I went on a fantastic ride today, early, because with Mrs. Bgddy on sabbatical with a friend in Chicago, I could only get my in-laws to watch the girls for a couple of hours this morning before they packed up and headed home. Unfortunately I missed out on an 80 miler with the boys but you have to play with the hand you’re dealt.
I managed 36-1/2 miles in 1:50… And stopped at my friend’s house for ten minutes to round out the two hours.
Doing the math, that’s just shy of a 20 mph average… So that means I’m in excellent shape – it’s like a 35 mile pull with the gang I ride with.
Something occurred to me, about six miles in… I’ve written before about how I attack hills. I look to pick up speed going up hills rather than slow down – I call this my interval training. Well about the fifth mile there’s a double hill with a four second false flat that absolutely gets the heart pounding by the second pitch up. It’s brutal. Today I didn’t approach it with the normal dread though because I knew it would hurt for a minute but I’d get through it… I always do.
That’s when it hit me: there’s more to intervals than just training the body to work better and faster. Intervals train the mind to push the body beyond what is thought possible.
Once you get the weight down, the bike fit right, aerodynamic position down, cadence right and the equipment straight, cycling fast is almost all mental. We all know this… It’s often portrayed as a willingness to hurt for an extended period of time (unless you’re with a group a couple miles an hour slower than your normal pace, then it’s an easy ride up front all day long), but that’s not it really.
I’ve been watching my wife shed the weight and get faster, heck she even tries punishing me every now and again – and fellas, remember Nicholson’s line in A Few Good Men? The one about saluting a woman? Yeah, being married to a woman who tries to (and on occasion can) punish you on a bike is almost as good… Anyway, I’ve learned a few things about cycling while watching her get her legs, something that I missed as I was coming up: Cycling fast has a lot to do with coming to the reality that one can handle a lot more than one gives oneself credit for.
My hill intervals, over time, smash that toxic “I can’t go any faster” thinking with action rather than trying to buy into cliches.