest-Paris! My aunt and uncle have done it a couple
of times and loved it.
I think I will take the “try 140s for a hundred miles first” advice. Two questions for the Vets:
Any recommend on good 140 brand of cranks?
I’ve seen some threads talking about drag-brake vs. hydraulic. Is the drag-brake concept prefered, and if so, any recommends on the setup?
PS: I did my seat conversion a couple weeks ago to add the GB stiffener to my Miyata seat, then the GB “y-shaped” handle. It took me a bit getting used to the handle during mounting, but it’s a way better thing during the ride to help get my weight off the seat and move things around. Thanks again to all those that gave me tips on the process.
I think you are on the right track, if you do a few more similar rides you will probably knock 45 minutes off your time easily, regardless of crank length. Nothing improves performance on the Coker like riding it, and you are obviously in top shape already! If you are ever in Boone North Carolina look me up, Chris Bogardus, (828)-264-5185…Wilson Creek is the Tsali of Carolina!
i know every one recoends the smaller cranks. i have been also gearing up for a ms 150 here in Texas from San Antonino to Corpus Christi.
My friends AJ and Eric both have 4 inch cranks but i still use the origanal 6" inch ones and i am able to keep up with them just fine on flat terian.
Thoe on a small incline AJ is able to beat me up the hill i can catch up to him easily on the down hill side and even pass him. With the longer cranks you also Get the added advantage of off Road Cokering witch i have found quite the thrill.
On average the 3 of us do about 14 miles on our rides during the week and around 21 one the weekends with the average speed of 8 to 9 MPH with stop lights and the such.
If the Ride is Really Hilly i would suggest staying with the longer cranks. if it is rolling hills even more so
In the past month i have done about 300 miles on my Coker and most was rolling terrain and a good 1/4 was off road MTB trails.
But as with every thing uni it is all personal preference and what your comfortable with
As a simple mathematical calculation, the difference would be an increase in theoretical speed of around 7% and a loss of torque of marginally less (just under 7%).
In practice, I doubt it would make a huge difference. You’re looking at fine tuning the machine when there is more scope for tuning the rider.
My Cokering is now virtually all on 150s. I’ve only been Cokering just over a year. On 150s, I’m good for a peak speed of 15mph, and an average on the flat of 12.5 - 13mph. On rolling country, that average soon falls. 10mph on mixed terrain is a tough average to maintain.
125mm cranks are noticeably faster on the flat. Over a journey, the loss of torque and control CAN slow you down. I did a 54 mile ride on 125s and my legs were huritng a lot.
The secret to riding far and fast on a Coker is to ride it lots. Reach the stage where the simple act of riding takes none of your attention, then focus on riding smoothly and relentlessly - head down, legs spinning, teeth gritted…
For comparison, I went out today on my 28 with a new Cokerist (new unicyclist, even) who was good for about 10 - 12 miles, with a few stops, and averaged around 7 - 8 mph mainly on easy country lanes, with a few slight hills.
[i]Originally posted by The secret to riding far and fast on a Coker is to ride it lots. Reach the stage where the simple act of riding takes none of your attention, then focus on riding smoothly and relentlessly - head down, legs spinning, teeth gritted…
Exactly! When the legs take care of business without the interference of mental effort then the miles can sail by, at least as long as ones underparts hold together!
> If you are ever in Boone North Carolina look me up,
> Chris Bogardus, (828)-264-5185…Wilson Creek is the
> Tsali of Carolina!
By coincidence, I was actually in Boone over July 4th
weekend. I was (bike) riding a 1000K brevet. An
uncorrected error on the cue sheet took me 5 miles
off the Blue Ridge Parkway into Boone, NC. Nothing like
adding 10 bonus miles to a 640 mile bike ride.
I missed out on the Blood, Sweat, and Gears ride this
year. My riding buddy had back problems and I didn’t
want to commute roundtrip solo from Nashville to Boone.
You’ve got some beautiful rides out there. I really
appreciate the climbs up Caesar’s Head, Mt. Mitchell,
and Grandfather Mountain – not to mention dozens
of other fantastic routes!