FIRST RIDE OF THE SEASON.
Pull up, pull up, pull up. That's what I kept reminding myself on my first ride of the season yesterday. We had such a glorious weekend, probably the best weather we will have all year (not kidding), and to celebrate the new bike, I decided I needed to get out there for a ride. It even was warm enough to go in the morning.
When I went for my bike fit, they hooked the test bike up to a computrainer, a compueterized program that measured your pedalling power and efficiency. I saw immediately I not only had little power, I had no efficiency. Dale, the guy who did my fit, assured me by the time I left he would have me pedalling 80 cadence. Didn't happen, but I did get up to 50-60, from zero or maybe even negative, since the cadence graph bar didn't even rise above a flat line until close to the end of the session. He stressed over and over that I needed to pull up on the pedals, something I have heard for the past 9 years in spinning classes, but until I actually felt the difference in pulling up and not, based on the graph, I really didn't understand the concept. As Dale said, anyone can be "mashers" but to be truly efficient at pedalling, you need to pull up.
So that was in my head the whole way. For obvious reasons, my route of choice was on the bike path. While I would really have preferred riding on the road, I didn't feel I was ready for that, and I even parked in a location where I could totally eliminate crossing the one main road connected with the path that is a problem for me. That cut about 3 miles off the loop, but I really wasn't worrying about distance today. I just wanted to get a feel for the bike, and practice pulling up.
Its hard to describe the difference riding a lighter weight bike and one that actually fit my size. With the right fit, you can feel one with your bike, no doubt. Once I got going and figured out the gearing (slightly different from my old bike), I concentrated on pulling. It definitely made a difference in my speed (lower), but I kept at it and just told myself this was only a practice ride, just a fun ride. And surprisingly, I actually said out loud at one point "This is fun!" something I don't remember ever saying with my old bike.
The path was just starting to get busy, with families out biking, rollerbladers, walkers, and the typical runner with a cell phone. I don't know how people do that! Good breath control? Maybe its a talent worth developing.
Since I parked away from the main parking lot of the park and the use of a bathroom, I had to go when I started out but figured I would stop along the way. About halfway through the first part of the loop, there is another parking area with another bathroom. I decided to stop there, where I could feel my bike would be fairly safe for a few minutes, or I could just bring it in with me. It was hard to believe then that the bathrooms were locked! I was really irritated. What is the point of having these things if they are locked! I suppose it could be too "early" in the season, but I figure the path is open year round, and so then should the bathrooms. I'm pretty sure our tax dollars go to cover this too.
So I continued on my way. The next leg of the loop is slightly uphill, nothing that ou can really see, but you can feel it in your speed. And it gets busier in here as well. I really have to concentrate on not getting overly upset with oblivious people: the ones who decide to stop in the middle of the path and answer their cell phones, with no apparent realization they are blocking others, or the little kids on bikes who weave back and forth across the path, while their parents ride on ahead, or the rollerbladers with headphones, again swaying back and forth with no concern of others needing to get by. Instead, I continued to concentrate on pulling up.
I saw quite a few other serious bikers as well, serious looking anyway. I was really surprised at the number of riders in full biker gear but no helmets. I know I have heard from some people that they never wear a helmet on the bike path, but for the life of me, I can't see what the difference would be in the cement of the path over the concrete of the road if they crashed.
I was under a little bit of a time crunch so had only planned on going about 15 miles, where I could turn and go back, and just before I reached my turning point, two bikers went by and called out my name. I have no real idea who they were though! I hate that when I don't recognize people.
I made the turn to go back and immediately felt the wind. Whew! How come I didn't realize this going out? Its not like it was blowing me along or anything. So I just dug in and concentrated again on pulling up. When I slacked off, I could see my speed go lower, so I really could see the benefit of perfecting that technique. And I didn't really feel too much fatigue in my hamstrings, which is where you feel it, so I figured I was good, keeping it easy, especially after the two hour run the day before. The advantage of pulling up, again, is less quad fatigue, and this I can say was true for that day.
One hour 33 minutes later, I finally made it back and had to admit I was tired and my neck, shoulder, and arm were starting to bother me. The wind was starting to get to me too. My average speed was only 12.9 mph! But like I said, it was only experimental and a fun ride. I figure I can work on speed later. My goal is to do a 50 mile ride by Memorial Weekend--that is if it doesn't snow or something!