The numbers are in for my performance last month and it was all good.
Mountain Bike: 27.85 Avg Speed: 12.31 mph
Road Bike: 585 Avg Speed: 18.32 mph
Running: 20.5 Avg Pace: 8:45 min/mile
Unfortunately Endomondo doesn’t allow the user to separate out the easy efforts from the hard efforts, had that been the case my average pace for running would be in the 7:50 min/mile range, and my road bike average speed would be just shy of 20 mph. In the end, because I can’t separate the two, I end up having to guess – or analyze the data to death, which I do. I can look at the month to month overall average and get a little bit of an idea of whether or not I’m improving…
That said, my average road bike speed was steady with last month, my mountain bike speed was way down because I actually used it for the purpose for which it was intended and my running pace was elevated a bit for a few easy runs that I normally won’t do. Also, the running mileage is way down because I decided to ride farther in lieu of two of my normal Starday runs.
On the other hand, I’ve run my 10k for the last two weeks to get ready for my Olympic Tri’s on the 14th and 21st sandwiched in between 30 miles on the bike each Saturday, so I’m ready to go for those. Also, I’m working on taking a day off once a week to see if it helps me recover a little better for big push days, such as the group ride I’m going to take part in on Wednesday – 80 miles. For that, I’m going to go for a slow 16 or 25 mile ride later this afternoon and then I’m taking tomorrow completely off so I can be rested for Wednesday.
My weight has finally come up and leveled out as well. Four weeks ago (or so), I was at 152 and falling so I had to resort to drastic measures: Eat everything I could get my hands on. In fact, I doubled what I normally ate for inner, as well as spread out my 1 granola bar, 1 apple and 2 banana breakfast over 3 hours. I’ve been at 155.4 for the last two weeks so I’ve also begun easing back slightly on the diet – the theory here is that my body is becoming for efficient at cycling the more I ride, as we all should know, our bodies adapt to the workload. I am, however, still downing the Gatorade and Power Ade like it’s going out of style. I’ve written before about some problems I ran into last year due to trying to stick to water only. Let’s just say that didn’t work too well and I had so little sodium in my system that my sweat stopped tasting salty for a few days. I haven’t had even a hint of a problem this year.
All in all, everything is going radically well. No sore spots, no issues and nothing close to an injury. I feel fantastic. Now if I could just get work going this well…that would be something. I can’t hardly believe it – ask and thou shalt receive. Work just got a whole lot better, not five minutes ago.
OK fellow noobs, we’re all decked out and ready to go… Where to start? Let’s start with the easy part: Climbing. You’re first time up a hill, one that you’d have trouble walking up, will be a little intense unless you know exactly what the hell you’re doing – it was for me, and I had an experienced buddy right there to help me.
The most important part of climbing a hill fast is getting the shifting right. Too high a gear and you’ll get stuck in the middle of the hill – you won’t be able turn the pedals, so you’ll attempt to shift with too much load on the rear derailleur, then you’ll brake, and then you’ll fall down. You will go boom. Too low a gear and you’ll be pedaling breathlessly to go 30 feet… Not to worry! We’ll get that fixed before you get into trouble!
First of all, as you’re cruising along, pay attention to the grade changes. On the trails I ride, this isn’t always easy – we’ve got hairpins and switchbacks and all manner of ugly corners – and we’re riding through a canopy that is just wide enough for a rider, we’ve got maybe 6″ to either side of our head and the foliage is thick. Now, at first, going fast is pretty tough because you end up getting tunnel vision in the conditions that I described. Your first time, take it slower but always remember, to an extent, speed is your friend. As soon as you notice the pitch turn up, start shifting. For the hills I described earlier, you’re going to want the granny gears – small chain ring, biggest sprockets on the cassette. Don’t sweat it too much either, climbing in those gears is A LOT easier than you would think… In fact, you have to make sure and keep some weight on the front wheel because you can generate so much torque you can actually flip over backwards.
The trick is to shift early as you’re coming up to the hill.
One of the cool things about mountain biking is the way you have to use your weight to navigate around the trail. In the sand, you want your weight back, almost off of the back of the saddle (we’ll get to that later). On a climb, especially in the lower gears (easiest to pedal), you’re going to want your weight a little forward – towards the handle bars. This will help to keep the front end on the ground as you’re powering up the hill. On the really steep climbs, I’ll get out of the saddle to make it easier, but that’s only for a few of the steepest hills. Like everything in biking, too much of a good thing isn’t always so good though. Too much weight too far forward and your rear tire will spin because you’re getting so much torque to the wheel. It’s all about the balance.
Rocks, Roots and Ruts…
Unless you’re riding on some kind of groomed trail, you will encounter rocks, roots and ruts in what would be an otherwise nice trail. Try your best to go around them, and definitely avoid any deep ruts. This will take some concentration the first few times, but you will get used to this pretty quickly. Whatever you do, don’t panic, and don’t stop pedaling if you bottom out a pedal on a rock (it happens). You’ll be able to pedal through it.
Many people are afraid of clipless pedals when it comes to uneven terrain, and rightly so… Many people fall when they’re not used to clipping out of their pedals. This becomes even tougher when you don’t know you’re about to stop the bike abruptly by using your body as a brake – against the ground. Get used to the pedals first, on a bike path or in your back yard (on the grass)… Then go out on the trail. I wouldn’t climb a hill without clip-less pedals. It’s been my experience that they’re easier to climb with and safer.
If you’re new enough at this to not know, don’t stop in the middle of the trail like a dopey snow boarder. You will get plowed into – and just like the snow boarder sitting in the middle of the hill, it will be your fault. Pull off well to the side so people can get by.
Ride, Don’t Rush
Be safe, but be quick and efficient. And if you hear “on the left”, that doesn’t mean look over your left shoulder and drift to the left into the path of the person who is now just seconds away from a$$-packing you. That means, “hold your line, I’ll be passing by you on the left at a high rate of speed, I know exactly what I am doing because I’m very much better at this than you – or I wouldn’t bother attempting this pass”.