Some weeks are better than others. This week included a lot of what would otherwise be dreary winter cycling, but somehow, it seems pretty good in retrospect. Highlights included:
1. Monday Bushido Bash.
North Central Cyclery is hosting their Indoor Nationals this winter. They have a computer-linked Tacx Bushido trainer…basically, you put the bike on the trainer, enter your personal information (weight, etc.), and select a route. They have a series of famous race stages pre-programmed into it–Flanders, Mallorca, TdF, etc. As you ride, you get a video of the view you’d be seeing if you were on the actual ride, and the speed of the video varies with your speed. It also varies resistance with elevation, gradient, your weight, and a host of similar factors. In short, it’s like electronically putting a bunch of riders on the same exact course and letting them ride head to head. Here’s the computer monitor and leader board (photo credit to North Central Cyclery).
I’ve been riding one course/week, typically on Mondays. Last Monday, I rode the second course in the series, and I’m very happy with the outcome, for two reasons:
1) I’m competitive. By that, I don’t mean ‘I’m winning’, but rather, I’m competitive. I’m within a reasonable range of deviation, among a group of good cyclists. And rather unusually for me, I’m finding happiness in being in the group, without stressing over being (or not being) in the lead.
2) I’m consistent. On courses taking right around an hour, in week 1, I averaged 230 watts output for the hour. In week 2, I averaged 229 watts. Those were dramatically different courses, with dramatically different cycling requirements. In week 2, one of the courses maxxed out at 17.6% grade. With my Ridley, I have a standard 53/39 crank and an 11/28 cassette. In 39/28, I was standing on the pedals, pushing with all of my might to try to climb that. And yet my output was nearly identical. I’m trying as hard as I can, and it is reassuring to see such consistent results.
In short…Indoor Nationals riding is a bright spot in a bleak winter.
2. Wednesday Gravel Beating.
Wednesday night, small group ride with some guys that are better riders than I. 20 degrees-ish. More wind than there should have been. Pitch black DeKalb County roads. Ended up with just under 29 miles, at 18.5mph average. I hung on for most of it–though I’m pretty sure they could drop me at will. Riding the Bushido indoors is making me a better rider overall–I’m getting a better idea of what my limits are, and what happens when I push them. So far, no bonking. Anyhow, it felt good to ride well, and for me, I rode well.
Friday, my best friend picked up his new bike. A Ridley Noah–just like mine–except mine is Katousha team colors and his is red and black.
Oh, and one other difference. My Ridley has Shimano Ultegra. His Ridley has Campy Record 11 speed. Carbon Fiber derailleurs and all sorts of Ridleydiculousness. It’s good to see him get serious about riding, and I’m looking forward to some road fun. Also, I’m hoping he doesn’t notice when I swap my drivetrain for his.
Where’s the bike from? Tobie at North Central Cyclery whipped it up. See a trend? Many of the best parts of my cycling life trace back to NCC. Local bike shops–they’re where it’s at.
3. TAW Saturday.
Saturday’s ride wasn’t exceptional for any reason other than the fact that it happened, solo, and I pushed hard. It was a great ride for those reasons. Three-A-Week. Game on.
Soon enough, the weather will start improving and riding outside will be easier. Not necessarily better, but easier. But cycling weeks? As far as cycling weeks go, this one was pretty good. It was a good week to ride against the grain.