Race Ready 2016

I’ve been wanting to make several changes/improvements to my bike for the 2016 race season.  There’s nothing like waiting until the last minute to do it (the week of my first race).  Here are a few things I’ve done to make this year’s races even better.

Bike Fit

I’ve been having several comfort issues with my bike.  To the point, that I didn’t want to ride it more than about 30 minutes because the pain/discomfort was so awful.  I ordered a new saddle last month, and about two weeks after receiving it, I scheduled a bike fit.

I didn’t realize how much pressure and pain I was having due to not being fitted properly.  I met with Jon at Endurance House Delafield and he fixed me up in about an hour.  He made several adjustments, alleviating the stress in my shoulders and the pain and pressure I was having in the saddle.  He also moved my seat to ensure the right muscles were firing while I was riding.  I felt the burn immediately.  Underworked muscles sure do have a way of letting you know when they are activated.

Tires (and Tubes)

Because so much of our bike time has been on the trainer, my bike tires had worn considerably this winter.  This week, I put new tires on my bike.  This was the first time I ever changed a bike tire.  And it wouldn’t have been complete unless I pinched a tube.  I one-upped and successfully pinched both the front and rear inner tubes in the process.  So not only did I put on new tires, I have new tubes as well.

Cassette

Most of my races this year will be on hilly courses.  My bike setup included an 12-25 cassette.  I typically struggle with uphills, so I wanted to gain any advantage possible.  I ordered and installed a 11-28T cassette for my bike and am now looking forward to climbing hills (well, that’s a bit of a stretch, but here’s to hoping hills won’t be so dreadful).

New Tires Emily's QR

Power Meter

Over the last few months, I have been researching power meters, mainly based on the reviews from DC Rainmaker.  Because I use Speedplay pedals, my choices are a bit limited.  Earlier this year, Nick installed the Pioneer single-sided power system on his bike, but I wanted something a little different.  I finally narrowed my choice and made a decision on which power meter I would buy.  With Elkhart Lake Sprint (and the 2016 race season) fast approaching, I realized I better click the buy button, and stop analyzing my decision.  Tuesday night I purchased the PowerTap C1 chainring.  The company is located in Madison, Wisconsin, so I knew there was a possibility of receiving the power meter by Friday.  I came home for lunch Wednesday afternoon, and the power meter was at my doorstep!

Wednesday night, I installed my new power meter.  This required a little elbow grease, and some assistance from Nick.  After everything was put back together, I took my bike for a spin around the block.  Everything seems to be in great working condition.  I’m pumped for the 2016 race season!  And my bike is looking good!!

QR CD0.1 new wheels and power meter

Thursday Ride and Fall

Wednesday afternoon we returned to Endurance House for a follow-up fitting on our tri bikes.  I had new pedals installed on the bike and cleats installed on my new tri shoes.  A few adjustments were made to my aero bars.  We also changed the seat because of some pain I was experiencing.  I am testing a new seat that is currently on loan for me to decide whether or not I like it.  Before leaving, I grabbed a new hydration system as well.  When we left, I felt like I was walking out with a different bike.

2015 Quintana Roo CD0.1

With the weather nice this week, and rain forecasted this weekend, we decided to do our long ride Thursday afternoon.  We took the dogs for a walk and noted how windy it was.  We decided to go on the ride and fight the 20 mph wind.

At mile 5, I was stopped to cross a fairly busy divided highway.  As the traffic cleared on the left, I pushed off with my right foot to get to the median.  Then unexpectedly a car turned into the lane I was about to cross.  I hit my brakes, halfway into my mount.  My left foot was clipped in, and my bike began to tilt.  I reacted quickly, and was able to unclip my foot, but my reaction wasn’t fast enough.  My body was already committed.  I fell to the ground, knee first.  Again.

With cars passing by, I scrambled to my feet and walked my bike to a nearby bench.  I sat down and just cried.  Nick, who had already crossed the street, came back to check on me.  I told him to continue his ride, I need a few minutes alone to compose myself.  My knee was throbbing and pretty beaten up, and my ego was crushed.

Once Nick returned, I knew I had to ride back home.  People told me when I started this sport that it wasn’t going to be easy.  I would fall sometimes and I would have to pick myself up and keep going.  I didn’t have any broken bones and there was no damage to my bike, so giving up wasn’t an option.  I got back on the saddle and began to pedal.  The wind was at our backs for a little while, so I wasn’t fighting it with a bum knee.  At the end of the bike path, we took an alternate route north to avoid some of the street traffic as well as a few of the climbs.Left Knee After the Fall

As soon as I pulled in the driveway, I jumped off my bike and went in the house.  I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick picture of my knee.   Then I went straight to the medicine cabinet, grabbed some gauze, antibiotic ointment and a bandaid.  I proceeded to clean and dress my wound.  A quick shower allowed me to decompress and wash some of the worries (and dirt and tears) away.

I was extremely frustrated after my fall.  I get so mad at myself for not being graceful on the bike.  I understand I have new pedals, and there’s a learning curve when you make a change like that to your hardware.  But I just want to ride my bike.  I want it to be easy.  I want it to come natural to me.  I know once I put more miles on the bike, I will become more confident in my ride.  Until then, let’s hope my future rides are just that, a ride.