Sunday, April 6, 2008

My New Stead

I picked up a sweet new road bike on March 1 and have since been on about 3 rides of 20+ miles and several shorter ones. The weather is finally turning nice for riding. I logged about 23 miles today and did not have to don base layers as I did a week ago, when this picture was taken. (Click it to see the components and other details up close, including my winter beer gut. I obviously didn't ski hard enough this season to keep it in check.)

The bike, a 2006 Giant TCR C1 (I saved a bunch since it was a closeout), has a full carbon fiber frame and is really lightweight and smooth, especially compared to the old steel Raleigh on which I plied the roads and paved trails for almost 24 years! That was a gift from my parents for my 13th birthday and it served me well. (It still has a place in the garage as a commuter or to ride to the park with the kids.) But since I got hooked on the fast-growing sport of triathlon last year, it was high time to get something more modern and competitive. The Giant is less than 2/3 the weight of the old Raleigh, which makes accelerating a lot less effort than before. It probably helps with climbing, though I haven't really done any of that yet (save the freeway overpasses). I'll have to visit mom and dad in rolling west St. Louis County with the bike soon.

Also, the Giant is identical to that of my SoCal cousin, Mike. Same model, year, and even frame size. Luckily I have different pedals so we can tell them apart next time we ride together.

Though it is not a triathlon-specific or time-trial bike, I outfitted it with clip-on aerobars, racing pedals, and cleated triathlon shoes (which are easy to slip on, can be worn sockless, and breathe well - important since you are just getting out of the water at the transition onto the bike). A tri/time-trial bike may be my next big cycling purchase in a few years, but this will serve well for years to come as an all-around bike for training, climbing hills, group rides, and whatever else is in store.

I've trained twice with the aerobars and they definitely take some getting used to. They help "cheat the wind" a bit by allowing the rider to take a more aggressive, aerodynamic position, but they make the bike much harder to maneuver, especially in a cross-wind and on the bumpy roads on which I most often find myself. Today I averaged over 20 mph despite 12 mph southerly winds. I don't think I have ever pedaled so fast on a ride longer than about 15 miles, so things are starting to click. With a bit more training, I should be prepared for my first sprint triathlon of the season on June 7. I have a longer international distance race on July 19 which will include about 25 miles in the saddle. I'd like to finish the bike leg in an hour or so. Or at least not too much longer. I have to aim high! A lot will depend on the winds that day.

GPS profiles of a few of my recent rides are captured here.

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