I started this year certain I couldn’t possibly pass my 2015 total mileage. I have two kids, my business… ’15 surely had to be a fluke at 7,600 miles.
Cycling on a daily basis is an exercise in learning to fit my ride in. The summertime is easy because we put the kids’ extracurricular activities on hold, but come September we really have to juggle things around to make them work. I take the kids and my bike to swim practice on Monday. My wife takes them Tuesday. I’m back with my bike on Wednesday and my wife takes Thursday. Friday, I ride with my wife and the weekends are always long mileage affairs.
One thing is for certain; I manage to fit it in. No matter what.
This morning we’ve got a 45 mile ride planned and God willing, I’ll surpass my total from 2015… In October.
Not that seven or eight thousand miles are a big deal, I know plenty of guys who regularly clock ten thousand or more. What I like about being able to fit in around 8,000, I mean beyond being fantastically fit, trim and healthy, is that I’ve done it with a fair bit of balance, and without getting too nutty.
Though I haven’t figured out the important word in that last sentence, too or nutty.
Coming up on the close of my sixth year on two wheels, I’m well into my second trip around the planet, at better than 34,000 miles. It’s amazing how they pile up.
Done! 7,622 Miles.
Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary: The Definition of Satisfaction. Maybe not for the Rolling Stones, but You can Definitely get Some.
Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary defines the word “Satisfaction” thusly:
What you get during and after a bike ride. Cycling comes with a euphoric feeling, that everything is right in the world. It is awesome.
When one fully embraces cycling for the awesome sport it is, one cannot escape the satisfaction that often comes with anything from another fantastic effort, to your doctor saying “Whatever it is you’re doing, keep doing it”. When you ride a bike, this is what you get. If you work for it.
The Transformation of a Road Bike, From Purchase to Perfect (or as close to perfect as I can afford at the moment): What to Worry About When Upgrading a Bicycle (and What not to).
Here’s what’s different: Wheels (Vuelta Corsa SRL hubs and spokes with Velocity rims because the Vuelta’s hoops were crap), S-Works Aerofly handlebar, S-Works Crank, Blackburn carbon bottle cages, Specialized cycling computer, FSA carbon wrapped aluminum stem.
Original weight 18.8 pounds. Weight today, 17.2 pounds. The bulk of the weight savings came in the wheels (a pound) and the crank (3/4 pound-ish), though the stem helped a bit as well too (90 grams) and if I want to drop another $2,000 I can take that overall weight below 17 with a decent set of carbon fiber wheels.
The stem/handlebar were lowered by 10 mm. The reach of the Aerofly handlebar is 5 mm less that of the original bar. Stem length and rise are identical between the old and new stem.
The saddle nose was dropped to level to allow for the lowering of the stem. Originally, the saddle was leveled tip to rear but that produced too much pressure where I don’t like pressure. Ahem.
The new wheels roll immensely better than the original wheels. The crankset is vastly superior to the one that came with the bike. The stem? Meh, it looks a lot cooler and 80 grams is 80 grams. The handlebar seems to cut down on road chatter quite a bit but the weight savings were minimal – basically I bought the bar because it looks really cool.
Long story, shorter; I dropped another $2,000 on top of the purchase price to make my bike a pound and a half lighter, look cooler and roll just slightly faster.
The S-Works crankset was absolutely worth every penny. We’re talking a night and day difference. Had it to do over again, I’d buy the set again – and knowing what I know now, I’d pay 50% more. Seriously. The wheels were worth what I’ve got into them (though I’d opt for a more expensive set, hindsight being what it is).
The cheap cycling computer does everything I want it to do, which is not much. Current speed and distance traveled. Throw in that I’ve got average speed and high speed features and an odometer (11,000 miles) and I couldn’t ask for more.
I had the top-rate Body Geometry fit done at the shop where I bought the bike and if I’d have paid for the three hour session, that would have been worth every penny too – even if the only thing that came out if it was lowering the saddle by 2 millimeters (kinda cool, considering I did the initial set-up).
So I’ll get to the point. That’s a $5,000 bike the way it sits. Give or take. Does the extra $2,000 matter over, say an equally appointed Tarmac, or $2,500 for a Venge Elite (which has everything my Venge has except decent wheels and the S-Works crankset) or even $3,000 to go with a top of the line Allez Sprint Expert?
Here’s the trick: I had the money. I paid cash for everything, right down to the bottle cages. My bike is vastly superior to the one I brought home because of the wheels and crankset… but the difference could have been made up for with “want to”. It all comes down to what I can afford and being happy with what I’ve got.
There is a difference between the Shimano 105 and Ultegra lines, but not enough that it would matter if you don’t know any better. Sure, there’s a difference between an aero frame and a standard round tube frame, but not enough a person couldn’t hang in a group.
The only hitch in the giddy up is the wheels. Good wheels matter. A lot.
Let me illustrate it this way:
I’ve got three club rides this year north of a 22 mph average. All three occurred with the Vuelta/Velocity Wheels on the bike. However , two were on the Venge and one on my 17 year-old Trek 5200 that was built long before aero bikes were a thing and weighs four pounds more than the Venge… I swapped out the cassettes and wheels. The aerodynamic advantage didn’t matter. Sure, I absolutely had to work a little bit harder (and yes, it was enough to notice), but it wasn’t so much I couldn’t hang.
“Want to” goes a long way, baby.
To wrap this up, a good bike is worth the moola. They’re fast, quiet, sturdy and smooth. The expensive bikes absolutely ride better that their cheaper siblings and they are definitely marginally faster… and the more you spend, the better they usually are.
That said, as budgets go, I’m better off with a decent bike and a great set of wheels than a great bike with crappy wheels. So if you have to worry about a budget, remember this simple formula if you’re going to ride a lot and/or fast: Shimano 105 components or better (that’s the base race quality drivetrain), the best wheelset you can afford (and they most likely won’t come with the bike), then spend what you’ve got left on the rest of the bike.
Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary defines “Fit” thusly:
What riding a bicycle makes you. Ride enough, becoming fit is inevitable. See also Healthy, sexy, Awesome.
I wrote a post in my sixth day of writing this blog and it was a doozy. Sadly, nobody saw it because nobody in the community knew me. Back then, I maybe had six or eight people who read my blog.
Humorously, I’d forgotten I wrote the post myself… Then Shay-lon stumbled on it and left me one long, well reasoned, and passionate comment on the post. In that comment she suggested I reblog it to get it out there…
The post, before you read it, is a bulldozer for myths about exercise. Please check it out:
Exorcising the Myths of Exercise… – http://wp.me/p248iZ-1m
1. Fit people are “lucky” to be that way.
2. Running is bad for the knees and joints.
No it isn’t. And I’ve used that one myself….
3. Low impact exercise is better than running or “high” impact exercise.
That isn’t true either, though I’ve used that one too….
The Fit Recovery Cycling Dictionary defines “Fat” thusly:
What a bicycle runs on.
Notice there isn’t any on me? Or maybe let’s just say that there’s a healthy amount of fat on me. Yes, let’s go with that. The point is, there isn’t much on me because my bicycle runs on it. I ride my bicycle(s) a lot and eat a good, balanced diet. Therefore, no fat.
It’s not rocket science, though some try to make it out as such.