Sunday, August 14, 2011

Almost a Long Ride

Yesterday (Saturday,) I was trying to go for my final long ride before I pack up and head to Texas. I was really hoping to hit 80 - 90 miles to boost my confidence. I told my husband that anything less than 65 miles would be a disappointment to me. Everything was going well until about mile 62 when I was trying to unclip at a rest stop to take a quick break.

The quick break turned into a long break when my right shoe wouldn't unclip. When I finally managed to free the shoe, I realized that the entire cleat system had remained in the pedal. I got out the multi-tool from my bag and, by turning the float as low as possible (not that I ride with it tight anyway,) I was able to pop the cleat out with the flat head screwdriver. I think it's the first time I was happy to be carrying a multi-tool instead of just a set of hex wrenches.

Amazingly, the screws, instead of being stripped, had just unscrewed themselves from the shoe plate. The was especially surprising to me since I had just tightened the screws before I went out on the road. I've been making several adjustments to the cleats on my right shoe as that seems to be the reason I've had some foot numbing issues.

Well, I sat out there for awhile fiddling with the screws and the cleats and I finally managed to set and tighten them up but decided that when I got back to the car, it would be wise to see if the cleats were loose again before finishing up my ride.

Back at the car, I took off my shoe to see what was what and, instead of putting my foot on the ground, I stepped up to rest it in the interior of my car to avoid the dirty ground. Too bad I missed and wound up whacking my foot on the underside of the car frame.

Ow. Pain. End of ride at 72 miles. This is why I shy away from step classes.

I got a decent night's sleep to recover and the foot feels much better. I might lose a toenail but that's a parade I've marched in before. At least I'm not limping around like I was last night.

Today's planned swim and final ride with my friend and trainer was canceled as well. She has had a worse week when it comes to battling unexpected health issues. We were wondering what planet went retrograde or whatever to cause all of this untimely nonsense. We are both in desperate need of vacations right now.

So, that's it for rides in Massachusetts until the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred. I'm planning on taking my bike to the LBS tomorrow to get it boxed up for shipping. I'll be shipping off myself this Friday and leaving hubby in charge of the fort. He refuses to set foot in Texas in August.

On the bright side, with about 200 miles on the new Bontragers, I was finally able to push up the tire pressure to 120 psi. I don't know why but hearing the tire beads click into the wheel rim while I am inflating the tire is a very comforting sound. That means that if I lower the pressure to 105 psi for the HHH as Roy from the Pedal Pushers suggests, the tire has plenty of room to expand in the heat without stressing the walls. It also means that if I do get a flat, putting the tire back on the wheel will be easier than when they were fresh out of the back room of my local bike shop.

I'll take the small victories.
Saturday, August 6, 2011

New Tires

Three weeks ago, I rode over a piece of metal and found myself with a half-inch gash on my front tire. I put a piece of friction tape on the inside and managed to continue logging the miles but knew I'd have to replace them before the Hotter 'n Hell 100. The tires were starting to fray and I knew that replacing them before the ride was inevitable anyway, but I was sort of hoping to hit the lottery before I needed them. Too bad I don't play the lottery.

Last Saturday's 73.6 miles was my longest ride to date. I had wanted to log at least 80 miles and after mile 64, I knew I was in unknown territory but still felt relatively fresh - or so I thought. All of a sudden, I had nothing left in my legs. I wasn't stressed from a cardio standpoint but I couldn't find a comfortable gear to spin in - everything felt difficult. I could feel some serious stress in my right leg and my foot going numb so I limped back at about 13 mph over the last 10 miles. Seriously doubting myself, I was wondering if (and hoping) the cut on my tire might be hindering me more than I realized.

A couple of days later I was going to bring my bike out for a recovery ride when I realized that the back wheel was rubbing against the brake - a LOT. Was that the reason I couldn't finish my long ride? When I had originally brought my bike in to my LBS for its initial tune-up and fit, I had been told that the Slime tubes the original owner had put in would probably put my wheels out of true and it seemed that prophecy had finally been fulfilled.

Instead of going out for a ride, I decided it was time to get the new tires (and tubes) to give me time to break them in before the HH100. Unfortunately, with the amount of money I've put into my car (don't even get me started) and the shipping costs I was about to incur getting my bike to Texas, I was hesitant to spend the money on the tires I really wanted. Doing some online research, I opted for a mid-priced Kenda Kaliente and then went to my LBS to purchase them whereupon they told me they didn't have them in my size.

Good grief. Okay, experts, sell me what you've got in stock.... It's always Bontragers. They must have a huge profit margin on Bontrager because everything in the store is B's. I went from these nice and practically bomb-proof Hutchinson TopSpeed 23's to Bontrager 700 x 25 BL Hardcase with "Triple Flat Protection."
Yeah, right, and the E-Trade baby is loving the stock market this week.

I took them home, got a blister trying to put the things on my wheels (thank you, hubby, for doing in 3 minutes what I couldn't do in 90 minutes,) trued the back wheel and made a brake adjustment. I made it out for a cautious 20 mile ride, made a couple more adjustments, and did a 56 mile ride yesterday, including getting in a new, short but mildly challenging hill that I hit three times. The hill even has a "steep hill" bicycle sign! I like those kinds of hills on relatively flat rides because then I don't feel like I'm cheating myself on the workout.

The tires are still very tight and I have not even been able to inflate them up to the recommended 120 psi (100 on the front, 110 on the back) so I've got some more breaking-in to do but initially, they feel more "tank-like" than my Hutchinsons with less maneuverability on turns and I am about 1.5 mph slower on my cruising speed. From the reviews I've read, they are supposed to be a good long-distance tire. I'll keep them for training and the HH100 and then over the winter, I'll save up for a nice set of race tires for next Summer's adventures.

The goal this week is to get in another 150 miles to hopefully stretch the tires up to 120 psi. I think for the HH100 I will probably keep them at 110-115 psi just for some expansion room on those hot roads. If anyone has a better idea on the psi for the HH100, I'd love to hear it.

The only other revelation I've had over the past couple of weeks is that 50-mile rides no longer feel "epic" to me. It feels more like a good, solid workout but nothing drastically difficult. It was strange yesterday to ride 56 miles and think to myself, "Too bad I couldn't get in a long ride today. Well, at least I got in some hill work to make up for it."

Unfortunately at this point, I still don't know if I'm going to hit a wall at 65 miles again and it's really too late to do anything about it.