Sunday, February 19, 2012

Riding the 165's

Ultegra 165mm crankset
As I mentioned in my previous post, I swapped out my 172.5mm standard crankset for a slightly heavier 165mm compact set. This morning, I took the new set-up out for it's first real test ride. Results were encouraging.

My pedal stroke on the new cranks is 15 millimeters shorter shorter in diameter than on my old set. This means I'm spinning smaller, faster circles. I didn't think I would notice the difference as much as I did... but my pedal stroke definitely felt a bit snappier. I definitely felt smooth, especially out in the aero extensions. I don't know that I was putting out as much power as I would've liked (this could be because my legs were already fried from Saturday's tough intervals), but I did feel a little bit faster.

Did I mention I raised my saddle 7.5 millimeters just before my ride? That doesn't sound like a whole lot, but believe me, it's nothing to scoff at. I was a bit worried while I was doing so, but after I started pedaling, everything seemed to fall into place.

Unfortunately, the most significant difference could be felt on hills - the lack of additional leverage is something I will definitely have to adjust to over time. I'm used to my cadence nearly bottoming out on hills, but with the new crank arms and smaller chainrings, I'm going to have to force myself to climb with a bit more finesse.

Getting up here hurt a lot more than it probably should have.

I'm meeting with Andrew from Bikefit on Friday to take a closer look at my position and try to optimize things a bit more. I know there's a sweet spot where comfort, aerodynamics and power output are balanced; hopefully he can nudge me closer to it.

Changes in position on the bike tend to take a while to really "sink in." I could tell today that I was using different parts of different muscles than I'm used to -- I'm pretty sore this evening! I'm sure the additional changes that we make on Friday will contribute even further to those sensations. But I'm five months away from race-day; I've got plenty of time to ease into things with the new position.

If you're looking for a verdict, I don't necessarily have one just yet. This crankset experiment is still in the data-gathering phase, but initial impressions are good.

I'll leave you with one tiny highlight from today's ride. Check out my top results on the "Tiburon Sprint" from Paradise Loop toward the roundabout. Does anything about my effort today seem promising compared to my previous bests? (Hint: I made it pretty freakin' obvious.)