Finding time to get out training doesn’t seem as easy this year as it did last, so I was glad to get out on Friday evening for a great ride. After my last one, where I’d mentioned I was often in top gear and not always sure of the best “gear strategy”, my friend – the one whose bike I’m riding – gave me some advice.
Try using smaller gears (I raced last night – 28 mile circuit at over 24mph and didn’t use top gear [50 x 12] at all). Aim for a cadence of around 80rpm. Better to spin a small gear than grind out in a large one.
Interesting. I have read something like that before, but I’ve ignored it. And I don’t have a cadence meter (that’s pedalling speed, by the way) so wasn’t sure how I’d try anyway.
But just before going out on Friday, I had a brainwave. Take a metronome! Set it clicking and pedal to the beat. Brilliant. Thankfully, I do happen to possess a metronome, and thankfully it doesn’t look like this:
So I slipped in the back pocket of my cycling top, and off I went.
Quite a different start to my usual routes, as I was on fairly big roads – that whole run through Hitchin, Letchworth and into Baldock was busy. When I stick to country roads I don’t usually encounter much traffic so this was quite a different feel even without the constant “tick tick tick” coming from my pocket. But you know what? That “tick tick tick” really helped. For the first few miles – up to about mile nine, I’d say – my average speed was about 16.5 mph. Much higher than usual. Well, maybe it was the tick, maybe the roads. Can’t be sure. But I enjoyed it.
For some reason, I turned the metronome off after the first nine miles. I guess it was “to see if it made a difference”, but unfortunately it coincided with the roads becoming much more rural, and hilly, so sure enough my average started dropping and I can’t be sure what the cause was. But still, an overall average of 14.7mph is pretty good going for me. I’d like to see it improve, but I’m happy for now.
I had in mind to aim for 30 miles, but once I’m heading back towards home I do find it very hard to turn back away, so I knew after about 20 that my total would probably be about 25. And then about half a mile from home, courtesy of a lovely Stevenage cycle path strewn with broken glass, I got a puncture in the back tyre. (Actually, it was quite exciting. I don’t recall ever hearing a puncture’s “hisssss” so clearly.) I do carry a spare innertube, but I was close enough to home to just walk it rather than attempt a roadside repair. Which reminds me: it still needs sorting.
I wore the heart rate thingy again. And this time, it is quite interesting: see those first nine miles of riding to a beat? That’s when I was working the hardest and most consistently.
Riding time: 1 hr 38 mins
Distance: 24.24 miles
Average speed: 14.7 mph
Top speed: 35.7 mph