walking around in tap shoes and pyjamas since 2010 - my cycling log (opens in new window)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Feeling Slow

This morning, I stumbled out the door late, if not as late as I have been the past couple of days, including yesterday, when I inexplicably failed to make it out the door before 7:40, even though I was up and clothed by about 7:15. Today I slept 'til 7:15 (d'oh!) and was out the door at about 7:36, but had to go back for my helmet. So much for getting up earlier today in preparation for getting up even earlier (6:00) tomorrow and/or leaving early to build in some extra mileage.

I threw my Backwards Bar Bag* on Swift and rolled out of the yard and into the road. I then continued to roll, hitting every light I could find (including the ones I never, ever hit), until I found myself at the office around 7:55. It's safe to assume that after all the fumbling, I was rolling by about 7:40, which means it took me only 15 minutes — including all those red-light stops — to get to work.

...Which leaves me wondering why I felt so bloody slow the whole way.

I've noticed an odd trend: when I first started riding regularly again, I was deeply aware of gains in speed. The trees and telephone poles whizzed by faster than before. I found myself keeping pace with drivers on the stop-and-go stretch of Broadway I often ride on my way home. It took a bit longer for Real Cyclists to catch me so they could pass me like I was standing still — you know, three seconds instead of two :)

Now, I often feel like I'm riding slower than before, even when I'm probably riding faster, and that seems — well, odd. As I was churning down River Road, I found myself thinking about the fact that I was keeping up an easy cadence at 48x19 on a stretch that used to require me to drop back onto the middle ring, yet somehow I felt like I wasn't moving any faster. A little later, while sailing along the stretch of the MUP beneath I-64, I considered the fact that spinning the same cadence in a higher gear generally means you're going faster, but I didn't feel any faster. In fact, I was feeling rather slow.

It may be, in part, that cycling is less work than it used to be, and that my sense of speed and sense of work are coupled, but the sense of speed hasn't yet adjusted. That theory should be easy to test: I'll just step it up two gears higher than my normal traveling gear while riding on the flat and see if I feel faster.

Of course, what I really ought to do is simply take my bike and my cyclometer to Bike Couriers' and have them install it so I can see my speed in MPH (I wonder if it will display KPH?). Never mind that I'm slowly turning into Captain Dashboard, the cyclometer would be really nice to have (as would a cool bell/compass combo like the one that Scott from Saturday's ride had on his bike — going to have to look around for one of those).

The cyclometer will give me a truly objective means of comparison. Of course people who DON'T RACE and are NEVER GOING TO RACE (ahem, you hear that, Inner Wannabe and Little Voice?!) don't actually need to care about speed, as long as they're fast enough to go whatever distance is required of them in the time allowed, within reason ... right?

Turns out my cycylometer doesn't display cadence, so I'll have to drop into the gym that I never visit because I'm too busy riding and see if one of their spinning machines will kindly show me what my routine cadence looks like. Not that I really need to know — I can't be doing anything too wrong if I can ride 50+ miles on a hybrid bike without dropping dead (indeed, without suffering any ill effect in the least, and whilst enjoying myself tremendously). I'm just curious.

At any rate (of speed?), I think it's strange that I feel slower, even though logically I have to assume I'm going faster. I wonder if this is something that's fairly common to people who ride a lot?

*The BBB is designed for a bike with drops and interferes with my brakes and light if I mount it the 'right' way. I'm sure some other cyclists understand immediately, and others think, "Jeez, look at SuperFred with his backwards bar bag." There's probably also a third group that understands but still wonders what I'm doing on a hybrid, especially on Saturdays, when I'm out on the far side of nowhere and clearly not going to work.

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