After work yesterday, I added some of what I call "scorpion" bar ends to my 7300, essentially adding several additional hand positions for bike riding. After more meaningful distances, more options correlates somewhat with more comfort.
And I strapped on a small tool kit under the seat for flat kit & such. In a nutshell, I'm making one or two additions at a time to gradually increase gear load while gradually increasing distances and more technically challenging routes.
This morning I also added in some uphill sprinting.
Add in the fact that my bud got us exploring a route I hadn't ridden since my teens (long enough that I'd forgotten a few beastly details), and this morning's ride was fairly novel.
We hit it early enough to get in a vigorous ride before heat & traffic had a chance to become just intolerable.
August heat is certainly a factor. I figure when things start to cool down this fall, what I call "bike touring season" should present some great opportunities, simply by virtue of the fact that the environmental conditions won't be so oppressive.
With all the hilly terrain out here, it's just not possible to slide into the steady cadence of Longleaf trail. I might find myself dropping as low as 5.6 mph up a long, steep hill, and 32.7 mph down the other side.
At one point, my partner expressed relief that a certain hill had finally become less steep, but seconds later we went into a turn revealing a punishing change of slope. On at least one hill I can think of off-hand out here, I find myself entering a sequence of 90-degree turns at over 35 mph.
This morning's obligatory stats: 32.7 mph max speed, 12.3 mph avg speed, 11.7 m trip, 58:13 time.
My bud's started getting a craving for a faster bike, on which he can make longer rides than on his MTB. So in the spring he may be pushing me to my very limit instead of the more leisurely rides of 2006.