Friday, June 06, 2008

The Heat and the China Express

Last weekend, when I was in Texas, Hannah and I went for a ride. It wound up being about the same amount of time that we usually go for lately (somewhere around three hours), but we didn't get nearly as far, because we circled back and met up with Hannah's friend from work for the last hour.

Also, it was hot. Very, very hot. And very, very revealing, at least to me.

I had always believed I handle heat pretty well, but never really understood how well (actually, I still don't understand exactly how well, but I know more than I used to). With Hannah in San Angelo, where the air temperature regularly reaches boiling point at 4:00 in the morning, I figured she would be at an advantage to me when we go out for runs or rides. I may be fitter, but I wouldn't be able to ride or run as fast, so we'd stick together more than when we were both up north.

An eye-opener was that I've suffered almost no ill effects when I bounce from NJ to TX -- with a few small exceptions I've been able to keep my training rolling. While I'm sure she has adapted significantly, she's had a much tougher go of it. Although hot, I never felt overwhelming stress during our ride. Hannah, on the other hand, was on the verge of losing her breakfast (the protein in our drinks probably didn't help at all either).

I don't have a complete picture of what this means, but it makes me more confident in my chances for my (not quite so) super secret race in August.

Here's Hannah looking all aero before her insides started to catch fire.

As for the China Express: that's what I've been calling Hannah's friend's bike (in my own internal dialogue anyway). Now, a lot of today's bikes are made in China. But this one came from Walmart -- and it's cobbled together with assorted generic parts that I'm expecting to fail sometime in the next six months. All this is fine for a bike that costs less than $200. I wouldn't buy it, but there's a lot of things I wouldn't buy (we did however find a far superior bike at Authority Sports for $150 more -- Chinese made, but competently assembled and speced -- what does that tell you about Walmart?).

Again, all this shouldn't really invite any ridicule. But there are just two things that tip it into the realm of farcical:
1) It has a kickstand.
2) Hannah's friend, seemingly believing that the reason she's faster than him is because of her clipless pedals (the kind you can click your bike shoes into), went to the local bike shop and bought what was probably a $200+ shoe/pedal combination. That's a more expensive method for attaching to your bike than the bike actually cost. And he complains about the seat incessantly -- but won't wear padded bike shorts or buy a new saddle.

So there you go, the China Express -- it might not go fast, or even look fast, but it has expensive pedals.

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