Saturday, August 18, 2012

Onward and Upward

I successfully replaced the front derailleur shifter after the cable snapped two weeks ago. I bought a set of SRAM X.4 trigger shifters but have only installed the front derailleur shifter so far.  For the front derailleur, I might actually prefer the twist shifter but on previous bicycles, I prefer the trigger shifters for the rear derailleur (which is why I bought trigger shifters), so I will change the other shifter as well..  I'll have more updates after I swap out the other shifter, hopefully soon.

I was only out of commission for a couple of days with the broken cable and still managed to get 85 miles in during the last two weeks.  Almost all of which are from commuting to and from work, although admittedly I often take routes that are very much not direct.  For example, on Friday my total distance was just under 17 miles instead of the 9 the direct route it would have been (they've been doing construction so I've been taking a slightly longer route).

One new thing I've been trying is a technique called bridging (talked about both Ak-tux in the comments of this blog post and in this 'Bent Riders Online (BROL) Forum post).  The basic idea is that I plant my shoulders into the seat, push hard on the pedals, and lift my butt out of the seat. It almost looks like I'm standing up like one would do on a regular diamond frame bike.  Well, when I say almost, I should point out that my butt barely gets out of the seat.  So, it probably doesn't really look like somebody standing, but that's how I like to imagine it.  It is worth pointing out that I've read that it is easier to bridge when the seat angle is lower (closer to horizontal).  I was not successful before I lowered my seat angle.

I can't bridge for very long as it takes core muscles that apparently I don't really have.  But when I am doing it, I find that I am able to transfer considerably more energy to the pedals.  I've been able to power up some small to smallish-medium hills using this technique and I find that I can do it much faster and therefore in a much bigger gear than when I just sit back and spin my way up.

Unlike other regular or recumbent bicycles, the pedals are directly hooked up to the steering.  One advantage of this is that when climbing hills, I can "pull myself up" by the handlebars which means that I can get my upper body involved in climbing.  I have been using this technique since the beginning.  I find that bridging helps me climb better than this technique (although I can't do either for very long).

There's another post on BROL where a rider came up with an idea of using a blood-pressure cuff as an inflatable bladder that he uses to help him bridge for long periods of time.  On this entry, I hypothesized that in order for this to work, it needs to be the case that when one is sitting on the air bladder, one is not as stable as when just sitting on the seat and this instability leads to the hips being able to move in a more unimpeded fashion.  I don't know that this theory holds any water or not.  In any case since it is not very expensive to try his technique, maybe I'll do that in the future as well.