Ride Notes for October 2nd, 2014

Today was an unimaginative repeat of my usual 17-mile course from my house through Saguaro National Park and home again, and I almost hit two of my goals on this ride: I completed the ride in just 33 seconds over an hour, so I'm dangerously close to my one-hour goal, and I shaved another minute off my personal best for the park, so I was just 5 seconds over a half-hour. That puts my average speed at 16mph for the park, which is about 2mph slower than the people who have the fastest times around the park, but it's a whole lot better than I used to ride.


This was my third consecutive day of riding for the week - I rode 14.2 miles the day before as part of my commute, although I extended at least 4 miles to my commute simply because it was a good day for riding. (However, I have a word of warning from yesterday's ride: cycling down Tucson's River Road during rush hour is not a good idea - there's no bicycle lane for much of the ride, and there's not much of a shoulder, either.)

That being said, I spent a lot of today's ride working on my handlebar technique so as to reduce the pain in my hands and wrists from my new road bike. Having done two fittings, I am suspicious of how I am gripping the handlebars, so I was consciously trying to force my hands to relax and not have such a death grip and the handlebars. In my several years teaching music lessons, I constantly told my students to relax their hands while playing in order to avoid injury, and now I found myself in a similar position - I had to learn to relax or I could injure myself. The trouble is, I'm on a new bike, so that's somewhat difficult since I am still a little unsure of myself. I read somewhere that most rider-caused cycling injuries happen during the first 500 miles on a new bike, and that is caused by a simple lack of familiarization with a new bicycle's capabilities; I'm doing my best to avoid being a statistic. Still, despite working on my hand technique, there's not much that I can do about the fact that the roads suck for part of my ride - I simply have to weather the bumps as best I can.

Here's an interesting point of note that I have discovered: I have been riding around Saguaro National Park for several months now as part of my weekly ride, but from my discussions with other cyclists in the area, I have learned that many of them use the 8-mile loop around the park to train for hill climbing. That wasn't really my goal when I started out; I simply wanted a good-quality road with less traffic. I actually hated the hills around the park, especially the 1.5-mile climb up Riparian Ridge. Now that I have been riding around the park for some time, I still don't like the hills, but I'm getting better at climbing them. Today was a good example - I used to average 4 to 5mph when climbing the ridge, but now I average 7 or 8mph. I'm still pretty winded by the time I reach the top, but the good news is that it's over faster as I get better at climbing. Switching to cleats has helped a lot; I consciously work on my "push-me-pull-you" technique when pedaling, and that makes a big difference.

I should mention that I completely messed up with my timing for today's ride. I knew that sunset has been getting earlier each day, but for some reason I still thought that sunset would be at 6:30pm today, so I planned to start my ride at 5:30pm. I actually got on the road at 5:39pm, but sunset was at 6:08pm - which was obviously 20 minutes sooner than I had expected. The setting sun may have treated me to a wonderful display of "Purple Mountains' Majesty" during the first half of my ride around the park, but the sun had set completely by the time I was cresting Riparian Ridge. There was still ample light for me to ride through the park, but I was definitely racing the fast-encroaching darkness as I rode home from the park. With that in mind, I've learned my lesson - I need to check the times for sunset a little better in the future.

Ride Stats:

  • Primary Statistics:
    • Start Time: 5:39pm
    • Distance: 16.8 miles
    • Duration: 1:00:33
    • Calories Burned: 623 kcal
    • Altitude Gain: 823 feet
  • Speed:
    • Average Speed: 16.6 mph
    • Peak Speed: 31.0 mph
    • Average Cadence: 60.0 rpm
  • Temperature:
    • Minimum: 71.6 F
    • Average: 73.6 F
    • Maximum: 77.0 F
  • Heart Rate:
    • Average: 155 bpm
    • Maximum: 177 bpm
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