Sunday, January 16, 2011

Six Things I Learned on a Road Bike

Who would have thought that road riding could make your smarter?  Road riding! Just back and here is what I learned:
  1. The aerobic zone is very little effort, in fact it's hard to work that little
  2. Riding my SS has created some bad habits (attacking hills)
  3. It's probably not practical to train aerobically on mountain bike / trails
  4. I should have three rings on my road bike
  5. The idea of a CX bike makes a lot of sense right now
  6. People are nice
My goal today was 45 minutes of aerobic exercise and to not get hit by a texting soccer mom on Creek Road. I failed at the first goal because it turns out to be very difficult to keep your HR in that narrow aerobic zone. In one hour of riding I logged just 33 aerobic minutes. Seemingly any level of effort would push my HR above the prescribed limit. While in the aerobic zone, it felt like I was barely working and could have ridden like that all day. It was effortless. I welcomed the hills because it was an opportunity to push a little...but every time I pushed even a tiny bit my HR crept up over 75%. 

So for training purposes I need to unlearn the SS habits of attacking hills and probably need a granny ring in order to keep HR low on those hills. And frankly the MTB trails may not be the place to train (it was hard enough keeping HR down on undulating roads, it would be near impossible on mountain bike trails).

Now on to the CX bike thing - I think there might be merit in trading the road bike in on a CX bike. Why? Well I'm not, don't want to be, and never will be a dedicated pace-line type roadie. For me road riding is an occasional change of pace and a way to stay in shape during the off season. Perhaps I will  try bike touring at some point, but aerodynamics and counting grams is not important to me. A CX bike - with a more relaxed geometry and beefier build - may be more comfortable and appropriate for touring and I could bypass some of the soccer-mom-infested stretches of Creek Road by hopping some singletrack for a few miles.

And speaking of soccer moms, I did achieve my second goal of not getting hit by one. In fast I was impressed yet again by the wide berth given me by automobile drivers - maintaining safe distances and letting me roll through intersections. I know I am just one soccer mom away from the ditch (that's why I don't like riding roads) but I think it is worth pointing out that 99.9% of the populace are generally nice people.

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