Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spin cycle: Changing Gears part 2

I have to learn some things the hard way - experientially - by working through problems over and over again until a solution slowly emerges and makes me want to just slap my forehead and wonder why it took me so long to figure it out. 

At the beginning of the month, after 11 months of randonneuring, it finally dawned on me that a different rear cassette might make a better gear combination for my ride.

Having made the change, and done so with a greater appreciation as to how cadence and gears could work together, I've done one 200k and had a couple of training rides. The difference has been significant - gear selection has become more precise while pacing and efficiency have improved. I am much more able to use my gears to maintain cadence and use both to control effort. Seems like customizing gears may be the best upgrade going, especially considering the relatively low cost and immediate benefit.

Surprise surprise - it turns out that I am not the first to figure this out. In fact, Ken Kifer wrote a very informative piece (with links) on this topic over 10 years ago.  As he points out, this topic is for the nerdiest of bike nerds, but just in case there are some of you out there who want to really want to dial in their ride, don't know this already, and don't need to learn things the hard way, the information is out there.

Note: This is a link to the current page for Bicycle Gearing for Wisconsin Hills  which is referenced in Kifer's sidebar. The calculator at the bottom is a nice tool for figuring out gear needs.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

200K - Beyond Hope to New Hope

Saturday February 12, 2011

18 degrees. The cold air pounced on me, reached into my chest and squeezed a gasp of air from my lungs. 7:35 a.m. I had just stepped out of my car into the parking lot of the Belvidere Diner in New Jersey. I was the last to arrive. The February 200k brevet had started at 7:30. The other Randonneurs were already on the course.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Changing Gears

I've been thinking about pedaling cadence - the number of times per minute that the pedals turn when riding. We are all supposed to have a "best" cadence, an rpm range that we can work all day. You might speed it up a bit with training but at some point you find your groove and that's your groove, so you live with it and groove with it. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Venn of cycling

A bicycle lies at the hub of divergent interests. A Venn diagram of cyclists would have circles of engineers and English majors, philosophers and physicists, athletes and artists, the privileged and the poor, introverts and extroverts, dreamers and doers. All those circles would overlap around the idea and reality of the bicycle.