Yesterday was so nice--50s and sunny, with wind that only became bothersome toward the end of the ride. The hubby and I attended a "FUNraising" event hosted by our favorite bike shop. The Pineapple Bob ride (35 and 42 mile routes) takes place on a mix of paved and gravel/dirt roads with beers and taco buffet at the end of the ride. We chose to hang with the 35 mile group on our tandem (which can roll with skinny/slick road tires or larger, knobbier cyclocross tires, which allows it to be comfortably and safely ridden on pavement or unpaved roads). This was our first venture "off-road" and my very first ride on gravel in a VERY long time.
It wasn't as scary as I had anticipated, though I definitely feel a slight bit of fishtailing sensation on the back end of the bike while riding the gravel stretches. Derek felt none of this instability, which is interesting. We're on the same bike, but our experience of the bike's handling definitely differs.
This was our longest tandem ride and while it was fun, I am finding that I'm having some physical issues that would likely not be present for a taller rider behind my beast of a spouse. The difference in our height is nearly a foot and since my saddle is already much lower than his so that I can reach the pedals it puts my nose is inches away from his waist. What this means is that I can't see anything from about 10 o'clock to 2 and my head ends up tilted backwards a bit more than is comfortable for more than maybe 90 minutes. While on my road bike I tend to prefer a more aggressive "aero" position with torso and head leaned more forward, but the tandem forces me to take a more upright and awkward position.
As a result, my neck and back were pretty sore last night and today aren't feeling the greatest. With time I'm sure my muscles would adapt--after all, when I first started riding my road bike I had sore neck and shoulder issues for the opposite reasons--but that lack of sight ahead of the bike really puts a damper on the ride experience, too. Especially on a group ride. We brought up the rear of of the 35 mile group yesterday (in large part because we're still adapting to the relatively cumbersome handling of the tandem, so it's trickier to ride in a group or paceline) and it was sorta lonely on the back of the tandem, since I could only talk to Derek, but couldn't make eye-contact, of course.
I think my favorite part of the ride was going fast on a straight stretch with a bit of a tailwind. We can really push that bike to some fun speeds, especially as our comfort level improves. Perhaps next Summer we will get in on a local time trial or two. Our beasty quads are good for something!
Today I am taking it sort of easy. I had planned to do my weight workout and then get in maybe 20 miles on the bike, but the past 2 days of cardio in cool, damp air have done a number on my asthmatic lungs. So I'm pushing back the bike workout to the middle of the week, which should see the best weather and warmest temps. 60s are so nice in Nov.
We've entered that time of year when I am content to log 50 miles/week on the bike. A fraction of what I was doing just a few months ago, but the weather is less bike-friendly and now my running miles are back up into a respectable range as I peak for a half-marathon in just under 4 weeks. I'm OK with just maintaining some bike fitness for a while. More than 50 miles/week on the trainer is just sorta torturous, anyhow.
I logged my first trainer ride of the season a couple of nights ago and it was a workout without much pleasure. It was also hard as hell, since our fluid trainer offers a LOT more resistance than the road. Easily 2.5-3mph (and 2-3 gears) were lost vs. what I can do on the road with equal effort. I'll pretty happily put my bike on the clunky old magnetic trainer for the rest of the cold season. Eventually a newer, better magnetic trainer will be on my shopping list, but a newer, better road machine trumps a new torture trainer.