About a month ago, I bought a Specialized Dolce. I think it’s the 2015 version. I’ve been thinking about buying a bike for years, but I never really was able to get excited about biking, so I couldn’t pull the trigger. My old bike was literally old – older than me in fact. My Mom got it when she was pregnant with me. I actually loved that bike, but age and exposure to rain meant it wasn’t in good shape, and it weighed 37 pounds. Given that I live in a very hilly area, that is no joke. I saw the Dolce on sale in a couple of stores and decided to go for a green one with a frame size of 54 cm. The green one actually cost me a little more than a black would have, but I love green, and it makes me happy every time I see it. The black just did not give me that happy feeling.
I’ve been cycling around slowly and carefully. The hardest part for me so far has been getting used to going down the hills. I started by cycling my standard running route, and that includes a 15% downhill grade (briefly) and probably a 10 to 12% average grade. My route is a circle, so I could reverse the route and go up instead, but I think that would be even worse. The bike has only brakes on the drop handlebars, and I seriously feel like I am going to break my neck going down that hill.
Going up the hills hasn’t exactly been a picnic either. At the end of my ride is about a mile or mostly uphill, peaking at 10% grade with average probably 6 or 7%. I run this nearly every day, but biking it feels much harder. Going up on my 37 pound bike just about killed me; at least it is a bit easier on a lighter bike. It was that hill (and the downhill + barely functional brakes) that pushed me over the edge to getting a new bike.
So far my rides have been very short, 7 miles at the longest. My 7-miler this morning took me 51 minutes which feels like a good workout to me, but I’ve observed cyclists seem to go on very lengthy rides, 3 or 4 hours or more. I’m definitely not there yet. I get that you’re supposed to rest on the downhills, but gripping the brakes white-knuckled as I creep down a hill doesn’t feel very restful to me. I am getting more comfortable with time, though.
I’m logging my rides on Strava. My sister told me about this app, and it’s kind of awesome. It’s like FB for working out. I’ve been cutting back on FB lately because I’m sick of being blasted with click-bait and political diatribes (whether I agree with them or not). However, I do love knowing what other people are up to, particularly if they’re engaged in activities I’m interested in, like exercise or sewing or reading or whatever. Strava seems very cool for cycling and running if you like data. I’m keeping my running data-free for now, but I’ve been collecting GPS data for Strava. Basically, you have a FB-like feed where you can see the workouts of people you’re following. In addition, it compares segments of your workouts against other people who do the same thing. For example, on my ride there is a Segment, and Strava compared my pace against the 26 other people who’ve ridden the same route. (Of the 27, I was the slowest by a significant margin.)