Mrs. BDJ and I went out for a fantastic 13.5 mile ride today after shepherding the kids over to one of their friend’s house. It’s an incredible joy to see how she’s progressing – she actually made me work a couple of times today – and it’s been a blast sharing the sport that I love so much with her. In fact, she’s starting to sound like me from time to time and it just doesn’t get any better than that.
We started off slow but she quickly worked up a decent pace and we maintained that throughout the entire ride. It was sheer bliss for me, and we talked about current family events the whole time (so she enjoyed it as well). My wife mentioned that it was great having that 50 minutes to talk about things, that our daily life usually isn’t like that – I seem to listen better when we’re riding… I can tell you, I don’t know what the difference is, and I’m not spending a second trying to figure it out either. I’m just calling it good and will be happy with it.
13.7 miles in 52:54 for an average speed of 15.5 mph with a top speed of 23.3. Weekly mileage: 178, a new personal best by about 15 miles – and I still managed to take two days off for rest. I believe I’ll take tomorrow off (or maybe go for another ride with the wife) in preparation for the group ride on Tuesday night. I want to see how the rest effects my ability to keep up.
In Endomondo news, in my post last week about Endomondo I mentioned that they’ve upgraded their method of tracking calorie burn. Later I mentioned in a another post that Endo had a problem with how the “Cycling Transportation” mode tracked calories… Last summer, cycling transportation was way low in terms of how it tracked the burn of calories, half that of cycling sport. With my having to keep a halfway watchful eye on my calories burned so I can keep my weight up where I want it, I had to refrain from using the transportation mode for recovery rides… I thought that was still the case, but I was wrong. I used the transport mode three times in the last week and they’re right on now that Endomondo is taking speed and weight into account. Now I’ll be able to keep my hard efforts and recovery rides separate. Now if they’d just do something about the group ride…
On that 90 mile ride the other day I developed an odd “whish, whish, whish” noise in my rear wheel. I was hoping it was something simple and goofy, it developed in the last two miles of the ride.
I went on a short recovery ride Thursday and the problem didn’t reappear until the last few miles.
The problem with an on again, off again mechanical problem is that they’re generally hard to nail down and following the normal manly approach, in these cases you simply wait till it gets worse. I can live with a mechanic giving me that recommendation when it comes to my truck but my bike is a different story altogether. Even so, I was reluctant to take it in because on one hand I don’t want to be a nuisance, on the other, I hate a noisy bike – and I’m using the word hate here.
In the end, I was at an absolute loss so I took it in to have Matt look at it.
After running through the normal “spin the wheel” to see if we can hear what’s wrong, we were just about to go for a spin around the block to see if Matt could identify the problem, when he stopped mid-sentence and said, “wait a minute, I think I’ve got something”…
My rear wheel has a rubber grommet to protect the bearing on one side of the wheel. Matt took a screw driver and pried the grommet back and placed a few drops of lube inside and on the edge of the grommet (see photo):
Sure enough, that fixed it. Half of me is bummed that I had to take the bike in for something so silly, but considering that I never would have gotten that figured out, I’m glad I did.
I’m posting it here in the hopes that should you run into this, you might save yourself the trouble.
Of course, I knew it was the wheel because the “whish, whish, whish” noise didn’t stop when I stopped pedaling – it had to be the wheel or cassette.
Finally, if I had to guess, the noise started because a few drops of Gatorade dropped directly onto the grommet and worked in between the rubber and aluminum… At least that makes sense.
UPDATE: I just checked my mountain bike – the back tire has the same grommet – and I’ve had th same problem with that noise in the past. I’ve had it in for that a couple of times and we weren’t able to figure out the cause of the noise… Guess what.
I mentioned quickly yesterday in my post about my birthday ride, the possibility that I’ve suffered through a bit of a mental block when it comes to my top speed. The trick is that I’ve got a couple of things working against themselves so it’s easy to get stuck in the tangle of the weeds. Fortunately I’ve made a living out of sorting through my mental BS and understanding the nuts and bolts of how my melon works in order to sober up… A little exercise mental block is a walk in the park even though it was a little tough to diagnose (in all fairness, while I do enjoy my exercise, in terms of importance, speeding up on my bicycle is really not very high on the priority list – it makes a nice little distraction but I’ve got much bigger fish to fry, if you will).
That said, I knew I was a little stuck but I had no idea how to get beyond it. Typically with sports (with the exception of golf – where I actually did take it seriously for a few years, going so far as to take consistent lessons from a real teaching pro and getting my clubs professionally fitted) I’ve always gotten to my natural limits and called it good, I’ve never bothered trying to improve on my natural ability. With cycling it’s been a little different because my best, after only a year – and without much coaching, is better than mediocre or average. I’m in uncharted territory here.
So here I was, riding six or seven days a week and enjoying every minute of it, even if I wasn’t able to break that 20 mph average mark for anything more than 10 miles. In April, I did maintain a 20 average for 40 miles of a 63 mile ride, but bonked about 15 miles later finally finishing with an 18 mph average. With no help, that’s a fair effort, especially for my longest ever ride to date by about 14 miles. At that point I was averaging about 110 miles a week but used the fact that I was capable of a decent effort on a longer ride as a springboard to up my miles. Within two weeks I was up to 145 and increased past 155 and then 160 miles over the next month or so… The miles were increasing at a steady rate, but my pace stayed flat. The problem here is that this is still progress. I wasn’t getting faster, but I could hold my best pace for a lot longer (from 10 miles last fall to over 40 in the spring and early summer).
The rub showed (and still does) in my group rides on Tuesday nights. I can ride for as long as I want, comfortably, at 19 mph. In a group I can kick that up to 20/21 mph, but the best guys in the group are at 22 with regular sustained efforts over 25. As much as I’ve tried, I couldn’t bridge that gap, it’s just too fast and I can’t hold that kind of pace for more than a couple of miles before needing a rest. Rest being defined as a mile or two at my normal 20 mph pace. As it was, the gap has been to0 big for me to bridge and that got me stuck, mentally, at a 20 mph average. I began to accept that 20 was as good as I’d be able to do because I didn’t know how I’d be able to speed up without structured rides to increase my speed and stamina (and I’ve written about that a couple of times).
This all changed after my ride on Wednesday. We held a 19 mph pace over 80 miles – a full 1 mph faster than I thought I was even capable of. Not only was I capable, I was able to pull for the group at that pace (and faster – we had to dial it back several times so we didn’t drop a couple of guys in our group) for the last 18 of 20 miles without a break. I didn’t think I was that strong – and who knows, had I paid attention to my tracking software, I may have sought shelter a lot sooner…and that’s the trick. So that takes me up to yesterday’s ride where I’m pulling out of the driveway knowing that I can hold 19 or 20 mph over 80 miles, what’s 40? It’s a walk in the park compared to Wednesday’s ride. I no longer was stuck on the idea that 20 was the best I could do – not because I did better than that on Wednesday, but because I went so much farther, in some ridiculously hot conditions.
That ride completely changed the way I see my ability, my mental limitations changed because of the distance and conditions, not the average speed, and I had a boatload of fun on that ride.
How that translated yesterday is that when I started to feel my legs dragging, instead of thinking that I was already going at my best possible pace, I knew that I could rest for a few seconds and then pick it up again – simply because I’d gone so far and handled that distance so well a few days before. That translated to 21 miles at an average pace six tenths faster than I’d ever managed before in some intensely hot weather.
As it turned out, there was more than one way to push through that block.