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A Cycling Adventure Just Out the Front Door…

May 2014
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We were up in Harrison at the in-law’s house for the long weekend and brought the mountain bikes up as we’re surrounded by dirt roads. I suggested the road bikes because the road leading out to asphalt is rideable, but my wife wanted to stick on the back roads – and it’s a blessing because my legs needed some recovery time.

The weather, thank God, has finally come around and we’re in the middle of a stellar snap of mid-70’s, abundant sunshine and low-winds.

So after breakfast Saturday morning my in-laws took the kids and Mrs. Bgddy took advantage by heading out the door for an adventure ride – riding roads we’d never experienced before. About halfway around the circuit I saw a road going back into some clear-cut, two-year regrowth, State land. Well, a logging road, so it was a two-track in poor condition… In other words, perfect conditions for breaking in the Rockhopper. I pleaded with her to come along for the adventure and she finally acquiesced… We went through mud, over logs and through some fun and excellent mountain biking terrain and the new 29’er handled it fantastically… What a difference over my old 26″ bike! First, the Acera derailleurs are nice, the beefier SR Suntour shock is smoother and the extended wheelbase is limo-smooth by comparison. After a mile or so we hit a dead-end in the road and had to portage through the newly sprouting forest to get back to the main road to finish our circuit. It was a great ride, a little more than an hour.

Then on Sunday, on the Pere-Marquette rail trail, we took another quick detour to scope out a trail that led off the main trail. It turned out to be not all that spectacular but it was definitely a sweet ride up the hill…to see nothing but open field and road.  We turned around and headed back.

There once was a time, a few years ago, that I only stuck to routes and trails that I knew.  Partially due to confidence, but also because I was very goal and stat driven… I didn’t want getting lost to interfere with my numbers. This year is entirely different as I’ve completely dropped my tracking software so I could concentrate more on the enjoyment I get from cycling. Gone are the days of not trying out a new road or a new trail because I had to keep my foot (or feet in this case) on the gas… They’ve been exchanged for a new sense of adventure that makes biking, at least for me, a lot more enjoyable.

Oh, and did I mention that my miles are up from last year (a lot more long rides with the guys on the weekend – normally I’m not into those until August) and I’m faster as well. I have no data to back the mileage increase up, but I’m also not getting dropped on the “A” club ride and I’ve actually attacked off the front a few times – something I could never think of doing last year.

My point, I suppose, is this: I spent three seasons tied to my stats and while that served a purpose because it kept me motivated, the stats also held me back from enjoying some of the adventure inherent in cycling… And the adventure part is SWEET. Sure, every once in a while I’d ride sans tracker and add the data in after but those days were few and far between. I was under the mistaken impression that if I wasn’t on the gas at every possible moment, on every ride that didn’t call for “easy”, that I wasn’t building my fitness and speed, thereby hurting my chances of improving. What I’m finding is that effort is indeed important, but it doesn’t have to be every minute of every ride… As long as my “want to” is in the right place, I have a lot more wiggle room than I thought.

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7 Comments

  1. Chatter says:

    I still cannot ride without my stats, but I do try to let it influence me less. Guess it all depends on the purpose of the ride I am doing.

    • bgddyjim says:

      It does brother, and I used to be in those same shoes… I always thought, “Why ride it if I’m not going to track it for progresses sake”. I never anticipated going through the change in attitude either. It just turned out to be one of those “no kidding” moments for me.

      Also, and this is important, I ride with a great group of guys who can ride faster than I can so I can gage my progress… If I get dropped early then I know I have to work harder. I thought I needed the stats but I don’t. For triathletes and solo trainers, they’re much more important.

  2. Ian Duke says:

    My mantra has always been: Ride to race, train and hurt. Ride to enjoy, enjoy. I don’t race. (Doesn’t stop me doing a sneaky Strava segment every now and then if I feel like it though…and hurting.)

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks Ian, I’m the same way – I love the speed and the hurt but I don’t race either (though I do train with a quite a few guys who do). I just got into the enjoyable side of cycling this year though and it’s REALLY been a lot of fun. Gotta love the Strava brother.

  3. sueslaght says:

    Really enjoy these posts and seeing you embrace a wider look at cycling. Enjoy!

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