We're in training, if you can call it that, to ride in the Ride for Pride in four weeks. To that end we participated in a 17- or 25-mile (route options) training ride last week. We did the shorter ride, and were still wiped out at the end.
Some reading online told me that while better bikes would not get us into better shape, they really could make a difference in how much efficiency we get from whatever we can do. This week, we shopped for Trek 7.2 FX hybrids, after reading this glowing review on thesweethome.com. Today we picked them up and took them straight back to the same 17-mile route that wiped us out last week.
We finished the 17-mile ride feeling better, less tired, less achy and more energetic than how we felt last week at the 10-mile rest stop. It's no joke that the right bike makes a huge difference. I would say it's almost as if we're now in a different activity than what we were before. Consider the fact that on the old bikes, we could shift between ratios of wheel / crank revolutions from 1.0 to about 2.4, and that's for a 24 inch wheel. On the Trek, we can get anywhere from 0.9 to 4.4 turns of a 26 inch wheel with each crank turn. This meant that downhill momentum on the other bikes was never built up enough to help with the next uphill, which is a huge energy drain. Also the newer bikes are probably about 5 pounds lighter - but since I could easily stand to lose a couple of bikes of my own weight I am not counting that.
The result from our first go was impressive, and we have more distance work planned for this and next weekend, and another training ride with the crew on June 7.
I won't disrespect the older bikes. They were cheap enough to get us to buy them last year when our level of activity was *ahem* inadequate. We used them all last season and well into this one, commuting, trying to train, playing Ingress. Those bikes convinced us to make an investment in the next level of this great zero-impact exercise. They done good!