Racing Speed

I was taking a look at some of the road racing results from last year. The Halton Road Race held an Elite class event. Elite road racers are around 20 years of age. They did an 88k race and the winner held an average speed of 37.5 kph.

CHIN International held a 35k race for the Master class. The Master road racers for this event were 40 plus years of age. The winner held a very strong average speed of 41.9 kph.

Riding solo over rolling hills with low to moderate winds should allow a serious rider the opportunity to maintain an average speed near the 30 kph mark.

Group rides may support higher averages.

I did some research in this area as I had an interesting discussion about speed and distance with someone yesterday. I have done a lot of training over the years and when I was racing it was always a challenge to keep a pace in the 35 – 40 kph range. And that was in a group setting in an organized race.

The reality is that training loops on mixed traffic roads with hills and winds will slow the average pace down for the solo rider. Perhaps as low as 26 – 28 kph. Whenever I hear numbers above 35 kph I think strong tailwinds and long downhill stretches. I remember one such loop near Montreal. It was roughly 80k and it featured about 30 percent of the loop ascending and the balance descending. Some of the slopes made me quite nervous and I was around 17 years old at the time. But the rate of speed was remarkable. Going back uphill would have been a different story.


Out on the road last night. Roughly 10 kilometers from home. Wind was calm. Moving along at a fine pace on the flat road. 36km/h.


Rear wheel locks up. Adrenalin rush. I’ve been hit? Wrench the machine back into balance. Don’t spill. Execute a panic stop.

Relief. I did not go down hard on the road. I was able to keep the bike in balance. What happened?

I ride on Roval Rapide SL Carbon wheels. Standard issue on the big S Specialized bikes. Very expensive wheels. Almost $3,000 a pair. Tires extra.

These carbon wheels are very lightweight at 1,450 grams and feature DT Swiss AeroLite spokes. One of those spokes snapped on the rear wheel. Because of tension, the loss of one spoke immediately took the wheel out of true which caused the tire to jam against the frame.

I was fortunate that I was able to keep control of the bike. However, I had no way to execute a roadside repair. The bike was down.

Amongst other things, I always carry a cellphone with me when I ride. Lorraine had gone downtown and by good fortune was on her way back and not too far from me. My roadside wait was less than 5 minutes. I took the bike down to my local shop — the wonderful folks at J&J Cycle — where the owner graciously lent me a CycleOps PowerTap wheel. My rear wheel will be out of commission for repairs for the week but I can still ride.


Bike Rentals

When I was down in Arizona, I rented a road bike from Arizona Outback Adventures. The cost of the rental was expensive at roughly $300 USD for the week. The website claimed that the rental bike was a high performance, top-of-the-line Trek bike.

I had sent my measurements down ahead of time and I had also passed along my requirements for pedals. I brought my own helmet, clothing and shoes.

The bike arrived properly sized in accordance to my measurements and the bike was also equipped with a similar set of pedals to my own road bike. My current ride is a top-of-the-line Specialized S-works and it is an amazing bike. The Trek was okay but it was not a top-of-the-line bike.

It did have a Dura-Ace derailleur and I assume that the rear cassette was also Dura-Ace. But the rest of the groupset and the crank was Ultegra. Don’t get me wrong, Ultegra is a good groupset but it is not top-of-the-line. Tires, wheels, saddle were all mid-level components. And the frame, much as I expected, had been in service for a while. Where I was expecting a bike at the Madone 6.5 level or better, the rental was an older, mid-level machine.

Despite the somewhat misleading website copy, the machine did ride well and it was smoother than I expected. I had a few challenges switching from Red to Shimano — definitely not used to long-throw double shifters — but adapted well after the first ride.

The desert rides were amazing. I would get up at 5am and hit the road around 5:30am. The loop was roughly 20 miles on lightly traveled roads not too far from the resort. The weather was perfect for riding at that time of the morning. Unlike this current long week-end in Ontario. Winds gusted to 50 km/h yesterday and the temperatures were 8 to 10 degrees Celsius below normal. We did not get above 11 degrees Celsius. And this morning it is a balmy 6 degrees Celsius. I don’t have the clothing for cold-weather riding as I usually spin indoors during the winter months. I guess I didn’t think that the May long week-end would bring a return to near freezing temps. Looks like I have to pick up some heavier outdoor bike wear.

Here is a photo of the rental bike.


And here is a photo of my current bike.


Dog Attack

First one of the cycling season. I have not had the pleasure of fending off an attack from a farm dog in quite some time.

This one was rather easy. On this particular stretch of road, I was cruising at 28km/h due to some headwinds and my heart rate was about 138bpm. Cadence was around 94rpm. I was passing by a rural property where I noticed two dogs in the distance. They were fighting with each other. That’s usually a good sign. If dogs are preoccupied they don’t usually give chase.

Not this time. One of them decided to break off the fight and come after me.

My approach in this situation is to sprint if the terrain permits. Fortunately I was riding on flat terrain so I hit the pedals hard. I was able to crank above 120rpm and got the bike up to 45km/h against a fairly good headwind. I shouted at the dog several times and he came pretty close to the back wheel however I was able to outpace him. My S-works Specialized bike is one awesome machine.

Once the dog gave up his attack, I checked out my bike computer. Heart rate had jumped to 178bpm. Obviously got a little excited on the bike.

The video below describes the worst case scenario when a dog gives chase. If they jump at you in front of your bike, you can get into some major trouble. The dog owners in the video seemed to think that it was not their responsibility to contain their dog.

It is. Even when you live in the country.

S-Works Roubaix SL SRAM

An unexpected twist on the bike upgrade. As I went in for my fitting on Thursday evening, the owner of the bike shop proposed an alternative model. A 2008 Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL dressed with the SRAM Red group. SRAM Red is a top of the line groupset that comes in under 2,000 grams. The whole bike weighs 15 pounds without pedals. Amazing.

The S-Works factory builds the best-of-the-best bikes and the Roubaix SL is definitely way out of my price range. However, the 2008 model was the owner’s bike. He used it last season but did not log much in the way of miles on the frame. It looks new. And he was willing to offer the bike to me for a few hundred more than the Roubaix Expert.

An absolute no brainer.

I will fit the bike this afternoon and bring it home just in time for some spinning this evening. Still indoors for a couple of months yet.

And the bike is red. I like red bikes.