A couple of my fellow bloggers have got me revved up to get some kilometers in mid-week. The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a struggle as I have thrown myself into a new job and quite frankly I have been exhausted. But that all just sounds like excuses! So I took the road steed out for a spin tonight. I was prepared for the ride, with a new night light (a NiteRider Lumina 650 which is a little beast of engineering), bidons full, and three layers of clothing – I was raring to go. The only hitch was the bout of man-flu I had been carrying since the weekend, but this was not going to stop me. When I stepped out into the night I was greeted with a bout of cold winter air. In Sydney it never gets as cold as in North America or Europe, but it was quite fresh. It was not until I got back and loaded my ride up to Garmin Connect and Strava did I pick up how cold it was – an average temperature of 9 degrees Celsius (or 48 degrees Fahrenheit for my fellow US riders). Fresh!

The Joy of Riding at Night

There are quite a few advantages of riding at night, particularly in Sydney. For starters the traffic is at its lowest, and in Sydney this is a real problem for cyclists because for whatever motorists are quite aggressive towards two wheeled road users (though this is improving). On routes where you mix with pedestrians, like some of the bike / walking tracks on my local runs, there are fewer of these people too. In the Winter months, there are even fewer pedestrians about. At night, you are seen better because you are lit up like a Christmas Tree – albeit one that is travelling at times up to 50km/hr. And you don’t have the sun beaming down on you, further burdening your attempts to get ahead of the dehydration curve. Finally, the best advantage is that you get a pretty good night’s sleep after a good workout in the saddle. On the other hand there are a few disadvantages; it gets cold, your visibility of the road surface at night is much poorer, and sometimes you have to avoid the odd pedestrian who has enjoyed an evening fueled with alcoholic beverages instead of electrolyte fluid. At night and in the cold you have to maintain your hydration discipline as well, just because it is not hot does not mean you aren’t sweating and losing valuable minerals.

Getting Stronger – Strava is not so Evil After All

Even though I haven’t got that many big rides in over the last few weeks, I still feel myself getting stronger on the pedals. My post ride ritual now is hydrate, carb up, and upload my ride. I religiously upload my rides now, and ensure that on every ride I have my heart rate monitor on too. When I first started blogging I posed the question Is Strava Evil? I now don’t think it is, because it is critical in telling me how I perform on my regular rides. If I am feeling on it like I did tonight, I push it and go for broke on a segment that I know about. Tonight I had 6 segment PRs, and that is giving me incentive to go harder next time. A couple of the PRs were on a few of the torture pinches that I throw into my shorter rides. Two of these pinches are back to back over a 1km stretch with the first peaking at 17% grade and the second at 16%. These pinches are my measure of form, and getting ready for the big rides in September and October will see plenty of climbing up these. Tonight’s ride was short, 23km, but I got in just under 400m of climbing and another hour in the saddle. Big riding this weekend when I pay my brother in Melbourne a visit and go for a spin with his riding crew – maybe even a century ride for giggles.

Can’t wait for the weekend.