I’ve been cycling for four seasons now… Avidly. I love everything about it. I love the bikes (some more than others), the teamwork (for roadies), the dirt (single tracks), the vastly improved relations with my wife, the clothing, the food, and still fitting into the same slacks size I did when I was 25 – I just fill everything out better now.
There is only one thing that really chaps my ass. One thing that drives me up a freakin’ wall. I run out of “want to” so I can’t keep up with the A group on Tuesday nights.
Now, I’ve made my peace with it, for the most part. I’m truly just not willing to train as hard as the other guys do and I’m not willing to take rest days like they do. Oh, I ride every day I can, whether you think it’s a good idea or not. I simply don’t care, because it’s just right for my melon (the gray matter between my ears).
That said, I am fast enough to be of use and to enjoy myself with the eight to ten guys and three women I ride with on a regular basis. That should be good enough… Alas, I’m a cyclist and we all know it takes a little convincing to maintain that belief.
The question, however, is Quality or Quantity. Both have their merits to the avid cyclist, but is one better than the other?
I’ve tried both but I’ll hold my opinion for just a minute.
Now quantity comes with one blazingly awesome quality: Normal people will think you’re awesome. As in, “You rode a bicycle a hundred miles yesterday?! What’d that take you, 15 hours?!”
“Nah, four and a half hours or so.”
That’s usually followed by a blank stare and a slack jaw. If you’re lucky, even a little drool on the fellas lapel.
Or possibly you get a sucker… “Yeah, how many miles do you ride in a year?”
“Meh, six or seven thousand miles. Enough I could ride to La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) California. And back. And back there one more time, because I forgot my arm warmers. Or, if I wanted to do a one-way trip, I could ride from my driveway roughly to Bolivia (just north of Argentina, but don’t cry for me because it’s all good).”
My buddy Mike, a formidable 62 year-old avid enthusiast, is a quantity kind of guy… And he’s retired so he can afford to be. He rides enough in a year to get all the way to Argentina, and not just the northern tip… He’d have enough left over to actually explore the country for a minute before catching a plane home.
Quantity is more about sheer volume than speed.
Quality isn’t quite as Sexy. Quality is for us working stiffs. “Hey, I’ve only got an hour to get my smile on after a long day at the office, so I do what I can and then hammer the longer miles when I’ve got time on the weekends.” This is the world I live in. Interval days on the trainer in the winter. Hill sprints (intervals) in the springtime, lots of time in the mountains on vacation… The harder the ride you can fit into the short time you’ve got, the better.
Quality is pretty fun to talk about too:
“So how long does it take you to do that 30 miles?”
“‘Bout an hour and fifteen minutes.”
The problem here, of course, is that if you’re talking to a Time Trialist, he (or possibly she) will likely laugh at you. Also, if you’re speaking to someone who has, God forbid, never ridden a bike, they’ll convert that into car travel time and likely be unimpressed.
That really doesn’t answer the question though, does it? Which is best for the avid cyclist?
Whichever makes your face look like this:
Or this, this, this, this, this, this, this, or this, or this, this, this, and this:
To get really fast, I have it on authority, it takes both. Time and Intensity… But we’re avid enthusiasts. We are in it for the good times and noodle salad.
[ED: If you were expecting this to be a serious post that actually tried to dissect Quantity vs. Quality, I apologize. If you thought this post was a serious look at whether to choose one or the other based on the information presented, please put down the serious pills.]