Monday, April 14, 2014

An Interesting Data Point

Since switching to only one bike for the majority of my riding last October I am continually asked whether I feel that riding a CX bike for everything involves some trade-offs or compromises.  Things like responsiveness, stiffness and comfort are usually thrown-in too. 

First-where there are absolutely no compromises:  Cyclocross racing and unpaved road riding.  The bike is made for the former and sublime in the latter.

Second - I do not feel any lack of responsiveness, feel or playfulness of the bike on the road.  It is uber comfortable, and very quick in the corners and line changes without feeling twitchy. 

Finally - the bike with disc brakes is simply not as light as my carbon bike.  This does not mean it is heavy but it probably would make a difference if I was racing criteriums and had to accelerate out of every corner, or a road race with a lot of climbing - neither of which are on the docket for me this year.

That means the bike is being used for commuting, off-pavement rides, pavement training rides and spirited group rides.   So the question becomes is the bike as fast on the pavement?

The Col de la Madone climb which is 12km long with an average grade of 7% is not part of the Tour de France, but is used by many pros to gauge their fitness leading up to the tour.

My gauge each year is the 38.3  mile Valley Chapel loop ridden solo, counter clockwise through Mt. Hope, Rockford, Freeman and Valley Ford.  Those readers who have ridden the loop know it has some of everything including hills, grades, wind, rollers, flats, descents, more grades and wind and it can really test your mettle and fitness. 

Each year, somewhere between March and May I will start riding the course to see where I am fitness-wise and lower my elapsed time until June or July where I peak.  My all time best elapsed time was 2.01 hours on a carbon bike which I only achieved once and not until June that year.  Most times would be around 2.03 to 2.15 hours depending on the day.

Today, I wanted to ride the loop and get an idea of where the MOOTS CX with its chubby 28C tires at 70 psi and I were in terms of speed. Throughout the route I have checkpoints know whether I am ahead or behind schedule for time - today I was ahead at checkpoint after checkpoint. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I did end-up riding with two other riders for 9 of the last 11 miles but chose to lead the pace line or slow for them a time or two with minimal drafting (less than 800 meters total) so I do not believe this skewed the results one way or another.

My ride time ended-up at 2.03 hours which is exactly one minute off of my PR for the route.  The bottom line is that yes, for this test, the bike is about as fast and fun as a carbon bike.  Speed is one data point and I also consider things like heart rate, perceived exertion and muscle fatigue. 

These other indicators of fitness tell me that for this effort I spent over 33% of the ride in Zone 5 where I burned a lot of calories, but was doing it in an anaerobic fashion and did not have anything in the tank after the final climb.  So, I have a ways to go in terms of fitness, but do I feel I am compromising anything with the MOOTS CX on the road?

I don't think so.

Two Wheel Transit - Cycling for Life

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