May 20, 2010

Bike Week wraps up, and the big test

Another coupla days logged for Bike to Work Week, and I'm pretty darn pleased.  It's been, well... wet.  Course, fenders and wool socks - no worries with rain here, but it does get a little old after a while.
Lots of irons in the fire this week.  Trying a new taillight, a new chain lube, and wrapping up a month on the new bicycle fit.  I haven't stepped outside my own box like this in a long time.  In some ways, its a bit liberating.  

The chain lube - don't ask me yet:  I've talked it up with Crowbar at work, but I'm not letting the cat out of the bag until several hundred miles, and at least halfway through my next chain.  I didn't really set out to write a review on it, but I might if it adds some value and clarification to the polar-shifting forum posts I've read about it.  It's like that with just about ANY chain lube, which is why it falls into that arena with religion and politics for many folks.  I don't know if I was bored, or just looking for something else to play with - but I jumped on it, and I'm trying it out.  Stay tuned.

Unfortunately, I am a wee injured tonight as I type this - but I can safely say that it's not the bike fit's fault.  The only problem with cross-training is the chance that one activity will lead to cause something that messes with the other.  In my case, I've been attending instructor-led aerobic kick-boxing classes twice a week for about 6 weeks now.  The results are coming, I'm pleased, and I don't feel completely shredded after a class like I did at week one.  What I am nursing is one of those hyper-extension style pulls, like when you miss the stairs or something.  Without turning this into a kick-boxing blog, I basically went to side-kick a bag at the end of a combination, and missed the bag.  The resulting over-reach tweaked my left hamstring and whatever that outer tendon is.  Vitamin-I, rest, and taking it easy on the bike for a bit.  Doesn't hurt when I ride... but riding probably isn't helping.  Hard to tell... and that complicates things really fast for my big fit test:  the 200K this weekend.

It was honestly, when I was planning things late last week, this weekend was going to be a 600K attempt.  
The fit has settled, things have evened out, and the last tiny tweaks finally put everything at ease.  I won't call it a miracle, but I can honestly say that I don't think I've felt this strong on this bike since I bought it, and it kinda shows that theory about attempting to translate my original "took four years to dial in" fit from the first road bike I had and randonneured upon.  After moving that set of dimensions from that first bike, to the 2nd, and the 3rd... and the 4th... back to the 2nd frame... then a bike boom of 5,6 and 7... then trimmed back down to bike 3.... I actually had this all plotted out to show how ridiculous my stable became from late 2003 to 2006.  

Each time, I tried to match bikes with different dimensions to me, the changes so subtle that I never went through any real pains.  Well, now, I basically went to where I shoulda been in one big shot, after riding the current bike in its previous configuration for 3+ years.  So, the pains I was having, shoulder, hands, leg fatigue - that was all to be expected.  The rest of the pains essentially speak to how ones body REALLY wants things once you are off the fixed trainer and out of the fit technicians hands - in the real world.  Any frustration I had was squelched by the thoughts that (A) I did this voluntarily, and (B) tweaks are essential and the right adjustments will come.  It took four years the first time... a month isn't bad.

So, a month later?  Yes, I'm still convinced.  While it still required me to make a few of my own choices once I was "released into the wild", it was overall a much faster process - as I mentioned - than trial-and-erroring things myself as each new distance milestone revealed new body issues.  I think it's absolutely worth the expense if you spend a lot of time on the bike, no matter what your goals.  Again, I had NO complaints before the fit - but the result of the fit put me in a position that I wouldn't have guessed on my own to unlock more speed, more power, (eventually) more comfort, and better climbing technique.  I'm not signing any pro-tour contracts, mind you --- but it's personal:  I'm better than I was before.  That's really the only goal a fit should have.

Again, however, the 200K this weekend will be a challenge in the sense that I'll be stepping into unknown territory with regards to how the fit will ultimately serve me at the 8 hour and beyond mark.  Really, the 2011 brevet season will be pivotal, starting at the 300K.  Then the 400K.  Then 600K.  Each familiar mileage increase may indeed reveal little issues that are impossible to foresee at lower mileages, but I have good hopes.  Realistically, very little about my OLD fit had to change much after experiencing and adjusting from a 300K.  At the 400 and 600 level, it became more about bags, fenders, and the like.  So, we'll see.  My thinking about "welding stems in place" is on hold... if something needs to change, I'll do it.  So, more to come there.

To highlight my comment before about how this weekend was "almost" a 600K:  indeed, that's how good and strong I was feeling.  There is, at this writing, nothing about the fit that makes me concerned about riding THAT long - if for no other reason than to get the learning curve over with in one shot.  But, with the hamstring thing... I'm playing it safe.  

Ride report, all that, coming next week! 

1 comment:

Be A Light said...

Hello, CommuterDude: Good for you...riding your bike to work. I was aware of Ride Your Work Day, but not of Ride Your Bike To Work Week.
Once upon a time, I rode my bike everyday. It was a ten mile ride each way, with a couple of somewhat challenging hills...I rode my bike clothes at work and after work, simply hopped on my bike and off I went..until they changed the dress code...and then I had to backpack my clothing, etc..I admit it...I caved. Afterwards, I did the after-work bike ride and that worked well, except for the horrific So Cal freeway commute taking me even longer to get home...and again...I caved.
Well, to make a long story short, I still enjoy cycling..I have a mountain bike and a road bike and have some favorite bike trails. I am not a serious, everyday rider, nor competing rider..but I thoroughly enjoy reading about other cycling adventurists...such as you. So enjoy your blog, and I will follow it.
Ride On.