I took advantage of the nice April weather that we're having in Seattle to go on a lunchtime ride. There's a traditional Wednesday ride at Microsoft that the faster riders go on, where "faster riders" == "riders who also race", which means they're anywhere from pretty fast to really fast. But, with rain expected tommorrow, I decided to bring my bike in today and have a go.
The first 4 or 5 miles was fairly calm as we wound through Marymoor park and east on highway 202, and it was easy to stay on the back of the pack (drafting can save up to around 30% of your effort, though I don't generally ride close enough to see that much benefit). But as we turned south and started climbing, the pack broke apart a bit more. I blew up a bit (ie exceeded my aerobic threshold) on the climb up 244th Avenue, but rode with another rider who was waiting for me. Turns out, however, that I was faster up the hill than he was, so after a weave through some repaving, I crested the hill and joined the rest of the group. We rode down to NE 8th, turned right, rode a bit more, and then descended down the 12% grade of Inglewood hill, ending up back on East Lake Sammamish going north. At that point, I latched on the rear wheel of another rider and held on for 7 or 8 minutes until I got dropped off the back. A regroup at the end of Eastlake, back through Marymoor, and then up 40th to the campus.
Overall, a pretty good ride. I did have to draft to stay with the group, but could do so with a little trouble. It helped a bunch that this is early season and these guys aren't close to how fast they'll be in 3 months or so, but my aerobic fitness is better than I expected, though I'm down quite a bit on strength.
The new bike worked pretty well, and I've gotten the seat adjusted to where I like it. My back and right wrist hurt a bit, which either means that I'll need to raise the bars (or perhaps shorten the stem), or merely that my overuse injuries are showing up. The difference between the new bike and the old bike is pretty drastic - I did 28 miles on Sunday morning on the old bike, and averaged about 13.5 MPH. Today, with a bit of drafting help, I did 19 miles in around 68 minutes, which is pretty darn fast for considering there were a couple of steep hills, and I didn't quite spin out on the downhills. So, the verdict on the bike is "great" so far. Oh, and I may have finally found a seat that my butt can tolerate well.
Two of the guys on the ride showed up of fixies - bikes that are fixed-gear. Not only do they only have a single speed, they have no freewheel, so you can't coast - you pedal all the time, both up and down the hills. That they can ride both up and down the hills in a single gear is pretty impressive, and on the steep downhills they'll be spinning their cranks at something like 150RPM, or even a bit faster.
I should also mention that all the other riders are really nice guys and quite tolerant at having less experienced guys along for the ride.