Sunday, 2 June 2013

Questions, Questions

Yesterday I did my hardest ride in ages.  A 75 mile (120km) haul over to to Rivington and Parbold, taking in around 4,600 feet of ascent (1400M), it was a great opportunity to test my fitness.  With only three weeks to go until the London to Paris ride, I had a few technical questions in my head about my bike set-up which I wanted to answer, namely: -

  1. Should I ride a 53/39 front chain ring vs. a 50/34 (compact)?
  2. Should I ride my 50mm deep section wheels?
  3. Which handlebars give me the most comfort?
I'm lucky enough to have more than one bike, there are two that I use when riding events such as sportives depending on what the route profile looks like.  One runs a compact chainset, one runs a standard.  Over the past few months my strength has improved and I wanted to see whether I could climb with the 53/39 as I prefer it as a general set-up.

Yesterday was really windy too, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to take the deep section wheels out and see what happened.

So what happened?

  1. Gear Ratios.  I climbed pretty well all day with the 53/39 (11/28 on the back) until a steep ramp near Blackrod towards the end of the ride, where I got a twinge in my knee of an old injury.  With the additional strain of being out the saddle and pushing hard up a 20% gradient, it just niggled my knee and that was that.  On the up side, I managed all day so with some further strength training, it should be OK in the future.  Conclusion = ride a compact 50/34 for increased gear ratios/cadence when climbing.
  2. Deep Section Wheels.  Yes it was windy and there were times when the wind caught the wheels which made for a hairy moment, particularly as you hit a crosswind.  However, on descents and when turning the gas up on fast, flat straights, the wheels came into their own and were very fast.  Conclusion = I'm running the deep sections.
  3. Which bars to use? I've got FSA bars on one of my bikes and 3T on the other.  By far and away, the FSA bars are more comfortable.  They have a flat profile and are very comfortable when riding long distances.  I found myself moving around far more than normal on the 3T bars yesterday.  Conclusion = FSA bars.
It's hugely important to consider things like this well before an event so that you can get your bike set up as it will be before you throw a leg over on day one of your challenge.  It's important that you put some miles in with the configuration that you know will allow you to ride comfortably and at your best.   Think marginal gains!

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