Thursday, May 25, 2006

My apologies to all you roadies out there...

I went out on my first ride on my road bike today. I wanted to get in a nice loop, 15-18 miles where I could work out any fit issues and see how my body would react to the drastically different positioning of a road bike. So I decided I'd do a loop from my office off the Pearl St. Mall up Broadway to 36, take a right on Neva Rd., right over to the Diagonal Hgwy and then back to the office down some street with a bike path.

So I get changed, fill up my water bottle and head out to go see how these tiny little tires actually work. I started up Mapleton Hill, and quickly realized that the 34 tooth cog in the back wasn't there on this bike. So 25 tooth it was as I stood and climbed up the steep, but short hill. I was impressed at how quickly the bike responds to power. Even though my Yeti is a good climbing dual, it still isn't exactly "snappy" when you lay down the power. My heart rate jumps up quickly with my out of the saddle effort, but now I've crested the hill and start racing north weaving my way amongst the numerous bike paths and bike lanes scattered throughout Boulder.

So I hit 36, and start the brief descent as I head towards Neva Rd. I notice a roadie up in front of me who is coasting on the downhill, he is decked out in tight spandex that is surely team issue stuff. Not wanting to be the newbie roadie would doesn't know the rules, I took it really easy down the hill fearing I would pass him then he would suck me up on the small climb ahead. The problem was that I had come up on his wheel pretty quickly, and he had noticed. He had to have been on a recovery type ride, as he was surely holding me up, and I wasn't exactly burning up the pavement. His bike was decked out with a Powertap rear hub, and a super bling Cervelo frame so he obviously rides a little bit. I waited for a widening of the shoulder, then calmly sped up and passed by him hoping that I used proper roadie ettiquette.

Turning right onto Neva Rd. I got my first taste of the headwind. I quickly realized the big difference in riding a mountain bike on the road and riding a road bike on the road, the wind. On a mountain bike, your fat tires provide the most resistance but on a road bike your #1 foe is the wind. Since you travel at higher speeds the wind is much more an issue. I started to figure things out a bit, and used the drops a little when fighting into the wind. I'm sure I made some drivers and other riders nervous as I swayed back and forth, showing that I'm much more accustom to the slacker geometry of my Yeti.

About 10 miles into my ride, I had my first major epiphany....Road riding is harder than I ever thought. I've done a lot of climbing on my mountain bike, put in several 25+ mile mountain bike rides on trails in the last 4 weeks but this is a different scenario all together. Mountain biking is a kind of on/off type of situation, but road biking never seems to let up, its a constant push. So my sincere apologies to all you shaved leg, spandex wearing people out there that I've scoffed at as I've passed on the road.

Back to the ride...
I ended up putting in a 21+ mile loop, in about 1:10, so somewhere around a 17mph average. Pretty good considering it was my first ride and I was just trying to go about 70-75%. I really felt pretty comfortable on the bike, and kind of settled into the pace after I realized the different demands this type of riding would be putting on my legs. It also made me realize that if I'm going to finish the MS150, I need to put in some longer, slower paced days in the saddle. I had thought it would be a snap, but after doing some small climbs in a 39x25 gear I am rethinking that "easy" thought now.

So am I hooked on the "dark side" of cycling?
No. I really enjoyed my ride, and think its a great, constant type of workout but I can't imagine choosing to do road rides over a nice singletrack path up in the mountains. The Yeti still holds the top spot by a long way, but I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the road riding and how well the Roubaix rode.

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