Tuesday, May 20, 2008

First day commuting with the new bike (which I continue to love)

I rode my bike to the office today and I felt great! Here's how it played out:

The first 2 miles are essentially all downhill from my apartment to the Key Bridge. The biggest problem in this leg was making sure I didn't go TOO fast -- the pavement was wet and if I went too fast it was harder to brake. My max speed was about 20 mph but I could have gotten it up to 30 or more -- this is a FAST bike.

Then I crossed the bridge and went onto the Mt. Vernon trail, which is mostly flat but also has some lightly rolling slopes. The biggest surprise was that my rate of perceived exertion was way off. When it felt like I was working at a fairly easy 135 bpm, I looked at my Garmin and saw that I was actually working at 155 bpm! At certain points my heart rate got up to near 170! I would have been really working hard if I kept my heart rate that high while running -- but biking, it felt far easier to me. I think this is because my quads are WAY more powerful than my calves and core, so it wasn't nearly as hard for me to pump hard and keep the bike moving. Don't get me wrong -- it was still a major workout, and as the graph shows I kept my pulse above 150 for several miles -- but it didn't feel as intense as it actually was, if that makes sense.

After about 5 miles I started to grow a bit tired, but then I saw Reagan Airport in the distance and I knew I was nearing my destination. Shortly after the 6 mile point there was a Crystal City "exit" on the trail. The exit saw a fairly steep (but brief) uphill, and before I knew it, I was at my building!

I had no problems with traffic or pedestrians or anything. As I was on the trail most of the time, there was no car traffic to worry about, and because it was drizzly I only saw a few other cyclists and a handful of runners. There was plenty of room. I was wearing my bright yellow rain slicker just in case it started pouring. I didn't really need it for the rain, but it made me highly visible and it blocked the wind!

When I got up to the office I realized I was sweating profusely, which I hadn't really noticed before since it was so windy and cool on the bike. I was tired, but a few minutes later I felt great. Slightly tired but at the same time totally energized -- just like I feel after a great gym workout. The whole thing was about 6.8 miles and took 37 minutes.

The ride home wasn't quite as fun because whereas this morning I was starting with a 2 mile downhill, this time I was starting with 4.5 miles of flat land and ending with a 2 mile UPHILL. The ride took me about 10 minutes longer -- it didn't help that I had a massive headwind the entire ride. On the extra steep uphill portions I dismounted and just walked the bike up a couple blocks. But all in all I still had fun and got a GREAT workout.

When I got home, I freshened up and then rode the bike another 0.7 miles to rehearsal (and then back home afterward). In total, that's 15 miles today!

I am very excited about riding my new bike -- it's fun, exhilarating, and gives me an excellent workout. Here's a map of my journey...

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