Lessons Learned on the Populaire 2013

First, the good stuff:

I like the Tricross for riding randonneuring rides. This was my first time riding with the Tricross, and it was generally a good experience. I like being a little more upright, and the 700x28c tires greatly reduced the vibrations from the uneven roads. I definitely like having a triple chainring, although I think my triple on Tricross has higher gear ratios than my Dolce– I’d have to check. I’ll write more about riding the Tricross in another post.

I like my rack bag for carrying things. Also for another post, the rack bag I used seems to hold enough stuff for a ride, including a change of shoes, a jersey, half a sandwich, snacks, and bike stuff. Aside from the rattling of my rear light (which I need to fix), I didn’t even know it was there.

I think I like riding in the winter. I was surprised to discover that I didn’t need my inhaler at all for this ride. No allergies!

Stuff I need to work on:

I desperately need a new saddle and pedals. I’ve decided I don’t like the saddle I’ve been using for the past year for long rides, and I’m done with the half-platform, half-clipless pedals. I need a saddle that doesn’t hurt my butt, and I need to adjust the clips so that my knees don’t hurt. I’m going to swap those out soon.

I need to learn how to eat on the bike. This sounds stupid, but I was annoyed by not being able to easily open the top tube bag to get to my food while riding. I had to take off my glove (which was difficult enough), rip open the bag, and fish out the snack without dropping it or losing control of the bike. Part of the problem with the bag itself is that it’s designed for a right-hander, and I am left-handed. The rest involves me developing the skill to get into the bag itself. I may need a new bag as well.

I am not going to get better with hills without training. This is by far the biggest lesson. This is now my fourth randonneuring ride, and I should know by now that although I may have the capability of handling flat roads, I do not for hills. The only way to get better at hills is to practice riding hills. There is no alternative. I still need to get a heart monitor and find out what’s going on with my heart rate.

Consider doing permanents. At my current level of fitness, there is no way I can do a hilly brevet without feeling sick, and that’s just not fun. This 66-mile populaire pushed me to the limit without breaking me entirely, which makes me think that I should stick to shorter distances for hilly rides. I was thinking of doing more populaires and permanents, and possibly working towards the P-12 award. The only drawback is that I would have to figure out how to do one. (My schedule does not seem to coincide with Crista’s, unfortunately.) If I can get my act together to do one next month, I will.

Got to keep working.

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5 thoughts on “Lessons Learned on the Populaire 2013

  1. Congratulations on your finish. The P-12 sounds like a great goal. If you’re a member of RUSA, you can schedule rides on Crista’s (and other’s) populaire permanent routes whenever you like. Find routes at http://www.rusa.org/cgi-bin/permsearch_GF.pl by entering your desired starting location and specify a route distance of 100-199km. Then just contact the route owner and let them know what date and time you’d like to start. It’s great to sign up with one or two other RUSA members for a small group ride. Good luck with the P-12!

  2. Lisa: Let me know when and which permanent you might be thinking about. May join you. Send me your email address – i have a few suggestions for your hill climbing workout which does not always involve climbing a hill.

  3. I did not know you were a leftie! No wonder I like you :). Regarding the hear rate monitor (HRM), I have found it to help me with short hard efforts of training. For longer rides (say centuries +) you fall into your endurance zone and there it stays.

    I use a HRM for short cardio classes and for spin classes, and find it to be really helpful. It helps me know myself and the level of exertion I’m putting out. A HRM is also a great aid to give you an indicator of how you are feeling after a big event and/or if you are overtired for some reason. In that case, your heart rate will not get out of Zone 2, and it might be a sign you need rest as opposed to another workout.

    Also, while nothing can replace hill climbing, spin classes did benefit me with figuring out how to up my cadence and work harder while on the bike. It also think it helped my seated climbing, which I found weird but true! Spin is great because it takes all the distractions of road riding away (some people might say it’s awful for the exact same reasons), and it allows you to focus on your body without having to steer… AND you can listen to music, yeah!

  4. Thanks for your comments, Mary! I’ve noticed that I tend to feel overly exhausted not immediately after an event, but the day after. I want to use an HRM to see whether my recovery rate is really that slow, or if there’s another factor involved. I think I’m topping out at my max target zone on climbing, which worries me somewhat. But I need data!
    I do have spinning on my list of things to try!

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