I don’t know how to take the “listen to your body” people. Sometimes that point actually does make a little bit of sense… Until you really break it down into what that saying means.
As an example of what I’m getting at here, let’s say I’m riding a 4-minute mile (15 mph average) on my road bike, ten miles a day a few days a week and that gets me winded and sore. Should I listen to my body and take a few days off?
Uh, no. Maybe, just maybe, I should listen to my body and get that bike to the shop for a proper fitting because you’re not supposed to be that uncomfortable on your bike. I’d be willing to bet my lunch that in the vast majority of cases, the interpretation of what the body is saying is the problem, not what the body is “telling me”. Now there are limits of course, but the question is this: Am I really at the limit in the first place?
For instance, I took a day off on Thursday for the drive down to Georgia. Then I took Friday off because we got in at noon and took the boat out on the lake for a bit of swimming and tubing. I rode on Saturday and attempted one of the hardest climbs I’ve ever done – it was a short ride, just 16 miles, but I got in a heck of a workout in those 16 miles. Then I took Sunday off for rain. I rode again on Monday and Tuesday, attempting my nemesis road both times at the end. For the rest of the day yesterday we were out in the sun, swimming, tubing and generally having about as much fun as two families can have on vacation. This morning I’m just a little bit sore. So, should I “listen to my body” and take a day off, chilling indoors and sleeping?
If you answered yes, I weep for you. This is the time to pull a Jensie! “Shut up legs, and by the way, we’re going even farther today and you’re going to like it. Then we’re going back out on the lake after we take a bit of a bath in a vat of sunscreen and we’re going to tube and swim and have about as much fun as two families can have on vacation again“.
The point is, and I really don’t know how to put this delicately… While I must listen to my body, I must always remember that I’m the boss and while taking it easy now and again is allowed, I mustn’t fall prey to confusing “listening to my body” with my melon trying to convince me that “this is good enough”. If I’m not completely wiped out after a workout at least two or even three times a week, it most certainly is not “good enough” – and my body won’t be telling me to take it easy, that would be that lazy sliver of crap left in my brain that I still haven’t managed to squash yet.
17 miles. Max speed 42.7 mph. 1,200 feet of climbing. Satisfaction.
Gotta run, the lake is calling my name.
Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I took to my favorite mountain pass again today – only this time I increased my ride by four miles and increased my speed by about 2-1/2 mph over yesterday’s attempt. I took it easy on the last few miles to rest up for the big climb: 700 feet over 3/4 mile or just under 18% average with two flats that make up the rest of the 1.1 mile trip up the mountain.
This time I remembered why I had so much trouble at the beginning of the climb. That first quarter of a mile is a pain in the butt after a good hard ride. I froze for a split second before I started winding the legs up. This time I didn’t stop for a breather either, I just took it really slow on the flatter sections to catch my breath… And I proceeded to blow up in the exact same spot. I just couldn’t get passed it with the worst yet to come. It’s just too much cowbell.
So I’ll try it again tomorrow. Oh, and I realized a little bit late again, that I’m operating at 2,500 feet above sea level instead of 700 feet. I don’t know if this would make a difference really, but it sure feels like it does – the muscles are more than willing, I just can’t get my breathing to match up. Ah well, it sure beats a swift kick in the teeth. I love cycling in the mountains.
On vacation, we’re staying in a house that has dish service rather than cable. Unfortunately the only channel that happens to be carrying the Tour is a subscription channel on the dish and we don’t get it. Having not seen any coverage since we left, I was missing it terribly. I tried Googling ‘TdF live streaming’ and much to my surprise, there’s an app for that. It cost me ten bucks but I’ve been able to watch both stages since I bought it and I’m getting my fix in… Awesome!
Watching the 100th running of the Tour de France on my phone: Priceless!
We’re vacationing in the same house that we did last year, on the highest mountain above Lake Burton, in Tiger, GA. I tried riding up the road to the house we’re staying in two or three times last year but ended up walking after only a quarter mile. The grade borders on ridiculous. A few 1/4 to 1/2 mile stretches above 20%. It’s a monster and last year, even in my granny gear (30-25) I got to a point where I couldn’t turn the pedals so I had to walk it.
When we drove up it on arriving Friday morning I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell I was thinking even trying to climb that damn thing in the first place.
Then Mrs. Bgddy and I went for our daily ride yesterday and the fact that I couldn’t make it up the mile and a half started eating at me. By the end of our ride there was nothing going to keep me from trying again.
I informed the Misses that I’d be giving it a go and asked her to drive behind me in case I needed a ride (didn’t wany to walk the damn thing again), packed her bike on the bike rack, and hit it. I cruised by the first rise that blew me up last year with a wry grin stretched across my face. “Keep the cadence steady, not too fast”, I thought… I just kept moving. At about a half mile there’s a nice flat spot that allowed me to catch my breath (and I stopped a couple of other times on flatter spots for a breather).. I made it a little more than a mile of the mile and a half before I’d finally had enough. My legs were jello, my breathing, well let’s just say I can’t ever remember breathing that hard. 7 mph on a mountain had me breathing harder that 28 in a pack of animals. I think that’s the nature of the beast though, and what makes climbing so much fun… There isn’t a whole lot of room for error when it comes to a really steep climb – and later on, after the feeling has returned to your legs, you can’t help but feel awesome. Thankfully Mrs. Bgddy was thinking on her feet and snapped a few pictures:
Vacations for me suck. They’re a blast but I almost always have a mess waiting for me when I get back that takes a month to sort out. This year is even worse than normal. I actually thought about sending my wife and kids down alone so I could tend to work. I threw that in the garbage where it belongs and headed down to Georgia anyway…
Every once in a while you need a piece of paradise.
I rode in my normal Tuesday advanced club ride the other night. We had a noob in the crowd and we knew this before we ever clipped our second foot into our pedals. How you ask?
Well, it wasn’t the normal “cargo pants in the peloton” scenario, he announced it as we were waiting to start. The announcement wasn’t necessary, we knew it was his first within 100 yards. He had a nice high-end bike, decent kit (including bibs – I still ride in shorts) but he rode that nice bike like he was on ice. He was all over the place.
Now, before you run off to the comments section to berate me for being callous, hold on a second sparky because you’d be going off half-cocked, on emotion, and you’d be mistaken. I’m a really great guy…ask anyone who knows me! (That’s a joke, you don’t even know me let alone several people who know me. Calm down, take a few deep breaths into a brown paper bag and hear me out for a second).
This is going to get a little sticky because I won’t be pulling any punches (or trying to be politically correct) because this is important.
First, pace line riding is awesome, cool and exciting. It’s also dangerous as hell. People die in pace line crashes, from something as innocuous as a little bump of the tires between two cyclists. Death is very, very rare but that’s not the point. The point is that it happens and if there’s a noob in the group who can’t even ride in a straight line well, the chances of an accident go up exponentially. This is all that matters and it transcends the emotional, ‘let’s feel sorry for the poor noob because I felt a certain way as a noob and it didn’t feel nice to feel that way – and I never quite got over feeling that way so let us apply those emotions to this situation’.
This really gets to another hotly contested debate: Golf is learned on the golf course. Slow play must be tolerated by noobs they say. After all, they’re learning. Nonsense! The game is learned at the driving range, it’s played on the course. If you cannot play the game you have no business on a golf course. Why? Because nobody wants to wait on your slow ass, and if you disagree it’s because you’re selfish and self centered (but I forgive you).
Now add the element of bodily harm and we’ve got a discussion.
So here’s the difference between the right way and the wrong way to prepare for a club ride because the rest is just fodder for discussion. First, what doesn’t matter: The type and year of your bike and the cost of your cycling shorts and jersey.
Let’s start with the improper way:
Buy a bike, clip in and out of the pedals twice, ride it a couple of times and show up to the advanced local club ride and let them teach you how to ride in a pace line at 23 mph!!! Woohoo!!!
The proper way: Learn to ride in a straight line first. To do this, ride alongside the line on the (PROPER!) side of the road. Get to a point where you can do this almost subconsciously, without looking at the line. Get to a point where you can, subconsciously again, clip in and out of your pedals. Put in a couple of thousand solo miles then ask your local bike shop which ride you’d be best suited for based on your average pace – and then pick up a map of the ride so you won’t have to worry if you get dropped.
While you’re out there, zig-zagging, while it may be “fun”, is generally frowned upon. Remember your training, young apprentice.
Now, where cycling in a pace line differs from golf is in the old adage, “if you can’t play good, look good”. You can be entirely decked out in perfectly matched kit, helmet, glasses and have a stellar bike (much as this fella was hooked up) but if you ride that awesome steed… If you ride that thing like you would a mechanical bull, you’ll be dangerous and nobody with sense will let you get close. You’ll be ostracized, have your petty feelings hurt and it will be your own fault.
Now, if you’re riding in a slow no-drop ride, things are a bit more laid back and you’ll have some space to cut your teeth as the saying goes.
So, it’s personal experience time… I rode a road bike for six months and could maintain an arrow straight 20 mph average solo before I even thought about riding in a group. I studied up best I could on the web and I talked to my LBS owner about it before I finally went out… And I still got dropped after 8 miles… Which brings me to my final point. Get a map or a freaking GPS if you want to ride with the big dogs right off the bat and you’re new. There’s a good chance you’ll need it. OR if you can’t keep up, drop with another rider and plan on hanging with them.
Finally, if you’re new to pace lines, the pros make 34 mph look easy. It’s not. That’s is blazingly fast. 23 – 25 is really hard. Pick the right group to ride with. Drafting helps but you had better be able to get within 3 mph solo of the group average or you’re hit… And the advanced group is no place to learn to pedal a road bike.