Last year I couldn’t ride more than six days in a row. I knew I couldn’t. Taking one day off a week meant that I wouldn’t end up with dead legs after thirteen consecutive days on the bike. I chose one day off a week because I tried one every two weeks the year before and while that worked, at the end of those two weeks I usually felt a little tired out.
That screen shot of my Endomondo account represents 46 bike rides over 36 straight days and I covered 1,220 miles. That’s an average of 33.88 miles each and every day… And if it weren’t for the pesky job, I could have gone farther. Alas, I have to pay for my bikes and vacations (and all of that food) somehow. The point is, as of March I was certain that I couldn’t possibly ride more than two weeks in a row, at any speed. I needed to take a day off.
I was wrong. I didn’t know how to. The desire was there, I just lacked in the know-how.
I started riding three or even four slow days during the week, between 16 and 18 mph on average. It’s called active recovery, and if I go slow enough on the active recovery days I can keep riding as if I were taking regular time off all along. Now, I’m under no illusions here. I know I’m going to have to pay the piper sooner or later, or I could end up with a nagging injury that takes months to recover from. We’re actually looking at rain over the next three days. Considering this is the dry time of the year, I’ll probably end up with one or two days off out of the three, and that’ll do. Additionally, with my big ride of the year only a few weeks away, I will be slowing down considerably before it gets here – both in terms of actual speed and I’ll take a few days off (or ride short, extra slow miles) so I can go into the four-day, 380 mile trip with fresh legs. Either way, I’ve turned I can’t into I can, with a little bit of know-how.
Second, I don’t race. I never have, nor do I have a desire to. Is it a waste of talent? Possibly, because I have the legs to compete, possibly as high as Cat 3 or 4. What I don’t have is the desire to work that hard. I’m a 45 year-old man with a wife and two kids and a great, if difficult, job. I wake up every day, happy to be alive and grateful for the choices I’ve made that got me where I am today. I like my life so much, and cycling is a part of that, that I’m not willing to risk the balance I have to race a bicycle. It’s just not worth the risk. This is my “I don’t want to”.
Finally, I bumped over 5,000 miles for the year last week. I’m currently at 5,200 and some change. Two years ago my total for the year was 5,400… Last year was 6,000… I didn’t think I could do much better than that and I was hoping for 10,000 km this year. I’ll blow by that before we hit October.
I used to believe that there were limits to what I could do in terms of recovery and cycling. Too many times I’ve been wrong. Any more, as long as I’m honest (with myself and others), I’ve found I can do darn near anything I want. It’s just a matter of want to.
That’s a good place to be.