Rode inside today… that’s a first

I’ve got to admit, I really wanted to be outside today, in that howling wind and driving rain. I can’t exactly define the appeal, but it’s very real and very strong. The fact that almost nobody else would be out there adds to it.

But today I listened to the voices of reason. Be sensible. Stay inside. Go for a trainer ride on Zwift Island because, after all, that’s what we sell to our customers on days like this.

So I had two sessions on Zwift Island today. The first, early in the day, was relatively short and ended prematurely. I took my time and set up the full “man cave” experience, running Zwift on my laptop and using Chromecast to display it on my projection TV at home. You lose a little bit of smoothness doing it this way, but the delay which people warn you about is virtually non-existant. The plan was to make it all the way to the top of the highest point on Watopia (Zwift Island). I was well on my way until… my two free months of Zwift, care of Strava Premium membership, were expiring. Today. In 10km. And the climb was 11km. So, 41 minutes in, and I time out before the finish of the climb. Frustrating!!!

I decided I’d do things differently a bit later, using one of the shop’s demo accounts and just use the laptop, leaving the big TV as just that, a big TV, so my wife could still watch her shows (one show mainly; Madam Secretary). I was going to do the whole enchilada. 30 miles, 2 hours on Zwift Island.

Oh my was that tough! Much tougher than I thought it would be. That long climb up to the radio tower? I should have been able to do 250 watts or so, but instead I was well under 200. The problem? You can’t really stand on a trainer, at least not very well. And when I climb, I stand. Seated, I just don’t get the power. And then I discovered something interesting. If I sit up while in the saddle (basically riding no-hands), available power went up. Significantly. I may have learned something important about my breathing. I had thought I stand on climbs to slow down my cadence, which slows down breathing a bit. What’s more likely is that I stand because I’m simply able to breathe better. Who knew? Without time on a trainer, I might never have figured this out.

Even knowing all that, I’m still not convinced the trainer metrics show an amount of “suffering” (measured in watts and heart rate) that measures up to what I felt. One thing’s for sure. That second, two-hour session, was very, very hard. There is no question that it was a suitable substitute for an actual ride on the road.

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Remarkably calm, beautiful, wet & cold

Warming up to a toasty 30 degrees as we head south on Skyline!

Wednesday night I went to bed hoping that maybe the weather forecast was wrong; maybe there would be some wind overnight to dry off the roads. Or maybe the scheduled 3am rain shower wouldn’t come through. Maybe I’d get to ride my Trek Emonda instead of the rain bike (my disc & fender-equipped Trek Boone). Sure, the Boone is still nicer and lighter than anything I ever raced with back in the day, but it’s not an Emonda. I’ve become spoiled.

Well this morning was going to be another ride on the rain bike. The roads were wet around the house, which meant there woudld be plenty of areas up in the hills where they’d be soaked. No choice which bike to ride. This winter, my rain bike is getting a lot of use!

I wasn’t surprised by it being wet. I was surprised by the temperature! Not really cold leaving the house, but curiously, it got colder as I climbed over Jefferson towards Canada Road. Normally, it gets warmer as you go up. At the start of the ride it was down to 34 degrees. Despite the wet roads, both JR and (pilot) Kevin were out with me; younger Kevin hadn’t slept too well the previous night so he stayed home. Thankfully nobody was in a mood to ride fast so I managed to keep up, despite the temperature continuing to fall as we climbed. 34 degrees at the base, 33 in the middle and 32 at the top. Heading south on Skyline, we saw a low of 29.7 degrees near Skeggs Point.

The required view from West Old LaHonda. No sign of the big storm coming in this weekend.

It was actually quite beautiful up on Skyline, with the sun’s rays frequently accented by the mist, as seen in the photo above. I was dressed appropriately for the cold, and with my Raynauds now under control with meds, it was a bit amusing to notice others having issues with their hands being too cold! Nevertheless I did take the lead for a while descending 84 to West Old LaHonda, just to get a little bit warmer (it was a pretty constant 32 degrees for the entire West Old LaHonda loop).

I definitely had an advantage over JR & (pilot) Kevin descending, as both were on their regular road bikes. No disc brakes. The difference descending wet roads with disc brakes cannot be exaggerated. It’s amazing. You feel so much more in control, you have so much more control of traction, because the braking is predictable. You squeeze the lever, and the brakes work. Instantly. No 1-2 second delay while your pads dry out the rims before anything happens. They’ll not likely ever have a place on my nice-day bike though; they add about 2 pounds of weight, require that the frame be made a bit less compliant (comfortable), and don’t offer any real advantages in dry conditions.

By the end of the ride it had warmed up to a seemingly-toasty 38 degrees! Funny how nice that felt, while most sensible people wouldn’t go near their bikes when it’s that cold.

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