Friday, November 14, 2008

The Rainy Season

This year I’m going to try a different approach for the winter rainy season. Typically, this is a time of the year where I have no real structure to my riding, and I just try and get out when the weather isn’t too bad. Since I have taken the last two winters off from leading the weekly Hills of the West Coast group ride, this means mostly easy to moderate paced riding, i.e., “base miles”. For me these could be called “boring miles”.

My Bullet Bike singlespeed is now my winter bike, and that changes everything. Not only is it much easier to clean than a geared racing bike, it’s a lot of fun not to have to worry about shifting when the weather is crappy. Having only 42x16 kind of dictates the riding style to you—you don’t boss the singlespeed around, and that means that you are mostly obligated to ride hard. With 70 gear inches (equivalent to 50/19), there are not many hills I would describe as easy, and then there is the riding into the winter winds.

Normally, moderate pace means moderate fitness, and that’s OK, as you have time to build fitness back up in the spring after it erodes away. This year I am going to try and keep as much fitness as I can through the winter. I figure that my hours on the bike will drop anyway, giving me plenty of time to recover. If I can only get out for an hour or two here and there, I’m going to make that riding time pay off. Every ride will have a purpose and I’m going to make every mile count. It we get a stretch of good weather, I’ll do more miles with less intensity. I equate two hilly hours on the singlespeed with between 2.5 and 3 hours on a geared bike, so that also makes it time efficient.

I’m not much of a “pound the trainer” kind of guy, as I find it a lot more fun and motivating to climb “real” hills on real roads.

The Bullet Bike will force my hand, and it’s a lot of fun to ride SS hard anyway. Besides, from what I understand, it’s harder and harder to build back fitness as you get older. Why lose it, and risk not being able to find it?

On Friday, November 7th I did about nine hills of hard effort climbing on Queen Anne and Magnolia. I’ve now ridden every hill in singlespeed, save one, that I normally do on my frequent winter rides to what I think of as my “winter proving ground”. As long as you are extremely careful on the wet roads, and pay particular attention to wet leaves and moss, it just doesn’t get much better than Magnolia and Queen Anne for the perfect winter riding area. Especially if you live downtown like me, and can just cruise through Myrtle Edwards Park to get there.

Only 3rd Ave. up from SPU on the north side of Queen Anne remains on my singlespeed hill hit list. I could give the climb up from the Discovery Park Lighthouse or the Counterbalance a shot, but I don’t see much upside in that for my knees. I don’t even like these climbs on my regular bike.

On another note, little did I know that my purchase of a new 09 Specialized Langster would generate five (with a possible sixth pending) sales of Specialized bikes. I have the 09 Langster, and the 09 S-Works Tarmac SL2. Reg has a new 09 S-Works Roubaix SL2 frameset he is getting ready to build up, and Justin has his new S-Works Langster track bike. Tom N bought a 08 S-Works Roubaix SL, and now Justin is thinking about a new S-Works Tarmac SL2 to replace his custom Calfee. All this was triggered by me spotting the Tarmac SL2 and the S-Works Langster at Center Cycle when I was picking up my Langster. My riding buddies have caught some new bike fever. Specialized is making fantastic bikes, and I was glad I could direct some business to Center Cycle in Renton.

I hope to see you on the road.

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