Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Pista Rides Again

The other day I decided to dust off my 2005 Bianchi Pista track bike, and slapped on a new chain/cog/chainring, bar tape, brake pads, pedals. Not that I'm sick of my wonderful Ciocc (road) bike, but I figure over the fall/winter months it won't hurt to switch it up a bit. I rode fixed on the road and the track a few years ago, but it's been a while since I've hit the road with only one gear and no coasting.

I used to run a 40x14 and skid a ton, but that's probably what killed my knees back then (77 gear inches, ouch on the uphills!), so now with a 49x19 (68") I can hit the hills with a little more speed. It's not a huge drop but definitely gives me more room on the hills, and forces me to spin even faster on the downhills.

A few photos. The fall colors are apparent, and with the rain and colder temps it's hard to mistake this time of year for anything else.

In the I-90 Tunnel:

As a side note, after years of suffering through winters with knickers, I finally bought some full-length tights. I was really missing out, the extra warmth is nice!

Track handlebars are more curvy than road bars, and without hoods to rest on you're usually either up top or in the drops. And as you can see I have a front brake for the oh-shit moments. But 99% of the time I'm either speeding up or slowing down using the legs. Downhills become a workout, it's definitely different.

Another great thing about fixed gear riding is that once you settle into a nice cadence, it's so smooth and you really do feel "one with the bike," as they say. Though honestly half the time the drivetrain is pedaling for you, e.g. on the upstroke. In fact many road riders/racers train on fixed gears to improve their pedaling 'form', but in fact I think it can make your stroke a little lazy, e.g. you might not be pulling up as much anymore. So I keep that in mind and try to apply force all the way around, to make sure I'm getting a good workout.

And the fixed definitely helps makes me spin! According to this nifty cadence calculator, at a peak speed of 47 km/h on my 49x19 gearing (68") I hit 154 rpm. Of course, that was for all of 30 seconds so there is still work to do, I'd like to be able to hold that for longer by the time next season rolls around. Last year in crit racing I had the gas to stay in the race until the end, but didn't have much to show for a sprint. Hopefully that will change in the coming months, and this bike is part of that plan.

>By the way, I'm not sure how anyone can ride a fixed for long distance rides! I recall Robert slaying a hilly (aren't they all?) 200k last year on his fixed gear.. and SiR extraordinaire Bob B. has been known to do some big rides on fixed gear as well. Hats off to you guys! When I did a two-day STP on this bike back in 2005 my knees were killing me on the second day. But maybe I'll break this out for a 100k populaire next year or something.

Another reason I brought out this bike was to get ready for some track racing out at Marymoor next year! I gave that a shot years ago, but back then I didn't have the endurance even for a 5-lap race. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to do better next time around.

Gears or no gears, here's to a wet fall...