This evening after work, I hit the Veloway for my usual Tuesday night ride. My friend David was waiting at the entrance, and we started a small ring ride, not particularly aiming for any speed. We kept up a steady pedal cadence, passed a few bikers, and got passed by more. It’s a ride I’ve built into my weekly schedule, and I look forward to it.
But the ease of the ride got me thinking: What about really trying to go fast? I’ve found myself in situations on nice downhill grades where I try to wring every last tenth of a mile per hour out of my bike.
For me, anything over 30 mph is fast. I know I’m on an interesting stretch of road when my speed tops 36. But once I get to about 38, things get a bit problematic.
My Specialized Allez is a terrific bike, but it can be a little twitchy. At high speeds, it feels a tad unstable, although that often has something to do with the condition of the road surface. Oddly enough, getting down in the drops doesn’t seem to help. I find myself trying to relax as much as possible, and let the bike take over.
The highest speed I’ve ever hit is 39 mph. I’ve done it twice. The first time was on an organized ride, and I can’t remember where I clocked that number. It just registered as the top speed on my cyclocomputer, and I discovered it when I checked it at the end of the ride. The second time was on a Sunday morning club ride. We were on a rolling hills section through a nice residential neighborhood. The street was wide and smooth, and gave us a view far ahead in the distance. I saw no traffic ahead, and cranked the bike as fast as I could. I saw the 39 come and go, and thought it was pretty cool.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the fastest I ever go. For me to attack the speed barrier, I think I’ll need a more stable bike. My old steel Raleigh was a joy to ride on a quick downhill — it was rock solid. But I never did get that bike up above 35.
I’m also at the point where speed is not an important goal. Hey, I’m no spring chicken anymore, and we tend to get a little more cautious — er, prudent — in our old age. A blowout last spring on a high speed downhill will do that to a guy.
I’ll continue to enjoy the sensation of speed. But breaking the 40 mph bar is not on my radar. How about you? Do you make a conscious effort to go as fast as you can on descents? What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone? What did it feel like? Is there an even higher speed somewhere inside you?