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  1. #1
    JWK
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    Summer goal is 200K - How much will a Disc Trucker slow me down?

    This is a serious question, in that I am NOT looking for an excuse to buy a new bike (although I would love one). I am 58, just returning to biking after 17 years. I am still 20 lbs. over ideal weight. I am making progress with my training and completed a 50.75 mile ride yesterday with no extreme pain or discomfort. I think with my present progress, I should be able to make a 200K by the end of July.

    My Disc Trucker is really my only functioning bike right now. I have a '92 R500 Cannondale I could get back into shape, but it would take some money and significant amount of time, both of which are not plentiful to me right now.

    The problem is with my average speed. I live in a very hilly area, so there is that, BUT I'm not getting any faster. I'm averaging 10.1 MPH like clockwork. I went for a 30 mile last week and really pushed it and averaged 10.5 mph. This of course is very slow. The weird thing is, I average 10.1 whether I'm going for a 20 mile or a 50 mile like yesterday.

    I would be in danger of not even finishing in the 13.5 hour time limit. The average is taken from my bike computer and is only actual riding time.

    I think some of you must have experience with riding a heavy touring type bike. Some of you probably know how much of a difference this makes in a longish ride like a century or a 200K.

    So my questions:

    1. How much is the Disc Trucker slowing me down compared to a typical road bike with much lighter wheels and tires?
    2. Are there any thoughts on why I haven't become faster in the past month and what are some suggestions for working on increasing average speed?
    3. Given that I've been completely out of condition for years, is it realistic to increase my average speed within the next two months 2 mph?

    I think an average speed of 12 mph would give me a very comfortable 200K. Heck, even 11 mph would work. That gives me almost 2.5 hours for eating and breaks. That's all I want for my first 200K - to be able to finish without stressing whether I'm going to make it on time or not. I would also greatly prefer to finish during daylight.

    So how much of it is the motor and how much the bike? I really want to do this. Some info and advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I have two bikes I ride on brevets. One is a roadbike heavy compared to most but about 11kg loaded. I can do a 200 in 9-10 hours with breaks if nothing fails. My mtb is 3kg heavier but more confortable. Takes about thirty minutes more for the same course. Its more engine than bike. Also climbing gears are useful.

  3. #3
    rhm
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    It's pretty much all the motor, in my opinion, though you also have to make sure the motor is properly attached to the bike. An inefficient riding position taxes your stamina. The most important thing, I think, is that you are comfortable on the bike hour after hour. It's not a big deal if your average speed drops as the day progresses, as long as it doesn't drop to zero.

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    I usually expect hilly areas to have some not-so-great stretches of pavement. In those circumstances, you're as likely to slow down for comfort over those stretches as you are to speed up on the other stretches of your route.

    You don't say how long you've been back on a bike. If this is your first year, you might just find a century sometime in July or August of this year, and try a 200k next year.

  5. #5
    Big, Fat, Texan WalksOn2Wheels's Avatar
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    You might consider training with a heart rate monitor. I hit a similar wall a while back and HR training totally changed my riding style for the better, and I got faster. It's a frustrating process because it often means riding really slow, especially uphill when your HR tends to jump. I went from climbing a tough hill near my apartment at 15-ish mph to crawling up in nearly my easiest gear at about 8 mph to keep my HR down. I had to do that for months on end, but I gradually got faster at the lower HR. The other huge benefit is that it requires less energy and the miles don't wear on you as fast.

    This is more of a long term suggestion. I think you can for sure do 200K this summer, but if you try HR zone training consistently over the winter, I think you can have a much more enjoyable 200K ride next summer.

    Here's a helpful article:
    Heart rate monitor training for cyclists - BikeRadar

  6. #6
    JWK
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    I usually expect hilly areas to have some not-so-great stretches of pavement. In those circumstances, you're as likely to slow down for comfort over those stretches as you are to speed up on the other stretches of your route.

    You don't say how long you've been back on a bike. If this is your first year, you might just find a century sometime in July or August of this year, and try a 200k next year.
    The roads here in central New York are terrible. Everything is chewed up and rough. So yes, that and the hills do slow one down, but the other serious cyclists still kick my butt, of course.

    About one month. I started last year but after a month and a half I had an injury in which the doctor didn't want to bother taking xrays, but sent me to a physical therapist who then told me "no biking". That shot the summer. This spring when I became active again (yes, I should have been working out in the gym, but was still heeding my PT's advice) the pain returned. I said "screw it", and jumped on the bike and continued to ride. Amazingly, or quite irritatingly, depending on how you want to look at it, my pain diminished the more I rode my bike. I am now pain free for the first time in a few years. Go figure.

    Quote Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels View Post
    You might consider training with a heart rate monitor. I hit a similar wall a while back and HR training totally changed my riding style for the better, and I got faster. It's a frustrating process because it often means riding really slow, especially uphill when your HR tends to jump. I went from climbing a tough hill near my apartment at 15-ish mph to crawling up in nearly my easiest gear at about 8 mph to keep my HR down. I had to do that for months on end, but I gradually got faster at the lower HR. The other huge benefit is that it requires less energy and the miles don't wear on you as fast.

    This is more of a long term suggestion. I think you can for sure do 200K this summer, but if you try HR zone training consistently over the winter, I think you can have a much more enjoyable 200K ride next summer.

    Here's a helpful article:
    Heart rate monitor training for cyclists - BikeRadar
    I'll check that out. Thanks.

  7. #7
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    If you've just been at it a month, I'd suggest putting a bunch more miles in before trying the 200k. That'll help you on speed, on navigating, on being comfortable on the bike, on getting used to riding in heat and in rain and in cold and in the dark and in the wind. If you're riding the same speed as some other people, long rides are a LOT more fun. If you're at your physical limits on a ride, that can sort of suck all the fun out of it, too.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Senior Member rowebr's Avatar
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    If you just did a 50 mile ride with no pain or discomfort problems, then you are well on track to being able to do a 200K in 2 months time. If you like the fit and position and feel good riding on your disc Trucker, that is most important. Keep riding.

    One way you can work on improving your speed is to add some short intervals of higher effort in your rides. Go back and ride a tough hill 2 or 3 times in a row. Make sure to give yourself time to recover after doing a more strenuous ride.

    You also might be able to improve your speed with better tires. What tires are you running now? If you are using tough, puncture-resistant tires, or skinny tires (28mm or less), you would probably enjoy the change from switching to something like the Panaracer Pasela without the tourguard, or the more expensive Compass tires. A nice feature of your Trucker is that is can probably fit 38mm wide tires. That size is available for the Pasela and the Compass.

  9. #9
    Senior Member blacknbluebikes's Avatar
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    I have a basic hard-tail mountain bike that I refit for "road friendly." smooth tires, pedal clips, end-bars.
    I average about 12, maybe 13 mph on that bike, sitting on 26" x 2" tires.
    I have road bikes that are meant for road use. I average between 15 and 18mph on those bikes, 700 x 25 tires.
    Same legs.
    For 125 miles, the estimated time difference could be as much as [ (125/13) - (125/16) ] = 1.8 hrs or 1:48, assuming I use the same legs.

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    Senior Member rowebr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    If you've just been at it a month, I'd suggest putting a bunch more miles in before trying the 200k. That'll help you on speed, on navigating, on being comfortable on the bike, on getting used to riding in heat and in rain and in cold and in the dark and in the wind. If you're riding the same speed as some other people, long rides are a LOT more fun. If you're at your physical limits on a ride, that can sort of suck all the fun out of it, too.
    You make a good point. OP, if the 50 mile ride was quite difficult for you, then I think this advice from StephenH is best.

  11. #11
    JWK
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    Quote Originally Posted by rowebr View Post
    You make a good point. OP, if the 50 mile ride was quite difficult for you, then I think this advice from StephenH is best.
    Hey, HEY!! It was 51.75 miles! Just kidding. No matter how small the horn, I must toot.

    But seriously, the 50+ ride wasn't difficult at all. I was definately ready to stop, but it was fine. Just slow.

  12. #12
    JWK
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    Quote Originally Posted by rowebr View Post
    If you just did a 50 mile ride with no pain or discomfort problems, then you are well on track to being able to do a 200K in 2 months time. If you like the fit and position and feel good riding on your disc Trucker, that is most important. Keep riding.

    One way you can work on improving your speed is to add some short intervals of higher effort in your rides. Go back and ride a tough hill 2 or 3 times in a row. Make sure to give yourself time to recover after doing a more strenuous ride.

    You also might be able to improve your speed with better tires. What tires are you running now? If you are using tough, puncture-resistant tires, or skinny tires (28mm or less), you would probably enjoy the change from switching to something like the Panaracer Pasela without the tourguard, or the more expensive Compass tires. A nice feature of your Trucker is that is can probably fit 38mm wide tires. That size is available for the Pasela and the Compass.
    I will try some sort of interval training in my rides. Thanks.
    My tires are OEM. Vittoria something or other - 37mm. Very nice for the rough, crappy roads we have around here. If I went back to my Cannondaly R500 I would definately go to 28mm. I've done the 25mm tires plenty of times about 10 years ago around here. Didn't like it. They were really cushy out in Oregon where there were much better road surfaces.

    Quote Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
    I have a basic hard-tail mountain bike that I refit for "road friendly." smooth tires, pedal clips, end-bars.
    I average about 12, maybe 13 mph on that bike, sitting on 26" x 2" tires.
    I have road bikes that are meant for road use. I average between 15 and 18mph on those bikes, 700 x 25 tires.
    Same legs.
    For 125 miles, the estimated time difference could be as much as [ (125/13) - (125/16) ] = 1.8 hrs or 1:48, assuming I use the same legs.
    I'm not sure what you're telling me. You see a 3mph - 4mph increase with the lighter road bike because you are fit and experienced, or would anyone see that kind of percentage increase?

  13. #13
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    try to 'train' as much as you can and get those miles in...short sprints to try to boost that engine.

    tires, as others have mentioned...

    if you can do 50+ now, try to structure your riding so that you can manage a 80-90 mile ride maybe a week and a half or two weeks from the event.

    also, don't get too hung up on missing the july 200k in your local club. you might have nearby clubs that offer 200k's regularly (eastern PA offers one every month in support of an R-12 series). sure, you might have to drive a bit, but it eases the pressure to get 'rando-ready' in short order. 'summer' weather extends to september, maybe even october for us in PA.... you have plenty of time, so take as much as you need. you'll be able to do it.

  14. #14
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    It's also worthwhile working on cadence - using lower gears. it helps build cardio fitness and I find it less tiring so helps keep average speeds up.
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

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    I took my Trek 520 touring bike on the first 200 I did this year due to gunk on the road in the city. I wouldn't say it slowed me down at all. In fact I really appreciated the low range gears for the two major climbs on the route. Once I'm up to speed I never find the extra weight to be a problem. I might even take my mountain bike for a 200 this weekend.

    You might want to play around with your tire pressure a bit, higher isn't always better, particularly on wider tires. My 700x32 Marathon Supremes are awful at 90+ psi, but are quite comfortable and fast at 80 (not that I'd recommend that tire).

    One thing I recommend is to get a heart rate monitor. Once you find an HR that you can comfortably ride in all day stick with it. I mostly ignore my speedometer now and just aim for a certain effort level. It really helps keep me from over exerting myself going into a headwind.

  16. #16
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    I have some info. Bike 1: Surly LHT (26/38/48 by 11-32 9spd shimano, weight is similar a disc trucker at 34 lbs). Bike 2: Specialized Roubaix ( 28/38/50 by 13/29 10 spd campy. about 19 lbs).

    With no luggage over a 20 mile mostly flat course at similar power output, the Specialized is about .5 mph faster. However, in order to achieve constant power output, my RPE was significanlty higher on the LHT. I have a few theories on this, but mostly they all come down to the close gearing on the road bike vs the LHT, and keeping my cadence more in my comfort zone vs being a hair slower or faster than desired. I did the course on two separate occasions with a similar result in speed difference.

    Note, this was a relatively flat course. When comparing the courses overlayed against each other, there was a much more significant drop in speed on the small inclines observed. If a course had more hills, I suspect the difference would be slightly greater. The inverse is also true, slight downhills were slightly faster on the heavier bike. The flat sections are nearly mirror images of each other.

  17. #17
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    If it can be said that there is ever consensus on BF, there was another recent thread about this: so maybe .4 mph. Over 125 miles, going from say 13 mph to 12.6 mph in the saddle, that's less than 30 minutes. If you're not fast, the main thing in making your controls is staying on the bike and keeping your stops short. IOW, only stop at controls, which are usually every 40 miles or so, and try to hold it to 10 minutes. Practice that. It's hard to stay focused. But yeah, the faster you are the more fun it is.

  18. #18
    Senior Member blacknbluebikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JWK View Post
    I will try some sort of interval training in my rides. Thanks.
    My tires are OEM. Vittoria something or other - 37mm. Very nice for the rough, crappy roads we have around here. If I went back to my Cannondaly R500 I would definately go to 28mm. I've done the 25mm tires plenty of times about 10 years ago around here. Didn't like it. They were really cushy out in Oregon where there were much better road surfaces.



    I'm not sure what you're telling me. You see a 3mph - 4mph increase with the lighter road bike because you are fit and experienced, or would anyone see that kind of percentage increase?
    --- IMHO, I believe the majority of riders will do significantly better with a bike that is intended to go faster. That doesn't mean superbike, but it does mean a lighter bike, higher gearing and lower rolling resistance from thinner tires. I would expect to improve by at least 15%. I understand that that might not be great for your daily needs, but you're asking about "slow down" for a specific event. For that event, if the concern is time and, therefore, speed, you need to address what you can - the first thing I would address is rolling resistance, followed by weight. Strength is a simple answer, but tough to produce in a limited time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JWK View Post
    The problem is with my average speed. I live in a very hilly area, so there is that, BUT I'm not getting any faster. I'm averaging 10.1 MPH like clockwork. I went for a 30 mile last week and really pushed it and averaged 10.5 mph. This of course is very slow. The weird thing is, I average 10.1 whether I'm going for a 20 mile or a 50 mile like yesterday.
    You can do a 200k (or longer) on the bike you have (a fair number of people use that bike for Brevets). But a lighter bike would be a bit faster.

    Keep in mind that the time limit is total time. If 10 mph is your moving average speed, you need to be faster or never stop.

    One common strategy for doing Brevets is to minimize time spent at stops.

    You don't need to be much faster. A moving average speed of 12 mph might be enough (that would give you 3 h to spend stopped).

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    Quote Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
    --- IMHO, I believe the majority of riders will do significantly better with a bike that is intended to go faster. That doesn't mean superbike, but it does mean a lighter bike, higher gearing and lower rolling resistance from thinner tires. I would expect to improve by at least 15%.
    This is probably optimistic. Though, it depends on a the bike you are comparing it to.

    The one thing that can give fairly big improvements in speed (on the order of 15%) is a better aerodynamic position (riding in the drops rather than on the hoods). There might even be some improvement in technique that would result in a little more speed (the big one for less-experienced riders might be to pedal "constantly" rather than "pedal and coast, pedal and coast").

    Most LD riders aren't running out of high gears (we aren't talking about the strongest LD riders). Most LD riding is happening at speeds less than 25 mph. More riders (especially, ones who are not strong) are going to be cooked by hills. For them, lower gears than they might need on shorter rides might be better.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 06-03-14 at 03:58 PM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    I've have two bikes I mainly ride: a salsa casseroll and a soma double cross. The salsa is set up as a road bike for fast riding with an easton wheelset; the soma is set up as do everything bike with stout wheels (mavic A719 rims and 700 x 32c tires).

    The difference I mainly notice between the two bikes is the wheels. So you may want to think about a set of "event" wheels for your disc trucker which can then be used on whichever bike becomes your N plus 1. I picked up a set of velocity a23 rims with shimano 105 hubs recently and that would be a pretty sweet wheelset: Quality Wheels 700c Front Wheel - 105 Hub Laced to Black Velocity A23 - 36H in Tree Fort Bikes Wheels (cat113)

  22. #22
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Forgetting for a moment the issue of "would a new bike be faster," which has consumed way too much of this thread, I would offer some advice:

    Been there, done that, though when I was only 50. I got it into my head that I would do the one-day STP, so I bought a $100 used 10-speed 27" Nishiki that probably weighed 30 lbs. and went at it. I was an avid hiker, so this isn't quite as crazy as it sounds. However, total failure. I started riding in early spring. The first time I tried a solo century, I wound up sitting in a ditch at 75 miles, bonked and crying. So I gave it up for that year. Good idea.

    That winter, I traded up to a $250 used 12 speed 27" bike that weighed 27 lbs. I bought a set of rollers. I already had a heart rate monitor from the Summer of Failure. I put SPD pedals on the bike and bought a cheap pair of MTB shoes. I already had the clothes, etc. I bought Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible, read it cover to cover, and built year-long training plan. I trained all winter on the bike on the rollers, lifted weights at the gym, and rode outside whenever the weather was decent. By early spring, I was averaging 15 mph on easy 60 mile rides. In June, I did a hilly 200k group ride and met 2 women on it who taught me to ride in groups, pace myself, pull, draft, signal, and all that. We teamed up and I rode the STP double in July, no problem other than I had to pull them for the last 120 miles to Portland. Took me frigging forever out in the wind on that tank.

    So that was my program and I recommend it to the OP. Forget it this year. Learn to train. Learn to ride. There's a lot more to it than pedaling. Put 5 mph on your average. It is the motor. You'll have a lot more fun and less failure if you train to ride strong. Just put in the miles.

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    I think we need to go into details to understand _why_ you're only seeing 10 mph average.

    Can you answer these questions:

    * On a typical long hill (say, above 5% grade), what is your typical _vertical_ speed (feet per minute)?

    * What is your typical speed on a flat road with no wind?

    * How is the stem set up on your bike (angle, spacer thickness), and can you estimate the angle between the ground and your torso?

    * What kind of clothes do you wear on these rides?

  24. #24
    Senior Member Ursa Minor's Avatar
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    I've heard that you should have at least a 1000 mile base before trying to work on performance.

    Charlie
    Grimly determined to have fun.

  25. #25
    JWK
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    You can do a 200k (or longer) on the bike you have (a fair number of people use that bike for Brevets). But a lighter bike would be a bit faster.

    Keep in mind that the time limit is total time. If 10 mph is your moving average speed, you need to be faster or never stop.

    One common strategy for doing Brevets is to minimize time spent at stops.

    You don't need to be much faster. A moving average speed of 12 mph might be enough (that would give you 3 h to spend stopped).
    A 10.1mph moving average gives me a hair over 12 hours to complete the 200K by never stopping, but I see your point. There's no way an hour and a half for stops will be enough for me this year.

    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    I've have two bikes I mainly ride: a salsa casseroll and a soma double cross. The salsa is set up as a road bike for fast riding with an easton wheelset; the soma is set up as do everything bike with stout wheels (mavic A719 rims and 700 x 32c tires).

    The difference I mainly notice between the two bikes is the wheels. So you may want to think about a set of "event" wheels for your disc trucker which can then be used on whichever bike becomes your N plus 1. I picked up a set of velocity a23 rims with shimano 105 hubs recently and that would be a pretty sweet wheelset: Quality Wheels 700c Front Wheel - 105 Hub Laced to Black Velocity A23 - 36H in Tree Fort Bikes Wheels (cat113)
    Don't forget I've got the disc version. Really screws up alternate wheel options, especially if you want them lighter. However, no complaints from me. It is what it is. I went out for a second ride today right at the end of a thunderstorm. I was really glad to have those discs going down those hills in the wet and slop. Rim brakes are find and good and my next bike will have them. But when it's like today's condition, I don't have to wonder or worry at all. That's just me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Forgetting for a moment the issue of "would a new bike be faster," which has consumed way too much of this thread, I would offer some advice:

    Been there, done that, though when I was only 50. I got it into my head that I would do the one-day STP, so I bought a $100 used 10-speed 27" Nishiki that probably weighed 30 lbs. and went at it. I was an avid hiker, so this isn't quite as crazy as it sounds. However, total failure. I started riding in early spring. The first time I tried a solo century, I wound up sitting in a ditch at 75 miles, bonked and crying. So I gave it up for that year. Good idea.

    That winter, I traded up to a $250 used 12 speed 27" bike that weighed 27 lbs. I bought a set of rollers. I already had a heart rate monitor from the Summer of Failure. I put SPD pedals on the bike and bought a cheap pair of MTB shoes. I already had the clothes, etc. I bought Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible, read it cover to cover, and built year-long training plan. I trained all winter on the bike on the rollers, lifted weights at the gym, and rode outside whenever the weather was decent. By early spring, I was averaging 15 mph on easy 60 mile rides. In June, I did a hilly 200k group ride and met 2 women on it who taught me to ride in groups, pace myself, pull, draft, signal, and all that. We teamed up and I rode the STP double in July, no problem other than I had to pull them for the last 120 miles to Portland. Took me frigging forever out in the wind on that tank.

    So that was my program and I recommend it to the OP. Forget it this year. Learn to train. Learn to ride. There's a lot more to it than pedaling. Put 5 mph on your average. It is the motor. You'll have a lot more fun and less failure if you train to ride strong. Just put in the miles.
    Good advice. I really appreciate it.

    Back in '96 I did the most biking. I lived in West Salem. I also started in early spring. I joined a gym. In July of that summer I woke up on a day off, started off just after dawn and biked to Lincoln City. I ate lunch there at a sub joint and came back. There were sufficient power bars in my saddle bag and I stopped about 10 miles from home for a gator aid. I also had learned about bonking earlier on. When I got home my bike computer said 113 miles. I felt great. I want to feel like that again and do something even bigger. But maybe not this year. I'll ride lots and see what I can do about training. There is no gym within any practical distance to me.

    But a funny thing happened today. I live at the top of one of the highest, steepest hills around. My first run this morning consisted of an 8 mile loop I do when I only have time for a short blast. Down one side of the hill, around the bottom valley and up the other side of the hill. Both sides are wicked steep and there's a long, long hill in between. It's pretty intense and I was surprised to see I averaged 10.5mph. I got home for some water, checked my air in my tires, pump fixture got stuck on the presta valve and I split the inner tube at the base of the valve. Uh oh. Forgot to stock up on inner tubes. Down to the LBS and back and then thunderstorm. 1.5 hours later I go out again and decide to do a 22 mile loop I have. It was crappy, sloppy and windy. I averaged 10.8mph. I wasn't even trying to do anything differently. Just riding. So there's some hope.

    Maybe I won't do a 200K this year. That's OK. I'm riding a lot and feeling good and I'll get there when I can. Yeah, I've got to get a training plan together and make sure I train this coming winter. I guess I'm going to need some kind of roller for my bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    I think we need to go into details to understand _why_ you're only seeing 10 mph average.
    Uh, cuz I'm weak? Uh, I haven't done any kind of serious physical training in over 15 years? Seriously, I thought I made this clear. Maybe not.

    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    Can you answer these questions:

    * On a typical long hill (say, above 5% grade), what is your typical _vertical_ speed (feet per minute)?

    * What is your typical speed on a flat road with no wind?

    * How is the stem set up on your bike (angle, spacer thickness), and can you estimate the angle between the ground and your torso?

    * What kind of clothes do you wear on these rides?
    Not to give you a hard time, but I really can't answer the first two questions, and I don't think any cyclist around here could. I don't think you understand the terrain in this area. It's nothing but up and down except for the main state highways and I avoid them like the plague. Much more difficult biking, but much more enjoyable to me.

    I don't know the angle of the stem that comes stock on surly truckers. I had the bars about even with the seat like most touring setups, but finally moved it down. I think there's 2cm of spacers before the stem. I don't know my torso angle in the drops or on the hoods. All I know is that it's as low as I can go right now.

    Clothes? The worst imaginable and soon to change. The only real bike stuff I'm actually wearing is the spd shimano shoes on my feet. I forgot how much regular shorts and underwear hurts after just 15 or 20 miles.

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