Monday, April 7, 2008

Old School, meet New School

Spring has sprung here in Philadelphia, and the weather is (slowly) getting nicer. Time to spend more time outside. This means it's also time to start ramping up my on-bike training for the Livestrong Challenge ride, which takes place in August.

A few weeks ago, I pulled out my Trek 1200 road bike from the basement and started cleaning the crud off of it. I haven't ridden this bike in over a decade, and while it's in pretty good shape (thankfully, aluminum doesn't rust), it needed a good cleaning, and to have some of the consumables replaced. I replaced all the cables, and also the chain. All the bearing seemed to be rolling smoothly still, except for the headset bearings, which were badly indexed. To put that simply, the steering bits were toast and had to be replaced. As this required expensive tools that I'd probably only ever use once, I decided to drop it off at a local bike shop and have them take care of it.

In fact, I just got it back from them today... good as new! And a surprising thing happened at the shop... as the mechanic pulled my bike of the rack and gave it to me, he said something along the lines of, "wow... that's a pretty light bike!" I said, "yeah... especially considering it's 18 years old.". Now for you non-cyclists or casual bike riders out there, mentioning the apparent lightness of someone's bike is roughly equivalent to telling a woman she looks 10 years younger than she really is. In other words, I could feel myself on the verge of blushing and getting all giggly.

The "New School" mentioned in title of this post is the new bike computer I recently got - a Garmin Edge 305. Now, I tend not to fall all over myself when it comes to gadgetry, but this Garmin 305 has serious "Gee Whiz Factor". In a nutshell, it will tell me speed, distance, altitude climbed (and grade), pedaling cadence, heart rate, and countless other types of data that I'll probably never use. The clincher for me, however, was GPS capability - not to tell me where I'm going, but to record where I've been. What's cool about that, you ask? Well, it lets me do nifty things like import the ride data into Google Earth and view my route... like this:

That's the route of my first ride on the old Trek that I took tonight. Starting at the "Rocky Steps" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I headed up along West River Drive, across Falls Bridge, and then back down Kelly Drive. 8.5 miles, according to the GPS. What a difference a proper road bike makes! I did the same ride on my slick-tired mountain bike recently, and tonight was ~17 minutes faster for the loop on the Trek.

It's not all sunshine and happiness, though. The extreme riding position is going to take a while to get used to again. Plus, my butt really hurts now. Hopefully, both issues can be solved simply by getting some training under my belt.


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