Monday, 26 May 2008

On destruct testing

Of all the things that were subjected to destruct testing yesterday, the thing that came off the worst was my planning. I failed to allow enough time with regards to the rental of the car that took me to and from Repentigny yesterday. Consequently, I unduly rushed in order finish all 145 km of the Metropolitan challenge.

Actually, my odometer readings for yesterday was 146.92 km, done in 6 hours, 1 minute and 14 seconds of cycling time, giving an average speed of 24.3 km/h, with a maximum speed of 52.8 km/h (down a hill). It claims that 2537.0 calories were thus burned, but given that the bike computer doesn't know about my weight, the wind factor or hills, we can ignore the calories.

These results are based a closed circuit on relatively flat terrain, with a light load on Leonardo, fitted with 700x28C tires in good weather with a fair wind coming from the starting point. They are not what I intend to do on the trip. Leonardo will be much more heavily loaded and, even now, is fitted with 700x32C (i.e. wider and therefore slower) tires. My intent, yesterday, was to test myself to see just how much punishment I could take, as well as to build up my bum muscles. By pushing as hard as possible and then gauging the results I have a better idea of my relative fitness level.

If I had been smarter about the car, I would have had a better average speed as I would have stopped to rest a couple of times in the last 40 km or so. In addition, I wouldn't be as tired.

I am sore today from both muscle fatigue and sunburn from badly applied sunscreen. However, I made it into work (7.5 km) today so I can't be that sore.

What was particularly irksome yesterday was that the last 40 km or so alluded to earlier were into the wind beside the St-Lawrence (i.e. very open ground). They were very tough to do and were a very predictable challenge that the organizers could have reduced by reversing the route. Had the Challenge been in a counter-clockwise rather than clockwise direction, the winds in the afternoon would have been somewhat lessened. I stopped at a vineyard to use the loo in the afternoon. The man at the place asked about the route we were taking and expressed the opinion that it should have been counter-clockwise. He was a cyclist (which was probably why the place was a designated pit stop). When he went for trips in the area, he would come back along the river (i.e. with the prevailing winds) and would go against the wind inland where the wind would be reduced. The place was called Vignoble Le Mernois. They deserve the name drop for letting cyclists in.

After getting home, abluting and having supper, I set about changing Leonardo's tires from the ordinary tires he came with, to the expedition grade Schwalbe 700x32C's. I had Schwalbe Marathons on Leonardo in Spain but one of them was pierced by a large piece of glass in Madrid on the very last day of biking. I discarded that one. My parents were kind enough to give me a Marathon Plus with SmartGuard for my birthday to replace it. My brother Stephen questioned the need for such a deluxe tire. (It had been on my wish list.) After all, he made do with much more ordinary tires. My response was that it is one thing to fix or replace a flat tire in your home city, but quite another to do so on the road. In addition, when I asked him how often he replaced his tires (not inner tubes), he indicated more than once a year. I have found that by paying the extra bit of money for premium tires I actually spend less as I have to replace the tires much less often and thus end up saving money.

The tire changing process was not without challenge: at one point I realized I was so tired and stupid that I wasn't 100% certain which way the drive arrow on the tires should be pointing. Luckily, Margo was only a phone call away. Thank you Margo for the advice, and thank you Parents for the new tire.

Getting back to the destruct testing concept, I think I now have a better picture of just how many kilometers I can easily do in a day, thanks to having done many more kilometers than I can easily do in a day! I hope this makes sense.

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