Monday, January 08, 2007

Looking back and looking forward

With over 1100 miles in 2006, it was a pretty good year in the saddle. But I learned some things, and want to have 2007 turn out a little differently. In no particular order:

1. I need to do more 50-plus-mile rides. I did a larger number of shorter rides in 2006, but never really got in enough rides with extended time on the road. That hurt me when I tried to take on a tour that I just wasn't ready for. I'm setting an arbitrary goal of 1500 miles for 2007, a substantial jump over the past several years (1000, 1350, 1000, 1136).

2. The same can be said for hills. Many of my rides were relatively flat, like the multiple excursions along the river. While that's better than not riding at all, the lack of hill work also hurt me on that aborted tour.

3. About that tour - there's been a thread recently on the Phreds Touring List related to the most common mistakes made by beginning bicycle tourists. Almost universally, contributors mentioned "unrealistic mileage expectations", "carrying too much weight", and "insufficient pre-trip training". So there you have it. Although the diuretic blood-pressure medication may have been a contributing factor to my hitting the wall on that extremely hot July day, it wasn't everything. I'm not sure excessive weight was really a problem, but carrying it was certainly a new experience. #1 and #2 above were definitely involved. And expecting to cover 55 miles, fully loaded for the first time in decades, via that extremely hilly route, even under normal summer conditions, may have been a little over the top. As it was, I covered almost 40 tough miles, and under extreme weather conditions at that. That's not bad at all for a first attempt. Plus, I learned a lot about planning, packing lists, and carrying the load. But next time, I'm going to focus more on pre-training, and also scale back my expected mileage, at least until I settle into a routine where longer distances are comfortable.

4. I need to replace my front chain rings. While substituting a 24-tooth ring for the 30-tooth I originally had (52/42/30 to 52/42/24) gave me the low gears I needed, in order to do this right I really need a matched set that will shift more consistently and not derail as frequently as this combo has a knack of doing. Maybe something like a 44/34/24, or something in that general range. I don't need those high-range gears very often, and more lower gears would make the hills that much more palatable.

5. Is it time to plan for Lake Champlain? If I scale back my earlier proposed daily mileages, and train until late summer, am I ready to take that on? Or should I once again try something shorter that requires less of a commitment? If so, where? Thompson's Lake? Moreau? Other? The distance and elevation to Glimmerglass may just be too ambitious as a first attempt. I'm going to take another look at the Champlain route in the near future, and see if I can break it up into shorter segments. Better to plan and not go, than to be ready later without having planned at all.


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