Saturday, September 18, 2010

Biking Advice?

Before I ask for biking advice, I have to tell you about the hail storm.    I started to go for a run this week after work, and I didn't get more than 1/2 mile from the house when I heard thunder, it started to drizzle, and tornado sirens started going off.  So, I cut the run short and headed home.  Living in Kansas, you kind of get used to tornado sirens, so I wasn't really worried, but I figured I didn't want to get stuck miles from home if it got really bad.

Little did I know that this was a pretty vicious storm.  Not only were there tornadoes, there was hail.   Big hail.  Seriously BIG hail.  Some of the pics I saw were hail 5 or 6 inches wide.  There was a hailstone that set a record apparently, as well, like 7 inches big.

 Since I live on the north end of town, we didn't get any hail (that I know of), but down south, they got pummeled.  Check out these pics:
not sure what the deal is with the donut hail
my boss had a huge hail stone go through the windshield of his car

Shifting Gears
So, here is the advice I need, for anyone the bikes out there.  I went for a 15 mile bike ride this morning, and I found my gear shifting to be kind of clunky, like I don't know what I'm doing (which I don't).  So, I wanted to search out some advice.

I just started biking a couple months ago, and really like it, but I'm kind of confused about what gear to ride in, when to shift gears, what gears to use when going uphill/downhill, or against the wind, etc.   For example, should I leave my front gear on the big sprocket or small sprocket most of the time?   I'm kind of just making it up as I go.   

Also, what is a good speed/pace to shoot for on a road bike?   I have been wearing my Garmin during my rides lately and my pace ranges from 12 to 22 miles per hour, depending on wind and hills.  It seems like 15 mph would be about average.  Is that good, bad, or just average?  I have an older road bike that is kind of heavy, so that pace seems about right.   I appreciate any advice you can offer.

I'm off to my son's soccer game, and then watch a little K-State football.  Have a great weekend everyone.

Happy Runner Giveaway here!


Lacy said...

I heard that the donut hail and the "biscuit" shapes were because the hail traveled up and down through the cold and heat before it forcefully fell. So the melt and refreeze did that. (nerd alert!!)

Great meeting you last week! Lovely family who obviously has great taste in food!!
I regretted later not snapping a pic!! NEXT TIME!

Lisa said...

Crazy hail!

misszippy said...

When just starting out with a bike (and also each year in pre-season) it's important to spend most of your time in the small front ring. This will allow you to learn to "spin." You want to shoot for a cadence around 80-90 rpms. Later, as you get stronger, you can move into the bigger ring more--but you want to be able to turn those gears too, which is where the small-ring training comes into play. Good luck with it!

HEATHER @ runfastermommy! said...

I'm still learning too, but the more I ride the more I feel out what's comfortable. One nice long hilly ride usually does the trick :)

Hi! I'm Erin said...

Wish I could help you! I never touch my front gear and just mess with the back ones. The only thing I know is which direction on the gear shifter is easier and which is harder!

Julie said...

Holy cow! That is so big flipping hail!

I wish I had biking advice for you...sadly I do not. Good luck with everything!

lindsay said...

i'm a newbie too, so i can't help. but i am appreciative that you asked and misszippy answered!

that is crazy hail! glad it didn't come too close to you.

TNTcoach Ken said...

I agree with Misszippy, those big gears are tough on my knees. Who wants to go fast anyway????

Trihardist said...

Pick a cadence at which you're comfortable (80-90 BPM is fine; I like to be more around 100-105 for flat roads, but I always start clients out at about 90-95). Shift gears to stay in that cadence. Your gearing depends entirely on your cadence. If you have a compact crankset (2 chainrings), you'll spend most of your time in the smaller of the two. However, if you're going downhill or have a nice tailwind (tailwind in Kansas? What?) you might find yourself in the larger of the two chainrings. If you're going up a steep hill (definitely none of those around here!) or into a stiff wind, you may need to drop down to your smallest chainring (if you have three).

The key thing is to keep your cadence steady. Shift into the highest gear you can comfortably pedal at 90 RPM (or 80 or 95 or 100 or whatever). When it gets too hard to pedal at that cadence in that gear, drop it down. This should occur quickly and smoothly. Don't be afraid to add or subtract gears whenever you feel you need to. A couple times a minute is perfectly fine. Just keep your spin going.

If you need any other help, you can come find me at the spinning classes at Genesis Health Club on West Central (across from Bishop Carroll). Cycling classes are a great way to teach yourself to maintain a quick cadence. And we're getting brand new spinning bikes in a couple weeks! Hurray!

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Anonymous said...

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