Group Rides

Join us for evening indoor training rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm at the Recycle Bicycle Shop in downtown Ellensburg.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring break and time off the bike

This past week was spring break in Ellensburg and for a cyclist with a family it can be frustrating. We had a mini-vacation to N. Idaho and there was no room, or time for the bike to go. After the prior Saturday's ride a little recuperation was probably not a bad thing.

We got home on Wednesday evening and I spent Thursday afternoon starting the build on my 1982 Nishiki. I still need some shifters and possibly a shorter bottom bracket spindle and then I'll have it ready to test.

Friday was spent in Seattle and by the evening I was going nuts having not been on a bike for 6 days. I hooked my winter training bike up to the trainer in my bedroom and proceeded to watch Gonzaga get trounced by North Carolina in the NCAA tournament. At least I was riding - and sweating - again.

Today, we had things scheduled in the morning and the early afternoon with a dinner get together in the early evening. I decided I absolutely had to get on the road and headed out a little after 4:30 pm a personal time trial to our dinner location. I decided I would push fairly hard but not all out because of the cool air and some upper respiratory problems I've been dealing with.

The temperature was in the low 40's with a 5 -10 mph wind when I started. 5.5 miles into the ride and the wind kicked up a notch and heavier rain drops started to fall. Good thing the ride was a short one. I fought the headwind for 2 miles and struggled to maintain a 19-20 mph pace. Turning southeast at the 7.6 mile mark brought a crossing tailwind and I was able to pick up the pace maintaining 25-27 mph for about three miles before slowing to go through a traffic area. As I was within 3/4 mile of the finish I noticed some friends behind me and decided I wasn't going to let them pass me. The wind was directly behind and I was quickly up to 29 mph before finishing - with them behind me. Overall the ride was 12.14 miles with a time of 33 minutes 57 seconds and an average speed of 21.5 mph. I felt real good about that pace having not ridden on the road in a week.

I do need to figure out my breathing. I am encountering side cramps on almost every ride which is indicative of the diaphragm having spasms. Today it didn't hit until the last moderate hill so I was able to push through the pain to finish.

Another few weeks and we'll start group rides. My outside riding will be limited for the beginning part of April thanks to baseball practice (I'm the coach) almost every day. I'll have to stay consistent on the trainer.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oh, the pain

A couple of posts ago I wrote about climbing hills and specifically:

"I discovered early on in my cycling life that I was good at climbing hills and learned to enjoy them. In college 5-6 of us would ride out Umptanum Rd and head up a 2-3 mile hill, with the steepest part at an 11% grade. I would consistently finish first or second in the group. The best part of those rides, of course, was coming back down - which we did stupidly without helmets and at speeds over 50 mph. I would climb that hill with 13-21 gearing in the rear and 52-42 up front. But, I was also in my late teens and early 20's and had plenty of lung capacity to spare. I learned then that hills can make you a much stronger rider."

Well, today my original plans were scrapped by a rain squall so I made a round about circuit to the above hill which I attempted three years ago when I was woefully out of shape. Today I was feeling pretty strong and figured it couldn't hurt to try the hill. Here's the hill from www.mapmyride.com. As you can see it's a "real" hill. Well, it's also a humbling hill. At 43, I discovered a few things:

1) I'm not 20 anymore so for some reason my engine now feels like a 4-cylinder instead of a rumbling V-8. A lot of it has to do with conditioning and much also has to do with age. I actually had to stop part way up because my heart was beating so fast I felt like I would pass out.

2) I think 170 mm crank arms are, by far, a better choice for a ride like this. I'm not suited well to a longer arm and just mashing the gears. Although, with 8-9% steady grade for well over a mile there's not a lot of spinning possible - at least for me.

3) A hill like this is scary fast coming down. I was wiped and didn't even pedal and still hit 45 mph coasting down the hill. It was exhilarating to say the least.

I was really disappointed because I only made it to within a half mile of the top. My heart and lungs just couldn't take any more. So, while the disappointment was there and the speed wasn't - 7 mph was the low point going up the hill. I do have the consolation of knowing I was close and by the end of the summer feel I will conquer this hill regularly as my conditioning improves. Dropping another 10-15 pounds wouldn't hurt either so gravity has less to work with.

This was an extreme hill and I'm fine on all the others around here so I'll keep working at it and set little goals to reach each time and keep the riding positive.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Our safety and the rules of the road

I found this blog posting very interesting. It was in the New York Times and, while I'm about as far from New York as you can get, this article really typifies what I feel regarding that subset of cyclists (sometimes the younger crowd and other times the older folks) who ignore the laws in our states and the rules of the road.

We have enough problems in society today with daily stress, non-stop lives and a shaky economy that many drivers have a very "short fuse". I am very aware of my surroundings while riding and make it a point to stop at intersections when required, use hand signals when turning and give a cars plenty of notice on my intentions. I also yield to cars when I am supposed to.

I know my actions may not improve many driver's perceptions of cyclists (just look at internet comments at newspaper websites when there's a vehicle/bicycle accident) but I am determined to ensure I'm not the one on a bike that is inflaming the drivers and fostering those negative perceptions.

Be careful. Know the law and obey the rules of the road.

Bone density and training

I had read a couple of things on BikeForums.net in the past few weeks about a study regarding road cyclists and the loss of bone density as we get older. I didn't put a lot of credence into it but did find a short article on Bicycling magazine's website tonight. Here's a link to the article:

This just in

Bottom line is we should get some weight resistance training in also as part of our cross training. I found it interesting that the loss of bone density isn't as severe in mountain biker as it is with road cyclists.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Climbing Hills

You may find this odd but I am dreaming every night of conquering hills on my bike. Most people dread the pain and struggle of climbing a hill. While you definietly can suffer while climbing a hill, it can also be so rewarding.

I discovered early on in my cycling life that I was good at climbing hills and learned to enjoy them. In college 5-6 of us would ride out Umptanum Rd and head up a 2-3 mile hill, with the steepest part at an 11% grade. I would consistently finish first or second in the group. The best part of those rides, of course, was coming back down - which we did stupidly without helmets and at speeds over 50 mph. I would climb that hill with 13-21 gearing in the rear and 52-42 up front. But, I was also in my late teens and early 20's and had plenty of lung capacity to spare. I learned then that hills can make you a much stronger rider.

These days I'm running a lowest gear in the back of 26 and a 39 up front. I don't need that gearing on all the hills around here, but it's nice to know it's there if I need it. I normally run a 39-21 or 39-23 on most of the hills.

I was reading an old article by Davis Phinney earlier this week and was surprised by a comment that you should be shifting to a higher gear as you get further up a hill to increase your speed. I maintain a consistent cadence for the most part but definitely need to work on increasing the speed in a higher gear at the top of a climb. So, thus, begins my renewed vigor in hill climbing for this year - and obviously the root of my dreams as I visualize success.

I encourage you to work those hills. Become stronger and more confident as a rider. There's nothing better than the feeling of dropping other riders on a hill.

Try this for a training ride - head out to Hungry Junction Rd and the wonderful short hill that peaks at a 19% grade. Do intervals on the hill - ride up, turn around and head back down and ride to recover for 5 minutes before heading up the hill again. Start at two intervals and try to work your way to five of them by the end of the year.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Some progress, albeit slow

The Nishiki Marina 12 build is making progress. So, far the old Dia-Compe brake levers with suicide bars have come off and were replaced with Dia-Compe aero levers. Suntour Superbe brakes have been added to the front and rear and I was able to find a downtube shifter clamp and cable guide clamp.

This week I'll put the rear derailleur on. I am struggling with the crankset to use. It currently has a 175mm Shimano 600 crank on it and I found a 53 tooth chainring that will fit it in the local bike shop on Tuesday. I also purchased a 39 tooth chainring from Ebay today. I'm not convinced that this longer crank arm will work for me so I will probably look to trade for a 170mm crank or just use the Sugino one I have and try to find a smaller inner ring for it (currently at 44 teeth).

The brakes don't have quite enough reach for 700c wheels so I'll stick with the bigger 27 inch wheels for now and either switch to narrower 27 inch rims and tires or convert the brakes to longer reach in the future so the bike will accomodate 700c rims.

So, the bike will go together with a mix of parts but I'm really looking forward to getting it on the road. So far just coasting around the driveway it has felt pretty comfortable.