Saturday, February 2, 2008

Steep learning curve!

Well, there were a few moments where I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew--all within the first twenty minutes--but I am very happy to report a high level of satisfaction with Spinervals 5.0 - Mental Toughness (90 minutes)...

The first bit was rocky only because I am pig ignorant of everything to do with bicycles! Oh dear--might as well play it up a bit for comic relief...--but I am barely exaggerating if I reproduce my interior monologue as something like this:

Hmmmm . . . big and small chainring--but really I have three--but R. was full of scorn and horror and told me I have to get a front thing with just two because only babies have the small one and I am strong anyway--so probably they just mean the middle and the big . . . but how do I know which is the 15 and which the 18 on the back?!? . . .

I had to hop off the bike a few times and consult the internet, source of essential cluefulness! I had sort of conceptually familiarized myself with the system at one point, and also practically, but the practical and the conceptual were in two quite different universes that made me realize that Coach Troy Jacobson's terminology was quite opaque to me--I had to go back to fundamentals....

This link has been bookmarked on my computer for a long time so I went and read it again and realized it did not at all have the relevant information. This one gave me a better sense of the meaning of the numbers which made them make more all-round sense to me also. This one alarmed me because it is for a more advanced student of the bicycle than I can yet claim to be!

This one was extraordinarily helpful and really the one I should have read before I got on the bike this evening, namely relevant paragraphs as follows (it's an article at www.trinewbies.com by Hazen Kent preparing the novice for Spinervals!):

You also have a “cluster” of rings or cogs attached to the rear wheel (see pic below). This cluster is known as your rear cassette (or for older bikes, a rear freewheel). Most of you will have a 9 speed cassette on you back wheel which means the cassette is made up of 9 cogs (some of you may still have a 7 speed freewheel or an 8 speed freewheel/cassette, which means you will have either 7 or 8 cogs on the back cluster). On each of the cogs, there are teeth that act as guides for the bike chain with the number of teeth marked on each cog. Troy will refer to these during the workout by the number of teeth on each cog. For example, he may say, “ok, shift up to your big chainring in the front and your 15 on the back” And what he means is, you are in your big chain ring up front and your 15 tooth cog on the back. It will be up to you know your set up in the back. Your back cluster may be a 12 – 25 meaning you have nine rings ranging from the smallest - a 12 toothed cog, to the largest - a 25 toothed cog. And typically the cogs would be 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25. Again, each number represents the number teeth on each cog. See picture…

Useful, eh?!? (Imagine me each time sort of getting back on the bike and then realizing there is something else I do not know! I vaguely knew all that, but vaguely is not really good enough when you have to find the 15!)

So the thing is, how do I know what the cassette is on my bike?!? I pored over the actual gears for a few minutes during one of these brief investigative intervals and I cannot see any numbers on the gears--I am thinking I am going to have to actually count the cogs, as farfetched as that sounds, is that really possible?!?--the cassette is this but I do not see how one tells which of the three gear sets it is! ARGHHHHH!

So all of these interruptions were actually fairly edifying, even realizing what one does not know is quite useful, by this point the DVD is about at the twenty minute mark and I figure that I have learned enough for the evening and had better just dig in and do the workout. And I did, and it was great!

(In the middle part he starts you off on the largest ring at the back and moves you steadily into harder gears, so though I still cannot really tell you exactly which is which at least I know I had the right idea, and on Wednesday before I do this workout again I am going to sit down and count the cogs and really shift up and down through all the gears and make mental notes as to what is what and where everything is.)

I think I was only at about 80% of effort of the really hardworking people on the DVD (but there is one lady who does not look like she's doing a very good job with the workout!), I was still kind of figuring things out and I didn't want to go totally crazy. On the other hand, I am quite optimistic that I will soon have reasonable bike-specific fitness levels. There is a point in the middle where Coach Troy Jacobson tells you to get off the bike and hold two 90-second squats with rest between, and that is exactly the sort of thing I do with M. all the time, it's burning by the end but entirely tolerable, really I have pretty strong legs; and I quite often run or swim for ninety minutes, I have a good endurance base. So it is not absurd to think that fairly quickly I will be able to do a really decent job with a workout like this.

(Actual road skills are another story, and there are all the mechanical questions to contemplate also, but I will take it one piece at a time.)

Certainly by the end I was sweaty, pleasantly tired, ravenously hungry and in an extremely good mood, so I think we will count it a full-on success...

7 comments:

J-Wim said...

Oooh, I get lost when we start talking cassettes and chainrings too.... I really love my bike but I just want to get on it and ride what feels good. I don't like to have to think about it - it's purpose is to give me a means to clear my head after a long day.
Hats off to you for getting off and figuring out what they meant.

Spokane Al said...

I trust that you were doing squats when you jumped off your bike to analyze your gearing.

I am glad to hear that your first workout was positive. Hopefully you will be spending much more time going forward with Coach Troy during these winter months.

Wendy said...

Challenging both mentally and physically. Now there's a double-edged workout! Good for you!

P.S. Al's comment is hysterical.

Jenny Davidson said...

Yes, Wendy, this is a particularly fun set of comments--Al, I will dedicate all the squats I do in the next few weeks to you and to the altar of cycling!!! I do like Coach Troy...

J-Wim, I am determined to get to the bottom of all this business of cassettes and chainrings--it still seems rather elusive...

Dorothy W. said...

Well, I have to admit that I couldn't tell you which cog is my 15 either. That is not good! I've just never had occasion to get those numbers lodged in my head. I probably would have guessed and made it up if I were doing that DVD! Okay, must figure out my own gearing one of these days ...

Jenny Davidson said...

Well, this is good, because though Coach Troy does put a helpful little picture in the corner of the screen at various points (but I do not know that you could look at it and then duck down your head and look back at your gears and actually see whether it looks the same, or perhaps I am just rather short-sighted!), the whole thing still seems to me very much NOT as obvious as he seemed to think!

Leah said...

That's why that workout is labeled "mental toughness." You have to do math while you sweat!

Very funny post.