Yesterday I took The New Road to the hill for some repeat climbs. There was a 25 kph wind from the north-west. Since the road jig-jags north, then east, north again, east, and finally south to the hill, I was treated to a hurting wind both on the way out, and on the return ride. Not all of the time. Just when I was heading north or west.
I ride on the drops a lot here. I am either battling a headwind or pedalling fast on the smooth, rolling roads. Yesterday, I noticed how comfortable I have become standing on the pedals when on the drops. I can remember a time when this was not the case. When I felt I might lose my balance, and fall. That’s not the case any longer. I stand to pick up the pace. I stand when climbing small hills. And, I stand just because it feels goods. I feel in harmony with the bike. Every muscle in my body is focused on delivering power to the pedals.
I rode for over 2 hours yesterday at a pace ranging from 15-45 kph. Most of that time, I was on the drops. I would only switch to the hoods or tops to give myself a break. Relax the back. Or, when I would slow to admire a view, take in water, chew on a Cliff Bar.
The drops are my preferred position, and I began questioning why.
I think it boils down to conditioning. In some ways. First, you need to be flexible enough to reach the drops comfortably. Flexible not only in the lower back but hamstrings as well. And secondly, you have to be strong enough to stay in this powerful position for extended periods. Strong in the legs. Strong in the butt. Strong in the back. And, strong in the arms and shoulders. Otherwise, the position is uncomfortable, even dangerous. And this strength isn’t the result of time in the gym. It’s the result of hours in the saddle, pushing yourself to higher speeds, and taking on longer, steeper climbs.
When standing while on the drops, I am acutely aware of how much my core is engaged. It’s as if the core is the power source, radiating strength to the legs, butt, shoulders and arms. It’s the “Powerhouse”. When all of these muscles are working in unison, I am powerful, balanced, and confident.
I’m dancing on the pedals.