Week 8: Mon- 1,250yd swim, 20 mile bike
Tue- 1,000yd swim, 5 mile run
Wed- 25 mile bike
Thu- 1250 yard swim, 3.5 mile run
Sat- 7 mile run
Sun- 35 miles
Total: 97 miles
Total mileage so far: 778. Equal to driving from Austin, through New Mexico, and past Trinidad, Colorado!
One week later and I'm already in the third state of the trip. New Mexico was just a quick corner to cut before Colorado, but I remember being so excited to the the flat prairie landscape reaching out and finally touching mountains. When I drove to Cody for the first time, we went straight through to Denver the first day, so much of Colorado on the way there was in darkness, and, when we got close to Denver, in rain so torrential I'm amazed it didn't ruin the saddle I had tied up in a tarp in the back of my truck!
I've gotten some great donations from great people this week for the giveaway, but I think many were waiting on payday, so I'm extending the SpiBelt giveaway another week! I know SpiBelt themselves is wanting to share the giveaway on their Facebook, so we'll give those fans a chance to head on over and help make a difference in someone's life. Remember, every single $1 bill makes a difference, so even if you can't donate more, just give a buck, and you'll be a hero to someone!
This week I made a big leap in the cycling department- I dumped my cages and invested in cycling shoes and road bike pedals!
The benefits of a clipless pedal system are touted in this article on Livestrong and Gizmodo and although I've been skeptical of "mandatory" upgrades in most other cases, I do agree- they are worth it. They offer better power transfer and more efficiency- and I noticed that right away. I am at least .5mph-1mph faster on average than I was before when using cages and running shoes. That's not a huge difference on a short 20 mile ride, but will help a lot when it comes to 56, and then one day, 120+ mile rides!
Another benefit is more control over your bike. You are not only pushing, but also pulling the pedals, making you more connected to your frame and it's leanings at every stroke. If you hit a pothole or have to swerve, there is a much smaller chance you're going to slip off your pedal and wreck.
Many people hesitate to switch because the idea of being attached firmly to their bike is scary- totally understandable! I was worried about this myself. I am a horseback rider first, and have developed the habit beyond breaking of always being able to pull my foot straight back and out in an emergency. However, I knew I wanted to reap the power benefits (and what I wanted went on sale!) so I decided to give it a try. Here's what's important to remember- everyone falls over at least once when learning how to use them. Usually, it's not even a bad fall. It's a stupid fall. One of those where you've come to complete stop and just forgot to move your foot. I was so proud when I first clicked in and made it up and down the driveway a few times. Then, I pulled over beside my car to stop and just leaned and leaned and leaned until whap, my shoulder was in the car. Sure, I felt like a dummy, but it didn't hurt too bad, and it was a physical reminder that made my brain remember to focus. I have ridden 80 miles on them now and have had no other issues, only rewards!
When it comes to choosing your shoes and pedals, you're going to run in to the same vast array of options and price points you did when choosing your first bike. Just take the same advice from before- keep your head on your shoulders, your bank account balance on your mind, and your needs vs. wants in check. I returned to Performance Bicycle for my shoes and pedals because I'm a member of their rewards club this year that gives you cash back on purchases, so I want to milk that for as much as I can before canceling it next year. It costs money every year to be a member of, but I (hopefully) won't be spending enough money there to make that worth the $30 it costs to join.
Anyhow, there are of course carbon shoes and pedals, road shoes, mountain bike shoes, triathlon shoes, etc. I'll repeat some of the advice I gave with running shoes- get what is comfortable for YOU. I considered the triathlon shoes because I liked their quick on and off access and their breath-ability, but just didn't like how they fit my foot. I tried on probably 10 different pairs of shoes until I slipped my feet in to the Shimano SH-WR41. They were in my price range at $109, and felt very comfortable on my feet. I liked that the strap at the top was adjustable to even a tiny bit, because I'm picky about how tight things are on my feet. They have a lot of mesh, so they're breathable, but there's cushion in them to make them comfortable for long distances.
Then it came time to pick a pedal. For this I had no idea, so I grabbed a store employee and asked him to tell me the important differences. He gave me some great pointers to think about- for longer distances, it's better to have a wider cleat such as the common SPD because it reduces the chance that you'll develop a hot spot pressure point on your foot. He said cleats should be replaced usually every 8 months because they wear down with use, and the SPD cleats are only about $22 to replace, making them pretty economical. He suggested choosing a road specific pedal rather than a pedal that was a road clip on one side and a flat pedal on the other because of the difference in cleats, pointing out that really, if I need to, I can ride a road pedal with tennis shoes for a short commute. So, due to being on sale and just as high of quality as other more expensive versions, I settled on the Forte Team Road Pedals. They were $60, well made, and fit my comfort level since they are weighted so the to side is always up, making them easy to get your foot back in to.
The employee put the cleats on my shoes in a neutral position and told me that, if after about 50 miles I experienced a sharp pain on either side of my knee, I should come back in and get them fitted specifically. I haven't had any troubles so far, though. He also reminded me about a 20% off coupon in the weekly email, which saved me about $40!
So there you have it- don't be afraid of a clipless system. It's a learning curve, but you'll pick it up quickly, and once you have it, you'll reap the rewards and save your legs!