Friday, May 17, 2013
Goodness, it's been a while since I've updated. But I have reasons.
Reason #1 - Winter. I hibernate in the winter. And we had a winter storm two weeks ago, so winter lasted quite a while.
Reason #2 - Once winter finished up, I got on my bike. And to be honest, I'd rather bike than blog about it. Especially because I decided I was going to 'earn' myself a new bike by putting $1 in the bike fund for every mile (oops, TEN miles) I biked. I was on a 3-year plan. A really optimistic 3-year plan.
Then, my dear mom decided I should get a new bike for Mother's Day / my half-a-Birthday. (See, with a winter birthday, it's hard for loving parents to get you a little red wagon or first bike as a birthday present and have it be reasonable, so we celebrate half-a-birthdays with things like that, sometimes.) EEEEK! From $4 in the bike fund to the promise of a new bike in a week? My mom is wonderful. And no, she's not looking for anyone to adopt. She has grandchildren to spoil, too.
Once I overcame the shock of taking a non-cyclist to my LBS and the potential sticker shock, I settled in to picking Which Bike I Really Wanted. My test ride last fall showed me I wanted a road bike. My bike shop's selection kinda said Specialized or Raleigh. Last year they had 2 Raleighs in stock; this year there are more. I rode the Dolce again, and loved it -- but wasn't sure if it was more bike than I needed, so I rode the Raleigh that would be a little bit more basic.
The Raleigh test ride showed me that I really should get the Dolce. Here's why. First off, I had to wait at the railroad crossing to get to the trail. Then, on the trail, I could really tell that the Dolce had Zertz, and the Raleigh did not. (Zertz are vibration absorbers. Do they actually do anything? Yup.) Then, I wrestled with one of the shifters. It just didn't want to shift! But when it did, going uphill, the chain jumped off. And got stuck. Two Good Samaritans with tire irons and I spent 5-10 minutes with 4 hands trying to unstick the chain and 2 hands keeping the bike upright.
And then, I had to wait at the RR crossing again. Not that there was a train, mind you -- I think they were testing the crossings. Or something.
Tuesday, I came home with a new bike. And of course, the first thing I wanted to do was to take it around the block. Except the block was 7 miles or so, and it was 104 degrees with a 25 mph wind, give or take a bit, with gusts in the 30s. My mom said no. And since she got me the bike, I listened. :)
I've been on 3 rides now. I've learned that I use different leg muscles on this bike. Talk about sore! And I work harder, too. I'm not sure why - my guess is because it's a super duper road bike, I'm 'supposed' to go fast, and so I pedal faster. I have a speedometer, too, and an odometer, and a clock -- none of which I had on my old bike. So not only do I *think* I should go faster, I can see how fast I'm going and work harder if I don't like the numbers. Silly mental games.
Heading into the wind is easier. Going up gentle hills is LOTS easier. Steep hills at the end of a ride seems about the same, but it's probably easier too. It's a new bike, right?
If two rides is enough to judge by, my average speed has jumped from 10-11.9 up to 14-15.9 mph. Not bad!
The hardest thing about the new bike is putting my water bottle back in the holder without pulling a muscle. Higher seat, stiffer cage ... I'm working on it.
Friday, November 23, 2012
Cycling in the late fall and winter around here will be a journey -- no pun intended. I watch the forecast for days when the temp looks promising, and plan accordingly. There hasn't been too much promise in November -- at least, not for this cold-weather-apparel-lacking gal. This week promised to be different. Wednesday was supposed to be 65 degrees (and who cares about wind if the temp is 65?) and Thursday was forecast to be 58. I entertained the notion of cycling home from Thanksgiving meal at my mom's, a distance of 12 miles or so.
Then it hit me -- I was going to be in town on Wednesday with spare time, and the LBS told me if there was a nice day yet this fall, I should come in and take a test ride on a new road bike. Guess what I did Wednesday? Yup. I took a test ride on a Specialized Dolce Sport Compact. Ahhhh -- riding uphill felt like riding on the flat. The drops were great, and made the wind less windy. The brakes, well, I had to remember they weren't where I wanted them to be, and I managed not to come a cropper. My son was riding along with me, and he was hurting, trying to keep up -- so instead of a lovely 10 mile cruise, it was more like a 5 mile limp. But the bike was WONDERFUL! (My son liked the bike, too. He got a short test, long enough to show him why it was he had to work hard to keep up with me when I wasn't pedaling while going up hill. His verdict: Your bike weighs less than my front tire.)
Like I'm going to spend $990 for a bike. We'll have to see what comes in used next spring, when people start upgrading. But oh, I now know I do love me a road bike.
When we got home from town, the first thing I did was pop on my bike. My normal bike, that is. Given the wind and the fact that I had leaves to rake before starting supper, I opted for a short route. You know wind is a factor when, when going downhill, you slow up if you cease pedaling. Especially on those downhills where you normally top 20 mph just coasting. I did 9.8 miles in 45 minutes, and practiced standing up in the pedals coming up the last hill. Faster, certainly, but a definite workout!
Then I raked leaves for an hour, and then I started supper, dove into the shower, and realized that I wouldn't be able to bike home the next day because SOMEONE would need to drive the car, and my daughter is still on a learner's permit. Drat.
Actually, undrat. The 'high of 58' was misleading. At 5:15 AM, the temperature was 53 degrees. That was reasonable. At 3:15 PM, the temperature was 36 and there were snow crystals in the air. Baaaad biking weather, especially with a strong wind that would have been against me for 10 miles. Ick. This morning it's 19 (degrees) with the wind of 29 (miles per hour). Not biking weather. Unless, of course, you have a paper route and have to be out there, like some people who are not me.
It's time to stay home, sip tea, and be thankful for a snug home! And dream of warm weather, calm days, and long bike rides.
Monday, October 01, 2012
Weather in Minnesota at this time of year can be iffy. A day can be a preview of winter - cold and windy with temps hovering well below 50 degrees - or it can be a reminder of summer - Hot and buggy, with temps in the 80s. Since I've only been cycling since August, I am eager to get in all the cycling I can before winter hits. I've read about riding in the winter - but I don't plan to ride on packed snow, and some years we have months when that's all that's available. Not to mention that the road shoulders tend to be covered with snow boulders, and the bike paths (20 miles away) are groomed for cross country skiing.
So, it is with great pleasure that I check the weather report and see that I can still squeeze in some rides. Yay!
This past week, I rode just shy of 70 miles. I am amazed! Who'd've thunk it? Last month I was pondering whether 30 miles a week was too ambitious of a goal, and knocked it down to 25 so I didn't overdo things. I just wish my weight would cooperate and go down. Down weight, down!
I got a new bike saddle on Tuesday, and my body likes it much better. It's no longer sit...wince, it's sit and go. It's not the perfect saddle to swoon over, but it keeps me comfy for an hour of riding, and when my body tells me it's time to shift, I can find a new position that works. I can go over cracks in the pavement without needing to stand up now.
Happy Sparking, everyone!
Friday, September 21, 2012
Since my mom took care of my son's video game 'needs' for his birthday, I got him something practical -- a bike computer and HRM! The perfect thing for a boy on a bike who is working on fitness, right?
And of course, he lets me borrow the heart rate monitor. Fun stuff! But as usual, it brings up more questions than answers.
First off, there's my resting heart rate. It's around 55. How in the world does a not-very-fit individual (who has, admittedly, been cycling a good bit in the past month) manage to have a resting heart rate that low? And what does that do to all the nifty calculations about calorie burn, target rate, and etc, calculators? Are they still accurate?
On our ride today I was able to get my heart rate up into what I'm told is my target zone - 125-155. Sometimes that felt like a lot of exertion, sometimes it felt easy peasy. Honestly, it didn't feel that different from when my heart rate was in the 100-110 zone either. There goes perceived exertion as a clue to activity level.
Which means, it's a good thing that I'm biking because it's fun, rather than to achieve some numbers. The scale numbers aren't behaving either. But maybe if I keep at it, I can get my resting heart rate under 50 ... whatcha think? I had an echocardiogram done a few years back, and my heart rate was 37 during part of the test. (I was in there to investigate a rapid heart rate. Being contrary seems to be hard-wired.)
I *think* I'm getting stronger. The gentle rolls in the roads don't seem like mini-hills any more. We set a new standard for 'hill' on the 13th, when our planned bike path route got scrapped due to resurfacing. The revised route included a 200 ft climb over a half-mile or so. THAT was a hill.
Yup, cycling is fun. I wonder what I"ll do instead in the winter?
Friday, September 07, 2012
Let's get the negative news out of the way: my weight is not cooperating with the upswing in exercise. Bleagh.
Now, on to the fun stuff. I biked over 20 miles Monday, 23 miles on Wednesday, and almost 10 today. The only fly in the ointment is my saddle, but I'll either get used to it or decide to do something about it. My son and I have been to parks (three local parks and one state park on Monday), saved gas (rode 12 miles to get him to a spot where dh could pick him up for youth group, and then I rode back home), and trekked around our nice rural town. The only problem with a rural town is the rural wind, which is annoying but excellent for a workout.
Take today's route: 9,3 miles of slightly rolling countryside (corn and soybeans) with 2 river valleys to descend and ascend. Wind from the northwest at 9 mph with gusts to 22. One hour of riding. Lots of exertion. On the last hill, I actually bottomed out on gears ... nothing left to lighten the pedaling load!!! But I made it, and my son (with 5 gears) caught up with me, and we survived it.
I wonder about how bike calorie calculators work. (I probably need a HRM that will do all my calcs for me). Most places I've checked say that 9 mph is leisure, or slower than leisure, riding. I found one calculator based on exertion, and plugging my numbers into that gave me TWICE as many calories burned as the ones based merely on mph. I called our pace 'moderate exertion'. We didn't go flat-out all the time, but I kept things in the highest gear I could keep a good cadence on AND not kill my legs. Then I thought about my old bike, and how I would've needed to put forth even more exertion to manage today's speed. And someone else's comment about how riding a friend's expensive road bike made a formerly hard trail seem like absolutely no work at all.
Alack and alas, this calorie-burning calculator thing isn't as easy as it sounds. It's person-specific, exertion-dependent, bike-specific, weather-influenced, and terrain-variable.
That's not nice and tidy. (Sad face)
Oh well. Biking is still fun.
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