I didn't try to ride that hard but I found myself complete out of breath by the time I got to the top of the hill leading out of the complex where I live. After that I tried to ride steady.
My two rides are as follows:
Some major milestones of that ride - it took me 58:30 to do the ride. It took me about 3:03 to climb the "hill" to get home.
Some major milestones of today's ride - it took me 1:01:08 to do that ride, so about 2:40 longer to do the exact same loop. I did a little jump in town but didn't do a proper jump at the last right turn. This led me to be much fresher for the hill to the house and I did it in 2:32, 30 seconds quicker than in October.
I made one major change on the bike for this ride - I switched wheels to the Jet 6/9 front/rear combo. I haven't ridden the Jet 6 front since I think 2010 and the Jet 9 since sometime last year. The heavy wheels really affected me, and whether the effect was actual or purely psychological the result told the story - I basically got shelled every time I rode with this setup on my bike.
I preferred the much lighter Bastognes, wheels that brought me a silver in the Nutmeg State Games, a win of sorts in a rain abbreviated TuesdayTheRent, and much less shelling overall.
However, with the off season being the off season I decided to give the wheels a shot. Plus they look cool.
Off season staring.
I have to admit that I still stare at racing ads and pictures. Not many of them - a very few of them. The one above is one of my favorite pictures. I love the big aero wheels, the compact bars, the casual fitness of the rider (he happens to be Viviani, a bonus since I didn't know who he was when I first saw the picture).
Except for the fact that he's a contender in field sprints in huge ProTour races he could be a very fit rider you see at the weekend crit or, more likely, at some big group ride.
Part of it is the "scene" - it's a group ride, literally, not a "beyond my abilities" field sprint or TT or climb. The group ride thing makes the rider more real.
So having been staring at that picture regularly for a month or so I decided that I'd put those heavy wheels on my bike.
Because they just scream the undefinable essence of bike racing life.
I put the Jets on the bike the day before to check them out. A short ride on the trainer, running through the gears, and the bike seemed okay. It shifted fine, as it should since the Jets and Bastognes share hub models, and I didn't experience any gear skips. I decided to give the bike a passing grade.
Bike as I rode it; the Jets have the same model tires as the Bastognes.
Not as sexy as the group ride picture.
I double checked the brakes (okay), tightened up the blinky tail light, and slipped in a 60mm valve tube and an 80mm valve tube. Also, although it's virtually impossible to see, there's a valve extender tucked in under that velcro strap wrapped around the down tube. The valves barely stick out of the rims, just enough to tighten them down, so I need the extender if I need to use the pump.
My now-standard frame pump mounting point.
Speaking of which I almost forgot my pump, literally walking back into the house to get it. I mount it to the left side of the bike, a good spot that has worked out well so far.
Big aero wheels look great when dreaming about bike racing but the reality is that they weigh more, especially my clincher variety. I mentally tortured myself before I even got going - wheeling the bike out of the office was hard work, the extra weight in the wheels noticeable when swinging the bike around.
My start wasn't too auspicious either - by the time I got to the top of the hill leading out of the complex I was so out of breath I actually put a foot down. I fiddled with the helmet cam but the reality was that I could have done it while rolling along slowly. I made the choice to stop because, frankly, I needed to stop.
I rolled along at a moderate pace. The big wheels rolled a bit more consistently, resisting changes in speed. That included accelerations but it also included the slight slowing when I did a more aggressive pedal stroke.
I found that if I didn't emphasize the downstroke as much that the bike seemed to roll better - this worked well on the slight upgrades or if I was just standing to power the pedals a bit.
I spent most of the ride in a praying mantis position, both hands holding the center of the bar, covering the stem and the SRM. On the hills I'd move to the hoods, and every now and then I'd go to the drops to remind myself they were still there.
As noted before I really don't like the shape of the drops on these bars. Since I expect to have a better drop position in a bit I decided not to torture myself and ride in the weird angle/shape drops more than I have to.
Plus, as I pointed out before, this is the off season.
I did one push about 3/4 of the way around the loop, nothing major if it was the summer, but today it really wrecked me. I had to ease and actually had to encourage myself to keep going just to finish one loop.
Five minutes later I still felt mentally defeated. With a schedule to hold I decided against pushing my luck and trying to do a second loop faster than the first. I headed home instead.
I practiced my "rolling stand thing" where I try and pedal a bit more evenly while standing, versus the stamping motion I tend to do. Since I hadn't gone very hard during the loop I could push on pretty well up the last hill on my ride.
Compared to my pretty fast ride last month I climbed the hill 30 seconds faster. Not bad for having much heavier wheels. I actually felt pleased that I did the hill a bit faster. The anti-Strava folks will shake their heads and wait for me to blow a red light or something but I find the Strava segments a nice way of checking my own status. I wouldn't even call it "progress", it's just a check to see where I sit within my realm of possibility.
Of course I think I was going much faster toward the end of 2010, when one day the Missus passed me going up the hill. I got home a minute or two after she did and she actually commented on my speed up the hill, her eyes wide with surprise.
"You were going really fast up that hill!"
Normally she doesn't say much about my riding when she sees me, other than saying stuff like, "I saw you on 10/202", so to have her comment on my speed on the hill, that meant something.
Unfortunately that hasn't happened since then.
My goal is to try and elicit that spontaneous response again.