17.7 MPH

Or…how I lost 2.5 mph by moving to the Catskills.

I’ve been looking at my ride data. Since I moved to the Catskills, I’ve lost 2.5 mph off my average long-distance solo speed. Sure, it is much hillier out here than in the immediate vicinity of NYC, but you’d think that the high-speed descents would cancel out the grueling 8 mph climbs, right? I’m not in worse shape than I was in NYC; in fact, thanks to 100 feet/mile of climbing on an average ride and many more miles than I’d do in an equivalent period in NYC, I’m in better condition than ever before. At 145 lbs, I fly up those hills.

Although it was initially disconcerting to learn that I lost so much speed, after some thought I figured out the problem: I’ve become a much more cautious descender, particularly when it’s wet (which has been almost all the time we’ve been out here) or on descents with a lot of curves.

I haven’t lost my skills; I can still carve a high-speed turn on gravel just as well as before when I try. But here’s the issue, and it’s been in the back of my mind since we moved out here: if I crash, there’s nobody around to hear me scream. I went for a 30-mile ride a few days ago, and one car passed me. One. Add that to the fact that there are large areas without cell coverage and the potential for a Misery­-type situation is high. If I’m lucky. Contrast that to 9W, where on the interstate hill I’d pedal until I spun out and then get in a full aero tuck over my front wheel. 50 mph+ every time.

I might get over it, I might not. But it was a relief to understand why I’m slower than before. In any case, the only reason why I care about speed is so I can extend my range.

I’m off for an 80-mile ride tomorrow; I haven’t decided if I’m doing the double crossing of the Shawangunk Ridge or a ride out to Neversink Reservoir. Both have an equivalent amount of climbing (in fact, almost identical), but the latter ride is more up-and-down, whereas the climbing in the former is compressed into two Cat 2 climbs.

As promised, I’ll post the Platte Clove ride on Sunday. Definitely worth the trip.



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