Temp at start: 36 degrees.
Temp at finish: 46 degrees
Wind: WSW 6 mph
Skies: mostly cloudy
18.8 mph average
Today was one of those days I was thankful that I paid so much money for all of my cold weather gear. Heading into the wind for the first 15 miles was still tough – it took quite a while to warm up but once I did I was so glad I’d gone. I really wanted to see what that BG Fitting did over a decent ride and I was definitely happy. This morning, because I am who I am, I lowered my stem by one spacer – a little more than what my saddle was lowered in my fitting the other day (gotta preserve that saddle to bar drop). I also lowered Mrs. Bgddy’s bar as well – actually, per her request, I only relaxed the angle by rotating the bar a little bit.
The All Seasons Cyclist likes to say that it’s the first 500′ after you pull out of the driveway that’s tough… It took a couple of miles today but I’m cool with calling that rounding up. I was really glad to get a decent ride in. The only thing that bummed me out was choosing to call it good at 37 instead of putting in another five or ten… I wanted to make it back for the Lions game. I should have known better – all Fourth Quarter.
I am an incredibly lucky cyclist. The owner of our local bike shop is the brother of my grade school gym teacher. Not only does he know bicycles, he’s built them for decades, apprenticed in England under a premier bike builder and even built the bike ridden by the 1984 24 hour World Record breaker. It is a rarity to know someone who is incredibly knowledgeable in the sport you love, let alone to become friends and ride with him as well. I consider myself a blessed cyclist. He has gone beyond the call of duty in cultivating my enthusiasm and in helping me to be the best cyclist I can be. He even cares to make sure that my wife is on-board with costly changes so that our marriage remains harmonious.
It was from the Swartz Creek Assenmacher Cycling Center that I bought my beloved Specialized Venge Comp. When I bought that bike, Matt joked that he took the easy road, handed me the bike and pushed me out the door. I disagreed – I dropped the cash on the counter and ran out the door with the bike. I did my own fitting on the bike, transferring many of the same measurements from my Trek 5200 to that bike. I’ve put well over 1,000 miles on it since I fit myself on the bike two months ago. I haven’t felt even a twinge of fit-related pain in all of those miles.
Last month Matt suggested that we should do a full Body Geometry Fitting on the bike (and, it turns out, me). He offered the multi-hour service as a part of buying the bike. Well yesterday was the big day. The Specialized Body Geometry fitting is so much more than a simple bike fitting – it’s a complete review of injury history, needs and goals as a cyclist followed by a thorough review of all cycling related body movements, flexibility assessment and then a complete review of the body’s natural position as it relates to cycling. Only after all of that is reviewed and discussed did we get into the actual fitting process (though we skipped the goals – he knows exactly what my goals are).
We went through all of the normal checks – knee over the spindle at 90 degrees, level the saddle, etc. Then he got into the serious stuff. He pulled out a laser level to make sure that both legs were in line through the whole pedal stroke and the whole nine yards. Then he checked my position in the cockpit. Finally, he realigned my cleats a bit farther forward (in line with the newest idea of what the perfect location over the pedal is) and that was followed by a complete realignment of the cleats. After that, everything was re-checked and I was done.
So, how did I do with my fit? The only thing non-cleat related that had to be done was to lower my saddle by 2 mm – part of which was required because my cleats were moved forward (it’s like moving the saddle back). The rest was my desire to get my saddle up as high as possible so I could get the most, aerodynamically, out of my bike. The problem with this notion though, was that I ended up sacrificing power at the bottom of my pedal stroke. Sure enough, the combination of moving the cleats up and lowering the saddle just a smidge meant that my leg angle at the bottom of the pedal stroke was a bit more aggressive – in other words, by having the saddle just a millimeter too high, I was having to work too hard to keep up because I was losing power at one of (if not the) worst parts of the pedal stroke.
So, when we were done, and after getting all of my gear back on (it was a cold ride in), I headed home the long way. The difference wasn’t amazing or profound, but keeping spun up was definitely easier. I could definitely feel the change.
I’ve had simple bike fits before, even performed one myself, but had no idea that something as simple fitting could be that thorough. And on that note, I was incredibly happy to learn that A) I’ve been paying enough attention that I really do have a decent idea of what I’m doing with a basic bike fit and B) that everything I am physically points to having a long and happy life as a cycling enthusiast. After the whole process, I am absolutely confident that I am, as much as possible, in the best position, both aerodynamically and comfortably, that I can be on my bike. If available, I highly recommend the Specialized Body Geometry Fit.
One of the great things I’ve really gotten right in my life is to remain teachable. I haven’t been so pampas to believe I know all since I was 22 years-old. When an old-timer offers his wisdom, especially about love and enjoying life or sobriety, I’m all ears. So I’m watching the news the other day and they showcase a new song written by an old-timer to his wife of many decades who’d passed away. In his mourning he wrote this song and submitted it for a contest.
Tonight I shared it with my wife for the first time. I’ll just say it was a special moment. I so love that woman.
So fellas, buy this song and share it with your wife. We only get one shot at this, we have to make it count.
Simone over at “From Meltdown to Ironman” bestowed upon my blog the WordPress Family Award. I am, as always when receiving recognition for this blog, grateful. The first time I was given the award I wrote about it here.
Simone is some kind of special though… Check out her photography skills here. I wish I could take pictures like that, what an eye.
Also, Sandra at A Promise to Dad bestowed upon me the Versatile Blogger Award. This is my second go at that one as well… Wait a minute! Sandra, you nominated me for the first one! Goodness, color me blushing. Thanks again Sandra. 😀
I think for this go-around with the WordPress Family Award I’d like to nominate a few I haven’t featured here (with the exception of chatter – I’ve given him more than one award because I dig that dude).
Chris Collins at NZmultisports
Kevin Kidder at Cycling in NY
This season was far better than I ever could have imagined. A shiny new steed, my 5,000 mile goal virtually in the bag (less than 200 miles to go in two and a half months), and personal bests abound, better than a 1 mph gain on my Tuesday club rides (I went from 19.6 – 20.6 mph in 2012 to 20.6 – 22 mph average speed on open roads) including my fastest century ever, by about a half-hour:
- One hour 23.64 miles (38 km)
- 10 miles 24m:28s
- 20 km 30m:58s
- 50 km 1h:20m:37s
- 50 miles 2h:10m:03s
- 100 km 2h:44m:25s
- 100 miles 4h:36m:00s
All things considered, I’m quite pleased. I went out for my normal afternoon ride yesterday and I realized about two miles in that my Venge, after a bunch of tinkering with shifting cable tension, much-needed new wheels and a few saddle adjustments, I’ve got it absolutely dialed in – it’s perfect and feels exactly how I’d imagined a high-end race bike should. It’s so perfect, I abandoned thoughts of upgrading some of the components to shed a little more weight. Unless I can get components that already match what I’ve got on the bike it simply wouldn’t be worth it.
As far as fitness goes, there’s no doubt I’m stronger (at least as far as cycling goes) and much more able to ride a long haul. My confidence was way up from last year also, when I consistently struggled mentally to get a long ride done (call it 80+ miles). While there have been times when I’ve thrown in the towel on the Tuesday night club ride, I was hopeful that I’d be able to start keeping up this year but never under the delusion that it was a lock – I am, after all, trying to keep up with legitimate racers. There’s definitely room for improvement and I can work on that.
Finally, and I kept the best for last, my wife really picked up cycling this year. I’ve been doing everything I can to not only be supportive but keep my distance as well so she could develop her own enjoyment of the sport. Curbing my enthusiasm at times, especially when she starts talking cycling, has been a little more than difficult. That said, it certainly appears as though she’s been fairly bitten and riding with her has been vastly more enjoyable than I ever anticipated. Between riding in the mountains on vacation and our little treks while the kids are away, being able to ride as often as I have with Mrs. Bgddy has really helped me with my end of the marriage. We did well before cycling but what we have now is next-level awesome.
This certainly isn’t the end of cycling for the year by any means but as of Tuesday, I’m calling the season a wrap. From today through the Thanksgiving Weekend (end of November), I’ll keep heading out as often as I can but I’m certainly not going for any personal bests. Then, come December 1st (or so), it’s time to prepare for an even better 2014.
I wrote about my group ride earlier today and I almost put this post on the end of that one but this is going to go on my Noob’s Guide page because it’s just too important.
I have been struggling with sore legs for about a week now and they’re slowly showing decent progress to coming back. I would say the easiest way for me to gauge how I’m doing, at least at this point, is to flex my leg muscles – if that hurts (and by hurts, I mean knots and cramps, it hurts ). This is partly due to the cold, I’m sure. I had a tough time getting going this spring too and it was a very cold spring. It wasn’t until we started getting into the 60’s when my speed jumped back to normal.
The other part is due to over-training and I know exactly how I got myself in this predicament. Since I started riding I’ve used an active recovery strategy… One hard effort followed by an easy effort (17-17.5 mph average solo), then a decent effort (18.5-19.5 average) followed by another hard effort. Alternating meant I could ride darn near every day without toasting my legs. Last year I would go two weeks on one day off and I ended up dead tired a few times so this year I changed my plan and took every Monday off whether I needed it or not. I stuck with the exact same rotation too and it worked masterfully. I rocked out an 800 mile month in August with ease and felt fantastic.
Then I bought my Venge at the end of August and this began my undoing. The bike is only marginally faster than my old 5200 and the components are actually a grade lower… Even with 13 years of technological advances the old Ultegra components are still a little bit smoother than the 105’s. That notwithstanding, the bike is about two pounds lighter (three now) and a ton more comfortable to ride (something with the geometry that I haven’t quite figured out yet – but I’m working on a blockbuster series of posts that will expose the weakness in the Trek). With the Venge, those 17-17.5 mph easy efforts became 18.5-19 mph and I justified the lack of active recovery rides by riding with my wife once a week on Fridays (16.5 mph on average) through September – once school started. I needed two active recovery rides a week to stick with my schedule. So, for August, I made it 800 comfortable miles. September was a 650 mile month (with minimal active recovery) and that behavior followed into October where I was on pace, at least until last week, to put in another 800 mile month as of the 15th (397 miles) – and that’s where my month hit a wall. I’ve been going six days a week, close to full-out every day, for a month and a half.
While it had been fun, I’m paying for it. I spent a week with something that resembled restless leg syndrome and I’ve had to make sure I was never too far from a bottle of Aleve to ease the soreness. Now, for certain, this isn’t a hydration thing, this isn’t a nutrition thing and I don’t think it’s a bike fit issue (I did tinker with my saddle five weeks ago but ended up only 2 mm back from where I started and it’s been great for four weeks now). I took it very easy last week, dropping the mileage from 200 the previous week to only 88 last week over just four days. Two hard rides, one medium effort and one easy. The extra two days off helped but I’m not quite back yet.
So for this week, I took Monday off as I have for the last few months, and I rode hard yesterday. The weather forecast is for cold temps but not much in the way of rain so for the next three days (at least) I’ll be concentrating on slow active recovery rides and see where I’m at on Saturday.
To confirm my suspicions, I braved the sparse flurries and howling winds for a very easy spin (17.5 mph into the wind, 18.5 back home with the wind) and I feel better than I’ve felt in two weeks.
More to come…