Two weeks ago was yet another low point in my 2009 training schedule (yes, there have been others). It was the 1st week of June and I was only capable of logging a measly 46 miles as result of 2 rides over the weekend. And my average speed for those two rides was a pathetic 15.9 mph. This is NOT what I planned when I decided to blog last year and wrote about my cycling plans for 2009.
What a Difference a Week Makes!!
This past week ended up being a nearly perfect riding week, despite a weather forecast that suggested few opportunities for riding. It would have been a perfect week had it not been for the untimely rain on Sunday morning. I had planned to do my long ride for the week 1st thing Sunday morning, 30-35 miles or more depending on how I was feeling after 2 days of riding. As a result of the rain, I had to settle for a much shorter ride later in the day. I was able to get in after work rides on Monday, Wednesday and Friday...an early morning ride on Saturday (on the road shortly after 7:30 AM, which is as good as it gets for me!)...and an off-plan late afternoon ride on Sunday. A total of 101 miles for the week at an average speed of 16.8 mph. If I can string a few weeks like this one together I'll be mighty pleased.
The jump in my average speed is noteworthy. I'm pretty sure it's real but I must admit I'm still fleshing this out a bit to make sure. Let me explain further.
Different Bike/Different Cyclometer
All my rides this week were on the Trek 2100. These were my first "real" rides on this bike other than tooling around the neighborhood shortly after I bought it. I bought the bike off of eBay last October from a seller in Hopkinton as I felt the need to have a "back-up" bike once I decided to raise my training up a few notches for 2009. To me the bike was a steal for what I needed. But when I started the longer rides earlier in the Spring I naturally took out the Specialized Roubaix, the only road bike I rode for the last two years. However, two Sundays ago I sent myself into a mild panic when I was preparing to ride and noticed that the outer layer of rubber was peeling off the rear wheel tire on the Roubaix. I had known it was getting near that point but I'm not too good with standard pre-ride checkouts of my bike...usually just hop on and go. I certainly got good use from that tire...it was the original that came with the bike and had just under 3,000 miles on it! Anyway,it was time to get the 2100 out of the basement and get it set-up for riding, which is what I did. It came with a Cateye cyclometer and after verifying the correct settings and riding on loops of known mileage, it seems to match very closely the data from the Trek Incite 8i on the Roubaix. I have no reason to believe it's not properly calibrated, but I probably ought to get new batteries for its two main units in case its flaking out on batteries about to go kaput.
2100 vs. Roubaix
I like the Roubaix and test rode several other comparable bikes before I decided to buy it in early 2007. After years of riding an old Trek 1200, the Roubaix had the plushest ride I had ever experienced. The 2100 has a noticeably harsher ride but much better responsiveness to my pedaling. Yes, in just a few rides this past week I've noticed vastly improved accelerations and more power going up hills. At first I thought it was just in my head but I really do believe it's the bike. I know I certainly feel faster on the 2100!
The Dreaded Big Chainring
There's no reason the big chainring should be dreaded except in situations like mine. I've had a chronic problem with my right knee that in the past has kept me off the bike and getting PT. What I've learned over the years is that I need a good base of miles riding exclusively on the small chainring and building up the muscles around the knees each year before I can start to even entertain the thought of using the big gears. If I don't train this way, I end up on the sidelines with a painful knee. So my training has always been based on a high cadence riding style with a focus of building leg speed early in the season. I use 500 miles as a basic rule of thumb for building the base but it also depends on how my knee feels. Having passed the 500 mile mark a week ago and with my knee feeling pretty good, I started using the large chainring sparingly on 2 rides this week...and both those rides resulted in average speeds easily exceeding 17 mph.
So to me, this all adds up to my first "breakthrough" event for 2009. I wish it was all in my legs but I'll take improvement anyway it comes...both stronger legs and a faster bike work fine for me. But I also know my history and I typically don't have such large increases in weekly average speeds so I'll need to keep an eye on the Cateye cyclometer. I'm pretty sure this all adds up to real improvement, but...