This spring I spent many Saturday mornings trying my best to keep up with the Hub guys. Getting dropped is not a matter of if, but when. If I manage to hang on past the Geyer hill, my glory is short-lived. Once we hit Conway Rd., getting dropped like a greased watermelon is my certain fate. In a futile attempt to hang on, I typically blow up like a car in Northern Ireland. My only solace is that the stars obstructing my vision shield me from the harsh reality that the pack is becoming a distant speck. If I do manage to see straight again, I have better odds at winning the Powerball than I do bridging to the pack. To the naked eye, Conway looks pretty innocent. Anyone who has ridden it more than once knows better.
This section of Conway is a classic false flat. It is as deceptive as David Copperfield. False flats have always been my Achilles heel. In everything from group rides to races, they have been where I am most likely to get dropped. I’ve never known how to ride them. Advice from fellow riders was about 50/50 “grind it out in the big ring”/ “spin it out in the small ring”. Which technique would carry me over the false flat in the shortest amount of time and expend the least amount of energy? There was one way to find out.
Tuesday morning I rolled through the webs the spiders had spun across my driveway and headed to the new eastern wing of the BR Outdoor Testing Facility. The eastern wing is a false flat that stretches from the western entrance of the QuickTrip at Laclede Station and Watson eastward down Watson to the western edge of the Big Lots parking lot. It is .91 miles. This wing of the facility, otherwise known as Falsehood, was an ideal site to perform the ground breaking studies described below.
For all of the test runs, the fifth from smallest ring would be used in the back. What would be varied would be the large and small rings in the front. There would be three tests performed in each of the front rings. Maximum heart rate would be 140.
I circled the QuickTrip lot, resisting the urge to pop in for a Monster, and began the tests. The results were as follows……
Big ring: 3min55 sec, 3min58sec, 3min43sec. Ave speed 14.13mph. Ave time 3min52sec.
Small ring: 4min10sec, 4min7sec, and 4min3sec. Ave speed 13.28mph, Ave. time 4 min32sec.
In a side note, I must add that my spirits were somewhat elevated by a guy sitting on the curb at Big Lots who seemed to be taking quite an interest in my study. Maybe he was just wondering why I made 6 trips through the Big Lot parking lot. Who knows? All the same, it was nice to have some company out there in the Testing Facility. I have a hunch that he may ride a vintage Mongoose to work.
Call me biased, but it appears that the preferred technique for false flats is to grind it out in the big ring.
Fear Not the False Flat. Grind on over it.
Yours in Science,