Culpeper Metric Century: Things I Think I Think


With the Culpeper County Metric Century now two days into my rear view mirror, here’s what I think I think:*

1.  I think I like organized rides.  They give me a goal to shoot for, provide some great interaction with other cyclists, and give me an opportunity to ride on routes I am not familiar with.  The t-shirt was nice too!

2.  I think the Culpeper County Century ride was well organized, well supplied, and well marked.  The route was a great route that provided wonderful views of the area and was not too difficult for novice cyclists.  The volunteers were friendly and eager to help.  If there’s a better ride for a relatively small group, I’d like to see it.

3.  I think riding with a partner is great fun and forces your heart rate to slow down (you can’t speak when you’re exhausted).  This makes for great endurance riding but not so good training, I think.  I think it’s probably best to train alone and have fun in groups.

4.  After the October 23 Great Pumpkin Ride, I don’t think I’ll be signing up for any more 65-mile rides.  I think the money and effort to drive to the site require a 100-mile commitment on my part.  And I think I’m ready for the challenge.

5.  I think my seat is too high.  I have been experiencing chronic pain behind my left knee since I bought the Trek.  During Saturday’s ride, this pain appeared behind my right knee as well.  It was pretty bad.  Two days later it is subsiding, but still present.  A Google search indicates this symptom is closely associated with seats that are too high.  And Sloan mentioned that he thought my seat was high.  And I adjusted my seat upward after only one ride because it felt too low.  So I’m pretty sure I my seat is too high.

6.  I think I need to work on my upper body technique.  My elbows were in a good deal of pain, probably because I ride with my elbows locked.  I need to fix that.  On the positive side, I adjusted my hand grip and largely solved the numbness problem I experienced a week earlier.

7.  I think I need to figure out my cold weather clothing plan.  I got lucky with the compression shirt and the gloves.  In a few weeks, that won’t be sufficient.  Head, leg, and shoe clothing are in order.  Sadly, I remain a cheap skate and will probably dither over each of these purchases until I am satisfied I am getting what is absolutely necessary at a good price.

* My apologies to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, whose weekly column on the NFL was the inspiration for the title of this post.

11 thoughts on “Culpeper Metric Century: Things I Think I Think

    1. Thanks for the site! This seems consistent with what I’ve seen elsewhere. One of my books (Long Distance Cycling by Burke and Pavelka) recommend multiplying your inseam by 0.88 to find the optimal distance from crank axle to top of saddle. Seems a bit involved for me – I prefer your method!

    1. This is neat and as a subscriber to Bicycling Magazine shame on me for not having seen it! Since I need virtually everything and cannot afford to buy it all at once (well, I could, but my sainted wife is already looking at me funny with my cycling outlays for the past six months) I need to prioritize. I’m torn between knee warmers and a proper set of long cycling pants. I’ve also seen some cheap shoe covers ($15) versus the more capable shoe boots mentioned on the site. Decisions, decisions.

  1. Steve,
    One thing my brother – the professional cycling coach – says is absolutely 100% required for anyone serious about cycling, is to get fitted by a bike shop pro.

    Web sites and books cannot do it. No one can do it themselves. Even seasoned, professional riders have their riding position fitted by other people. Because it is impossible to fit yourself exactly right. You can get close, really close if you’re good, but to be fit just right, you need someone else – a trained pro – to do it.

    Take both your bikes in and get fitted to them. I bet it makes a massive difference in your riding.

    1. I had the Trek fitted when I bought it. The seat felt low so I meddled with it. That was a mistake. Fortunately, I marked the seat post where the saddle was fitted for me, so I plan to put it back there and see what happens.

  2. Good idea; looking back and analyzing.
    One recommendation; ride with a “fitness partner” before deciding that ride partners are a distraction. Even ride with a small pace line for a while, and you will see that these registered rides tend to be recreational, while a fitness partner, or a paceline are very fitness oriented, and can really keep you on point. I “love” two pace-lines that I’ve gotten to train with. They are wonderful, make me push my limits, and give me folks to gloat with at the end of the ride, because there is NO chat going on in our pace-line;0)

  3. I don’t really agree with the profesional fitting thing, but that’s just a personal opinion. You can get it right by yourself, or at least get it good enough where it doesn’t hurt.

    For cold weather I reccomend owning leg and arm warmers and a vest. You can’t go wrong with those.

  4. I still haven’t found the right vest for me these days. Someone told me to cut a piece of plastic (or newspaper) chest size and wear it under a jersey as a substitute. It’s a whole lot cheaper than a vest. I’m going to try it Saturday.

  5. Before you fuss too much with your bike, don’t forget that pain and discomfort can be caused by tight muscles and ligaments.

    Back of the knee pain in particular can be traced to tight IT Bands (google it, or if you’re medically inclined: **Please don’t think you have a major medical problem**, if this is the cause, a simple 30 second stretch before rides should take care of it.

    I would not be surprised if this was the source of your pain, especially with your road bike (greater hip angle from a lower torso increases IT band load), and recent increase in mileage. Especially if the pain is more towards the outside of the back of your knee.

    There are many stretches for the IT band, some are based on the ‘pigeon’ yoga pose. I like to do something similar to this:

    In the picture she is stretching the outside of her R thigh. To do this, I sit on the arm of my couch, so my knees are at 45 degrees, bring my R leg up so my ankle is above my L knee (I usually hold my ankle to keep any pressure of the L knee), and lean forward. You’ll usually feel the stretch along your R glute, but the IT band is long, and causes knee pain, or less commonly, hip pain.

    Let me know if you have questions, or if it solves your problem. Your saddle should be as high as you can tolerate (for efficiency), which usually is high enough that you don’t feel like you’re ‘reaching’ at the bottom of the pedal stroke, or rocking your hips as you ride.

    Did you get your bike fit with your new pedals and shoes? The height under your foot will also effect saddle height and it will need to be adjusted accordingly.

    Sorry for the long comment, but sometimes I get on a roll… 🙂

    1. Thanks for the detailed reply, Russell. Your IT band theory is a definite possibility, especially since I have very poor stretching habits. My bike was fitted with the shoes I am now wearing, so I don’t think that is a problem. When in the fitted position, my legs have a slight break on the down stroke. In the elevated position I moved my seat to, my legs were almost straight at the down stroke. I’ll try the stretching and let you know how it works!

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