Friday, October 17, 2008

Fighting Headwinds

The schedule called for another half-century (50mi/80.47km) ride today, so I headed out a little after lunch. Unlike the ride on Monday, the temperature was much more comfortable (11C vs 25C) although there was a pretty nasty wind coming from the north. After doing a quick inspection of the bike, I set off and headed down to my normal route and got going at a pretty good pace.

Things went quite well until the 20K mark when the wind picked up a bit. Unfortunately, the direction of the wind translated into a headwind during the uphill segments and a tailwind when heading downhill. While the tailwind did speed things up a little, the extra efforts required to ascend the hills forced me to use lower gears than usual and hurt my average speed. While I averaged about 33km/h for the first 20K, I was only averaging about 28km/h at this juncture and was getting tired a lot faster than normal.

After a few more laps, I started to get a little more comfortable with the wind and picked up my speed again. At this point (approx. 45K), however, the schools along the route were starting to get out, resulting in a lot of cars gumming up the works. I was able to maintain a good clip in the straightaways, but I had to slow down significantly to navigate around parked and slow moving cars every couple kilometers. This only lasted for about 45 minutes, but it was enough to further depress my average speed.

Once the school traffic cleared, I was able to pick it up again. The wind was still there, so it wasn't as fast as usual, but I was able to average about 29km/h at this point. The uphill sections were still a fight, however I took it a little easier on the flat segments which did enough to keep my legs fresh. People were starting to come home from work at this point so there was still more traffic than usual, but it was moving well so it didn't pose much of a problem.

Unfortunately, as I was approaching the 70K mark, my rear wheel ran over a small field of debris. To make sure everything was okay, I pulled over and checked to find a small piece of glass embedded in the tire. It was a small wound that likely wouldn't be a problem, however if it was left there it would work it's way deeper into the tire so I headed home rather than risk it. As soon as I got back, I let a little air out of the tire, removed the shard and pumped it up again. Looking over the damage, it doesn't look like it is very deep so it likely won't be a problem but I'll naturally keep an eye on it. It wasn't really worth heading back out for 9K more, so I packed everything up and did my stretches.

Overall, I covered 71.53km in 2:29:07 for an average speed of 28.8km/h. Not as good a ride as the 2:41:48 (29.8km/h) 50 miler on Monday, however hopefully I'll be able to crack 30km/h next Monday. I will have to find a way to head out a little earlier for these rides to avoid the traffic, although fitting a contiguous three hour block into the schedule is quite difficult. It may also be worth moving off of residential roads and onto arterial routes at this juncture as my technique is a lot stronger than before, although that means dealing with higher speed traffic and much larger hills (albeit less of them).

The other issue that has become evident at this point is that I'm going to have to grab a proper pair of cycling gloves. Given the cold today, I took out the gloves that I use for running but they made manipulating the shifting levers a little awkward. They did the job okay, however I imagine that gloves designed explicitly for this sport would likely mitigate these issues.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to do an 8K steady run, followed by a 16km LSD run on Sunday. Other than the wind, it looks like the weather will be nearly perfect for running this weekend. A few of the other members of my clinic are running their half marathon (the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon) on Sunday, so it looks like things are lining up well for them!

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