Sunday, May 3, 2009

Two wheels are better than one...

The woman next door

is walking down her drive wearing flannel red and black checked pj bottoms and a big grey t-shirt to pick up the Sunday paper. Outside everything is greening – the grass needs cutting – the maples that straddle our street seem to have sprouted leaves overnight. Hector – the rat terrier mix - is sitting on the arm of the red chair by one of the two front windows of the house. He takes it as a personal insult if anyone has the audacity to walk across our front lawn – if they do so with a dog on a leash – well that’s just beyond the pale. We’ve already put a fair sized portion of our garden in – betting against frost – so far so good.

I’m thinking about going on my first real bike ride of the season – I’ve logged a couple fifteen milers but today I think I’ll attempt something along the lines of a forty mile or so ride. Since I have been preparing to run the half marathon I have been putting in a whole lot more running time than usual. Have I told you how much I hate running? I was hoping to finish my thirteen miles at a pace around nine and a half minutes per mile. Well it seems I could keep that up for maybe five miles – it’s looking much more pragmatic to shoot for just an under eleven minute pace for the whole race.

Biking - on the other hand – allows me to move out at a much quicker clip. While twenty to twenty five miles an hour may seem like crawling from within the confines of three thousand pounds of rubber plastic and glass – on a bicycle it feels like you’re being sling-shotted over a canyon. I’ve hit near fifty miles an hour on some very serious downhills – this is quite nerve fraying. I don’t know if my over two hundred pounds helps me accelerate downhill or not – any physicists out there? I do know one realizes one false move, one unseen chunk of asphalt, one slip onto a soft berm or an inattentive automobile pilot backing from a drive could end up hurting a whole bunch.

I’ve become more scientific in choosing my routes. I check wind direction and elevation trying to insure that most of my climbing and riding into the wind is at the beginning of my route – downhill and wind at my back if possible on the way back. A ten mile an hour wind in one’s face while perched atop a bicycle makes a whole lot more difference than one would reasonably imagine and of course, it is way easier to finish up heading downhill.

The service I use to figure these things out is called running map dot com. This free online program not only lets you set and save different routes it also will show you elevation – take this info swing by weather dot com and scope out the wind’s direction and you’re good to go. This site has also allowed me to stay on track (no pun intended) with my training for the marathon by allowing me to set courses while I am out of town. Scope it out – ain’t the internets amazing?


Diane Vogel Ferri said...

biking it SO much better than running - to me it's like flying - are you sore today?

michael salinger said...

naw - I didn't feel too bad. I did thirty five miles at about four miles off mid season pace.