Yesterday I was sick and stayed home.  This morning is my recovery ride, and I have to say it wasn’t bad at all.  In fact, I set a new record–with a lingering headcold!

0:19′50, 6.77mi
avg 20.4mph, max 28.9mph
60ºF, Odo 905.9mi
Cadence: 70-110rpm

While I didn’t carry a bag with me (thank you cycling jersey with pockets!) and somehow always attribute this with speed, clearly this incredible sub-twenty minute ride has more to do with resting for a day before riding again.

That’s a full 60 seconds off my previous best, which I made on my last ride in.  Good week!

I tried to keep my cadence between 80 and 90rpm.  I realized that keeping a single gear only benefited me when I would normally spin out on some climb.  Instead of spinning, I would keep the same gear and  maintain momentum.  I realized that if I only downshift a little I can avoid the (tiring) strongman pull, keep momentum, and devour the hill.

Wow, what a ride!

0:19′37, 6.76mi
avg 20.7mph, max 33.8mph
90ºF, Odo 912.7mi
Cadence: 63-112rpm

Not bad but I would have rather been faster.  Nothing in the tank, still sick, and three heavily traffic-ed intersections.  I guess I shouldn’t complain.

Test tomorrow at the studio, wish me luck!

Bike to Work, day 31

May 20, 2009

While I was trying to beat my time, I’m still surprised I did.  I started out with no seriousness: coasting while fiddling with my headphone cables.  On the other hand, this makes sense.  If I learned one thing about racing last year it was this: don’t burn out early.  What I never figured out was this: attack every hill.  Keep your average speed up by never going slow.

0:20′57, 6.77mi
avg 19.4mph, max 27.1mph
50ºF, Odo 887.9mi
Cadence: 70-90rpm
G-Ratio: 6.5

But here I am: fastest time (by a whopping two seconds).  My first thought is “I could have done better.”

Who cares?  Enjoy it.

I had to leave my coat and leggings at work yesterday, so when I saw it was 50º out, I breathed a sigh of relief.  If it had been 38º again I’d have had to bundle up.  But instead, it is beautiful out!  Shorts and a windbreaker, visible from space.  Not a bad morning at all.

Took the bike out for a spin during lunch.  The sun was much too bright for me to stay locked up inside at my desk breathing recycled air.

0:17’24, 4.8mi
avg 16.55mph

Nothing impressive here, but this was not about impressing anyone.  It’s wonderful to be outside in this beautiful weather, even if it’s only for a short lunch break.

Sometime after lunch, I was struck with what felt like a ton of bricks.  I’m coming down with something.  Chai helped, but I still took the easy way home.  Nothing to look at here.

0:21’11, 6.48mi
avg 18.3mph, max 28.5mph
82ºF, Odo 899.2mi
Cadence: 64-104rpm

Time to cancel everything and get some sleep.

Beautiful! A new record without even trying:

0:20’59, 6.75mi
avg 19.3mph, max 27.3mph
39ºF, Odo 831.9mi
Cadence: 60-80rpm
*wrong gloves: cold hands =(
Previous best: March 27
0:21′38, 6.75mi
avg 18.7mph, max 25.7mph
40°F, Odo 197.1mi
Cadence: 65-76rpm
*very wet, light rain

One thing I did differently this morning: No Shifting.  I’m 3 gears down from heaven (53-11 is BIG) and when I have time to lookup the ratio, I’ll post it here.  Still, I felt constantly that it was too high a gear.  Tomorrow I’ll try one gear lower and shoot for 75-95rpm.

I didn’t feel spectacular during the ride.  My hands were cold, I felt like I had no energy to draw from; and yet here I am with a New Best Time.  I’m psyched to try this gear ratio on the ride home; it’s a slight decline.

I definitely feel that moment of “giving in” when I hit a hill and downshift.  I downshift way more than I need to, drop all my speed, then spin like a chump with little effort.  Sure, some days I’m too tired to muscle up some hill, and in the end what does it matter?

It matters.  Giving up is addictive.  Don’t make a habit of it.  Make a habit of perseverance, of determination.  Have indominable spirit!

Today’s ride home was disappointing, compared to the morning ride.  Sure I hit one of the intersections perfectly, but the second one caught me.  Nothing like starting from a dead stop, up hill, in a painfully high gear.  Not a bad ride, anyway.

0:19’42, 6.76mi (week 43.24mi)
avg 20.6mph, max 30.0mph
72ºF, Odo 838.6mi
Cadence: 62-105rpm

Gear ratio, morning and afternoon: 53-14, or ‘7.5’  Tomorrow I’m going to try the next gear down, 53-16, or ‘6.5’

Bike to Work, day 27

May 11, 2009

Good Morning!

0:22’32, 6.75mi
avg 18.0mph, max 32.3mph
47ºF, Odo 802.2mi
Cadence: ~80rpm

During my ride in I drafted behind a fat post office van, downhill; hence the 32mph max speed.  Too bad for the red light, I could have tailed him another mile.

Midnight Snack
After scarfing my lunch I noticed two things: the warm spring weather, 65ºF, and that I still had 20 minutes of break left.  Like stealing a midnight snack, I escaped for a few precious moments of freedom.

0:08’48, 2.67mi
avg 18.3mph, max 24.6mph
65ºF, Odo 804.8mi
Cadence: low

Since I was just out for fun, I kept my cadence low and flew around like a speed demon.  Beautiful sun,  slight breeze, the sound of thin tires on pavement.  Wind in my ears and hair, on my face.  Pavarotti in my heart.  This is bliss.

Today I am a sportscar: a tuned machine.   My acceleration is phenominal.  My top speed, unmatched.  I’m sleek black with razer thin wheels.  I broke my record today by one full minute!

0:18’58, 6.74mi
avg 21.3mph, max 33.1mph
65ºF, Odo 811.6mi
Cadence: ~85rpm
Previous best, March 31:
0:19′50, 6.76mi
avg 20.4mph, max 32.3mph
53°F, Odo 230.8mi
Cadence: 70-90rpm

Two green lights at major intersections helped.  No traffic at the turn at the bottom of the hill.  I was full on the wrong side of the road, sweeping a super wide arc to the opposite curb, cutting deep between potholes, maintaining as much speed as (in)humanly possible.

Today I am untouchable.  Woohoo!!

Bike to Work, day 11

March 31, 2009

Everything about this ride felt good.

0:22’02, 6.77mi
avg 18.4mph, max 27.6mph
38°F, Odo 224.1mi
Cadence: 70-80rpm

It’s not a record.  My time on Friday was faster by 30 seconds, but I’m still a minute faster than every other time in!  Woo!

The ride home was amazing.  Only one minor traffic problem, and somehow maintained an amazing average speed:

0:19’50, 6.76mi
avg 20.4mph, max 32.3mph
53°F, Odo 230.8mi
Cadence: 70-90rpm

I am beside myself.  After only 11 days commuting.  It took me all summer last year to break 20 min.  How fast would I be if I’d ridden rollers all winter?  Would I have an average speed of 25mph?  30?

Broke the record by 48 seconds.  Powerbar and no annoying traffc stop helped.

6:09:53, 100.3mi
66ºF, Odo 1897mi
avg 16.2mph, max 48.7mph
*Rain, dark


My workout at the karate studio was painful: jumping squats, pushups situps followed by an awesome two-man technique (multiple attackers) and sparring.  Ouch.

The sun was out, there were no clouds.  This is a perfect day for a big ride!  I made a huge amount of pasta and promptly took a nap.  When I got out of bed later I felt more like a cyclists and less like a punching bag.  Unfortunately, there were a few clouds out.  Oh well.

I absolutely filled my camelbak (2 litres) with Gu2.0.  I didn’t have a second water bottle to bring but I figured I could manage.  I packed 3 cliff bars and 6 energy gel packs.  One said “up to two an hour as needed” so I used that as a guideline.  I brought Hammer gel, Gu, and Powershot.  I liked the Hammer gel the best.

Beautiful Start, Rain, and Getting Lost

The sky was beautiful, the sun was warm, everything was perfect.  Then, 30 minutes into the ride, the sky opened up.  Hail quickly turned to rain.  I was riding down a steep hill, very fast, and the rain felt like needles.  The rain became an inconsistent light spattering, and stayed that way for the first two hours or so.  At the 25 mile mark I took a break and mentally prepared myself for the Big Hill.

The Big Hill was a Big Softy.  I came out on top and I wasn’t even phased by it.  I just kept going.  Awesome!

Back to Start

You took a wrong turn.  Go directly to [home].  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $200. Woops.  I took a right instead of a left and ended up back home.  When I realized it I cursed but didn’t want to turn around and get more lost.  Still, indoor plumbing and a well stocked kitchen are excellent benefits to accidentally arriving at the start.  I arrived at the 50 mile mark, it was like an allignment of the planets, however, because I was able to feed the cat and lookup directions for how to get home.  I could take the boring 20 mile route home, but that’s boring! It felt so beneath me, I knew I could accomplish much more than that flat, boring, commute ride.  Did I mention boring?  I was 50 miles in and determined to ride 75 with hills.  I posted that great elevation with three huge bumps, didn’t I?  Well that was it, I planned a 45 mile ride (without doing the math in my head) with the same hills I originally posted.

I ate two wondoursly perfect peaches, drank real water, and had some energy gel before I left.  I also added some water and ice to my camelbak, but not much.

The Easiest 25 Miles

I’d like to say the next 25 miles were difficult.  They were not.  I was not even phased by this part of the ride, though this was the part that I expected to be the most difficult, since I haven’t really ridden more than 50 miles.

The sky was clearing up and the clouds were amazing.  There was a sign that said “Enjoy the View” and just after passing it, the road dipped down giving a wide view of the world around us.  Directly ahead of me was a thick rainbow.  Beautiful!

One of these hills was steep enough to get me up to 43mph without much effort.  I saw the opportunity to break my top speed record and took it.  Pedaling frantically, I focused to relax my legs and spin fast, instead of tensing to push hard; I finally did it: 48mph!  New max speed!

Getting Dark

I skipped the 75 mile break because I didn’t feel like I needed it, because it was getting dark, and I had no way to be sure where I was.  Am I lost?  20 miles ago there was a sign, but I’m still heading into the sun following a river.  What if I’m riding off into the west?  Where will I sleep?  I don’t have enough clothing with me to keep me warm through the night.  For some reason I just kept going, and when I reached New Boston I cheered.  There was even a sign to tell me where to go!  With renewed cheerfullness, I continued forth.

Mount Vernon was bigger than New Boston, and the traffic there waited for me.  Thanks!

It got dark.  Fast.  I’ve never been here before, and all I have is this flashing light on my handlebars.  I was a little nervous, but then I saw a sign flickering in my intermittant light.  Yes! Yes it says rt130!  Another cheer.  At 85 miles I stopped at a store and went inside.  There was absolutely nothing of value (to me) to be bought there. We don’t sell “convenience” in this store.  Still, it was the perfect opportunity to put a shirt on, sip some almost-water, and down a Gu gel.  Relieved to be nearly home, I crossed the busy intersection on foot, then rode on.

The sun has set, the only light I have is street lamps and cars.  I’m somewhat unfarmilliar with the road but I know the turnoff I’m looking for.  It’s distinctive: a right hand turn into a downhill and the turn off is left.  The benefit: ok I know where I am.  The downside: no more streetlights.

It’s Really Dark Now

Riding in the dark is probably the most frightening thing I’ve done this year.  I was worried about traffic not seeing me, I was worried about coyotes, and I could not see.  Turns came up unexpectedly, at speed.  I prayed for my life just to get me home safe.  Not being able to see the road clearly was the most frightening part, but every time I couldn’t tell which way to go, at the last moment I could.  Did I mention the road was wet?  No sharp turns on wet surfaces!  Every turn was recognized immediately before the turn happened.  That kept me alert in ways I cannot even express.  I climbed a hill under the majestic moonlight.

Learning to adjust my gears in the dark felt like a tremendous benefit to me.  I couldn’t look down to see what gear I was in, I had to learn to adjust by feel.  It was an ego-less sensitivity: I had to put my ego down and just feel.  No more “don’t use the lowest sprocket” garbage.  I feel more connected to the bike, now.  Hopefully I can use this skill during the day, too.

One downhill to a turn frightened the death out of me because even as I got close I couldn’t tell which way to go.  All I could see was that there was something in the way, like riding toward a wall, head on.  At the last moment I saw that I was actually back at the main road, and quickly veered to the right.  I felt amazing: I’m almost home!

I’ve Been Around the Block a Few Times

This road had streetlamps, and I managed to catch a glimpse of my cyclometer.  Doubletake!  Does that say 98 miles?!  No, it didn’t.  I got home at 92 miles  but never slowed down.  I circled the block, I rode to the bank twice, I rode to the bike shop, I circled the block more.  98.7, 99.5, 99.9!

And finally I did it.  One hundred miles.

I’m so happy.  This feels like such a breakthrough!  Today my legs feel like junk, my shoulders feel like junk (from holding my head up), but I still feel amazing.  What a ride!