I had a great conversation with the owner of our local shop the other day about my Tuesday night club ride. It was fast. Maybe too fast.
While I rode hard and emptied the tank, I truly believe I could have stayed with the racers. If not to the end, close enough for government work. I chose to sit up and let a gap form because my friends had dropped and it was time anyway, because that’s just what we do.
I’ve improved my average on that ride from 19.5 mph the first year to 21 the next and 22 last year. May not sound much but that’s a ten minute difference over 30 miles. It’s a lot. 20 seconds a mile. This year I’ll beat that. Easily.
So Matt says to me, “You should have stayed with them [on Tuesday]. You’re stronger, faster… Fitter. You’ve learned a lot too, about where to be in the group, when to hide.”
He’s right and I’ve been working for this for a long time.
And now that I’m on the edge of the next level, I’m not sure I want to give up that last ten miles with my friends. Couldn’t I be happy, maybe even happier, just being the hammer of our little gang or do I have to make the progression just because I can? It’s a great problem to have. I used to think my age was going to limit me, that I was getting on in years and that I should just embrace my place as a young geezer, but I was wrong. It wasn’t my age, it was miles and fitness – and go figure, in a year where I’ve put in more slow miles (with my smokin’ wife) than ever before.
The truth is, speed is a funny thing. Sure, it has a lot to do with being strong and fit, but the faster I get, the more I’ve come to learn that it’s more about “want to”. It’s often said that the best way to get fast is to ride with people who are faster than you are. In my case, I ride with people vastly faster than I am. As this is published, I’m out on the road with my best cycling buddy, Mike. Today’s going to be a long one so we’ll have plenty of time to talk things over. One thing is for sure, this year is far better than I’d hoped – and we haven’t even hit summer yet.
I can say this for sure: I never thought that I’d get to this point and say, “Do I gotta?”
From the Memorial Weekend ride: