Monday, November 29, 2010

Biking Mojo

I've really lacked biking mojo this year. Put it this way, since I started keeping track, here's what my mileage has looked like:

2007: 2011 miles
2008: 1425 miles (I was in Japan and not biking for 5 months)
2009: 2380 miles
2010: 944 miles

That's quite a drop off, isn't it. :(

I've been biking inside more this fall since it got cold, so I may hit 1000 miles before the end of the year.

I think part, maybe a lot, of the drop off had to do with gaining weight last year. I gained about 15 pounds. (I know, that's a lot in a year.) And correspondingly, my average biking speed dropped about 1mph, from around 15 mph to about 14mph (outside, just from the bike journal logs). I think that's related. And it makes it less fun to ride when I ride more slowly, somehow (though logically, who cares?).

I also tended to ride shorter rides. I just didn't feel like riding for a couple hours instead of an hour. That may also have had to do with weight. I don't know.

Anyway, I just didn't have much biking mojo this year.

That's part of why I started running a bit, because going outside to play with a new toy is better than nothing. And I've had fun running, which is good.

And since the beginning of the school year, I've lost about 10 pounds (not impressive, I know). And I brought my bike inside and put it on the trainer (because I HATE being cold).

I haven't been religious about the trainer, because it's really not nearly as fun as riding outside. But I know if I'm going to run or ski when the time comes, then I need to get some exercise on most days, so I've tried at least several times a week. I have the trainer set on the lowest possible resistance, and then use the gears to get the right feel. (It's a cheap trainer, so at higher resistances it feels jerky and not comfortable.) My goal is to just ride with a good cadence and reasonable heart rate, for at least half an hour at a time.

And maybe I'll start to get my mojo back and have more fun skiing and so forth?

The thing about the trainer is that the weight doesn't work against you as much as it does riding for real. There are no hills. (Yes, I know, I could change gears to make things harder, but then it feels jerky.)

My first inside on the trainer day was September 24. My bike journal says I went half an hour at an average speed of 20mph. As I recall, I was spinning at about 84rpm mostly (my bike computer shows rpm, but doesn't average it over the ride, so I'm just working from memory).*

Today I did 32 minutes at an average speed of 22.5mph.

That's a fair improvement. I'm mostly spinning at about 90rpm through most of the ride, too. For most of the past month and a half, I've been spinning in the mid-80s, and then last week, I was spinning at almost 90 mostly, and then getting easily to 93 or so. (I'm not super steady; today I rode mostly between 187 and 195, depending on what was happening on the tv I was watching, until near the end when I realized that I was setting a new speed record, and pushed harder for the last 15 minutes and kept it at about 92 pretty well.)

The Fat Cyclist has a weight loss challenge for the month: lose 10 pounds by December 23rd. When I looked earlier, he had 400+ responses, with lots of people entering.

I'm not entering, because I don't think I can realistically lose 10 pounds in a month. But it's a good challenge.

And I did wear a pair of pants today that I haven't worn in a goodly while because they were uncomfortably tight. They're not loose now, but they're not uncomfortable, either, so that's good.

I'm hoping if I lose weight (ideally, I'd lose a lot) and keep working on the bike, then a couple things will happen:

I'll have an easier time learning how to skate ski, and have more fun skate and classic skiing this winter. I theorize that falling hurts less if I'm lighter, and it's easier to get up after. Falling is an important consideration in my skiing efforts.

I'll be able to run a 5K thing in spring (I ran 5K a week or two ago, but I'd like to run faster and more consistently). (I notice a fairly big difference already when I run a bit.)

I'll be able to bike more and better next summer, and get my biking mojo back. I missed my biking mojo this year, and I want it back.

*Bikers have various approaches to how fast to pedal and how hard to push. One approach is the Lance Armstrong approach, which is to pedal at a high rpm (cadence) against low pressure. Racing types who "spin" tend to ride at 90+rpms for mile after mile. The other approach--I think it's the Greg LeMonde approach--is to pedal at slower rpms at higher pressure.

Racing types, of course, spin a fast cadence against bigger gears than I use on much bigger hills. And racing mashers spin pretty darned fast, too. That train left the station a long time ago for me!

My sense is that I ride better using a lower pressure; in the past I've tended to ride with a cadence in the low to mid 80s outside. So I'm hoping that if I get my legs in the habit of riding a faster cadence, I'll be able to do so outside as well. And assuming I'm riding the same low pressure gear, I should then be faster. We'll see. (My real weakness is hills; losing weight should help more than anything. If I lost 50 pounds, I'd have a LOT easier time going up hills.)


  1. Soooo, why is it that gaining 15 lbs in a year is "a lot," while losing 10 pounds since August is "not impressive"? I'd be pretty happy with that, whether in itself or if it's the start of a project to lose more.

    Here's to finding your biking mojo!

  2. I was going to make the same comment as Pilgrim/Heretic.

  3. Weight and hills -- ugh. I want to be a better hill climber, and losing weight is THE way to do it, but -- ugh. I'd much rather focus on strengthening my muscles than on losing weight!