I rode my Tricross first for the 50 States, and then my Dolce for the Back Roads. It’s been a while since I rode my Dolce, and I keenly noticed the differences going from one bike to the other. The Tricross is a little more upright, with 700 X 28c tires; the Dolce is angled more like a road bike (but still not as aggressively as a true racing bike), with 700 X 23c tires. What I like about the Tricross is that it’s more comfortable to sit at that angle for longer periods of time, and the tires feel zippy yet cushion against the road vibrations. What I like about the Dolce is its exceptionally smooth shifting and its nimbleness. I probably could have done both the rides on either bike, but I felt fine with the ones I used. I really would like to have the Tricross have smoother shifting, though. I need to look into making some changes.
I wore my Chrome Vanya Knickers for the 50 States. It wasn’t the best choice. The knickers work fine for a commute, but it chafed a little for the 60-mile ride. I think next time, I will wear pants with a chamois. By contrast, I was happy to discover that I didn’t under-dress for the Back Roads like I did last year– I felt perfectly comfortable with a long-sleeved jersey, capri-length tights, and full-fingered gloves.
I think I’m starting to understand how much, and what kinds of foods work for me with long rides. Having the Camelbak works really well. I use a concentrated electrolyte solution in my water, and it seemed to keep me hydrated and free from cramps. I keep Clif Mojo bars and Shot Bloks on hand, which I eat on the bike and I haven’t yet gotten sick of. I do all right with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I discovered that burritos, or at least the one I had during the 50 States ride, gave me a little heartburn. Lesson learned here: bring some Tums, and get lunch at Eastern Market!
So, this is the big one, and I still haven’t learned how to do this. I have the strength to go up and over all kinds of hills. I haven’t yet learned how to conserve my energy to do this more than once. Possible solution: really, do hill repeat exercises. They’re not fun, but I think it’s the only way I’m going to learn.
Speed and Endurance
I admit that I’m frustrated by this still. Compared to the people I ride with, I still lag so far behind. I tire easily and am slow to recover from intense pedaling. I had hoped that the more I ride, the more I would improve, but it hasn’t been the case. Maybe I should just accept the fact that my friends are much faster than me, and just ride at my own pace. It’s kind of lonely this way, though.
Back-to-Back and the Back Roads
Admittedly, I enjoyed the Back Roads less this year because I came into it already tired. I could have done it all differently– maybe eaten less for dinner the night before, gone to bed a lot earlier, started out more slowly in the first part of the ride, brought along a full inhaler. But I didn’t quit– I kept going, I rode the best I could, and I didn’t get sick or have any major mechanical issues. So this gives me hope that I can do a multi-day ride in the future.
The important thing is to relax, have fun, and breathe, and sometimes, I need to remind myself to do that.