Hills and headwinds

Today’s ride doesn’t look like much from the numbers, but for me, it was a resounding success. Eleven-and-a-half miles, around 45 minutes, average speed of just under 15 MPH.

But it included nearly 1,300 feet of climbing in five repeats of Rich’s Dugway. My goal was three, and I hoped for four. Five had me beaming. I felt like doing more too, but I was out of water and didn’t want to be too sore during the week at work.

And I did it all on Blue Steel in the 39/27 gear. It seemed easy too. That bike sure can climb!

Part of it is the motor. I’m fresh off a whole winter of pushing those darned snow tires. As much as I hate them, their 900 grams weight, coupled with their high rolling resistance does keep my raw strength up, even if my reduced winter miles causes a drop in endurance.

Part of it is that the Dugway is a pretty easy climb. It’s 200 feet bottom to top, and between 4% and 6% all the way. Nothing really spectacular, unless you consider that on my new commute, I get the same 200 feet of climbing, but spread out over 9.65 miles round-trip.

Part of it is the bike. Not only is Blue Steel my lightest bike, but its wheels seem lighter than even Yellow Bike’s. Its new tires certainly are. Plus the whole drivetrain is lighter being an Ultegra double rather than a Sora triple. I spun up the hill in the upper 80s and lower 90s. I amazed even myself.

Before I left, I looked-up last year’s first club ride of the season. It was 1,056 feet of climbing in a 20-mile ride. I did 125% of the climbing in 60% of the miles today. So unless it rains (as is forecast as of today), Blue Steel will be making its debut with the club on next Saturday’s ride.

As for headwinds, this afternoon winds were from the WSW at 20–25 MPH. The climb up the Dugway is pretty well protected, but it’s into the wind. Maybe half of it came through the trees, but still, every repeat was into the wind. The ride home was another 200 feet of climbing, unprotected, dead into the wind. Blue Steel made it easy. It seemed like it always wanted just one more gear higher.

In the drops, both descending the Dugway and into the wind on the way home, I definitely need a longer reach. The bars are too close resulting in twitchy handling on the descent, and cramped breathing. The question is, how much longer should the stem be, and do I want a different angle? Only more miles will answer that question.

In any event, I’m really starting to like this bike. I’m ready for spring.

One Response to “Hills and headwinds”

  1. Apertome Says:

    It sounds like things are going well with Blue Steel. Once again … what a great bike! I hope a faster road bike is in my near future.

    I’m laid up after my surgery now. Which is frustrating but so far not too much pain. I really hope I won’t be off the bike too long. In the meantime, it’s great to read about others’ rides.