Abu Dhabi Weather

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I still don't have an internet connection at home, so I can only update from work which is getting harder as I get busier. I was told that the connection would be installed "in a few days" so hopefully I'll be able to post from home.

On Friday morning, I met with a guy who lives in the same building as me at 5:30 a.m. and he took me to the meet point where a group of people start a ride. This was the same group of people I went swimming with last Saturday. We rode for an hour and I gradually fell back and caught up with them at a gas station where we take a break. As you can see from the photos, they have Pocari Sweat (a sports drink for those of you not from Japan) and non-alcohol Budwiser which they put in a green can otherwise people wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

After the break, I fell quickly behind and my friend from my building was kind enough to stay with me so I didn't get lost. We ended up riding 85 kilometers and by the end of it, I could barely pedal. It was my first time using clipless pedals. I didn't have any amusing falls through forgetting to clip out and found that they were useful in helping me to pedal, especially the last 15 km when I could only pedal by pulling up on the pedals.

Because we left so early, it was dark when we left and we got to see a nice sunrise on the ride. I got back to my apartment a little after 9:00, just in time to take the kids for a swim in the pool on the roof of our apartment building. This was a good opportunity to get a little bit of a cool-down.

In the afternoon, I played squash in the squash court in our building. It was my first time playing, but because I've played racquetball before (badly), was able to play squash equally badly pretty quickly. Over the next week, I need to get some time in on the stationary bike in the workout room in our building to build up strength so I can keep up with people on the ride next week. I was planning on meeting people for a ride and a swim early on Saturday a few kilometers from my apartment, but didn't quite make it after an evening of darts and drinks at a nearby hotel bar.

I'm finding that with the triathlon group that I've joined through yahoo groups, there are lots of opportunities for riding, swimming, and running. It's a pretty active scene, even better than Dubai. Dubai is a bigger city, but we still have people making the drive from Dubai to meet us for a 5:30 a.m. ride. The roads are basically 3 or 4 lane highways with a paved shoulder. We ride in groups with lights when it's dark. Also, because we're leaving so early on a day when most people sleep in, the roads are pretty deserted at the beginning of the ride. The nice thing about it is that in getting home at 9:00 or 10:00, I still have a full day to spend with my wife and kids.


  1. Some things your probably know already:

    You quickly get used to clipless, they just become second nature. Problem on mountain bikes is generally clipping in, not clipping out. It'll take a while for your muscles to adapt to pulling up as well as down. Trick is to consciously spin in "circles", with a smooth effort all the way around the stroke. Another trick is to practice riding one legged, swapping legs periodically, obviously.

    On MTBs you (and all the other Fukuoka riders) tended to ride with your saddle a bit lower than optimal for maximum power and also tended to "grind" high gears rather than "spin" easier gears, because of the types of trails in Japan. This works for short sprints, but for endurance, it's more efficient to spin at a higher cadence.

    Saddle height makes a huge difference IME. You want your saddle as high as possible without needing to rock your hips at the bottom of the stroke. (However, with clipless, you might want it just a fraction lower so you can still get power across the bottom of the stroke.)

    Also, for pedaling, especially climbing, you need your saddle further forward than for descending on an MTB. This lets you get over the cranks for more power on climbs, and you don't feel like you're falling off the back of the bike. I find it makes quite a big difference, but road bike geometry is different, so this may not be such a problem as with MTBs with suspension forks.

    The other thing is nutrition and energy. I find the carbo-loading thing makes about a 10% improvement in my climbing times. Eating a bowl of pasta for dinner for a few days before a big ride will make sure your muscles and liver have absorbed as much glycogen as they can. This requires much less oxygen to burn, so will let you maintain a higher heart rate for an hour or two. Once the glycogen runs out, you either need food or body fat for energy, and you will need to lower your heart-rate or you will fall over on the side of the road and be eaten by vultures.

    Thing that most mountain bikers don't appreciate is that roadies are really fit and can maintain a steady pace for hours. It's impossible to keep up with fitter riders for very long, so, if you're not drafting, better to just find your optimum heart rate and cadence and spin along at your own pace.

  2. Hey Trev, Thanks for the advice. I felt that the pedals worked well when I remembered to power all the way through. I do some carbo loading as well.

  3. My tip for the day:

    A spazzy individual such as yourself should not be playing squash. You will likely hurt somebody quite badly. However, that being said, I would really like to see you spazzin' around that court. That would be funny.


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