View Full Version : Notice Two Recent Changes

06-04-2004, 11:20 AM
I realized two changes had happened recently to my riding experience. Before I begin, I MUST insist that I am not trying to brag about anything because it's REALLY nothing to brag about and I am doing this purely in the spirit of sharing and getting feedback. So, with the disclaimer out of the way, here's what I feel.

1) I can exert more power to the pedal now.

I started riding again about three years ago. Before that, I rode quite a bit as a teenager (never competitive, though) and then stopped completely for ten over years, got married, have kids etc. I am now 34 years old. I was at my peak fitness back in the Army days when I was 20 or 21 performing my national service and since then I have been searching for my old "form" or trying to prevent my weight from ballooning out of control :p.

Well, this year was a breakthrough year for me in a lot of ways. Finally, I am able to keep up with the fast groups without trying too hard (drafting, man, it's all about drafting...heee..heee ;) No, just kidding. I think after riding consistently through the winter, I have built a strong base. Another important change I made to my training routine which I thought has a huge impact too is that I don't ride every day anymore. I used to and that was bad because my body never got a chance to recover and rebuild muscle strength. Now, I will ride maybe once or twice in the week, and then do a long ride on Saturday. My weekly mileage hardly ever goes beyond 120 miles.

Also, for once, I actually LOVE to climb now. Whenever the road tilts upwards, I smile. Can you imagine that? Weird! My buddies start giving me comments like, "Boy, you are not even breaking a sweat here!", "Man, you are flying!", "Hey, that's not fair, how much you weigh, kid?" That's all good and encouraging but what really happened, I think, are two things. First, I have found my ideal riding weight. I am currently fluctuating between 150-155 pounds. I am 5'8''. The lowest I have got down to was 138 pounds. That only happened twice in my lifetime: back in the Army and sometime last August. Even though I am slightly heavier now, I seem stronger. :confused: I think it's the increased muscle mass in my thighs and quads which translate into more power, and thus a higher power-to-weight ratio. I still eat a lot, if not more and I hardly ever need to look at the scale anymore. I think my body metabolism rate has adjusted to suit my current living regimen. Also, my climbing technique has changed. Now, instead of pulling on the handlebar when I am standing, I actually push down the opposite side of where I pedal. The one mental picture that I have learned somewhere and have sticked with me is imagining yourself "dancing up the stairs". I always tell my buddies this, it may look effortless to you, but believe me, hills are hills, they don't play favorites, EVERYONE suffers. The key is to get up that sucker as quickly as you can, to shorten the time of suffering. :banana:

Another interesting observation as part of my increased strength and riding ability, was that I seem to enjoy my Legend Ti more now. There was some recent threads on frame flex and weight. Well, I started off feeling that my Legend was a bit too stiff for me. It's like the bike is constantly fighting against me. Well, that has changed now. With the ability to push the pedal harder, it seems like I have just opened the floodgates to the full potential of the bike. Now, the Legend and I, WE ARE ONE. ;)
I prefer the Legend to the Atlanta. It's lighter and seems to have just the right amount of flex and stiffness to suit my strength and style of riding. Someone mentioned in another thread that the lighter you weigh, the more impact a bike weight has on the overall package weight. I think it's true.

2) The second change I want to share with you guys is...I am going to drop a bomb here, are you ready? Bigger saddle-to-handlebar differential height PLUS a longer, much longer stem.

I found my optimal riding position which translates into getting lower and more stretched out on the bike. When I first started, my back flexibility was just terrible and I opted for a more upright riding position. Now, I am able to get down further and use a longer stem (used to be 90-100mm). Check out the 130 mm stem I just installed on my Atlanta recently. Senor Jerk would be proud, and I am not even trying to please him. :D


Interestingly, at the lower and more forward position, I realize I can get more power in my riding. I read somewhere it has something to do with utilizing the strongest muscle group - the butt, when you are riding at a certain angle. I think I have found my sweet spot, so to speak. :rolleyes:

You can see the difference in my setup now. The first one was pre- and the second one is post- (see below).

Anyway, that's all I have to say. Thanks for listening in. ; )
Have a great ride tomorrow everyone! I am planning to do a 58-mile loop up from Dripping Springs, TX with a local group Austin Cycling Association. On their website, it says ..." The ride offers one of the most spectacular cycling views anywhere. Plenty of hills, open vistas and fire-ant mounds..."

What is there not to look for! :beer:

Have fun riding, be safe.



06-04-2004, 12:10 PM
did you also change the seat position and KOPS or did they stay constant?


06-04-2004, 12:50 PM
Ray, interesting question and I thought about that too. I think it did, almost definitely. Please understand too that I may have been riding all this time in a very inefficient position because my bike was not custom-made and I never had help from any fitter to dial in my positions.

I don't claim to understand everything about KOPS, the article by Sheldon Brown makes my head hurts. :p (and shame on me, because I did three years in Engineering school before switching over to Journalism).

Quite honestly, I did not get very scientific about the whole setup, I just remember making some changes here and there to get to the point where I achieve the mental picture of "as if someone is about to yank the couch I'm sitting on right off from my butt, and I need to be able to keep the balance."

That's what I was going after. I hope I sort of answer your question.