Monday, February 3, 2014

Cycling adventures: going up!

I went on my first proper climb yesterday, meeting up with others in Millgrove and tackling Mt Donna Buang with a bit of a warm-up via Old Warby Rd.

It took me two hours to get up Donna, sitting in my lowest gear most of the time (28 chainring and 25 cog) and occasionally shifting up when I would want a break from sitting. While I managed to do the climb, I did learn a few things:
  1. I absolutely needed my granny gear, but felt I had too many low gears (I can shift two cogs in one go, so would change up to 28/21 when standing, but would have liked to go 28/19 if I wasn't worried about needing to shift back down 3 cogs to sit in the saddle again)
  2. I have poor leg strength over an extended period of time (not a complete surprise given my discus/hammer throwing background)
  3. My twice-weekly Breeze ride is complete rubbish for preparing me for this kind of riding
  4. I'm not a bad descender
  5. My fingers felt fine after the descent.
So I was up there with my heavy-esque flat-bar road bike. I really don't think that my bike is a problem just yet, as losing ~5kg wouldn't have made a large difference to how my legs were feeling after 16km of climbing. But I definitely wanted to take that bike up a proper climb so that I would get an idea of what gear ratios I would use when sitting and standing on the bike.

I suspect the leg strength issue will sort itself out with regular hill-climbing, doing rides in the big chainring (I did one of my Breeze rides in the big chainring once as a bit of a laugh, but now I feel like I need to do it regularly), and doing rides where I am continuously working for 1.5+ hours. The Breeze ride is 1.5 hours in total, and we ease off to keep everyone together or regroup at the top of hills. So I might find myself doing a faster ride with the Maling Room Ride group (although it would be with their slow group!) and then doing big chainring Breeze rides!

Yep, it was a gorgeous day for a climb!

Aside from the great view at the top (and it is a scenic ride during the climb) and the cooler temperatures in the hills (it was 41℃ on Sunday in Melbourne), climbing a fair distance means you get to come down too! I wasn't sure how I'd go with the descending, as every downhill on my surburban rides is a straight line and I freaked out a bit on the one high-speed curve I encountered during the Peak Cycles women's ride.

Turns out I was a lot better at descending than ascending, well, according to the rankings on Strava! I was placed 1958th out of 1995 on the way up (yep, I was THAT slow) but 579th out of 2075 for the first bit of the way down (until the water bottle refill point) and then 908th out of 1964 for the second bit. I encountered other riders in front of me for the second bit down, and I wasn't sure how to go about overtaking them on downhill curves so I sat behind them holding onto my brakes a bit more until I accidentally hit my bell so they slowed down a bit to let me pass. Ooops, but thanks!

When I got to the bottom, I checked how my fingers felt, and they were fine. No pain from the stupid lab injury! So now I now longer feel like I need to check out bikes with disc brakes. :) Good news for me as bikes with traditional caliper brakes are cheaper. And I'll definitely be looking at bikes with compact (50/34) gearing!

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