Every Ride is a TT

That’s what it feels like. Riding indoors on the trainer is so very different to being outside. I don’t hate it, but I far from love it. I do it because it keeps me moving and enables me to start the spring outdoor season is relatively good shape. But it’s not like riding outdoors….at all!

But no grumbling allowed. You can still make riding indoors a fun and challenging experience, and I typically do that by trying to beat my previous best time each and every time I get on the bike. Hence it feels like a time trial every time!

First real snow of the 2013/14 winter arrived on time at the beginning of December.

First real snow of the 2013/14 winter arrived on time at the beginning of December.

I was hoping to commute to work well into December. I had read some report in the ever truthful internet that we could expect a mild start to winter, but that fell apart when the above arrived on December 01! As I have long maintained, I can ride in the cold, but I stop as soon as the snow and ice arrives. I don’t need to be arguing with cars and lorries when the roads are slippery as hell. So the VR2 comes indoors and spends the winter in my hone office.

The bike will spend the winter in the shadow of Bartali and Coppi climbing through the Pyrenees.

The bike will spend the winter in the shadow of Bartali and Coppi climbing through the Pyrenees.

What a view. Whenever the going gets tough on the trainer I look at these two and imagine the burn they were feeling. You can’t see it from the shot here, but when you inspect the gearing on the bikes it’s rather fun in that Bartali in front has the Vittoria derailleur system that includes the distinctive chain tensioner suspended from the front chain ring. Behind him, Coppi, who always liked to use the latest and greatest in technology, appears to be riding with a more conventional rear derailleur, which would certainly have been an early Campagnolo. History lesson over.

There will be a lot of sweat shed in this little room over the winter.

There will be a lot of sweat shed in this little room over the winter.

I’ve done three indoor rides so far, and each of them has been record setting. While that sounds terribly exciting, note that these are obviously not world records, simply me beating my previous best time. To me, however, that makes me World Champion. I’ve ridden the Imperia Sanremo (last 32 kms) and set a new personal best of 53:10. I followed that a couple of days later with the Monteceau-les-Mines where I shaved 30 seconds off my previous PB. I culminated this morning with a stellar showing on the 22 km TT in Salzburg when I eclipse my previous record by 1:40 to set an impressive average speed of 40.5 km/h!

I have plenty more courses to try and continue this impressive (if I say so myself) trend. I know and expect that I will slow down as the winter season progresses, largely due to the fact that I tend to ride a lot less than during the outdoor months, and I suppose as the novelty of being indoors wears off I lose a little motivation. But for now, I am seeing the improvements made this season translating into some great times and fast average speeds! I am certain that riding a fixed gear for over 4,000 km since March has helped in this improvement. You get used to swallowing the pain and grinding away, regardless of the weather (read wind) being thrown at you.

Tomorrow I am riding in the annual time trial hosted by one of our local bike shops. It’s the same route they select every year, 16.6 km over varied terrain, and I am keen to see an improvement over last year’s time. I shall be quite despondent if I don’t improve. Regardless of success or failure, I will share the results.

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6 Responses to Every Ride is a TT

  1. Steve says:

    Actually, I could make out the derailleurs when I zoomed in on the pic. Thanks for the history lesson! Does it bother you that Bartali and Coppi are riding in the opposite direction you are? :)

    Stay warm up there!

    • James says:

      Now that you mention that, it is a little annoying. I should be racing them, not waving to them as they briefly pass by. Perhaps I should switch around my whole set up now!

      I remember the first time I saw the chain tensioner on an old bike like that, hanging down almost to the ground from the front chain ring, and thinking how odd yet strangely cool it looked. As I was searching the web yesterday looking for the history on those early derailleurs I found some lovely pics of old bikes with them, all beautifully maintained and polished. I would love to own one. Hmmm, Christmas is coming…

      • Steve says:

        Flip the picture so they are facing the wall and you’ll be going in the same direction. On second thought, that might not work too well. Perhaps you could convince yourself that you’ve already beaten them and are cycling back to check on them.

  2. The Coppi/Bartali shot is a great idea – if you can’t get inspired to ride hard with those two looking over your shoulder, you can’t get inspired.

    • James says:

      I completely agree. I look to my left often when I’m hurting and it’s a good reality check. I’m not really climbing a mountain in the biggest racing event in the world. Although, that said, I would love to be!

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