It has been just over 3 weeks since I officially joined Lead Out Cycling and I have to say, I am absolutely loving it! I am seeing plenty of personal improvements and I am actually starting to feel like I am a cyclist rather than just a person who rides a bike...
The two things which I have seen the biggest improvement in terms of bike handling skills are:
Riding on the drops
I have only been riding on the drops since about Oct 2015 when I moved from my Wilier (with Campy) to the Liv (Shimano). So since 2008 when I bought my first road bike with Shimano Sora thumb shifters, through to the Wilier in 2010 until 2015, I very rarely would ride on the drops because of the thumb shifting in changing gears and distance from the drops to the brakes.
Riding on the drops has also allowed me to do my sprint efforts more effectively and I am able to push and pull on the pedals with a greater force. I am making a conscious effort to ride as much in the drops as I can, especially in groups and trying to be more comfortable about having my face so close to the wheel of the person in front too.
Descending and cornering
As I have mentioned a million times before, my bike handling skills are not great and because I never rode on my drops, I was never confident in descending and cornering. A flow on effect of riding in the drops is that I am starting to learn about shifting my body's center of gravity and positioning my body better for descents and cornering.
I am continually improving my skills, so much so that I finally cracked the 10min mark coming down the 1-in-20 last Saturday!! I will continue to improve of my confidence but I do want also improve on the 1-in-20 climbs too! My goal is to get < 30min.
Although my climbing strength and endurance are no great, I know that I have plenty of space to improve and I am looking forward to seeing them flourish. This will be easier when I bring my weight down too, the hard part is actually to not lose muscle tone.
I had a bit of a "light bulb" moment this morning during my Team Time Trial training session. I actually seeing myself like I am a real cyclist now....I feel like I am riding in the right position, I am using the right muscles, I am stepping outside of my comfort zone in terms of power, strength and endurance.
The Northern Combine race schedule is yet to be realized and my aim is to enter them and just do it...I can't race them on the Liv as it has disc brakes so I am waiting for the groupset to arrive so I can convert the Wilier with Shimano groupset so I can ride it properly. I have a fair timeframe on the road racing season, I reckon I have about 2 months to train with the Wilier. I am planning on using the Wilier for the Tuesday and Thursday sessions and continue to use the Liv for the hilly rides.