I went out for a really nice ride last evening. The temperature was in the low 50’s but the sun was shining brightly so I had a bit of a struggle picking the appropriate clothing. I settled on shorts and two layers of long sleeve running shirts – I had planned on a recovery ride to try to find my happy zone in the drops as I’d dropped my stem quite a bit last week and I’ve got a club ride planned for this evening (if the rain clears up by then) so I wanted fresh legs for the event – I wasn’t worried about aerodynamic clothing. While I did find my happy spot in the drops, I rode 3/4’s of my normal 16 there, the ride started out at recovery pace (about 16 mph) but that quickly devolved into my normal 20 mph push within a mile. By the time the eighth mile rolled by I regained my sense and dropped back to an easier 17-18 mph pace and thoroughly enjoyed the remainder of my ride with the exception of my nemesis hill on the way back. It’s barely a hill really, maybe 100′ of rise over a half mile (it goes shallow-steep-shallow), but the asphalt is rough, I have to stop pedaling to bunny hop two expansion joints in a bridge and negotiate a choppy railroad crossing all while trying to maintain a decent pace. I did all of this in the drops and managed to maintain a 19-20 mph pace to the top (and for the remainder of the mile). That’s one of those spots that I feel it’s necessary to push through even if I am on a recovery ride, rather than let it get the best of me, if that makes any sense – it shouldn’t be a big deal, but I hate that stretch of road.
I did stop by Assenmacher’s on the way through to talk with Matt for a minute and he remarked on my choice of clothing and the temperatures – namely my bare legs. There is a rule of thumb that I wasn’t aware of – below 65 degrees (18 C), cover the knees. Apparently, it is important to keep the fluid in the knees warm to avoid injury. Far be it from me to argue with the pro, so I’ll be heeding that warning from now on, though I would love to know of any other thoughts on this.
Finally, I’ve been thinking a lot about my bikes lately and the differences between my old Cannondale and my 5200 and then the differences between my old big box mountain bike and my 3700. I’ve been very thankful these last few days that I have the bikes that I do. I suppose the difference between a really nice bike and a big box, uh less expensive option, should be obvious, but that only holds true for those who have ridden a really nice bike. Those who haven’t (like me until about 10 months ago) are left with the canard,”ah, they’re just looking for ways to gouge us working folk – a Huffy is just as good”. Yeah, they’re not. The big box bikes serve a purpose to be certain. If $400 is too much for a mounting bike, then it’s simply too much, and in that case $150 will definitely get you around town (though you can find decent bikes on Craigslist from time to time for that price). The truth is, if there’s any way to scrape together enough to buy a decent bike, they’re worth every penny, and now that I’ve had a taste of the good life, I can’t ever see going back under my current financial circumstances. They’re just that much better, more comfortable and they make riding infinitely more enjoyable.