SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


Getting Dropped

Getting Dropped
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
Rode to work this past Wednesday with the SF2G crew. I was on my fixed-gear commuter, the other five guys were on geared go-fast bikes. And fast they went! Here is me, getting dropped just before San Mateo.

I like to think I'm in reasonably good cycling shape -- not especially strong but able to hold my own. I can do a 200k brevet in around ten hours fairly reliably, which isn't fast but is probably about average. However, over the past few months, I've participated in some group rides where I've suffered a bit more than expected, and have been totally non-competitive overall. I've been playing the age card (I'm probably ten years older than the average age of the rest of the group), but that's really a weak excuse.

I'm wondering whether my Eddy Merckx training regimen ("Ride lots") is sufficient. With a full time job and family commitments, "riding lots" is somewhat difficult. I usually do a day-long ride on the weekend, and manage a couple of days of bike commuting during the week (14 miles round trip). With SF2G, I've started riding all the way to work one day per week (45-50 miles on the fixed gear), which leaves me completely burnt and unable to focus on the rest of my work day.

So what's the best way to get stronger on the bike? Hill workouts? Interval training? Tell me what time-efficient methods work for you...


Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

I've had to cut back a lot on my mileage this last summer.

Hills and intervals will get you stronger and faster, but it takes time in the saddle to build up endurance.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous chalky said...

It's a small world but were you on the black Bianchi? I did the SF2G ride on Wednesday on my new Surly LHT and I think that was the only fixie I saw. Unless you did the earlier (630AM) ride ...

It's a small world when people are doing the same routes as me and I read their blogs. heh.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Jim G said...

@chalky - Nope, I was on the 6:30am ride. I ride a blue Nishiki fixie conversion with fenders and a rear rack

4:27 PM  
Blogger Marco Velo said...

I can relate to competing with the "go-fast" riders (i.e.: on very expensive current bicycles that are really meant for short-term performance/racing as opposed to everyday use).

I've been commuting weekdays by bike to connect with a shuttle and this has been a really good for interval sprints. ;^). I currently commute by bike 4 days a week 11 miles roundtrip.

In the last three years I've been commuting entirely by bike, on 1.) an early 80s vintage steel Fuji Palisade single butted sport touring bike and 2.) an earlier Fuji S-12-S converted to a single speed. Both of these bikes are production frames that I completely rebuilt with newer parts.

It's been been surprising to see how well these frames perform once you upgrade the parts, wheel and tires in particular have a huge influence, lately I've gone to 700x23s and use this as an excuse to develop better riding skills by paying attention to the road/avoiding potholes.
So far so good, no flats.

The Fuji Palisade currently I've gotten down to 22 lbs. No, it can't compare in terms of weight with the latest lightweight carbon fiber consumer offering, but it is a fantastically respnosive riding and reliable traditional lugged chromoly steel road bike. I've taken special pleasure in passing other riders on carbon bikes that weight about 6lbs. less when I've taken this bike for longer non commute rides. For the single speed the S-12-S was well suited being an older and heavier frame, I'd set this up 50x16 to be able to go fast to get to CalTrain. Great bike, but I sold this (for more cyclotouring oriented projects)

My current commute is subject to more wind, I found the single speed is more limited in this situation and I much prefer having a few gears so I don't have to dismount to go over a pedestrian freeway overcrossings or can adjust my gearing down if it's windy or if I'm beat. This is the main disadvantage to a fixed if your tired: you are stuck with pedaling. Overall a single speed or fixed is just more limited. Unless your livin' in the flatlands, geared bikes definitely offer more if your into function rather than style.

The first day I rode my Fuji S-12-S single speed commuting to from Palo/SF via Caltrain, on the way back there was an accident that halted the trains and I rode back home from the San Mateo station, about 14 miles, the main hold-up being stop-lights along El Camino.

7:08 PM  
Blogger franklyn said...


I think I see you on Caltrain sometimes when you are not riding with SF2G folks. During the summer I spend more time doing longer rides on weekend, but now that days are getting shorter, I have switched to doing short but hilly rides to build up strength. I often do these rides on my fixed gear to build strength on uphill and smooth out my strokes on downhill. My routine workout ride is a out-back 7.2-mile climb on 40x17 gearing. Bikely claims that this route has more than 2200 ft of elevation gain, but I think it's probably closer to 1700 ft.

I have noticed improvements, especially when doing short but steep climbs. Over the weekend my girlfriend and I went to ride Pinehurst Road in the Oakland Hills. She is a much better climber than I am (we are about the same height but i am 70 lbs heavier) and on an extended climb earlier in the ride (> 4 miles) she still gets to the top more than a minute earlier than I can. On the last climb on Pinehurst Road, which is shorter but steeper (1.5 miles long), I was able to ride noticeably faster than I usually do and get to the top a few seconds earlier than she does. This is riding on a racked and fendered Trek 620 while she on her much more nimble Torelli steel racing bike.

I can maintain a higher velocity and probably averages 1 to 1.5 mph faster over the course of 30 miles. I don't know whether this helps with endurance as the longest ride recently is a 60-mile ride up Mt Diablo 2 weeks ago.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Gino Zahnd said...

High intensity training, my friend. You have the base mileage of a Tibetan Yak. Now you need to rev your engine high and hard. Ever considered cyclocross? :-)

1:09 PM  
Blogger Jim G said...

CX is *racing*, and that my friend, is something I just don't do. ;)

1:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home