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Cycling Unplugged: My Little Slice of Heaven…


April 2014

I announced a while back that I’d made a decision, after an online conversation with the Ragtime Cyclist, that I’d be tossing the tracking app aside to concentrate a little more on enjoying the experience of the ride rather than constantly worrying about speed goals and crunching numbers.  For my first three seasons I relied heavily on Endomondo to keep myself honest and constantly on the gas.  I was thrown a curve last year when my wife decided that she’d get into cycling as well.  I’d been so wrapped up in getting faster that I had a tough time enjoying a nice, easy ride.  The trick with the easy ride is that they’re necessary when you’re riding six days a week – or at the very least every pro that I ever read said they were (and I rode much better when I did).  My problem was that I always had it in the back of my head that I should be pushing harder, that I was wasting perfectly good training time.  That’s how I arrived at the conclusion that maybe unplugging would help.

There’s one more little wrinkle to this little saga (What can I say?  It’s good to be me.):  I don’t want to get any slower either.  A couple of the guys I regularly ride with, and have for the last year or so, are a little bit ahead of me so far this spring.  On the other hand, I know for a fact that I’m a lot farther ahead of where I was at last year – I don’t know about speed, but I miles ahead of last year’s record pace, even with the lousy weather.  Last season my longest ride going into the Ride for Recovery was 35.5 miles.  This year I’d already done a couple of 40’s, a 55 and a 65 – and I did a lot of pulling on all but the last ride when we had a tandem to hide behind.

I have no idea how this season is going to turn out as far as my ability to keep up goes but one grand side effect of my little “unplugged” experiment has been that I’ve absolutely found my little slice of Heaven in those slower rides.  When I’m going all out, other than watching for traffic, I am solely focused on one thing – getting every ounce I can out of my legs – even on the recovery ride days it was all about the cadence and rounding out my pedaling stroke and mechanics…  On rides that I paid to enter, such as the Ride for Recovery (RfR), it was all out – how can I get down the road as fast as possible.  Now that I’ve started this little evolution, I saw entire segments of the RfR that I’d never even noticed because I’ve always been so focused on getting it done.  I’m not perfect though, I have my limits:  I can only go so slow before it gets tedious – I’ve run into this once and it wasn’t pretty (we’ll just leave it at that, I believe the issue has been rectified).

Thus far my enjoyment of the sport has expanded greatly.  I get to enjoy a lot more quality in every ride, even the hard efforts, because now I know I’ll be able to enjoy the scenery a lot more in a matter of a day or two.


  1. I rode naked yesterday! Awesome, recovery ride from a race . . .

  2. fastk9dad says:

    I don’t ride unplugged but I also don’t check my stats much while riding, usually just a glance down to check speed and distance. (I was anal about cadence for a while but got out of that habit.) When I get home I do like to see it all on Strava and compare to previous rides/segments. It’s nice to see yourself improving and sometimes I surprise myself when I thought I was taking it easy and actually beat some previous times. But then again since I’m not very fast just not being last on a segment makes me happy. lol

  3. saltyvelo says:

    Rolling out of out 200k this weekend, the ride leader said, “And as always, try to have some fun.”

    I won’t unplug, however, but there is more to life than speed.

  4. Paige says:

    I wish I could run naked. I think I’m just way too OCD! Sigh…

  5. A bad day in the saddle is better the saddle is still better than a good day in the office.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Amen to that brother. They’re even better lately though it does appear I have some catching up to do. Got dropped like a dirty shirt tonight. Too much time up front and the wind was BRUTAL tonight.

  6. Chatter says:

    Sometimes you just have to slow down and enjoy things a bit. Sounds like things are heading in a good direction for you. Still have a hard time imagining not being on some sorta app, just like my numbers. Way to go.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks brother. It’s not all rosy. I’m getting dropped like a dirty shirt on Tuesday nights (writing about that today) so I’ve got some work to do. I am having a lot more fun though.

  7. kruzmeister says:

    I go unplugged on the mountain bike pretty much. I just love being out bush with the bike, hearing the native birds singing, the creeks running and the gravel crunching under the tyres. On the roady it’s a bit different, though I do still stop and smell the fresh air a couple of times a ride. I think it’s different when you are in a pack, you are more focussed on the ride and others around you, when you are solo or with just one or two, the scenery becomes more a part of the ride.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Group riding is a completely different animal. You’re right, there’s no time for looking around in a pack… Mmm and the mountain bike.

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