The bike I purchased twenty-five years ago continues to serve me well, but strictly as my "trainer-bike." I occasionally lube the chain, had the bottom bracket serviced around 2010 (or maybe 2008, who's counting), and actually had to change a tire a few years ago. I bring this up because it has been overly used these last two weeks, since we have had rain every day (except yesterday) since returning from Germany.
Years ago I had a Chris Carmichael Time Trial tape to give structure to my training. The tape has long since worn out, but I still follow the regimen. Up to a point. It seems I am very comfortable at 84 RPM, but knocking out 90 takes a lot of effort. It is a constant battle, one I lose unless extremely motivated. The bike is not equipped to show cadence, so I use the old-fashioned way: counting strokes. Fifteen strokes in ten seconds gives me 90 RPM. I hit fourteen on a regular basis.
This year I added a high-cadence portion to my work-out: three sets of 110 RPM. I started at ten seconds and have moved up to thirty and the plan is to see what happens once I get to one minute. But accurately counting strokes and accelerating is a chore. Indeed, the other day I did twenty strokes, for 120 RPM. I wasn't sure of my count, but even being one off still achieved the goal.
Then a stroke of genius: use my road bike, equipped with cadence. All I had to do was change out the quick-release (it didn't fit the trainer) and I could monitor my stroke count with just a glance at the computer. All went well as I warmed up. But on my first five-minute interval my cadence moved between 78 and 80. I knew my legs were a tad "loggy" but it felt like my normal 84. For the second interval, even with the computer, I counted strokes. Like clockwork for the entire five minutes: 14. Not good. Same thing for the third interval. Pook ding-fu! My computer is shorting me!!
When I ran it up to 110, it seemed accurate. Once I got over my shock, I had to contemplate the situation. While I know that computers are sometimes wrong, my experience is that they do what their programming tells them to do. The fact that it was accurate at 110/120 pointed toward me. After all, it just counted every time it went past the magnet, which didn't move (well it does sometimes, but then I get no count at all). Bottom line: for the last ten-plus years, I have been counting "one" when the clock hits any of the zeros, and "fourteen" when it hits the next one. Until this week, it never occurred to me that this was thirteen strokes.
I may have to come up a gear, but from here on out, I'll be counting sixteen. Maybe my time trial speed will improve. We shall see in four weeks.