Cycling: A Year Later, Getting Faster


Strava is a free tool that has allowed me to datalog my rides and analyze my progress. If you decide to get really serious about training, some additional tools can be bought to improve your data, ride, and training. Just like race cars, instrumentation (gauges) can feed the rider information. The most basic of bike computers tells you speed and distance. Going one step beyond that, cadence can be added. Cadence is your pedaling rpm and this information is useful as people tend to be most efficient in a certain rpm window just like car engines. The next level of instrumentation is a heart rate monitor to keep track of your exertion level. I suppose this is like the instant fuel economy meter in a modern car; the harder your heart is pumping, the lower your fuel economy. Another way to look at the heart rate monitor is as a tachometer for your heart letting you know when you’re getting up to redline. Getting one more step fancy is adding a power meter to your bike that measures your power output directly. Like in a car, the more power you make, the lower your fuel economy. All of this additional data can also be datalogged and tracked in Strava.


Cycling has seemed to help my karting results as well with a first place qualifying effort and second place result at the recent MPTCC K1 Speed karting event.

Has that translated into being better at motorsports? I would say definitely yes. Every few months, my co-workers and I will go karting during lunch at K1 with electric indoor karts. Races are typically 8 minutes, but I definitely used to feel some fatigue at the end of a couple of races. Now, I feel pretty much the same at the end of karting as I did at the beginning. The other time I noticed a big improvement was after my hot weather testing of Project S2000 with the peak ambient temperature hitting 102F. My prior testing in hot weather left me feeling drained and mentally fatigued. After doing 30 miles on the bicycle in 85F-90F temperatures with a couple thousand feet of climbing, a few 30 minute sessions in the car is no big deal. The lack of physical fatigue improved my mental strength too which allowed me to drive more consistently and faster.


Reduced  fatigue, both physical and mental, due to improved fitness has been another benefit at the end of longer track sessions.

The road cycling has translated into better motorcycle sport bike riding for me too. The obvious improvement has been the significantly reduced fatigue. I use to be pretty wiped out after coming home from a hundred plus mile ride in the canyons. Fatigue on the motorcycle is doubly bad news as it leads to poor control and slower reflexes, two very bad things on the motorcycle. The surprising thing cycling helped me do on the motorcycle was to loosen up in the arms and shoulders. Maybe it’s from my mountain biking days, but I tended to ride a bit stiff in the upper body with my elbows out a bit, like I was always getting ready to absorb rough terrain. Stiff is bad on the sport bike as it reduces your control and maneuverability. On the road bike, I had to learn to relax to conserve energy and this has translated into me being better at motorcycle handling.

So I’ve shown how data has tracked my progression and improved fitness just as motorsports teams use data to track improvements. As with motorsports, safety is a top priority. Let’s face it, cycling on the road is not the safest thing in the world to do; 20 pound bicycles lose out to 3500 pound cars every time. Aside from the obvious use of a helmet to protect your noggin, my personally generated categories influencing safety are: time of ride, locations, and visibility.

Starting with visibility, I ride with both front and rear lights blinking at all times, even during daytime. The blinking lights make you easier to spot to cars as the blinking stands out and should grab a driver’s attention making your presence known. I use to ride with only a rear light from fear of getting rear-ended. However, as motorcyclists know, a very common car and bike accident is a car from the opposite direction turning left in front of a two-wheeled vehicle leaving the person on two wheels nowhere to go except into the side of the car. I’ve had a couple cars turn left in front of me as they apparently didn’t see me (I actually had to use my brakes to avoid them), so now I have the front light on at all times too.


Even in the middle of a sunny day, there are shadows to ride through. The front light makes you more visible.
Yup, the rear light helps too in the shadows.

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