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Cycling with Speed, Stamina and Enjoyment: The Case for Saddle Time

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July 2014
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There once was a time when I read up on training plans, followed the most stringent nutrition plans I ever had (this was still pretty loose – do not make the mistake of thinking I went all “Whole Foods”…  For me, giving up Coke was a pretty big deal), tried to work in proper rest days – even had plans for a lot more rest this season and I made sure to maintain a strict on board fueling regimen…  All in the hopes of getting faster and riding with greater stamina…

This season hasn’t unfolded at all as I’d envisioned it.  The plan was for two days off a week, I’ve managed to stick to one but only because it’s rained once a week.  I planned on fewer miles but I’m way up over last year.  The one big change, the one counterintuitive change I should say, is that I’m cycling a lot with my wife, at least twice a week at a slower average than I ever had before, this year…  And I’m in way better shape than last year – and I’m ten pounds heavier (by request from Mrs. Bgddy).

A bunch of B+ cyclists head out every Fourth of July for somewhere between 60-80 miles and I’ve participated the in the last three.  It’s always been what we would call and “easier” ride at somewhere between 18 and 19 mph but yesterday’s was a fluke…  We had unseasonably cool temps to start (53 degrees)22, that’s where I can wipe myself out if I’m not careful to hang at the back of the group quite a bit.  Instead, I was rock solid all day long.  Shooting from the back of the group to the front, out of the draft, to talk with friends, playing “last one to the top is a loser” with a kid half my age who works at the shop…  It was fun and games right up till the last couple of miles when we started hammering with a tailwind.

In total I ate a Snickers and drank a Coke at the first and only rest stop, had one Gu, half a Perpetuem laced H2O and drank one other straight water, for 70 miles.  There’s no way I could have gotten away with so little last year, even factoring in the cool weather.

If that wasn’t awesome enough, afterwards I went out for another sixteen miles with Mrs. Bgddy and thankfully she took it pretty easy on me, it took about 35 minutes for her to get ready and out the door so I had enough time for the adrenalin to wear off.  Even so, there’s no way I could have done that (or even wanted to) last year – and to top that off, we were outside having a family badminton tournament just a few hours later.

My buddy Mike, earlier this spring, when I mentioned my plans to get myself in better shape, when I laid out my drills and interval sets on my training rides to him, replied simply, “Nope, it’s all about the miles”.  He went on to explain himself, about how he rides crazy miles – 70+ a day (he’s retired) and at a pace slow enough that I’d be amazed, but he’s always been just a little faster than me…  I thought he was nuts.  Turns out he might have had a point there, and I’m having way more fun in the process.

Yesterday was a real eye opener and I’d say I can’t wait for the rest of the season to unfold, but that wouldn’t be quite right.  I’m going to enjoy every day of the rest of this season because I’m having more fun than a guy should be allowed to (with his clothes on).

 


8 Comments

  1. someone once asked the greatest cyclist ever what his advice was on how to get faster on the bike… his reply…

    “Ride lots.” — Eddy Merckx

  2. I’d go along with that; whenever I get spells where I can really rack up the miles that’s when I feel myself getting faster and fitter, having said that, I’ve never set myself any kind of structured fitness plan so I can’t genuinely compare the two.

    Also, for me, big mileage is what I get the most pleasure from; as much for the satisfying feeling in the legs afterwards and the psychological benefits. I have some friends who never ride more than 30 miles a time – they’re quick for an hour and a half, but that’s not for me.

    Give me 5 or 6 hours on the bike anytime.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I’m with you… I’ve done 100 miles in 4-1/2 hours and while it was awesome, man it was a TON of work. Five hours flat is much more enjoyable.

  3. hi says:

    I love reading your posts. Please can you write daily 🙂

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thank you so much… Generally I do write daily but I’m on a long weekend vacation with my wife and kids and for once I just wanted to take a few days off – from everything, to be a good dad. I’ll be back tomorrow and I’ve got a LOT to write about.

  4. Jim, I’ve nominated you for the “Very Inspiring Blogger” award on my post for today. Andy

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