Monday, 7 April 2008

The perfect (bike) ride

Ah, life is good.

Today I had my best ride, ever. I wasn't even going to go out; I had work to do and I felt tired. And it was cold, with snow forecast for tonight!

I went out anyway, because I wanted to try a few things. You see, I went out yesterday and a few things annoyed me that I was determined to do something about.
  • I had a squeaky bike. A liberal dose of lube seemed to do the trick here.
  • I had a sore knee last night. I hate knee pain. I though about adjusting the cleats on my cycling shoes, but instead just loosened the peddle adjuster, making the shoes easier to clip in and out of, and giving them a bit more play when attached.
  • I wanted to try a ride where my heart rate is about the same as it is on the exercise bike. In fact I wanted to try and mimic these conditions as closely as possible to see where I was at.
So I was restless and before I knew it, I had the gear on and was heading out the door. I had an exact route in mind, 24 miles in total over a course that I had done with Donald a couple of weeks ago. It's a great route, but with a small change it would be even better.

So today was a ride of discovery. I left the house and ambled along the road, took a right and headed towards the quiet roads. The funny thing about where I live is, if you can survive the first 500m or so, your pretty much safe, but in that 500m there's a dodgy junction, a shop with lots of cars parked outside on the street, some of which look like they have been abandoned in the middle of the road, then a busy roundabout that requires a right hand turn. I won't go into it know, but some day I'll mention what I feel about the practice of planners slapping roundabouts all over the place.

Anyway, I got off fine, and got down to the business of letting my heart rate and cadence take control. It's funny, but after spending so much time on an indoor exercise bike, spinning at about 95 rpm, with my heart rate about 140 bpm, my legs know what this feels like. So I found the whole process quite easy. If my legs felt too much resistance, I'd switch down a gear, it they were spinning to freely, I'd move up one. On hills, I'd gradually switch down to an easy gear. I'd allow my cadence to drop to 80 and my heart rate to rise a little, but make sure to give myself time to recover once I'd crested.

The result of all of this was a joyfully satisfying ride. It was great, I disregarded the wind and my speed, and just motored along. I don't remember being out of breath at any point. My heart rate only rose above 150 bpm once and my average speed was exactly the same as yesterday, 15.4 mph.

As for my fixes, the squeak is gone, and the shoe adjustments seem to have done the trick with the knee pain (although I'll still have to keep an eye out there). I also stopped a couple of times and made adjustments to my seat angle, and fingers crossed, that seems also to have made a big difference.

So all in all, a very good day on the bike.

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