May 18, 2012

Bike Things

I've been a bit of a slacker on the blogging front over the last couple weeks. Training has finally become really intense and work has been crazy, so I honestly just haven't had the time. That's not to say that I haven't had a lot to say - I do! So I'm hoping I can make a little more of an effort to keep this thing up to date.

This Sunday marks a big milestone for me: my first century (100 mile) ride! From the beginning I planned to do an organized century as one of my super long training rides, and after some Google searching I landed on the Motherlode Century this weekend. The timing is perfect, it's relatively local, not too expensive, and other training friends are participating as well. I'm excited to get this one under my belt, but just a wee bit nervous about the course. It boasts 6,900' of climbing over 100 miles, so it's a hilly sucker. That's also well over what I will encounter in Coeur d'Alene, so it should be good training!

My longest ride thus far is 70 miles, so this is definitely a jump, and on a much more challenging route, too. I plan on keeping it pretty leisurely and focusing on pacing and fueling. The latter is going to be especially important, both in keeping me going on Sunday and figuring out what will work for Ironman. I plan on doing my usual routine, but increasing quantities, and also will probably take advantage of the food and drinks at the aid stations. The course, which winds through Coloma Valley is supposed to be quite beautiful, so hopefully that makes up for the tough terrain.

In other bike news, a few weeks ago I read a great post by Nicole (also training for Cd'A) on a simple way to make riding hills easier - changing the cassette (aka the gears on the back). Similar to Nicole, I found that while going up certain hills I wasn't able to "spin". In other words, the easy gears weren't easy enough. Nicole seemed to have good results with the change, and since we happen to have the same bike, I figured it was something I should look into. After talking to a few people and doing some research I decided it was a good idea, so I ordered the new cassette and today I had my standard 12-25 Shimano Ultegra cassette switched to the new 11-28 Shimano Ultegra cassette. The numbers, by the way, refer to the number of teeth on the gears, but that's as technical as I'm gonna get! This should make it a tad easier to climb but also allow for more power on flats. I haven't had a chance to test it out yet, but will certainly get to on Sunday! And Nicole, thanks for the tip : )
 the new chain & cassette!
hopefully i can keep it this clean & shiny : )

While I was having the cassette installed the mechanic was nice enough to check over everything else, and it turns out my chain was already stretched out and needed replacing. Apparently a chain is only good for a certain number of miles, and it seems I've reached that point! He also mentioned that it could use some lube, and I was embarrassed to admit that I had never personally cleaned or lubed the chain since I bought it. Hmmmm, maybe that's why my chain was in bad shape? Let's just say bike lube was an easy sell today : / While he may have been shaking his head at me internally, he was actually really helpful and showed me how to apply the lube that will both clean and lube the chain. And in case you didn't know - because I sure didn't - this should be done at least once a week! Lesson learned.

And lastly, let's talk about my bum! Or more specifically (and probably more appropriate), my saddle. As I've mentioned before, about 30 miles in to a ride, I start experiencing very uncomfortable pressure from my saddle. I mentioned it to my coach, who has the same saddle (Adamo), and she thought I might need to tilt it forward a bit more. When I compared mine to hers, it pretty much looked  horizontal, so while I was at the bike shop today I had him tilt it a bit. Not sure if this will help but my bum sure hopes it does. Only Sunday will tell. I'm honestly more worried about this issue than I am about the hills! I do have a professional bike fit scheduled for the end of the month, because I really do think a lot of my discomfort, both on the saddle and elsewhere, is a fit issue. And I may end up looking for a new saddle. Fortunately, the bike shop has several styles they allow you to test out before making a purchase.

And so that's the latest in cycling news! Anyone else as clueless about bike care as I am? Any good saddles to recommend?


  1. Great idea about the new cassette - you'll find that makes all the difference. Hope you have a great century ride.

  2. Don't know a great deal about cycling, but I was having issues with the saddle that came with my Scott road bike and switched to a Cobb V-Flow Max saddle at the recommendation of a friend who does tris. HUGE improvement. I'd definitely recommend giving one a test ride to see what you think.

  3. Glad to help with the cassette issue! It definitely makes a difference - sometimes I feel slower up steep hills but overall my pace seems to be better and it helps with heart rate spikes. I hope the century went well! It's a long day out there which is great practice regardless of pace!