Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mother Nature is pretty fast

Those who know me well (or read the pontification on this blog), know that I have this unexplainable fascination with numbers and statistics. When I was a kid, my sister would convince me to go do things for her with the "I'll time you" angle. Still to this day I am very interested in the distances, times, averages, etc that I encounter.

Yesterday I did my first bike commute to work. A pretty sizeable commute of about 23 miles each way, which should make for some great "data" of my ride. On the way to work yesterday morning, I covered the 22.5 miles in about 1:15, or about a 18.5 mph average. Pretty good considering I could only hold a 13 mph average on my Yeti when I rode to work a couple months back.

Of course on my return trip home I wanted to improve on my 1:15 time of the morning. In typical Colorado summer weather fasion, a nice sunny 80 degree day turned into the sudden dark and stormy Colorado summer afternoon. The storms build up and move through so fast they can be incredibly unpredicatible. So as I approached quitting time yesterday I was carefully checking the local radars and the views outside trying to time my escape just perfectly. After a couple hesitations I decided 3:45 would be the time for me to head out to just avoid getting caught in a thunderstorm, or even worse in hail.

I changed back into my cycling gear, stuffed my backpack with my work clothes and headed out the door as quickly as I could. I got on the bike and my legs were initially a little heavy from the 23 miles that morning, but after the first short & steep climb on Mapleton Hill, they started coming back to life. The problem was, the sky was coming to life at the same time. As I peered over my shoulder towards the foothills, an ominous dark cloud was making good time on me. Uh oh. I thought to myself, "I'm moving at almost 20mph, that should be good enough to outrun this thing".

For the most part I was right, had it not been for those pesky traffic lights. As I powered down the street, the sprinkles seemed to be just on my heels. Problem being that everytime I hit a traffic light, they seemed to start catching up to me. By the time I was at 28th & Iris, it was starting to coming down pretty good. Lucky break at the next light as I timed the light well and was able to cruise through, taking a left turn to head north and hopefully avoid the dark clouds which appeared to be moving east. I quickly cut across Jay Rd. and over to the Diagonal as I felt I was slowly starting to get ahead of the storm.

Finally making it to the Diagonal where there are very few stop lights (and most of those I could time easily), I finally started to sense I was going to beat this cloud. After the excitement of storm chasing (although I was the one being chased), I settled back into my typical ride. It was at that time I realized for 1/2 my ride home, that the speed, distance, average meant absolutely nothing if the storm behind me had better numbers. I guess thats the moral is that there is always someone (or something) faster than you coming up from behind.

Of course today when I get on my bike for my "easy" spin at lunch, I'll have the heart rate monitor going measuring speed, distance, cadence, averages, and heart rates as I pedal along.

Yesterday's totals were something like this:
46 total miles
2 hours 27 minutes ride time
18.8 mph average
1 flat tire on the way home

Of course the real number for me will be 185, a weight total which I haven't seen in at least 2 years. I'll get there this summer.


Chris said...

Numbers are awesome and at heart I'm a data freak as much as anyone. But don't like the numbers overtake your cycling and turn every ride into a PR attempt. Sometimes I go for a few weeks with no computer (when the batteries die) and since my HR monitor died several years ago I haven't replaced it. Even on the singlespeed which is computerless there is always a watch to time mile markers and cadence to know just about how fast you are going without it staring you in the face every second.

Besides if you love numbers, wait until a PowerTap takes over your life :p


Joel White said...

Chris you are absolutely right. I have always had a hard time doing these "easy" rides, just too many temptations to kick up the pace.

I'm hoping this road bike will help me do some recovery type rides, as I always find it hard to do an easy ride on a mountain bike trail.

I must avoid the Powertaps at all costs, I would spend more time analyzing the data than actually riding!