This past Sunday I participated in my second Farm to Fork Fondo. Last year I chose the “Medio Fondo” route which was essentially 100k, but this year I stepped it up to the “Gran Fondo” which was billed as 140k (87 miles) and ~5800′ of elevation. This ride would be a first for me as I had never done that much elevation in a single ride before.
Just to get it out of the way, hands down, this was the most challenging ride I have ever done. I was good until about mile 75 when we hit a climb known as “The Wall”, but more on that later. My biggest issue was that my nutrition was off and I underestimated my needs for the day. I always tend to take too much food with me and never finish it all. This time I planned for exactly what my expected time to be and missed it by a bunch.
The idea behind this ride (and it’s sister rides) is about bringing awareness to and support our local farms along with the open green space they provide and the relationship between cyclists, the landscape and healthy living. There are three more rides in the series this summer if you are so inclined, just visit FarmForkFondo.com more more details.
As with the ride last year there was no shortage of pros and retired pros on hand to mingle and ride with. The Colavita | Bianchi women’s cycling team was there, Ian Boswell from Team Sky, retired pro Ted King, along with a few others who’s names escape me at the moment.
My Cannondale at Cannondale.
Yes this is the historic Cannondale train station where the Cannondale bike company got it’s name from.
Here are a couple of other shots from the day. Cannondale’s first HQ was in a loft above a pickle factory in the village.
Historic Cannondale Village.
I Am Not Ted King
Inspired by this post over at PedalWORKS I decided to do some experimenting with my own tire pressures.
Previously in my 25mm tires I had been running 90psi in the rear and 85psi in the front. Now this clearly goes against the tires minimum recommend pressure of 102psi but it is comfortable and I have never had any ill effects doing so. Interestingly enough the pressure calculator recommends 82psi in the rear and 62psi in the front for my weight on the bike. 62psi seems way too low for me so for the first test I inflated the rear to 82 psi and the front to about 75 as that was as low as I was comfortable going.
To do my testing I picked a loop around my town that could provide me varied testing surfaces (smooth, bumpy, flat, climbs). With the tires inflated to 82r/75f I set out on my course. To be honest I didn’t notice all that much comfort from my usual pressure nor did I feel like I was at a disadvantage either with lower air in the tires – meaning it didn’t seem to give me any additional rolling resistance.
With that subjective test complete I decided to go the opposite way and I pumped the rear tire up to 102psi (the recommended minimum printed on the tire) and put he front to about 95psi and set off on the same course. The bike certainly felt fast but within 20 minutes my lower back was sore and that became tiring so all speed went out the window. So I stopped burped some air out of the tires a couple of times front and rear and continued to do my loops. I was completely going on feel now and what I ended up with I really liked. It still seemed fast but not so harsh to aggravate my lower back. So when I got home I checked the pressure in each tire and the rear was at 90psi exactly and the front was around 80psi. Not very far off from my original numbers I started with.
But of course I was not done yet… that 62psi recommended pressure was still in the back of my mind. I still couldn’t bring myself to go that low but I dropped the front tire al the way down to 70psi now and left the back at 90 since that does seem to be my sweet spot and set off on my loop once again. Ok that sucked… it was very comfortable up front but honestly it felt like I was peddling through mud. It was just 5psi lower than the first test I did but there was definitely a difference.The tire visibly didn’t seem like it was compressing a lot but I certainly felt it at the pedals, most notably on the climbs. Perhaps because I’m putting more weight on the front of the bike when I’m climbing? I don’t know but I probably won’t be running that pressure again.
In conclusion this just shows you can’t go by a chart and pick pressures, but you really need to go out and do some experimenting. It’s very easy to inflated your tires to 100psi and then over the course of the ride keep tweaking the pressures until it feels good. And it seems, at least for me, there is about a 5psi margin of error for feeling good and feeling like you are riding on flats. With all that said for dry riding I will be staying with 90psi in the rear and go closer to 80psi in the front, and in the wet I’ll drop the pressures by 5psi to stay in my sweet spots.
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