Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week 15: Review

After a couple of slow weeks, I managed to get back into the routine of things this week. I had to move some runs around to work around some rain, however I managed to get in everything that was planned for a change (including a great 12 mile run this morning). Either way, the weather has simply been spectacular considering the time of year and that's made it much easier to stay on track. There's been a bit of rain, however temperatures have remained comfortable (if not a bit warm) so I've been able to stay away from the winter clothing and enjoy the much more comfortable summer stuff.

Thanks to the conditions, I brought the bike in on Wednesday to get the tires switched around for outdoor use and a tune up to make sure nothing was wrong. While I didn't get the group ride we wanted to do yesterday in due to bad weather (strong winds, rain, snow and a bit of hail), I did manage to get in two good outdoor rides. It felt great to finally get back onto the roads, as the miles go by much faster when you're not staring at a wall. I likely could have done more distance on both rides, but I elected to hold myself back and keep the mileage down to the 30-40km I've been doing on the trainer. I'd love to put down a 100km ride again, however it's been a few months at this point so I figured I should rebuild the mileage carefully.

Additionally, getting out on the bike gave me an opportunity to try out the new aerobars, saddle and cycling computer. I've been practicing with them for a couple of months on the trainer, however being bolted into position didn't really allow me to get the full experience. The new saddle worked well, although the 76 degree seat angle (vs 73) is going to take some getting used to especially on the hills. It pushes the weight a lot further forward, even when using the drop bars, which has significant effects when dealing with large grades. While I can switch back and forth quite easily, I'm planning on sticking with the aero position for the time being to get myself more used to it.

I also spent a lot of time down on the aerobars, and they definitely make handling a lot more challenging. The first time I used them the bike was swaying back and forth quite a bit with each pedal stroke, but that's been getting much better the more I use them (and program my brain to generate the corrective steering inputs). With that said, their benefits to aerodynamics were immediately obvious - once I got up to speed, I was managing about 4-5km/h faster without any additional effort. Further demonstrating this, on Thursday's ride there was a nasty 45km/h headwind along an exposed stretch of road, but as soon as I got down in the aero position it became an order of magnitude easier. They're such a simple addition to the bike, but it's clear that they can make a substantial difference.

As for the cycling computer (Garmin Edge 705), it is definitely a lot more useful outside than it is on the trainer. The amount of information that it can display and record is staggering, I just wish that there were more than two user-configurable displays (vs 6 on my Polar) as it's difficult to take full advantage of that in the field ;) Being able to pull up a graph on the elevation covered was quite handy, and I can definitely see the maps coming in useful for some of my longer rides. The colour screen was easily readable in the sunlight (backlight was off), and the controls easy to operate while still rolling.

I also put together a pre-programmed course on bike route toaster and used in on Thursday's ride. In addition to providing turn-by-turn directions, it also allowed me to program in a desired pace (taking into consideration slowdowns on uphills) and determine how far ahead or behind that target I am. As this was a very familiar route that didn't provide a whole lot of benefit, however when we start stretching out to the long rides again and hit roads that I don't know so well I can see this being quite a powerful tool.

Either way, once I've had a chance to put it through its paces on some longer rides I'll make up a proper review of the 705 and post it here. But from a first impression I'm certainly satisfied with my choice at this point in time ;) Now, just have to save up the cash to get a power meter to go along with it...

Week 15 Totals:
Running: 51.3km (31.9mi)
Walking: 1.9km (1.2mi)
Cycling: 98.4km (61.1mi)
Swimming: 7.2km (4.5mi)
Total: 158.8km (98.7mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 561.6km (349.0mi)
Walking: 36.6km (22.7mi)
Cycling: 738.9km (459.1mi)
Swimming: 88.7km (55.1mi)
Total: 1425.8km (886.0mi)

As an aside, I'd also like to wish everyone running the Boston Marathon good luck for tomorrow's race. Hopefully I'll be able to join you guys in future years, but for the time being I'll be cheering you on from here ;)

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