Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fit for Life

As much as I like riding with my biking clubs, one of the things I love about being so close to the ARPT is the serendipity that can happen while out riding on a nice day.

After my back complained about the lower riding position, I moved 7.2 mm of spacers back under my stem to raise it up a bit. After waiting 2 days I decided to take an easy ride, stretch it out, and burn some calories. Heading out the front door intending to warm up on the way to WBP, the back felt good, and so did the new position, so I found myself flying along, zipping through the turns I call the "rat's maze".

I stopped for water at the rest stop at WBP when a woman and her gf rolled up, she riding a very practical pea green bike with fenders, rear rack and bright red tires - Kenda tires as a little inspection revealed. Somehow the bike fit her, and she it. That's the kind of bike REI has been selling a lot of lately, but she said she got it from City Bikes. I know the shop, as I rode my first Roubaix there, before heading up to Calistoga Bike Shop for a better deal. We had a great chat about bikes and bling before they pushed off upstream.

Rolling downstream towards CSUS, I set a comfortable, but brisk pace. The wind was in my face, but not more than 5mph, so I kept the pace up, but kept the back comfortable. Passing traffic I had to hit the gas to get past before oncoming traffic encroached. Pretty comfortable, so I kept the hammer down until I rolled up behind a group of 3 riders. Two guys up front and a woman trailing them closely. I needed a breather, so decided to hang out in back for a few.

After a few minutes I was getting anxious, the two guys were tooling along at 18-19 and ruining what had turned into a pretty good average time. I started talking to the woman, who seemed to want to go faster too. Finally it became clear she wanted to go, but didn't feel confident she could go and make it stick, so I asked her if she wanted to go faster, throwing an impish grin in her direction.

She took off and went  around, and I put the power down and went around her to take up the lead. My HR alarm started complaining after a few minutes - which I ignored and kept pushing at 95% - and was kind of incredulous she was still there behind me. She told me later she's 5'3" and 115 lbs. The girl's got some GO!

I finally pulled the power and we rolled up to Del Paso Rd. We had a nice conversation where I learned that her SO was one of the two guys. I think she found it refreshing to cut the tether and do a little free-lancing. We had been talking about bike fit, as she was sprawled out over the bike. The bike was a Specialized S-Works, so an expensive bike, but at 5'3", her 52cm frame was waaaay too large. (see chart)

She told me she'd just had a professional fitting, where they mounted a 50mm stem - about all that could be done given a frame that was 30-40mm too large. I tried to finish on a positive note, so reminded her that larger frames with short stems are great climbing bikes. I'm sure the very low body position she is forced into also makes her pretty aerodynamic, but the shoulder and neck strain make it a painful one after an hour or so.

 Dave Moulton's excellent frame sizing chart

Odd as it may seem, you are MORE likely to be sold an expensive bike in the wrong size than a cheap one. Why? Because an expensive bike costs more to keep in inventory, so they will sell it as long as you can climb on the thing. Be prepared before you go shopping, and know your size!!!

Her SO rolled up and we had a very nice conversation. He was interested in the Mt Hamilton climb, so I filled him in on the last 2 year's experience riding the Canyon Classic. We headed back riding together, talking, until I ended up in front after negotiating traffic. He took up the lead 5 minutes later and I took it back after he slowed down a couple of mph. I peeled off at WBP, and they went on to Sunrise. It was with a big smile that I hammered my way up onto Boyer and down California Ave coming home. It is such a treat to ride without restraint.

The back was fine, and not bothering me much at all today. I had a great conversation and hope to see them out on the trail again. She's a teacher and has the summer off soon, so given how fast she rides, I hope we can take up where we left off. Just another fun day of serendipity on the ARPT!


Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Knowledge is the key before even stepping foot in a shop!!! I am so glad that my first bike was a cheap one. Even with my frame issue with Orbea I still do not regret my purchase decision.

Scott has been joining my 2 times a week for the P90X stretch session. It already seems to be helping him.

Getting older is....well ..interesting.

Grey Beard said...

:D ... yeah, "interesting". Wasn't it Mae West that said "getting old isn't for whimps!"?

Very insightful about making your mistakes with a cheap bike. Also true of investing. The BEST reason to start investing early in life imho, is it gives you a chance to learn from your mistakes when they aren't very expensive.

All mfgs have quality control issues. If you want those issues removed from consideration expect to pay Cervelo or Look prices. For most of us, that just isn't practical. Hope Orbea does right by you Robin. In all other respects it seems to work very well for you.

Time spent sweating together is such great bonding time for couples. I sorely miss that being single. Kudos to you and Scott for making the time for that in your lives!

Rachel said...

Nice. I can't believe that woman had so much get up and go on an ill-fitted bike!