Cycling and looking the part

It’s not like I don’t do anything else in my life. But for some reason, cycling inspires me to blog. I can’t

The bike that got me places

The bike that got me places

help myself. The whole time I’m cycling I’m composing a blog post in my head. The thoughts just flow. None of them are serious thoughts. I can’t think about serious stuff when I cycle. That is one of the biggest blessings about cycling: none of the serious stuff seems serious at all when I’m on my bike.

I’ve been convinced for quite some time now that the main reason I’m not getting faster as a cyclist is that I need a faster bike. Have you seen the bikes the pros ride? Do you think they look anything like my bike besides the fact that they have two wheels, bars, a seat and a frame? Have you tried picking up a pro’s bike? You can do it with your pinkie finger! My bike isn’t the heaviest bike in the world, but it sure isn’t as light as real cyclists’ bikes.

BUT have you seen the prices of the bikes the pros ride? You could get a nice car for a similar amount of money. So buying a really really good bike is out of the question for me. I CAN save up for a bike slightly better than the one I have now, though.

Having said that, my current bike has taken me safely across Europe. It’s a GREAT bike. It’s dealt with falls, getting packed on planes, and a rider who doesn’t really know how to upkeep it.

Anyway, since I can’t currently afford to buy a new bike but I still want to become a faster cyclist, I decided the next best thing would be to buy two new wheels. I’ve been riding with rather thick wheels for more than two years now. I bought them because I wanted something durable for the cycle across Europe. They’ve been great. I’m keeping them no matter what for bike touring. But as I train, I need wheels that will give me a bit of an edge and that will go faster on the roads. So I went into my favourite bike shop and asked the guy’s advice. He told me not to buy new wheels. He said they wouldn’t gel well with my older derailleur and chain (I think that’s what he said). He said it would be better to just get new, thinner, slicker tires. So we went to the tire rack. Before he even started to say anything, I said, “Wait! I do want faster tires, but they have to have some grip on them. The ultra-smooth, ultra-thin tires I see on the pros’ bikes freak the heck out of me. I don’t want to slip and slide while turning corners.”

So, yes. I want a better bike. But I want it to be stable on the ground and I want grip! The guy was really nice. He understood that I wanted to faster but I still wanted to be safe. So he got me thinner tires that still had a pretty decent tread on them. We got them on the bike and I was so excited about having new tires that would make me cycle faster that I spent the rest of the day polishing up my bike (something I’ve rarely done). Weeks ago I had seen a video on a fellow cyclist’s blog about the right way to lubricate a bike chain. Let’s just say it wasn’t the way I have lubricated my bike chain. But I kept the information cozy inside my head and this weekend I decided to give my bike chain a real clean. I got it to be really nice and shiny. Then I put on the lubricant the RIGHT way. You have no idea how proud of myself I was.

Today was my first day out on the bike with the new tires and the shiny, properly lubricated chain.

I wanted to test and see if the new combo made me a faster cyclist. I had high expectations. I will not lie.

The first thing I noticed was the smoother ride. The second thing I noticed was that my bike tires weren’t the most prominent part of the landscape. I hardly noticed them at all. I had become accustomed to seeing a big, black bike tire spinning in front of me as I rode.

I decided the extra smoothness must be because my bike chain was so nice and clean and properly lubricated. It really did make a difference. The bike also felt like it wasn’t transmitting as many bumps from the road to my behind. That could be the new tires. Or it could be my head convincing itself that the bike really was giving me a better performance.

I still huffed and puffed. But the cycling just felt a bit more comfortable and smoother, for some reason. I became more and more convinced that I’d get a faster time this week than last week.

I didn’t.

I was about 0.6km/hour slower than last week. That’s not too bad, given the fact that I’ve been slower in my running this week as well.

So I’ve decided that the only reason I wasn’t faster on the bike this week was that my body was tired. I had already decided that next week would be a recovery week. I’m going to keep doing the same activities but I’m decreasing my distances and not focusing at all on time. I’ll just run, swim, and cycle comfortably. I think my body really does need a bit of a break. Then the following week I’ll pick things up where I left off and see how things go. Hopefully I’ll have supersonic speed on the bike then!

I still think getting a shiny new ultra-light bike would make a world of difference.

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