Free Speed for the Dumb

That’s what I am. Dumb. And free speed is what I got.

It just took a couple of nudges to remind me of things I already knew. And free speed was the result. How so?

Bike – flipped my stem over. Sure it was comfortable with the higher rise, but that meant that I caught more much wind with my chest and slowed me down. So after rest week last week, I flipped it, just like the picture to the right.

So what did that do for me? Well, during my “test” last week, I rode hard around a certain loop near my house, averaging 20.2mph. After the stem flip, I rode the same course averaging 22.3mph with an average heart rate 10 beats per minute lower. Faster with less effort. Gotta love it!

Since I showed you the stem, I guess it would nice to show the rest of my ride. My sweet ride.

This is what it looks like, except mine is bright red instead of silver. Gotta love that carbon fiber beam, especially on these farm roads, since it acts as a huge shock absorber. After years of riding Cannondale, I absolutely love aluminum since it’s stiff enough for my big ass and doesn’t flex too much. But a few hours of riding and having that stiff frame jam the seat up my butt got quite tiresome, especially during ultra-marathon (12 and 24-hour) races. Now I have the stiffness of that aluminum, but the comfort of the carbon fiber. Now I’m not afraid to ride straight through potholes, railroad tracks, rumble strips or any other bumps. I feel the jar on my forearms when I’m down in my aero bars, but my butt stays smooth as butter.

It’s a wonderful thing!

And for some odd reason, especially since I’m not a Brit nor an Aussie, I kept wanting to type aluminium. Go figure.

The other free speed was in the water.

As you can see to the right, I watch a few other triathlete blogs. One guy posted a video that reminded me how to swim properly. Mind you, I’m no slouch at swimming. Never have been. Basically, I’m part fish; I just need gills.

So what’s the video? Here it is:

That’s Ian Thorpe on the right. See his flow through the water. Especially the glide as his lead hand hits the water and sits for a second before he strokes. The glide is the key. And it’s something that I knew at one time but managed to forget about in the past year or two during my infrequent swims.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not comparing myself to Ian. Not even close. Hell, his shoe size is literally twice mine! And who can compete against such flippers? But watching this video was a forehead slapper for me. How could I be so foolish?

So yesterday, after a session of “pyramid” intervals (100yd, 200yd, 300yd, 400yd, 500yd, 400yd, 300yd, 200yd, 100yd), I did some 100yd repeats. Every single one was significantly faster than my average 100yd speed during my 1000yd test last week. My first few were even 20 seconds faster than that average 100yd time! My last one (#10), when I was pretty much knackered, was still 8 seconds faster than my average 100yd time. And I wasn’t breathing anywhere near as hard as I was when I did my 1000yd test. Gotta love it.

Well, spring is here. Tornado watches here on Thursday with some pretty strong storms. Luckily we didn’t get anything here other than heavy rain and some wind. Since then, the wind has been howling. This morning saw 90 minutes of my 2.5 hour ride slogging straight into a 25-40mph headwind at 44F.

At one point, going downhill, fully exposed to the wind, tucked as small as I could get, in my lowest gear, I still could only manage 9mph! But the best part of heading into the wind like that is turning around. What took me 90 minutes to cover going out took only 50 minutes coming back.

The daffodils are in bloom, the birds are starting their spring migration north, the bucks have dropped their antlers and the bullfrogs are croaking in the bottoms. So things are looking up.

Speaking of deer, on two separate occasions this week the bastages almost took me out while I was out for a ride. For some reason, they decide that they must always flee to the right side of the road, even if they’re 50 yards off the left side of the road. On Monday night a herd of about 30 decided to take that track when I spooked them; Wednesday morning it was only four, but they were big and fast.

Jen’s been instructed to engrave on my headstone: “Here lies Bill, out for a ride, greased by a deer. Poor Bill, no more beer.”

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One thought on “Free Speed for the Dumb”

  1. I’m deeply impressed with the bike – that big chainring looks alarmingly big though. What size is it?

    And the swimming vid’s great – the sort of hypnotic beauty that I could watch for hours. One day I’ll get it right like that. One day. . .

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