A Jim of All Trades

Posts Tagged ‘bike

A New Bike

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I’ve finally upgraded my bicycle!

For the past five to six years I’ve ridden an early 80’s Panasonic Sport 500 10-speed (the link is about a duathlon, but I talked about the bike some too). It was a bit too small for me, weighed a shade under 30 pounds (that’s heavy in the bike world), and even in its day it would have just been an entry level economy bike. In short, it’s quite outdated and not “nice” in today’s terms. Still, it isn’t exactly a “bad” bike. It’s held up pretty well considering the tough miles I’ve put on it, it helped to get me interested in biking and I’ve learned a lot about bike maintenance and setup from it.

I’ve done a triathlon, two duathlons, and put on tons of training miles with the Panasonic, so feel that I’ve paid my dues and earned the right to upgrade to something more modern.

I picked up this bike used from craigslist a week and a half ago and so far am very pleased. It is a Royal Windsor Triathlon bike.

IMGP0694xs

If you don’t know and haven’t guessed, triathlon (or “time trial”) bikes are purpose built for triathlons and similar races (duathlons and time trials). Though different than road bikes in a number of ways, the two primary differences are that they put the rider in a more aerodynamic position, and they make the rider use their leg muscles slightly differently so that the legs aren’t as fatigued when it comes to the running stage in a race. When climbing hills the rider will typically sit upright with their hands on the outer bars, similar to a traditional bike, but on the flats and downhills the rider will lean forward and ride gripping the center bars with their elbows on the pads, which is a very aerodynamic position. The gear shifts are at the end of these bars for easy shifting without breaking the aero position. The seat post is also at more of an upright angle than a road bike’s which, aside from helping with the aero position, requires more use of the quads (front of the leg) to pedal and subsequently saves the hamstrings (back of the leg) for running.

IMGP0700xss

To be clear, the bike I got is about the cheapest triathlon bike out there. It is missing a lot of bells and whistles that nicer bikes have, it doesn’t have very aggressive geometry and is as “entry level” as these bikes come. I bought it without pedals so am still using my old pedals with straps from the Panasonic while I shop around for modern shoes and pedals.

Still, it’s awesome! Having only ridden a 30 year old bike before, this feels like a Rolls Royce in comparison. The ride is much smoother and I’m much more comfortable on it. It’s much lighter, too. As equipped it weighs about 22 pounds, which is still no light weight, but it’s significantly lighter than what I’m used to and those pounds definitely make a difference out on the road.

Most importantly, it’s much faster. Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say that I’m much faster on it. I’ve only been able to do three rides so far, but each has been faster than the last and all have been much faster than I was ever able to do on my old bike. Whether going up or down hills, and even when doing longer distances there’s no comparison, it’s just faster. I ran following two of my rides as well and that went much better than before with the Panasonic. My time wasn’t anything special for the first run, but I did feel fresher and my legs never bothered me, then on the second run I actually ran my fastest 5k time ever, which is pretty amazing considering I had just done a bike ride.

Overall I’m very pleased. I don’t think I’ll be able to make any more races this year, but I’ll enjoy riding it and training, and hopefully next year I can race more.

Thanks for reading and happy pedaling!

Written by Jim

July 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Duathlon #2

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It’s taken me a week to write about it, but last weekend I completed a duathlon. I did the same one that I did and posted about last year, a local sprint distance duathlon. The distances were the same as last year: 1.5 mile run, then a 16 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run at the end. Also like last year there was a triathlon which attracts a lot more people. About 100 people did the triathlon, while just 25 did the duathlon.

I took training for it more seriously this time. Last year I tried to both power lift and train for the duathlon at the same time and, as would be expected, didn’t have great results. This time I scaled my lifting back and really focused on running and biking. Since the winter was extremely cold this year and lasted much longer than normal, I only began running and biking outside about three or four weeks before the event. So the majority of my training was on treadmills and exercise bikes.

I started in late December by running and/or biking for three days straight, then taking a day off, then doing another three days, and so on. After I built my endurance up a bit I started doing more days consecutively without a rest day. About two days a week I’d run in the morning then bike in the evening, or vice versa, and as the weeks passed I worked in sessions where I’d both run and bike back to back. All the while I worked on going for longer distances and trying to increase my speed. It wasn’t a structured program, I sort of just winged it, but it worked pretty well for me. I kept lifting in the gym three days a week, too, but I really scaled back my workouts and was only trying to maintain my muscular fitness. On the last week I only lifted very lightly Monday and Tuesday and followed a structured running/biking plan to taper down appropriately so I’d be fresh and ready to go on race day.

So, how’d I do?

My only goal was to do faster than I did last year. I’m pleased to say that I did a whole six minutes faster, which surprised me. I was pretty confident I’d be about a minute faster this time, but I ended up doing much better… six minutes was a big surprise! I also ended up “winning” my age group, which was another surprise.

2014 Duo Glass

Full disclosure: There were only four guys in my group, one of which was the overall winner. Since he won the whole race, his results were bumped out of the age group results and I was the next fastest, so “won.” I don’t know how prepared or serious about the race the other guys were. I finished eighth overall and was still a whole 16 (SIXTEEN!) minutes behind the overall winner, so I’m not any where close to being competitive, but it’s cool I got the glass. I’m most happy about doing so much better than I did last year.

I can see doing more of these in the future, though don’t know how seriously I’ll pursue it. I’m still using the same bike as before, an early 80’s ten speed that doesn’t fit me well, so I’d really like to upgrade before doing another, which should also help my speed. Even if I only end up doing this one once a year, it’s a fun thing to train for and do; the personal satisfaction of finishing and/or meeting your goal is the biggest thing about it. I highly recommend it.

Thanks for reading and happy running & biking!

Written by Jim

May 3, 2014 at 5:55 pm