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Home » Cycling » Cycling for Speed: I Am Good Enough, I Am Fast Enough; Why You Can’t Get There…

Cycling for Speed: I Am Good Enough, I Am Fast Enough; Why You Can’t Get There…

April 2015
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First, before I get into this post, the title was meant to catch your eye, a little bit of a, “What the f—?” kind of deal – so please, give me a second before you get offended, if you’re happy with where you are, I’m not even talking about you anyway.  Probably.

I went for a 32 mile ride yesterday.  We had to cut Sunday short due to Easter festivities and it was supposed to rain both today and tomorrow.  When I got home, I got dressed and did my normal sixteen mile route, probably a little faster than I should have, if I were riding the Club ride tomorrow, but it was supposed to rain.  Then I did sixteen more with Mrs. Bgddy, who just learned how much damn faster she can be tucked down in the aero bars.  In other words, she really had me working for a few miles – once, I even had to tuck in behind her for a draft (dudes, she was flyin’ – 23 mph) for a mile.

So there we are, just cruising down the road and we come up to a left turn…  And boom, we’re done.  23 down to 15-16.

My wife explains, because she wasn’t breathing too heavy to not be able to, that the reason she slowed down was that her thinking got in the way.  She thought, “I can’t keep this up.”  “I can’t keep going.”  So she didn’t.  Now, I’d made the Cardinal error of letting her know how fast we were going…  She doesn’t like to know how fast she’s going because if she knows how fast she’s going, then her mind kicks in and messes her up.

I use my wife as an example only because she is honest with me about what she’s thinking, because I know her well enough that we actually talk about these things and because you don’t know her.

I am also the polar opposite, but only to a point – and I think this is where the subject gets tricky.

I have to cop to the fact that I don’t really understand what it is about people who mind-f@€k themselves into going slower than their potential.  I have no idea why anyone would do that to themselves.  I do understand what it’s like to put everything into going as fast as I can, only to come up short, though.  For instance, I can’t, no matter how hard I try to cheat and suck wheel, keep up with the racers in our group.  It’s fairly simple, my max isn’t good enough so I’d have to work even harder at it, if I want to go any faster – but my max is good enough.  I don’t want to go any faster. 

On the other hand, when I get back from a ride, I’m smoked. Drenched in sweat, out of breath, I’m done.  My mantra is, except when I’m on a recovery ride, “I can do better, I’m faster than this.”  I completely lack that mental piece that says to slow down unless I’m smoked – and here’s why.  I know that I have my limits, but I also know excuses are lies we tell ourselves that only we believe.  The notion that I can’t go a little bit faster for just a little bit longer is one of those excuses for me.  It would be a lie I told myself that only I believe.  Therefore, I started out fast and got even faster.  I still have my limits but I’ve been breaking those limits every year for the last four.

The point is this:  Too often it is the tape that we allow to play in our head that says “I can’t” that holds us back from our goals.  It holds us back from losing weight or getting faster.  Too often we hold the best of ourselves back because we fear “can’t”.  We have to save a little for one of two reasons:

1.  So we can “make sure” we have enough to get to the finish line.

or

2.  So that when we do fail, we can say, “Well, I never really gave it my all anyway.”

Both of those are bullshit when it comes to cycling.  They’re lies, and while you may be able to convince those who don’t know any better that it’s really unfair that it doesn’t work for you, one way or another, if you really want to keep up, you have to give it everything you’ve got.  Not for any heady reason like “it’s the right thing to do” but because that’s what we do.  You have to get rid of “I can’t” and insert “F@ck you, I will”.

This is the key to happiness and speed.

So, back to my 32 mile ride yesterday…  This evening is the club ride that the Weather Channel said would be rained out.  Lo and behold, they changed their mind and it’s going to be partly sunny, 52 degrees with 10 mph winds (that’s barely a breeze in Springtime – in other words, the ride is going to be fast.

What was my first thought this morning on seeing that we should have a great ride (and that I went too far and too fast yesterday)?  “Oh, this gonna hurt.”

What was my second thought?

“So what.  I know the route.  I’m gonna rock that shit till I can’t pedal anymore.”  I won’t hold anything back.

That’s why you’re slow and I’m not.  It’s that simple.

P.S.  There’s nothing wrong with being slow on a bike, by the way.  What is wrong is making excuses for why that is the case, why you can’t do better or more importantly, why cycling isn’t helping you meet your weight goals (the slower you go, the harder it is and longer it takes).  Whatever it is you choose to do, own it.

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9 Comments

  1. I really, really, REALLY needed to hear this. I’m always settling for less than my best, and I definitely let my mind trip me up. If I do see I’m going faster than normal when I’m running, I will think: Holy cow, I can’t keep this up for 20 more minutes, etc. And so I slow down, to preserve my energy I suppose.

    I’m working on getting that mentality. I want to go my hardest and fastest and be happy that I broke a personal record, but not stop there. I want to realize that I can keep improving.

    Thanks for this post!

    • bgddyjim says:

      My pleasure Laura… That “preserving your energy” is what’s giving you a difficult time. Try taking a little nap (20-45 minutes) after you eat. It works wonders for me… I’m glad you liked the post. Thank you.

  2. adarling575 says:

    Argh I am definitely the first one. Out on a ride (or a run) and I think “I can’t keep this up, better back off a little bit”. Now I train on the bike with a heart rate monitor, that comes more from my heart rate than speed though – which maybe means I actually can’t keep going at that speed?! But, for example yesterday we were on a very hilly/mountainous hilly-miler and I didn’t really push myself on the one flat bit due to worrying I wouldn’t get up the hill if I pushed myself to my limit. And it is so true for running as well. I needed to hear this, thank you 🙂

  3. Thank you for this. I also am a racer and I do see myself doing exactly as you describe here. I know I can be faster, but I can’t seem to get there. I am never able to keep up with the racers in my group so I usually just give up trying. I know it is all in my head and I talk myself out of it. I am going to try your self talk and see if it helps.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thank you, and good luck indeed. You should know then, there’s a lot more cursing involved – as foul-mouthed as my post was, I’m very tough on my melon committee.

  4. Chatter says:

    Great post, I can think of so many that need to hear this. The same applies to ultra running. The ones who dont finish have ‘can’t’ built into their minds. I cant finish my itband hurts, I rolled my ankle… on and on. With ultra running you have to accept that at some point in a race its going to hurt and going to hurt hard. At that point you have to be ready to put your head down, grin and bear the pain because going past 26.2 on tough trails with tons of elevation aint easy, but you chose to be out there on that day. Suck it up buttercup. Sorry for the rant but its so close to the way I feel with ultra running and distance running. If the bone aint showing keep going is a popular thrown around phrase in ultras and I think it sums this entire mental attitude up. Bite down and suck it up, get your but out there and finish.

  5. Sue Slaght says:

    Amen to the power of positive thinking!

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