Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hills and Gravity

A quick scan of my Cateye computer tells me I'm doing over 50mph on my Catrike 700 and gravity is pulling me towards 60mph. I love climbing hills because I know that there is always a downhill to follow.

Where I live there are plenty of hills to choose from and I plan my rides accordingly. A couple of years ago the hills that required more then one rest stop are now a steady, and even welcomed, grind to the top. I know that grind to the top is keeping me alive. Now at the age of 58 it's a test of all the body parts that I've had repaired since I've turned 50. It's also a challenge to my mental well being since last year when I had a heart attack. Each ride...each climb...each downhill helps repair the mental scars that comes along with an aging body.

Once at the top of the hill there is of course the downhill. Would anyone really want to climb a hill without the reward of downhill "punker up" moment? As I reach the crest of one of my favorite hills I slowly transition from the up hill grind  to the downhill run. With confidence in my equipment I start shifting the gears higher and higher as I start heading down the wide street with it's gentle turns. My largest chainring and smallest rear sprocket are now married to each other as I spin my crankset until I can no longer keep up with the speed of my 700c rear tire and gravity takes over. I'm approaching 50mph, my heighten senses monitor my ride. My hands gently and carefully manage the steering and braking of my speeding machine as the handles vibrate freely in my palms. They check for any unusual vibration or pulling. My ears play close attention to the steady sound of my freewheeling rear hub, tires racing across the road surface, and the hum of brakes when applied. Any unusual noise will demand a quick resolution. Above all else my eyes constantly scan the road surface ahead as I look for any obstacles that will require action...such as a driver on a side street who misjudges my speed and I see their tires start to roll putting me on notice that they may very well decide to pull in front me. All my senses are brought into play with the sole purpose of protecting my butt which is literally seven inches off the pavement.

Now my speed is in the high 50's and the curves are coming into site. Gravity will have be subdued as I gently modulate the brakes into the first curve. Going into the curve I lean out past my starboard 16" front tire and then smoothly, to avoid twitching the trike, I lean out past the port tire using my body weight to keep my ride upright while taking in the curve with minimal loss of speed. Shortly thereafter my downhill "punker up" moment as come to end as the street levels out and I head for the next hill.

I find that I'm challenging myself more and taking more rides on my 700 while Betzi patiently waits for another day when I ride my Catrike Expedition and take her for a cruise. I know I have to ride within my limits but first I have to know my limits. I'm starting to rethink how I want the 700 setup and the feedback I want, such as heart rate and the so on. More on that I as do some figuring.


1 comment:

  1. Cookin', Mark! I don't think I've broken 50 on my Expedition, although Jodi and I did break the 60 mph barrier on our GTT as we screamed down towards Truckee on a big tour--no doggie that time. With Django, I keep in in the 30's when the way is clear, slower if I'm facing a lot of curves. I have broken the 50 mph mark several times on my two-wheel bents. Yup, pucker factor!

    Ride on.