Monday, July 26, 2010

The long ride is over

As with all big new purchases, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the purchase of the replacement bicycles. And by bicycles, I mean bicycle. Rach was happy and relieved to have hers, but excitement was probably too big of a word to explain her feelings about it. She was merely getting a bike she already had before. I, on the other hand, was ecstatic.

Until we took the bikes for a long ride on Saturday that is.

When you're riding a bike there are 3 contact points between you and the bike: The hands, the feet, and the seat. If any one of these are a bit off, you can overcome it with a minor adjustment to the component, or changing your position on the bike. But when 2 of them are off, it can be a real cause for concern. The problem is you can't really tell how far off the contact point is off until you're about 20 miles or so into a ride. By that point you're getting tired, and the muscles that can counteract the discomfort no longer work as well.

And about mile 20 of a 45 mile ride is where I found myself really feeling the discomfort coming from my feet and my seat. 

Let's start with the pedals. They're really nice pedals with integrated toe clips and straps to make pedaling more efficient. The problem I have with them is that they are too small. For a personal with regular sized feet, and with shoes that fit properly, they're probably the perfect pedal. Unfortunately, I've got size 12 1/2 feet and am wearing a size 13 shoe because I have trouble finding comfortable shoes. Because of the toe clips, I wind up pedaling with my toes, and just the front of the balls of my feet. Not enough space to apply my foot in order to generate all the power I can. I wound up with numb toes for the better part of 25 miles.

Then there's the seat. Have you ever straddled the point of a roof? If so, you have an idea of how I felt riding on my new saddle. To start with, the saddle is too narrow. Instead of being nicely supported on my sit bones (sit bones: the bones in your butt), I wound up having all my weight carried on the soft tissue (soft tissue: muscle and fat) in between the sit bones. By the time we got to the the halfway point on our ride, my bottom was good and sore. Plus, this saddle has the added "benefit" of having a slightly raised nose, so that not only did my rear hurt, but the other areas you ride on (aka the man-bits and associated areas) were extremely discomforted as well. For most of the ride I home, we were taking breaks every 5 miles or so for me to stand up and give my behind a rest. 

I will say it was the first time that at the end of a long ride that my legs were the part of me that felt the best. For 45 miles, with a decent amount of climbing, I felt like I was overall doing pretty well. There were a couple of spots I needed a breather and we skipped one particularly brutal hill, but otherwise it was nice to have a successful ride with climbing a week after DNFing during the ride at MA State Tri. In fact, one of the hills Saturday was very similar to the hill last week, and I had no problems with it.

And while we were finishing our long ride, so were the guys in the peloton of the Tour de France this weekend with a Time Trial on Saturday and a fairly easy ride into Paris on Sunday. In the end it was Alberto Contador "three-peating" as the yellow jersey winner, with a 39 second difference over Andy Schleck. A 3 week race, decided by 39 seconds... man that's gotta sting. The kicker to all of that is that Schleck had a mechnical problem caused by a shifting issue in the mountains that accounted for that exact amount of time.

Finishing an even longer ride (metaphorically speaking) was Lance Armstrong, who ended his professional cycling career (at least in terms of the Tour de France) on Sunday. Team Radio Shack won the overall team classification, which isn't the most highly sought after prize in the race, but a podium none the less. Lance has already announced he's moving on to triathlons next year, so it's not like he's completely getting off the bike. It's just that he'll be even more relevant to this blog, so expect to hear more about him next season.

We took Sunday as our rest day to recover and other than some walking, doing a lot of cleaning for family that will be visiting soon, we had a pretty laid back weekend. It picks up again today with a good long run. And the rest of the week will be pretty high tempo as we start barreling closer to Timberman.


- Here's a pic of my old saddle. A good shape, a little bit wider, and a nice cutout in the middle to take some of the weight off the important stuff. I'll be looking to buy something similar to this very soon. Long term, I'll experiment with some higher end saddles, but I don't have time or money for that right now:
- It is REALLY hot out, which is not great for enjoying your day, but it's great for training. If you can suffer through a few hours in 90 degree weather, you can suffer through the same in 70 degree weather.


  1. Bob D. in ChelmsfordJuly 26, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    I know how you feel Ben. I was supposed to be out for a 45 mile ride on Saturday, but had to call it short due to low back pain. Last Sunday, I was trying to pull my wetsuit off at the Appleman Tri and my back decided to give before the suit (forgot my bodyglide)! Hoping it will recover by this weekend! Do you ride out to Concord area? I'm usually riding through Carlisle, Concord, and Bedford. If you're planning a long ride, I'll meet up with you and Rach.

  2. Bob,

    It sucks when injury or just pure physical exhaustion gets in the way of a good ride. We do ride out to bedford on occasion via the Minuteman trail. We'd love to meet up for a ride sometime.