A while back I walked through a hypothesis with a friend of mine in which we attempted to look at climbing hills in a new way (not noobish) – give cycling a look with some fresh eyes if you will. Little did I know at the time, but we stumbled onto something big! Bike v. Car solicited advice on the best way others had found to climb hills so I, freshly back from a bombastic (if windy) ride, suggested something so cutting edge, so perfectly simple, that it boggled both our minds (well I got the idea you were pretty impressed anyway, brother).
Before I get into the wherefore’s, I must state that I’ve studied this hypothesis and tested it relentlessly – I finally concluded my testing today. With my new method of climbing, I’ve documented an average speed increase of 21.485% up inclines less than 5% and have managed to knock minutes off of my normal rides (16 & 18 miles).
What is it, you ask? Prepare to have your britches blown across the room… (more…)
I got to thinking about my comment in my last post – about loving my bike… Now this isn’t quite bike porn, there’s less “lust” to it, but it’s gotta be somewhere in the same ball park. So let me list a few items that bring me joy.
1. My bike reminds me of a Ferrari. Not the new Ferrari’s, it reminds me of the GTO – Classic Lines that work – hard. Marry that with an upgraded saddle that looks like a scalpel, the dark red metallic finish with the blue bar tape… It just looks all kind of awesome to me. I love to look at the lines, the mean-ness. My bike looks tough and elegant at the same time.
2. It’s smooth. My Trek shifts like a dream, every time, no hesitation, no protest. Click-clank, new gear. It’s absolutely badass. This, I’m sure, has a lot to do with the quality of the higher end Ultegra components, and probably a little bit to do with the fact that I take meticulous care of it.
3. It’s quiet. Even over bumps. There’s no chain clicks, no frame creaks or groans (especially now that I’ve had the stem cleaned and relubed – noob note, from a fellow noob, if your handlebar creaks or groans and you have a quill stem, remove it, clean it, lube it and tighten ‘er up good) – it’s unbelievable to me how quiet that bike is – it’s just a whoosh – down the road.
4. It accelerates quickly. When I step on the pedals, it goes… I like drag racing cars to 20 mph. I love listening for the engine to wind up behind me and then watching the car catch up and shoot by me. I don’t know why, I just think it’s funny as hell. This would change, of course, if the driver beside me anticipated having his doors blown off – by a guy on a bicycle.
5. I like how it feels cornering. On my normal 16 mile ride, I enter into a residential neighborhood for about 4 blocks… I make a left down a short hill to a sharp right turn. This is my favorite part of that 16 mile ride – about 500 yards, and I hit that right turn smiling every single time, in the drops at about 27 mph, I lean on my bike – left foot down and all of the weight I can put on it to hammer through that turn searching for the apex, the perfect angle to hit that turn so I can stay in my lane in the event that there’s a car approaching the other way…through the turn, absorb three rolling “bumps”, and continue down the road. I love that corner.
6. I love how fast that bike is in the wind. This was rather unexpected. I can remember riding my shorter Cannondale and absolutely struggling, mashing the pedals as hard as I could, just to get to 15 mph in a stiff wind. Riding into the wind was difficult because riding in the drops was miserable because the cockpit (the distance from the bar to the seat) was way too short. On the Trek, in the same wind I can still keep it at around 17 or 18 mph.
7. I love the wheels – they’re bulletproof and fast (if a little heavy, according to what I’ve read) – and they match the bike perfectly…and the spoke pattern is awesome. Everybody should be as lucky as me. I couldn’t be happier with my bike.
With two days and a wakeup to go to my first 100k I started on maintenance prep yesterday evening instead of going out on my daily ride. I checked over every inch of my bike (have I mentioned how much I love that bike? I think so, but I’ll throw that in one more time – I love that bike), degreased the chain, shifted through all of the gears, wiped off the chain and thouroughly cleaned the chain rings and cassette, cleaned the entire bike off, checked every nut and bolt to make sure it was appropriately tight – basically a decent “once over”. It is what it is, but I’m not exactly too keen on this whole “tapering” dealio. At the very least, I know when Sunday rolls around I’ll be rarin’ to go. On tap for today is plenty of work from home – I’m working on one of the most intricate little jobs I’ve ever quoted, and it’s proving to be a serious pain in my butt. I’ll sandwich in a 16 mile ride at “race pace” at lunch, as the conditions should mimic those expected for Sunday. I’m having a tough time figuring out what I’ll be wearing on the big day – starting out it’s going to be cold, around 35-37 (F) so it’s absolutely going to be a foot warmer day (wool socks just won’t cut it). The trick is going to be whether or not I decide to wear a jacket or go with an Under Armour shirt, jersey and arm warmers. I’m planning on riding today in my jacket to get an idea of whether or not I’ll be too warm. It should be around 50 degrees at noon so I’m doubting it. After my ride I’ll be heading over to my local running shop to pick up my Roctane Gels and a couple of Cliff Bars and then finishing up on the bike maintenance this evening (tire pressure etc.). For tomorrow, I won’t be riding to the running club and I’m keeping it to a 5k easy run around the lake.
The 1 millimeter adjustment on my saddle that I wrote about the other day worked fantastically well by the way – my hot spot is gone… It’s surprising to me the difference five thousandths of an inch can make – it’s actually kind of funny when I think about it. Five months ago I was happily (if painfully) riding a bike that was too small by a matter of inches, now I’ve got my setup down to a few thousandths.