Thursday, April 8, 2010

First Ride!

Today I went for my first ride on the new bike.

I headed out to the bike path this morning to see how it would feel to go for a longer ride on my new bike since I'd only done some short rides the day before when I bought it.  So I figured if I headed out to the bike path nice and early there wouldn't be many people (or clueless stroller gangs, rollerbladers who like to take up the entire width of the path, dogwalkers with 20' leashes, people who don't get the walk/run against bike traffic rule, or other nuisances) around for when I was getting used to the new bike.  Turns out I was wrong...  annoying people get up early too apparently.

I started the ride nervous about two things. 

1.  Getting used to having my feet clipped into the pedals which isn't hard to get used to.  The hard part to get used to is getting them OUT of the pedals when you need to!
2.  How far out should I go?  How long should I ride for?  would I be up for it?  should I take it easy?

The first point I was just going to have to get over.  And with time I'll get better at it.  The second one is an interesting quandry.  Almost all my training runs/rides are what are called "Out and Backs".  Meaning you head out half the distance you want to cover, turn around, and then retrace your steps ending up at the total distance you were headed for.  I'm not so good at loop courses.  Mostly because I have ZERO sense of direction.  If there are too many turns I get lost.  Its one of my weaknesses, and I know it and avoid it.  Its part of why most of my longer runs are on bike paths.  They are easy not to get lost on.

So now you get the out and back bit...    heres the other thing.  When you have no idea how long you can ride for out and backs can be dangerous.  If I ride out for 10 miles, that means I'm committed to riding for 20 miles today.  I dunno if I can do that being that I've never done it.  So I decided I would head away from the car for thirty minutes and then turn around and that would be the distance.  If I didn't pedal like a maniac that should be an easy enough ride to manage.

So now I have a plan and a bike... time to ride!

I headed out from the parking lot on a nice slow descent which was nice to get myself acclimated with the bike again.  Following that is a quick but steep descent which sadly had too many walkers on it.  So it was more an excercise in braking and swerving than descending....    after that bit its all straight and level.  I spent some time climbing up and down the gears and seeing how they felt till I found a comfy spot to get a groove going on.  With my trusty Garmin 310XT telling me how fast I'm going I settled in at a nice 16-17mph pace for most of the ride with the exceptions of having ot slow down for when real roads cross the bike path.

I will say that this bike seems to hold its energy well.  Once you get a pace going it stays there....  and it doesn't seem super hard to hold that pace.  Granted thats not all that fast...   but still...   I liked how easy it was to hold a groove on it.  I definitely need to work on my pedalling though.  Theres a lot of potential energy being wasted as I'm not used to pulling UP on the pedal on the backside of the stroke.  So I'll have to work on that bit.

I spent some time doing some accelerations and those were great.  Standing on the pedals and letting it rip was really fun.  The way the shifters are integrated right behind the break levers is SLICK!  Its so insanely fast to rip through gears as you accelerate without having taking your hands away from where they should be. 

After that I practiced taking my right foot out of the pedal as I knew I was coming up on the first cross street.  As I approached it I braked and snapped my foot out of the pedal.  Leaned on my foot, waited for the road to clear, and then clipped back in as I crossed the street.  Nicely done!  What was I so worried about?

Now I'm about 4 miles in to the ride.  Wow...  miles go fast on a bike.  Way faster than when running!  A few more intersections go buy and every time I clip out, wait, ride and clip in.  It still takes me a few tries to clip in and I still look at the pedal when I do it... but I'm getting better at it.

I made it about 7 miles out at the 30 minute point and decided I should probably think about turning around soon.  I waited for the 8 mile mark and took a quick break to grab a powerbar from the seatbag and take a long drink.  Drinking from the water bottles while riding I need to work on.  I was OK at it, but not great, and it took me forever to get the bottle back in the cage without looking and I was swerving about sometimes when trying to do this.  Definitely not something I want to do on a group ride.  So I need to work on that one.

Somewhere around mile 12 I came up on an intersection.  It was super quiet which meant theres probably no cars there.  So theres no need to clip out.  I'll just crawl up to the intersection, look again real quick and then ride across it.  Well I crawled up to the intersection and looked right and nothing and then left and CAR!  Damn!  I was going super slow and I hit the brakes.  Uh Oh.  In that split second I realized my feet were still locked into the pedals and I had ZERO forward speed.  I tried to get my right foot out but it just wasn't going to happen.  All it did was lean me to the right.  So yep...  slow motion tip over to the ground.  SMACK right down on the pavement.  You might be thinking OUCH!  At the time I was laughing.  The guy in the bike shop warned me it was bound to happen once or twice.  And it was damn funny.  Well at least it was until this cute young woman jogging I'd just rode by came up behind me asking me if I was ok.  Yeah...  I was a little embarassed to say the least!  I was hoping noone had seen that!  Oh well.  Just makes for a better story I suppose.

From then on the rest of the ride went really well.  The last mile of the bike path is mostly uphill with one big steep bit and the rest a gradual uphill.  I really went for it and the bike just tore up the hill.  I had visions of running out of forward speed and tipping over again but I managed to grove a nice pace up the steep bit without any trouble.  Nice!

Then its just a quick half mile of flat back into the parking lot. 

All in all a great ride!  My right knee is a little sore and I'm not sure why.  Could be one of many things...   thats the leg with the forever tight hamstring or calf so it could be from that, it could be from falling on it, or it could be I'm just not used to the bike yet.  We'll see how I feel tomorrow.  Hopefully I can get another ride in.  If its hurting I'll opt for Yoga tommorrow morning instead. 

So all in a all a great ride.  It was just over an hour long and if you take out the stops I held a 16mph pace nicely.  So thats promising.  I'm looking forward to logging many more miles on it!


  1. Yaaay Nick! I'm glad you started a blog. I can't believe how much you wrote in one day! What the heck?! Ha! I'll have to read the rest later.

  2. Thanks for the idea! I should have thought of it myself. And as to writing so much... I kind of cheated and pulled a lot of this form other places I had written this and that. Some facebook notes and whatnot.