I’m always fascinated at seeing the different riding styles of people, especially when climbing. Combing from mountain bikes where the granny gear was tall enough to go up a vertical wall I never considered myself a climber and when I first got back on the road seriously I hated the climbing. Now I welcome a good climb and thrive in the sense of accomplishment when I make it to the top or set a new personal record.
My style has evolved over time and I try to keep a constant pace up a hill. I may not be the fastest as the start but usually I’ll catch up to the people who attack at the bottom and then taper when they burn out near the top and usually I’ll still have some left in the tank to meander on by them. Then there are the people who shift too late and start grinding early in the climb or they are afraid of shifting too late and thus shift too early and have no momentum to carry onto the hill. I used to be both of these people and I would try different things on my solo rides until I figured out when the optimal time for me to shift would be – basically when I start feeling my momentum slow it’s time to drop to the smaller chain ring. There is one exception and that would be a small roller where I just need to dig a little to get over the hump w/o expending too much energy. Once I’m in the smaller chain ring I try and keep what momentum I have left while spinning a high cadence which for me would be 80-90rpm as I am most comfortable in that range. If it’s a long and/or steep climb I’ll go through the cassette trying to keep me in that range until I hit the big cog. From then on it’s just a matter of grinding it out. If I’ve played my cards right I’ll have enough left in the tank to actually accelerate over the top of the hill while everyone else is looking to recover.
When I ride solo I’m more apt to push the envelope a bit because if I burn out no one else will be waiting on me. But on the club ride I’ll pick a pace and go at it. This past weekend ride was interesting because we had a rider that would attack the hills early and stand on the pedals and pass the group before sitting down. Now we aren’t racing but I always like a challenge so I would then pull out of line and follow. He would of course be ahead of me but I would slowly reel him in as we reached the top, sometimes just tucking in behind or other times pulling up along side. It was comical as we did this over and over again throughout the day. I don’t think he ever caught on but I’d always be right there when he turned around.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, mostly because I haven’t had anything real interesting to share. I’ve just been logging away the miles and preparing for the event I participated in today.
I rode in my cycle clubs annual even – the Golden Apple. I chose the 60 mile route and got started about 7:30 am. I wasn’t riding with any particular group of people as most wanted to get a later start but I picked up with different people along the way. It was an absolute great ride with the exception of my first flat in over a year. Coming out of a fast downhill I could feel the bikes back end get squirrely and a quick look down confirmed my suspicions. I managed to get it stopped without wiping out and set off to change the tube. I found the offending staple in my tire and of course removed it so I wouldn’t have a repeat. Of course the new tube I was using had a faulty valve and wouldn’t hold any air so I had to borrow a tube from one of the road marshals at the intersection I was stopped at. Once that ordeal was over I was on my way again.
There was no more mishaps for the rest of the ride and I was taking it pretty easy. I had done 50-52 milers before but this one has a lot of climbing so didn’t want to burn out early. Even still at the 44 mile rest stop I needed an extended break for about 15 minutes so I could sit down and recover a bit. That certainly helped and I was able to finish the ride strong. Total mileage ended up being 62 so I managed to squeak out my first metric century in the process! Oh and total elevation gained was just over 4000 feet – Strava and my Magellan both agreed for once!
In other news I bought a new crank, FSA Gossamer, to put on my bike and ditch the square taper crank as it flexes too much under power. The Gossamer isn’t the lightest crank on the market but they are stiff and should shave about ~1lb off the bike in combination with the BB swap. After that I’m contemplating upgrading to 10sp from my current 8. With all the hills around here I’d really like at least a 28 in the rear and I can’t do that with my current setup. The biggest expense with doing the swap will be the shifters so I’m keeping my eye out on ebay.
I just want to congratulate Jens Voigt for a superb effort on stage 1 of the Tour which earned him the KOM jersey! At age 42 Jens is the oldest rider in the peloton but he still has enough gas in him to get in the break and put a hurt on the field. I’m the same age (actually 1 day older!) and only wish I had 1% as much riding talent as he does.
Jens looks good in polka dots doesn’t he?
My hats off to you Jens, you are a pleasure to watch, always put on a good show and are a great ambassador to the sport.
p.s. Your NBC interview was fantastic! Hope to see you in the booth next year!
The Tour de France has just officially started! Should be an exciting few weeks with all of different personalities & rivalries in the peloton. And how about Jens Voigt, his 17th (and final) tour and the oldest rider in the peloton! Go Jensie!!!
Those of us in the US you can view live & replay coverage on NBS Sports. You can find the TV schedule here. You can also access online streaming/features through their website but it’s a paid service.
Cyclingfans.com will of course have links to online streaming sites for the tour.
Strava has posted the routes for each of the stages if you’d like to follow along virtually.
Lets hope for a competitive and safe race for all the riders!