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Cycling: How Fast is Fast Enough and How Far Should One Go to get Faster?

October 2015
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Let me make one thing very clear:  I am not as fast as I could be.  I can work harder, I could be faster.  There’s no doubt I’d have to work harder, smarter…  Better, but it could be done.

The question, of course, is am I willing to change who I am and how I ride to get faster and I’ve answered that.  Often.  No I am not.  This begs two questions:  How fast is fast enough?  And how far should one go to get faster?

Unless you’re at the top of the pro field, almost anyone can get better or faster with a little extra “want to”.  I could.  I know I have the potential to get faster.  All I’d have to do is commit to some gym work, put in some time with a coach, push the edge just a little harder…  So on and so forth.  I still have a little room to grow and I’m pretty stinkin’ fast already.

I get a wild bur every now and again that I oughta give it a little more effort.  Not to race, I’m pretty much certain I don’t want to do that (if you just thought, “Well he didn’t exactly shut the door on that”, you’re perceptive… I know).  Still, should I push it just a little harder?  Should I give it just a little more?  I wonder if we all don’t go through this every now and again.

The answer is never in “What do I want right now”, but in “What do I want to get out of cycling”.

I have enough work in my life, I simply don’t need more.  This is my answer:  I just want to have fun.  That’s what it all boils down to.

The answer to those two most important questions is to be as fast as is necessary to dish out pain to my friends, nicely. I don’t want to plow them into the asphalt but I do want to be the guy they want at the front when the ride is tough and they need a draft. I want to be fast enough that my wife gets just a little turned on by how easy I make fast look. I want to be fast enough that when there’s someone to chase down, they say, “Go get him Jim”, and I do. I want to be the guy who can do five miles at the front when we’ve only got three in our group and we are all cooked. I want to be the guy who gets a call on vacation from his best cycling bud and he asks when I’ll be coming home ’cause he needs a rest (some help pulling the group). I want to be fast enough that my friend says to my wife, “We all know, when it’s Jim’s turn up front, it’s time to go”. I want to be just fast enough that I can still ride with my kids after 70 miles with my friends…

And I want to be just slow enough that my wife doesn’t become resentful at putting in too many miles.  I want to be just slow enough that I don’t come home too smoked to participate in the family.

Now don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not coming at this from an egomaniac’s position… The idea is to be a contributing member of my group – to be of use to my wife and friends…

I want to be that guy, and that’s why I train how I do. That’s why I ride so hard. And no harder.

Being fast is no fun, alone. Being pretty fast, with a smile on my face and my wife and friends there with me, well, there’s nothing in the world better than that. Nothing you can do with your clothes on anyway.

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That’s just fast enough.

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10 Comments

  1. bonnev659 says:

    I go by as long you are happy! for myself I am trying to get faster until I hit the target speed goal which is coming slowly. But on a few sections of roads I had goals on, one section one day, I was very happy with so I will not try for the section for a while.

  2. ekels22 says:

    I showed up for a club ride on Sunday only other guy that showed is the fastest guy in my club. He just took up cyclocross this year and came in 2nd in a Cat 4/5 race. I never worked so hard to stay on someones wheel. I was feeling the hurt 20 miles into our 75 mile ride. I hurt through 90 percent of the ride but I finished. It felt pretty good plus I was envious of the shape this guy was in. He didn’t even finish the first of his two water bottles. I faked a bathroom stop just to take a breather. Getting fast isn’t easy.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Nope, it sure isn’t. I ride with a couple of Cat 3’s and they’re brutal. Nice work keeping his wheel – and thanks for the bathroom break breather tip! I’ll use that one…

  3. Kecia says:

    As long as cycling is fun and your heart is happy, speed shouldn’t matter…who am I kidding 😉

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    Sounds like you have it figured out Jim. When I started reading this I was thinking ‘How fast does he need to be?!’ Balance is key and as always you put your family first which I applaud.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks Sue, well how fast does he need to be is a GREAT question. Now, if I had a magic wand, I’d take Cat 3 fast… Unfortunately, that’s about what I’d need to get that fast.

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