17 Miles In The Drops

Most people are familiar with the curved aspect of touring/racing handlebars.  This type of handlebar is formally known as a “drop handlebar.”   Unlike flat handlebars, this type of setup allows for a more aggressive stance which reduces wind resistance and improves performance.  When a cyclist wants to really maximize his performance, he places his hands “in the drops,” meaning the lowest portion of the bar.  In addition to helping the cyclist go faster, this position is more tiring than the upright positions made possible by gripping the top portion of the bar.

I’ve fiddled with this position since getting the Trek two weeks ago, but I haven’t really measured the improved performance you can get with it.  So today I decided to “put the hammer down” (cycling jargon for “go fast”) and do my entire ride in the drops.

The result: a rocket-like (for me, anyway) pace of 18.7 mph. 

By way of comparison, I ran 18.0 mph on a 15 mile course just four days ago, using the drops sparingly.  My PBR for my Crosstrail was a pedestrian 16.8 mph.  So the drops definitely make a significant difference.  And I do understand that this is hardly a breakthrough in the field of cycling science and is probably of no interest to anyone except myself. 

I also began to feel the limits of this technique.  After 17 miles, my hands were turning numb and my “fun reservoir” had almost run dry.  Serious suffering was beginning to ensue.  It was a helluva workout and I believe this PBR will stand for some time.  The good news is that there were plenty of gears left for me to go to should I ever improve my fitness to properly “drop the hammer.”  A more apt description of my current abilities would be more like “drop the comfy pillow.”

In other news, the CCC ride has published their route maps for this year’s event.  You can find the map here.  Now it’s time to do my detailed terrain analysis and plan the perfect ride strategy which I will jettison in a fit of panic and/or elation within the first five miles!

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