Well, I've been doing pretty good. From my enlightening due to my question post on cadence a while back I've been working on pedaling faster.
Two Saturdays ago I took all the info fed to me and went out on my normal bike trail. It was suggested that I drop out of the top chainring and run in the middle chainring. I didn't do quite that, but I dropped a lower gear in the rear while staying on the large chainring in the front. I have a 42 up front and was I guess mashing on a 13 tooth in the rear.
So, back to two Saturdays ago, I dropped the back from my top 13t to 6th which is a 15t. I was riding the "up" part of my trail at 12 mph on the 13t which calculates to around 50 rpm. When I took the suggestions of my cadence thread to the trail and dropped down to the 15 tooth gear, not only was I pedaling faster, but as I said in that thread, I was running a consistent 14 mph so the pedaling was even faster yet with the speed increase. That increased my cadence to 65 rpm.
It felt so good after my first 6 miles where I normally turn around that I wanted to keep going. Low and behold though, I didn't make it to the 2nd tunnel because of my rear on the seat and turned around after 9 miles giving me a nice 18 mile ride.
Now this Saturday. My wife has the weekend off. They all sleep in pretty late and I am usually up at 6 or 7. So I ate some breakfast and went up on a different trail. This is the Sandy Creek trail that shows on the map as a bit of an actual slope compared to the Allegheny River trail. I should have taken the camera but I forgot. I started on the other side of the Allegheny River to cross over the bridge. Really cool being that high and long above the river on a bike. The map tells me this trail goes for about 24 miles and connects onto another trail. So off I went but since it was slightly more upsloped than my usual trail I dropped down a gear again and ran in 5th, or the 17 tooth. I cruised pretty good up this trail at around 12 mph which is still about 65 rpm in this gear at this speed. Now 65 rpm feels pretty good to me. This trail follows along Sandy Creek and has a lot of little bridges crossing over the creek. To help out the rear end of things, at every bridge I stood up to cross to give some pressure relief.
Much to my surprise I reached about 8 miles and the trail ended at a gate. There was no way past the gate and the pavement ended. I don't know what's up with that, I thought it went on until it hit another trail as I said, about 24 miles. Well, that was a disappointment, I felt absolutely great and wanted to keep going. Thus I had to turn around and head back.
Now for the ride back, I felt like I was flying. I did bump it back into 6th gear and ran roughly about 16-17 mph on the way back. So, I thought Saturday I would beat the 18 miles from the previous Saturday, but it was only 16 miles. I could have done more.
So let's jump to today. I'm off for Labor Day and woke up about 6 am. Poured a bowl of my usual Cheerios, messed about reading the forum on my phone and watched the news. About 7:30 I headed down to my Allegheny River trail.
This time I started out with leaving it in 5th gear, the 17 tooth gear, same gear I ran the upslope at Sandy Creek on Saturday at about 12 mph. I still kept up with my now usual 14 mph on the way upstream (if you remember, virtually flat, but it does have an ever-so slight upslope on my way up to the tunnel.) My calculation tells me that is about 75 RPM! Awesome! I maintained that through the first tunnel, felt great and had the time so I continued. I will be using the every so often stand up for 10 seconds or so to give the butt some relief from now on. I continued and hit 9 miles where I turned around last week. Onward we go! I still feel great and up ahead, there's the 2nd tunnel at 12 miles!
I made it! I cruised through the tunnel and snagged a drink of water and a bit of rest for the legs on the other side.
Now on the way back I was feeling it a bit. I made it back to the first tunnel and stopped at a picnic table on the other side and actually got off the bike to walk around a bit. From there on back it was really rough. I was really feeling it at about mile 20. Up until this point I was still holding a 14 mph speed in 5th gear, thus 75 rpm. After this point not only was the rear end sore, but the legs were getting pretty tired as well. I stopped with 3 miles left which is on a small bridge and downed the last of my water.
So, after 2 hours and 3 minutes, I am back at the car. Total distance was 25.651 miles. Overall average speed was 12.4 mph, but the maintained speed for 3/4 of the ride was 14 mph (the slow riding through the tunnels enjoying the cool air knocks the average down pretty good.)
What have I learned so far? Well, the 16 miles was pretty easy. Last week the 18 miles felt great with my legs but pretty darn sore on the back side. 25 miles? Wow, that was exhausting. Felt great all up to that last 5 miles. I'm now spinning at 75 rpm down 2 gears with an increase in speed compared to prior to posting my questions in my cadence thread. Of course the above is just my weekend rides. During the week, I just want to ride for 50 minutes to an hour after work or in the evenings and I go up through the first tunnel and turn around for a 12 mile ride. I think I'll just keep this 5th gear running up all this week with my evening 12 mile rides and shoot for dropping another gear down to 4th and see if I can spin another 10 rpm faster next weekend.