The weather and my free time finally aligned today! I made my first ride of the year. Rides, actually.
Most years I start slow, riding the bike 5.8 miles to work for several days before tackling anything remotely difficult. Kris and I have been working out regularly for two months, though, and I get about three hours of aerobic exercise per week. I decided to test my current fitness level.
It seems that though I am fat, my cardio-vascular fitness is in mid-season form. This pleases me. My strength is terrible, though.
My first ride was 9.77 miles, but a half mile of it was the worst half mile that I know of around Canby. Halfway to Mulino, a side road heads toward Central Point. This short stretch has a steep climb. I hate hills, and try not to climb them.
Both Paul and Torey have suggested doing Cycle Oregon this summer, though. Cycle Oregon is a week-long, cross-state ride. The ride not only includes hills, but it also includes mountains. Real mountains. To seriously consider such a ride, I need to begin training for it now, learning to climb inclines.
My previous early-season attempts to climb the Central Point have been failures. I've walked it, it's made me sick, it's always defeated me. This year I was able to make it to the top with no problem. It wasn't easy, though. Would strength training help? My legs burned while climbing, even at a slow pace. Perhaps strength training on the legs would make them more powerful, better able to climb.
After the hill ride, I did an 8.50 mile ride out to Custom Box Service. (This is the "long way" -- there's a more direct 5.79 mile route that I use when commuting.)
My speed for this ride was 15.91 miles per hour, which is very good for the first day of the year. Last year, which was admittedly a low-point in my fitness history, I only reached that speed on three rides during the entire year! I didn't do any riding in 2000, so have not stats. In 1999, I didn't reach 15.91 mph on that ride until June 15th. In 1998, it was on June 8th.
It seems that by working out regularly I've managed to put myself in summer form, despite my gut. I have no illusions that this is going to be an easy riding year. It's been two years since I've logged significant miles, and it's been five years since I've demonstrated any prolonged self-discipline (involving food and exercise).
However, I think that 2000 miles is a reasonable goal for this year. Very reasonable, actually. If I do Cycle Oregon, I may be able to log 2500 miles. In my wildest dreams, I reach 3000 miles this year.
(By way of comparison, I rode 472.15 miles in 1997, 1565.15 miles in 1998, 501.62 miles in 1999, 0 miles in 2000, and 254.65 miles in 2001. Setting a goal of 2000 miles is, in some ways, wishful thinking considering my past performance. It's achievable, though, and I intend to work toward it.)
Yes, I really do keep all of those biking statistics. As Kris says, I am overanalytical to a fault. For each ride I log the temperature, distance traveled, time elapsed, and maximum speed. Secondary statistics are easily obtained from these primary numbers. I have an Excel spreadsheet with complete statistics since 6 May 1997.
The man at Bikes 'n' More here in Canby called me yesterday. He had ordered a special seat in which I had expressed interest, and the seat had arrived. I bought it and a new set of pedals.
My current seat is hard. No, I mean it. Very hard. Like a rock. And it's narrow. Sitting in that seat for extended periods makes me numb in a part of the body which I'd rather not have become numb. (Heck, sitting in that seat for short periods makes me numb.)
The new seat, which was surprisingly easy to install, is BIG; it's wide and long and thick. This provides greater surface area for my ample rump to rest upon. The seat is soft, too. It has a soft exterior, and the interior is filled with a gel-like substance.
I also bought a pair of clipless pedals. Serious bicyclists swear by clipless pedals, but I've never tried them. In the olden days, a pedal was just a pedal. As bikes evolved pedals developed toeclips, pockets into which the rider can place his (or her) toes. This allows the pedal to be pulled up, not just pushed down.
Clipless pedals are a more recent innovation. The pedals themselves are much smaller than regular pedals, and they require special biking cleats. (Well, you could use them without the cleats, but that would be silly -- the pedals are tiny.) Because of this design, the foot stays in constant contact with the pedal. Constant firm contact. Every rider that I've ever talked with swears by clipless pedals, touting their comfort and the increased riding efficiency.
Bikes 'n' More had bought a pair of old pedals at a substantial discount. When the owner heard I was looking to switch to them, he offered to sell me the pedals. I bought them. Now I have to save my pennies to afford a pair of biking cleats.
I'm not a cool cyclist.
I don't wear a jersey. I do have cycling shorts (a must-have) and some ratty old cycling gloves, but on top I wear a variety of dilapidated t-shirts. Over the t-shirt I'll wear a shirt and/or a sweatshirt if it's cold. Over all of this I wear an old yellow Honda vest that came with Kris' Spree scooter back in the mid-eighties. I wear a pair of too-large aviator sunglasses, even in the twilight (I hate bugs in my eyes.) My helmet is too big. I have mud guards on my wheels. I have a headlight and a tail-light. I have a big bag that straps onto my rear rack. When I commute, everything goes in this bag. Well, when I take my laptop to work, I wear my laptop backpack, which is even more uncool. My shoes are discount Nikes with a stiff sole (so that pedaling is easier).
Most bikers are into the cool biker thing. Me? I just want to get where I'm going safely.
Here's a picture that Paul Carlile took on 3 May 1998. We are in the middle of a 50-mile ride from Canby to Silverton, nearing the Galleon House covered bridge. We're both traveling about fifteen miles per hour. A half hour later, Paul ran out of steam and spent the last hour of the ride slugging it out.
On this day at foldedspace.org
2005 — Cat Pictures Today this space features photos of my cats. Isn't that what weblogs are all about?
2004 — Shopaholic This woman I know, she likes to shop. She likes to buy makeup and clothing and purses and shoes. This might not be so bad except that she works at a major department store in a major mall. These are stories about her
2003 — Pillows Which of these images do you prefer?