A Secteur, some Gu, and satan’s own intervals
Fair warning: This post is being written in the waiting room at the dentist with the WP mobile app, so please forgive the more than usual number of typos that will likely result. Also, there is a decent chance that I will finish this post, only to have it disappear into the ether, in which case you won’t be reading this warning anyway.
As you may know if you’ve read this blog for any period of time, I recently took possession of a new bike, one that I have been enjoying immensely for the past couple of weeks. It is a Specialized Secteur that I got from the fine folks at Orange Cycle here in Orlando, with some excellent assistance from the very knowledgeable and helpful Andrew. So props and many thanks to them for getting me fitted into a bike that works for me. I just realized, however, that I have been calling my bike a “Specteur” for some reason (though thanks to the magic edit feature you won’t be able to find evidence of that in the very near future – well, except for me admitting it here. Never mind.). The lesson here is the same as always: I am an idiot.
I spent the first week or so doing some shorter 8-10 miles rides just trying to get a feel for the new bike. Even though the Secteur has a more upright geometry than most of the other road bikes that I looked at, it is still a more aggressive riding posture than what I have been used to with my old Trek Hybrid, so simple things like where to place my hands, the location of the brakes and gear shifts, and the overall feel of the bike take some getting used to. Oh, and the valves for road bike tires are very different and need either a different pump or an adapter in order to inflate the tires. I knew this but forgot, and felt more than just a little stupid when I first took a look at them with my unadapted pump in hand. (See paragraph above for the lesson here.)
I took the bike back after a few days to complete the Specialized fitting process, and this proved to be a real help. Andrew got me up on my bike in a trainer so that he could adjust my seat height and position, as well as my handlebars, based on measurements that he was able to take, observations and questions that he asked about my riding style (which is surprisingly efficient) and preferences. I learned a lot from this and it made a big difference in getting me comfortable on the bike. (Did you know that 30% is the optimum angle for an extended knee during a down pedal? Don’t say you never learn anything from me.) I learned that I was keeping my elbows too rigid and locked, which in turn was causing me to put too much weight forward and resulting in some discomfort in my hands and wrists.
With my bike newly fitted and adjusted, I set out for my first two rides of any length this weekend, concentrating on keeping my elbows loose and little if any weight on my hands (easier said than done of course but it will just take some time to get used to and make that “looser” position second nature). I logged rides of 22 and 20 miles with no issues, and experimented with a new (to me) product to help with hydration during this ridiculous Floria heat. I dropped a GU Brew electrolyte tablet into one of my water bottles (the lemon lime flavor), which dissolves fairly quickly to make a light, slightly fizzy electrolyte replacement drink, not unlike your standard Gatorade.
Most sports drinks I’ve tried are a bit too heavy or strong tasting for me during exercise (all really ever want is water), but the GU Brew was sufficiently light (it’s only 10 calories and tastes like a slightly citrus-y, slightly flat club soda) that I was able to drink all of it during my ride without any issues. The slight fizz makes for a nice change of pace for those times that you know you should be drinking fluids but just aren’t feeling another sip of water. It’s not something that I’d sit down and consume for pleasure after a long day at the office, but I’ll definitely try it again during my next ride. They make a peach tea and orange flavor, but I’ll likely stick with the lemon lime since it seems like it would be the lightest tasting of those choices.
I was scheduled to do my intervals ride this morning but woke up this morning in a surly, cranky mood after not sleeping well and decided to skip my ride morning. I immediately regretted it though and dutifully got on the bike while I had a few minutes later in the morning (in between work and taking the kids to their doctor and dentist appointments). I quickly remembered though why I choose to get up and ride before the sun can get up all that high in the sky, because the air was as thick as mud and the feels like temps were already pushing triple digits. If this was punishment for contemplating missing a training day for no good reason other than being a crank, then message received loud and clear – I’ll nevah evah do it again (without a reaaaaal good reason at least).
Anyway, 40 minutes and 300 gallons of sweat later, I knocked out my intervals, and immediately saw the benefits of the new road bike. The bikes rides so smoothly that it was easy to get my top speed north of 20 mph (a new JLo only powered land speed record of 22.7 mph was achieved) and maintain that over the course of the speed interval. And, while I wouldn’t say I was knifing through the wind by any stretch of the imagination, it was much, much easier to maintain a higher speed while heading into the breeze. That alone makes the new bike worth it for me.
This post is way too long already, and much longer than anybody should attempt to write on a mobile app, so I’ll end it here by reminding you that the donation link at the top right corner of this page is now live and accepting your pledges of support for my participation in the Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2012 (or simply click here). Any amount that you are able to contribute is greatly appreciated and goes to a wonderful cause.