Practice ride on the Danskin bike course

This post is more than 10 days old! I wanted to document the toughest bike ride I’ve done so far and it was tough due to numerous factors. One, because the terrain was hilly and crowded in parts, also long by usual standards at 11.1 miles. Second, I had the good fortune of riding with Marilyn, the bike/run coach who didn’t let me coast at all and made me bike hard. And three, because the course was actually harder than I expected. Karen, my workmate who has done the Danskin Tri in Austin before said, ‘Oh, there’s only 1 large hill’. I found to the contrary several large hills.

But it was all good because I learned a ton riding with Marilyn. The Wednesday workout before the Saturday long ride was hill training too. We went to Circle C, suburbia dreamland in South Austin (or is it North San Marcos?) and did 8 loops of a hilly section of the road. Public were driving back home from work and staring at us, crazy women of various ages, sizes and biking abilities going up and down a suburban road. The practice was meant to teach us how to use our gears on the varied terrain. For me, the uphill was hard but not as hard as downhill. I could gear up in the uphill and make it as easy as possible and somehow get up. But downhill, I didn’t really know what to do. So I coasted. It felt relaxing after the uphill but I figured that’s not the point of the training.

So when I asked Marilyn to ride with me, I didn’t know I was going to be in for a good lesson in gear changing and equal cadence. Biking, unlike spin class, is where you’re riding with almost equal effort (or cadence) along varied topography. That’s why one gears up/down based on how the terrain changes. My chain had come off and by the time I fixed it the group had left but luckily for me, I found Marilyn. She rode the entire time with me. She rode behind me and watched every move I made. So when I was spinning too fast, she made me gear down. I did, and she approved of the effort I was using in pedaling. Then a hill came up and of course I forgot to change back. So here I am huffing and puffing when I hear her from behind, asking me to gear up. So I did and that was pretty much the ride when she’d ask me to gear up or down based on how I was dealing with the topography. There were quite a few hills. This ride was around the perimeter of Decker Lake, East Austin which is home to the Danskin Tri so we were doing the race bike course. Which was awesome because I was not prepared for it at all. The only time I had to get off the bike was a steep, rapid incline just after a stop sign. So having stopped at the stop sign, I didn’t have enough momentum for the hill right after. I got off, drank some water and got on again and labored my way up. On several rolling hills, Marilyn urged me to pick up speed. This was really scary. I geared down to the hardest gears possible on both the left and right side, making it as hard. Yet I felt my legs were spinning too fast. Anyway, that gave me a lot of momentum to get over some of the really big hills following a downslope. I think the worst was on the access road to a County Hwy where we went up this very gradually sloping steep hill on the ramp. Ugh, I was sweating like a pig!

I was beat after that ride. It was so different from the fun rides out with Bharath where we’d stop many times and pick the bike routes which were relatively flat. Now I feel I can handle crazy old Exposition Blvd. even!

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7 responses to “Practice ride on the Danskin bike course

  1. I have only ridden that route once, it got to me too! That one hill is pretty crazy- but I enjoyed the route- it was really calm!
    Gearing up and down is the key to being efficient. I hope you have a bike computer which tells you your cadence, if you don’t then I highly recommend getting one. I feel like I am a lot more efficient now that I have gotten used to riding to cadence on hills. I have to admit, I am still a VERY BAD hill rider. But I try to keep a set cadence on the hill and change my gears accordingly to keep the cadence and momentum.

    • There you go telling me to BUY one more thing!! Haha!! When we got B his bike, he got set up with a computer. I don’t have one. I think I’ll wing it with perceived effort this time round. I do want to buy a road bike this summer. That announcement also got me a raised eyebrow yesterday. The race belt was pooh-poohed. We did North Loop upto Airport last evening from our place – a bit of hills and good practice. Danskin was pretty brutal I thought. We should go and do it sometime again. Want to take B out there to get a taste :).

      • LOL! Many eyebrows have been raised when I have brought up “investing” in a tri bike. For now I put aerobars on my road bike, which has been great. The aero position is so much more efficient, but tough on hills.
        Talking about buying things for tri training, add bike trainer to the list!! 😛 OK, now B is going to kill me… 🙂

  2. Vishy – when are you buying ME all these cool contraptions…I have a looooong list! :p

    Sirsh – for your 1st Tri – chill out with the bells and whistles and just have fun!! 🙂

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