It was a cold morning, the air was very crisp and they sky was clear. I debated skipping out on the 32-mile bike ride. After all, I haven’t been on a long ride in over a month, and I recently found out I had bone contusions. Although I had been cleared to ride, I thought about using the injury as an excuse to sleep in another couple of hours. But I managed to gather my warm weather biking cloths, which is basically my normal outdoor gear, since I have yet to buy actually cycling clothing for warmer weather, other than a pair of nice gloves.
As I drove to Mellow Johnny’s bike shop, which is owned by Lance Armstrong, I wondered if they would even still have the ride. I think I was still looking for excuses to skip out on the ride for some reason. Upon arriving at the shop I realized I wasn’t going to find a place to park close by because of the farmer’s market a couple blocks down and a bike swap that was being hosted in the parking lot. I ended up parking just a couple blocks down in a city parking lot.
While I was taking my bike off the rack, changing into my cycling shoes, and putting on my jacket another couple with bikes parked two spaces down from me. Both were decked out in Mellow Johnny’s cycling jerseys; the nice long sleeve ones too. I was a bit jealous of their gear. I don’t cycle enough yet to justify special gear for the sport (other than my one short sleeved jersey). The gear I normally wear on climbing trips is perfectly functional for the cold rides, but just not ideal. After seeing the couple I knew the shop was having rides that day, so I hopped on the bike after fully gearing up and pedaled over to the shop.
Upon arriving I found a bike rack full of other cyclist’s bikes. It was on! The group ride was taking place despite the cold temperatures. I had to remind myself that things would warm up once we got rolling. The group was much smaller than the previous ride I had been on. The cold definitely scared some riders away. The route we were taking was the hilly course that I first rode on the last Mellow Johnny’s group ride. The route takes you through hilly residential neighborhoods and out west on Bee Cave Rd., a scenic ride with excellent views of the Hill Country.
I was a bit worried about not being able to finish the entire ride because of my knee injuries; I even tried to find a friend to go on the ride with me so we could turn around if my knees started giving out. But, surprisingly I did really well. I even kept up with the fastest riders in the group. I even felt we were going to slow at times.
The new Cannondale Caad9 handled like a dream. I felt like it glided up hills. During the entire ride I only left the largest front chain ring once. On previous rides, with my older Specialized Secteur, I had to drop into the smallest chain ring on multiple hills. But, the Cannondale is fast and light. I feel like if I did drop down into the smaller chain ring for some of the bigger hills I would have been able to take them on a lot faster. Even though I didn’t have to use the smaller ring, I did lose some speed towards the top on some hills.
I also think my older bike was a bad fit. It was a 58” frame, but the new bike is 56”. I really feel like the better fit made a big difference as well. The Shimano 105 components also made for smoother shifting. Given my current injuries, that didn’t allow me to give 100% on the ride, I think I will be even faster on this new ride once I fully heal. I never really believed a better bike can make that much of a difference in your speed and ability to climb hills, but after getting a new bike and taking on a ride I have done a couple times before, and performing better WITH injuries; I have no doubt a good bike makes a huge difference in performance.
As far as the knees go, there was very little pain during the ride, but I feel like adrenaline may have masked some pain that was actually there. A few hours after I finished the ride some increased pain set in. I had even ice down both knees right after the ride, drank a delicious recovery smoothie, and took some anti-inflammatories, but it didn’t matter. I still have a little bit more pain than I did before the ride, but I’m not sure how much of that I can attribute to the ride. I think part of the pain may be because of the colder weather we have had lately.
Anyway, this might be my last post before the wedding this weekend. It will actually be the last post for a couple weeks because we are going on a week-long cruise. We are so excited to spend an entire week relaxing and enjoying our new marriage. I will be sure to take lots of pictures and post an update when I return.