Thursday, August 14, 2008

Training - Group Rides, Long Cranks

Yesterday I had my first day off since I started working. I wanted to do the evening group ride, but with my DV46c limping with a popped spoke, I decided to pull the Giant off the bench. I got a pair of the Campy/FiR wheels we have, swapped a flat front tire, and started remembering all the things I'd let slide on the bike.

Out of true front and rear wheels. Brakes off center. That flat front tire. No magnet on the front wheel - confiscated for the DV46c. No cadence harness, just the wireless speed (the harness went to the tandem). With no front wheel magnet I removed the computer and left it on the hutch.

I transferred the blue Down Low Glows (DLGs) to the Giant, ditto the NiteRider. The Giant had a 7 LED Vistalite on the rear so that was okay, but the batteries, as I found out later, were far from recharged (I use Duracell rechargeable batteries whenever possible).

I checked the seat height and yanked the seat up until it lined up with my 68 cm BB-seat top that I had on the Cannondale. The bike shifted okay so I left that alone, and the chain, although a bit dry looking, didn't looked parched so I left that too.

I took out my Christmas present digital scale, and although the numbers flickered a bit while I held the scale, the bike tipped them at just under 26 pounds.

Yes, 26 pounds.

Ah, heck, that was okay. I was 10-12 pounds heavier when I raced the thing so adding 9 pounds to the (dry) weight of the Cannondale wasn't a deal breaker. Plus I had the various lights and stuff and it wasn't a race and it'd be good training.


I rolled out the door and reveled in the SUV like ride of the bike. I felt I could ride over anything, the cheap but tough steel bead tires able to take anything. The wheels were very quiet too, compared to the hollow reverberation chambers that happen to hold a tire on my Reynolds wheels. The much, much lower top tube (44 cm seat tube center to center) made me feel like I was riding a BMX bike, and the long bit of seat post made me feel like I was flicking the bike back and forth even more than normal.

I felt like I was on a race bike. Or race SUV. Maybe an off road race car. Like one of these. A race car that has a lot of ground clearance but has extra lights and parts and stuff.

The box section rims reminded me of Cadel Evans and his stubborn resistance to tall profile wheels in the Tour, although he had $3000 carbon tubulars and I had $70 aluminum clinchers.

The nicely cut down Mavic 350 crit bars felt like home, and the saddle, my favorite for at least 10 years, felt assuringly familiar.

Something, though, wasn't right. I rolled over to the shop where the group met, and even though I gleefully climbed every rise standing, waggling the saddle like a happy dog's tail, I had this sense of impending problems.

(Cue in some "Dum, dah-dum dum daaaah" kind of music.)

Started off the ride, felt fine, almost put my foot to the ground when the pedal almost let go. Ah, too loose. Maybe that was it.

No, it wasn't.

175 cranks. Big circles, compared to my Cannondale's 170s.


This bike came from my 175 mm days, and the cranks were longer. And dropped farther.

And my seat height wasn't any different because I set it exactly like the Cannondale.

In other words, my seat was 5 mm too high.

I thought it would be okay but the first hard hills put paid to that thought. I struggled mightily, lacking any power I thought I ever had. I don't count myself as a good climber, and this group regularly humbles me, but it was even worse than that.

The tall saddle position was just too tall.

I used a borrowed wrench to tighten up the pedals, and, in hindsight, I should have adjusted the seat too, but I didn't feel like guessing while mosquitoes dive-bombed my legs.

I realized pretty quickly that I should have guessed. When I stood I felt reasonable after a couple pedal strokes. Makes sense because when I stand I adjust my leg extension automatically. But as soon as I sat down I lost tons of power and felt myself sliding backwards relatively speaking. I adjusted by sliding forward on the seat but it was still a bit too high. Better than back but not as good as having the right height.

I struggled back to the shop, doing fine whenever I had to descend (26 pound bike!), corner (I love cornering), or do some steady state cruising (175s, even lacking power, work for that).

Hills, forget it.

At the shop I decided I could guess for the ride home.

Would you believe it, I guessed about right. Felt great, at least for the first mile. Then I bonked and slowed down and had to wiggle to make sure drivers saw me (it was totally dark outside).

I crawled home, the missus opening the door as I rolled up. No zucchini bread but to my great surprise she'd made pasta (Barilla) and meatballs.

Yum yum.

At least I know one thing. Next time I ride the bike will fit.


Joe Marinelli said...

Was it the Barilla Protein Plus pasta!?

Anonymous said...

In response to the pasta question, no, it was regular Barilla. SDC is a purist (although occasionally I will buy the Barilla with more fiber).

The Missus

Aki said...

I like the normal Barilla the best, although I gave the protein version a try. The regular Barilla really does make for the best al dente pasta, based on my very subjective testing. It's also a claim vocalized by my aunt in Milan. Yes, that Milan.