Sunday, June 13, 2010

Finally Bought a Road Bike - a Cannondale Caad 9 5 (double)

Yesterday, I finally bought a road bike. I made the decision to get one about a month ago, as I want to try out a triathlon. I'm really looking forward to cross training on the bike and in the pool, particularly as I train for the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10. I hope that my knees are healthy enough to do it.  I also have 3 races coming up in the next 2 weeks (the JP Corporate Challenge on 6/17, which is 3.5 miles, which I plan on running very easy since I haven't been running a lot lately (and my company got me a sticker for my bib so I can start at the front of the race to avoid the congestion), a 5 mile race on Father's day for Prostate Cancer on 6/20, and the Gay/Pride 5 mile race on 6/26, which I ran last year when I first started running and loved it.  All are in Central Park).  I'm not sure that I am ready to run a 5 mile race yet.  My knees are much better, but if they are hurting I won't race.  Either way, I will run them easy.

When I decided to buy a road bike, I knew absolutely nothing about road bikes (which is pretty much still the case). So, I started asking all of my friends (and even one of my wife's co-workers) about what to buy. I've quickly learned that cycling is an extremely expensive sport!  After getting advice from everybody, I decided that a middle priced bike with good components would do the trick for me. This price point was around $1,499. For this, I could get a light aluminum frame (I'm told that it is one of the lightest aluminum frames on the market and perhaps even less than some carbon bikes), a carbon fork, and Shimano components. Good enough for a first bike. If I decide to get serious, I can always upgrade my new bike or get a new one. Check it out here.  I got it for $1,449.  Of course, I bought clip on pedals, clip on shoes (I've never had either of these before or even ridden a bike with them on it), 2 pairs of biking shorts, water bottles, and air pump, a jersey, and a bunch of other accessories.  All in, $2,250.  Like I said, a very expensive sport! 

So, after 2 trips and about 6 hours at the bike shop getting fitted for a 56cm frame (got it at Toga on 64th and Central Park West), I decided to go out to Central Park to try out the bike.  I went behind my building to put on my shoes and to "clip in" to the peddles with my new shoes.  I had heard that most people fall down often when learning how to bike with the clipped on shoes.  Add me to the list.  I was able to clip on to the bike, holding on to a garbage can next to some bushes.  What I didn't account for was the high gear my bike was in, so when I tried to peddle, it was too hard.  I didn't make it an inch and started to fall to the side (think of "TIMBER" like a tree falling down slowly).  My mind was thinking "OK, clip out of the shoes" but my body just couldn't make it happen, and I fell directly into the bushes (and have a nice long cut along my left hip to show for it).  Live and learn.  After that, I made sure to keep moving so I wouldn't have to clip out, and luckily I made it to Central Park, did a loop (6 miles at 18.8 miles per hour, not bad for my first ride in very hilly Central Park), and got home without having to clip out. 

Today, I went to Central Park at 630am to ride, which is when the serious riders are in the park, as going in the middle of the day is crowded and therefore not great for riding.  I rode for 1 hour and 21 minutes, 24.33 miles, averaging 18.0 miles per hour, with an average heart rate of 143.  I was very happy with this ride and feel like I can be faster once my legs get in better "riding shape" and also when I can figure out how to use my gears better (at one point during my ride I tried to shift while going up the Harlem Hill and my chain came off.  I had to jump off the bike to put it back on.  I was in the middle of the hill, so there was no way that I was going to be able to clip back on the bike and get the power to get up the hill without falling down, so I coasted back down the hill, clipped in, and turned around to go back up.  Overall, I felt great during and after my ride.  My knees didn't hurt and my legs felt great (although I felt a  few twinges in my legs near the end).  I'm hoping to ride farther next weekend.  Any and all advice on how to shift gears is appreciated!

I have an appointment at Toga on Friday to have another fit test (usually $200 put they are giving it to me for $100 since I bought the bike there).  They will test seat ankles, stem length, seat positions, and other things to make sure that the bike settings are optimal for me.

On Friday, I swam for 30 minutes.  It was a great workout.  My average heart rate was 151 and I was definitely pushing my pace.  I read my friend LW's blog (he's an Ironman) where he said that his coach says "to be tall", so I interpreted this to mean to extend my arms out as far as possible while swimming and to follow through on my stroke deep into the water (I asked the lifeguard to critique my form, which I think is horrible, after one of my swims a few weeks ago and he said that I wasn't following through with my arms under water).  I swam 54 lengths (1,350 yards, 0.77 miles) in 30 minutes, 4 minutes faster than I had done the previous week.  For the last 6 lengths, my feet and calves were cramping big time!  I had such a charlie horse in my right calf that I was in agony during the last length (which I had to endure because I was in the deep end and couldn't put pressure on it until I got in the shallow end).  As of today, the area where I had the charlie horse is still sore.  Is this normal?  I have been eating more bananas since then to try to minimize the cramping.

Now I'm off to find a sprint triathlon to sign up for later this summer.  All recommendations are welcome!


  1. Nice ride!!! Yes, clipping in can be interesting to say the least!!! I too have fallen several times; even fell just standing with one foot clipped in. Be careful on wet conditions too, especially stay away from the painted lines on street.... Cycling is a great way to train for the marathon and to stay in great shape. Glad you were fit properly for the bike also. You can get a Garmin for the bike with a cadence sensor, of course the sensor also works with your 405. Gears are fun to play with, they say staying in the 80 to 100 RPM range is key and switching gears often can give you a good feel for that range. Make sure you also clean bike chain off of dirt and keep oiled. CO2 inflator, extra tube and tire lever are important. Practice changing a tube sometime also. After a year, get bike tuned and check chain stretch, believe it or not, chains stretch.

    Your bike is a great starter bike and like what I did, you will upgrade in a couple of years once you get better and better at riding and tri training.

    Finally, if you want to improve swimming, get your stroke evaluated, it will save you in the long run... The more efficient swimmers actually take less stokes and are faster. Reading the book Total Immersion can help too.

    Great news on your new found sport, I love triathlon!!!