Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tires make a difference

Got my new tires in the other day and finally have the rear changed and it made a very noticeable difference.  Gone was the very pronounced wobble with every rotation of my rear wheel.  The ride was nice and smooth.  One other difference was an increase in rolling resistance. For most cyclists the increase would be minimal, but since I am well above average in the stress on the bike department due to my size, it was definitely noticeable to me.

My normal training route takes me around the same roughly one mile loop several times, so I've gotten to know the route quite well and the amount of effort it takes to ride it.  I can usually predict within a few seconds what my lap times will be based upon how it feels that morning.  this morning, with the new tire installed I felt significantly slower and my times bear this out.

A week ago, I completed 3 loops of my "one block" segment with times ranging from 4:16 to 4:23. My top speed was 20.6 mph.  This morning, on the same segment, in very similar conditions, my times were 4:45 to 4:54 and a top speed of 19.7 mph. I felt the increased work I had to do and my times proved me out.

The increased resistance is likely due to the fact that the new tires have a max. pressure of 75 PSI as opposed to the max of 84 PSI on the old Michelin tire.  9 PSI may not sound like a lot, but it definitely gives a smoother, softer ride. The trade off it it takes more work to get the tire rolling.

Now, it may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not.  I'm just noticing that I won't be setting any KOM's any time soon.  I need to work harder, to get faster and lose some of this weight before the KOM's once again fall. :)

Get on your bikes and ride!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

User Error

Got up at 4:00 am again this morning to go for my ride.  I had checked out my rear tire again last night and it needs replacing.  There is a pronounced wiggle to it.  It appears to be "throwing a belt" in one spot where it is off center about 1/8".  Not a huge amount but very noticeable and I believe indicative off an impending total failure if I put too much stress on it, like cornering at speed.

I didn't want to not ride this morning as I wait for a new tire to arrive, so I decided to do some easy laps around the block.  I grabbed my Garmin, headed out and got ready to ride.  Once the Garmin had acquired the satellite signal, I hit the start button and heard a peculiar beep.  It was a combination of the high and the low beep the Garmin makes when it starts and stops recording the ride.

I headed out and started making some gentle laps around the block.  About 6 laps in, I decided to check my time as I was curious what my pace was taking it easy.  I was dismayed to see 00:00:00 on it.  It seems the peculiar beep was because I had double tapped the button when I started it, thereby immediately turning it off.  I hit the button to start it and verified it was, in fact, running.

I completed another 6 laps and called it a morning.  Looking at my Strava, it shows that I started the ride at 4:10 but only had moving time of 14:28 and a distance of 2.84 miles. The elapsed time, however, was 29:35. It was obviously user error.

Oh well.  I know I went the distance and my health will benefit from it, even if there is no record of the true distance. :)

As for the tire, while the tread is not overly worn, you have to figure I have stressed the tire much more than a normal rider would due to my weight.  Looking at the rides I've done since I put those tires on the bike in 2013, I've got over 1200 miles on the tires and I figure that's worth about twice that for an average rider. The other thing I noticed on close inspection of the tire, is that the ride half is noticeable worn more than the left half. The reason for this is that the vast majority of the turns I make on the bike, especially at speed, are right turns so it makes sense.

I hope you can get on your bike and ride!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Issue Not Solved

As I mentioned yesterday I had an issue developing with my bike which I attempted to rectify last night.  I needed to do a bit of maintenance anyway, so I changed my clothes and headed to the garage after dinner.

My first order of business was to replace the front tube.  Fortunately I have a couple of tubes here that I purchased as back-ups so I wouldn't have to run to the store if I was ever in need.  Unfortunately the valve length on the one I choose was a bit shorter than what I had on the bike.  My wheels are very deep V in order to provide more strength and shorter valves just don't work. I believe I had 75 mm valves on the bike and the one I was replacing it with was only 45 mm. It was barely long enough.

I installed the new tube and paid particular attention to how true the tire was within in the wheel.  I've had issues before where I've not seated the tire properly and had the tube blow out on me.  Once I was assured it was evenly mounted, I inflated it to the recommended max of 84 psi and put it back on my bike.

Next I wanted to make sure it was true so I gave it a few fast spins and the front tire looked great.  I checked all of the spokes to make sure none were loose and it was good.

Then I turned my attention to my rear wheel.  I gave the pedals a few spins and notice a slight imperfection in the tire as it went around.  It wasn't much but I could see it.  I slowly applied the brakes to see if I could isolate the spot. the wasn't any real high spot as the distance from the pads to the wheel never varied.  I was able to find the spot and it appears to be a slight imperfection in the rear tire itself.  It wasn't seated quite right in that spot.

I let out some air and tried to make sure the tire was seated properly on the rim.  There is a reflective whitewall on my tires that I tried to make sure was evenly spaced around the rim.  I seemed to have taken care of the issue, but checked the spokes, just to make sure and one seemed slightly loose to me in the same area of the wheel. I tightened it up a bit and gave it a spin. Things seemed to be better so I cleaned up and went in.

This morning I went for another 4:00 am ride and it seemed that the bike was indeed better, at least at first.  As the ride progressed, however the thumping and slight wobble came back and seemed to get worse the farther I rode. It became very noticeable by the time I headed back in after 6 miles.  So, tonight I need to look at the rear wheel again and I think I may need to change the rear tire.

Get on your bike and ride!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Biking is cool

And I don't mean just cool as in way cool, but cool as in temperature.  This morning I got up again at 4:00 am to get out for my ride.  I noticed it was a bit cool in the house so I opted for my long sleeve jersey instead of my t-shirt that I have been riding in. I got to the garage and checked my tire pressure to find my front tire down to less than 20 lbs.  That is not a good thing when yesterday I had topped it off at 84 lbs.

I managed to pump it back up and close the valve with no audible hissing so it seemed good to go. The inner part of the valve appears to be bent but it looks like it holds the air in.  I'll need to replace the tube, though, as I don't trust it.

I opened the garage and immediately felt the temperature difference. It rained here in Las Vegas yesterday and there was actually humidity in the air, which combined with the cool 51 degree temperature made it feel almost cold. OK, I don't want to hear about true cold from you northerners, I know how cold it can get, but for here, it was cold. Add to that riding at up to 21 mph this morning and my fingers were quite cold!

As I worked out the stiffness in my legs and got to the faster portion of my morning route, I noticed that the bike just didn't feel right.  I didn't trust it going into the turn so I did something I almost never do and that is hit the brakes to slow for the corner.  The second lap felt wrong as well.

I changed it up and went around the block instead of the longer loop and there was a distinct, almost thumping when I was going faster.  It felt like a tire was out of round.  I stopped after the second lap and tried to see what was up but I couldn't see anything obvious.  I actually suspect a loose spoke or two.  I'll need to get out there and take a look at it this evening.

Many people aren't as tuned into the performance of their bike as I am, but I need to be.  At 425 lbs. I'm putting a great deal of stress on the components and if one starts to fail, it can quickly become catastrophic. So, when I feel the bike is off I normally stop riding until I have a chance to check it out.

The good news is that was ride number 5 for the National Bike Challenge and I am slowly accumulating points. It also feels good to be getting back out there on a much more consistent basis.

I hope you get on your bike and ride!!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We took the Bronze Medal

In Monday's post I mentioned that I was proud of my team and that I had lost 28 lbs. as part of the Corporate Challenge's Biggest Winner Competition.  Well I'm happy to say that as a team we lost a total of 85 lbs. which equates to 6.16% of our initial body weight.  This was good enough to earn us 3rd place and a bronze medal in the competition. YAY TEAM!

Subsequent to that I got on my bike and rode on Monday. I rode 2.7 miles.  Not bad for my 5th ride of the year. Yesterday I got up at 4:00 am and rode another 4.1 miles.  Increased the distance nicely. This morning I got up once again at 4:00 am and rode 5.4 miles.  Again a healthy increase in distance.

I think I've started a trend here I hope to carry on through out the rest of the National Bike Challenge. So far I've gotten in 3 rides for a total of 72 points.  I feel like I'm well on my way towards my goal of eclipsing last year's mark. I plan on keeping up daily riding and have a good average so far.

So, I hope you too can get on your bike and ride!

Monday, May 11, 2015

And here we go again...FINALLY!

OK, I have to come clean. I have been planning on riding my bike for many many weeks now.  My last ride was the 13th of March. I would make all these plans to get out and ride, but for some reason when it came right down to it, the motivation just wasn't there.

Today, it finally was and I got out for a ride. OK, it was a short one, under 3 miles, but this is a positive step. Part of my trepidation was reading about several people who have been hit by cars in the last few months.  I definitely didn't and don't, want to become someone's hood ornament.

Finally today I felt that I just had to go for it and I did and I enjoyed it.

I think it's time to start getting up at 4:00 am and riding while its cool and the traffic is light. Hopefully in the near future, after we move, I can find some decent bike paths that get me away from traffic where I will feel a whole lot safer.

In other news, today was also the weigh out for the Biggest Winner competition in the corporate challenge and I am proud to say that the scale showed a 28 lb. loss for me. I'll certainly take it and now its all about continuing the journey.

So, now that I did it, its your turn to...