First cyclists of 09

Trucks use lower gears, bikes use bigger ones.

Yesterday was warm and nice enough to spend the day outside so after loading the Outback with one big bike, clothes, tools and filling myself with a big breakfast, I headed south east to Mansonville to have the first proper, outside, real training ride of the year with my friend Tifo.

The plan was to ride for at least 2H30, do some climbing, ride hard and see how the body reacts. Since Tifo seemed to think I'd be climbing faster than he would, I made sure to add some penalizing elements to my ride. So I did another training the previous night, setup the Prophet with it's heavy wheels shod with just a tad under 1kg tires (that's each) that are designed to go down rocks and trails with their huge width, tall big knobs and sticky rubber compound. I also kept the suspension in it's squishy mode so I was going to have a hard time...

The chunky Hutchinson Barracuda 2.3 Tubeless MRC Medium, not quick!

And a hard time I had... but in a good way. We first hit some dirt roads but, with all the snow that's right in the middle of the melting process, the normally smooth roads were transformed into energy sucking mud traps. We spent a few km in the glue like roads and then went back toward the US border with the goal to hit a 10km+ long sustained climb (it's about 11.8km long).

The hilly roads were quite nice and without much traffic. When we finally got to the border after about 28km, we were greeted by a US customs lady who couldn't quite understand what we were doing on bikes at the begining of March and even less how we could enjoy it. The custom station sees almost more cyclists than cars in the summer with the great training roads just south of the border but it's with a certain pride that we were told we were the first of 2009 and probably the first ever to pass by that early in the season.

Then the real riding began. The climbs starts smoothly and has a few flats and even descents in it's early stages but the second half is an almost perfect grade all the way to the top with almost 10% grades. Let's say that at that point, I started to regret the tire choice and not prining my shock pump to stop it from robbing my precious energy, I had a hard time keeping up with my training partner but made it to the top with the idea that the day's plan was to have some hard riding.

Time to descend on the other side...

Then it was time for an apple, a quick change for heading back down and then, off we were on our 44x11. There again I had a hard time to keep up, I could see Tifo just coasting tucked low but my tires were really slowing me down again, I had to tuck, pedal as much as the gearing could let me and I could just only keep up... These tires are going off before the next ride, I think Hutchinson should call the model 'Penalizer' (sounds badass for freeriders, and a pain for XC riders). Then back in some hilly roads to go back to Canadaland. Two bikers among all the cars that were back for some skiing and snowboarding in Jay Peak, had a few looks... and the custom agent seemed to find our one sided forks more odd than us actually biking in winter.

As energy tanks were getting close to empty, we had a tough choice to make, do a 5km road climb back to home or less climb but go back by the muddy 'melted gummy bears and marshmallow' sticky dirt roads... We opted for the stickiness which really hit our whole ride average speed, We were going just a tad faster than a walking pace and had our heart rate almost as high as when we were climbing the long Jay climb earlier. Now we were motivated by the spa waiting for us and the thought of eating... just about anything. I think it would have been easier to take the climb instead.

Definitly not a road bike, but it's still a great ride.

All in all, a good training ride that we will probably do again soon, we need the climbing in our legs. It will also be nice to see the improvements but I wont ride the same anchor of tires so I think it wont be very comparable. I knew I wouldn't be the most powerful or fastest possible but I felt fine even at quite high HR and I could keep it high a long time so I think I'm starting my build phase in a good condition with a good base to become faster and stronger.

1 comment:

Tifo said...

Sharp run indeed!