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Daily Archives: May 16, 2016

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On Going from a 30 Pound Bike to a 17 Pounder…

I left the office early yesterday.  I’ve finally turned the corner on a couple of jobs so I played hooky with two hours.  We had rain in the forecast for the evening so I wanted to shoehorn in a ride at home, before taking the kids to swim practice.

The wind was howling out of the west southwest with gusts better than 20 knots…  Still, after Sunday’s hard ride I knew I needed an easy recovery ride anyway.  The operative word in that last sentence being easy.

Dammit.

I was up to 21 mph within a half-mile.  Hey, it felt easy.  It did.  Heading west was a bit of an awakening, of course, but 17 was still pretty easy to hold if I got down in the drops (no brainer into a decent breeze). Then another couple miles north. I just stayed in the drops.

Then a mile west. 18 -19 mph. Smooth asphalt. Musta been.

Then down a little hill followed by my favorite turn. 24 mph around a tight 90 degree turn that I have to lean the bike down to hold my lane (there’s no drifting into the wrong lane, while I can partially see around the corner as I approach, there are blind spots where I could miss a car…). I need all of the tricks for that corner too… Right knee out and down to shift my center of gravity, all of my weight on my left foot – so much that I try to push my foot to the pavement, in the drops and look through the turn. It’s one of those rare perfect corners. Over a couple of bumps that always make my heart skip a beat. Straighten up and I’m back on the gas. Into that ridiculous wind.

A left turn heading south now. The south part of the wind isn’t so bad and I’m spinning between 19 and 20. A mile later and I’m into the wind again. The sky is looking ugly and I’ve got seven miles left.

A right turn, the whole mile is slightly uphill till the last tenth. I’m at 21. I didn’t necessarily give up on my “recovery ride”, it’s just not all that tough.

Then the right turn and I’ve got a 25 mph wind at my back. I chuckle. Rain’s comin’. 25 mph is too easy. So is 27. I settle in at the speed limit for the road (30) for two glorious miles. There’s something fun about riding a bike the same speed as cars. If I’d have seen a cop I’d have tried for 40 and a speeding ticket. I will have one. I’ll pay the fine with a smile on my face and frame the ticket. I may even try for a selfie while the cop is writing the ticket.

Then I come to the sloggy part. A right turn into a 20 mph cross headwind and it’s slightly uphill. For a mile. I’m halfway up the steeper part and I look down. 19 mph. I’m a dumbass but I didn’t lay off the gas either.

If the shit fits, wear it. Dumbass.

Another mile east, and an easy 23 mph followed by a cool down mile south at 15.

I’m sitting on the couch before it dawns on me that I was on a 30 pound bike with my wife on the back the day before. Riding the Venge was like clipping into a rocket ship. So much for a recovery ride. If the shit fits…

UPDATE: The fossilcyclist left an important comment below about the importance of “the lean” in cornering. I didn’t put much emphasis on that because I was going for the finer points, but he’s absolutely right. He also offered this “How To” video from GCN. I can’t recommend subscribing to GCN enough.

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It Takes Two to Tandem; Go Big or Go Home…

Last week was a crap week for cycling.  Possibly the worst May week since I’ve been riding a bicycle regularly.  Three days of rain. And it snowed yesterday.  Three times (not much and there was no accumulation, but c’mon dude, snow in May?!).

When I woke up there was snow on the vehicle’s windshields but we just brought the Co-Motion home Saturday… no chance I wasn’t taking it out unless it was raining.

We went big, because we all know I don’t go small.  Possibly a little too big for a first group ride on a tandem – and only our second ride on a double.  44 miles at just under 18 mph for an average.

The first 30-ish were awesome.  We both felt good and rode well.  The last ten or so, I turned into Betty White in the Snickers commercial.  I ate enough but I definitely didn’t drink enough and I was smoked.  I have never worked so hard on a bicycle.

There were definitely some issues we had to work through but they were hills to mountain climbers.  Getting into them now would be counter-productive so I’ll save that for a future post after we’ve had time to iron them out – and I’ve got just as much to work on as my wife…

The tandem is really about working together. When we did, there’s nothing like it in cycling. It’s smooth and fast and fun. When we didn’t, and there were times, it blew me up just trying to hold the wheel in front of us…

That said, when we worked together, the tandem was awesome and I’m glad we decided to try it. We just have a little work to do to get to a point where we’re working together most of the time.

To wrap up our first foray into tandem riding, there were a lot of pluses and a few minuses to work through.  The coolest on the plus list is riding into the wind.  While you feel it, it’s not the same as on a single bike – it’s a lot easier to push through the wind (and we had plenty to test this on yesterday).  Riding double brings to mind an old cliché – learning to ride a tandem is a lot like making sausage.  The process is a bit ugly but the end result is beautiful.  I’m keeping my eye on the prize:  A plate full of Jimmy Dean’s sausage next to my waffles with peanut butter and syrup.  After a long ride on the tandem with my wife.

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