I've reached the point in the season where it is about time to shut it down and start looking ahead to next year, and hopefully the hour attempt. The dwindling evening daylight during the week, combined with a couple of other issues cropping up, have signaled that it is time to call an end to the hard riding for the year.
Right now I am completely off the bike and likely will be through next week. Because I made the decision to shut it down, I also made the decision to take a fresh look at my fit. I had recently had some discomfort on the bike, and I'm assuming it is because I've moved things out of range on the bike. Using a combination of different bike fit calculators, I ended up dropping my saddle over 2 centimeters, and I made sure that the saddle setback is about 6.7 cm. For those not familiar with 'bike speak,' this puts the tip of the saddle at a point that is 6.7 cm behind the center of the bottom bracket, or the place where the pedals/crank arm connect to the frame.The purpose of this is prevent putting too much strain on the knees, and my particular femur length dictates the 6.7 cm number. The significant changes to the saddle position mean that I will need a few weeks off to hopefully erase muscle memory. Ideally, once I get back on and riding, it won't be to much of a shock and won't cause me to start over-fidgeting with position again.
I've also switched back to a longer 110 mm length stem to extend my reach to the handlebars, although the fit charts suggest I could go as long as 130 mm. From an aerodynamics point of view this will stretch out my form over the top of the bike. However, I'm a little concerned that I don't have the upper body flexibility to support that, and being that stretched out may cause some back and shoulder discomfort. It is something I will have to experiment with over the winter. I will also need to make sure my saddle position holds up and stays comfortable.
In addition to resetting my fit, it is about time to give the bike itself a little bit of love. The brake and derailleur cables will be replaced, as well as the cassettes (the gear cluster on the rear wheel) and tires. The miles have caught up with both, and although changing either aren't normally worth blogging about, it is always nice to get something new for the bike.
Looking ahead, the next steps for training are to take it easy out on the road when I can get out, sticking with a recreational pace. I'll also start to employ some structured workouts on the trainer to boost my endurance. As the fall and winter trainer time progress, I'm hoping to focus on a lot of endurance work with occasional strength and speed workouts. I am taking the approach of base and endurance miles all the way through May, and then integrating speed work in June and July in the buildup. It was the same tactic I was aiming for this past year, but my base work didn't suffice, and I spent the year chasing fitness. Even though I've never raced or ridden cyclocross, I may try to sneak in one just to test it out and keep things fresh.
But for now, it's all about resetting and transitioning back into base miles for next year.