Tonight is the last, last club ride of the season – the night ride.
When I got home from work last night, I had a choice: Throw on all of the cycling gear, including lights, or fight it out on the trainer. The weather was fair, temp wasn’t too bad, and the (paved) roads were dry.
Even so, I chose simple.
We had rain in the morning so the dirt roads would have been gnarly and I had no desire to ride on paved roads in the dark. Truth told, I’ve had a fantastic season but I’ve had my fill of paved roads for a while. Well, at least till tonight, but that’s a different story – the night ride is one of the most enjoyable of the year.
Back to last night; I popped Star Trek Beyond into the DVD player and got to turning the crank over. The first 25 minutes I just enjoyed the movie whilst building up a sweat.
Then I upshifted a gear. I don’t know what I was thinking – I have no reason to start the harder workouts right now. The progressive resistance was almost immediate in catching up. I smirked and hammered the crank for five minutes, then downshifted (I really did, I smirked – I love that $#!+). So I’m 30 minutes into the ride, with fifteen to go. Five minutes go by and I’m watching the movie again. My right hand, middle finger, pushed the upshift lever. Now I’m thinking I might be a little batty. Hard efforts don’t have to start for just shy of two months. But…
Another five minutes cranking out some of the hardest watts I’ve cranked out all year – including Tuesday nights – and I’m thinking I just might change how I go after this off season. Rather than wait to start hammering at the new year, what if I start now. Think of the head start I could get. Ooh, the hamster wheel in my melon is turning.
To cut to the chase, I’m a little fired up about having so much resistance built into a trainer. I’m not used to being able to push out 400-500 watts, and I haven’t even come close to the trainer’s max yet. I’m thinking about how much fun next season is going to be.
I was in excellent shape coming into this past spring, but I’m getting a little fired up to see how fast I can make myself for next year.
When I bought gravel bikes for my wife and I, both Specialized Diverges, they came with Specialized Espoir Sport 28 mm tires. The tires were fantastic for hard packed dirt roads because they didn’t have much tread to them. They were fast. Right up till you got into the mush. God forbid, the road was just graded which made the road impassable. Loose gravel required Peter Sagan-like handling skills to keep the rubber right-side-down.
I tolerated gravel riding back then. It was a nice break from the tarmac at the end of the season, but it was just as easy to choose the trainer rather than deal with loose dirt or gravel.
This year I decided to fix that problem for both my wife and I. I scoured the interwebz for a decent dirt tire, but couldn’t come up with anything reasonable. I didn’t need a pro-quality tubeless tire for $75-$100 a pop – especially when I need four. Not for cruising…
Finally, I went to the shop after striking out online. The first salesman struck out as well. Then, I shared my conundrum with a more knowledgeable mechanic. He came up with the Michelin ProTek Cross tire in a matter of minutes. I picked up four 32 mm tires for less than $100, the widest I can fit on our Diverges (newer models can take wider tires).
In a word, the ProTek Cross is awesome. What was once harrowing is now stable and enjoyable. And they’re decently fast, while handling low tire pressure well (I like to ride them at 50-psi – and I’m no lightweight at 175 pounds).
The tread is great, for both pavement and dirt. It’s a fantastic tire for a bargain price. They won’t be light, supple, and super-fast, race tire, not for $25 each, but if you’re just out cruising the back roads, I love this tire. I highly recommend it.