For those who are deciding to make cycling their New Year’s resolution, many will be tempted to hammer the gears hard right out of the gate, only to find out that it’s a lot more work than remembered as a kid. Well, that’s what happened to me anyway, and I figure I’m not the only one.
First, don’t be disheartened. If you put a little bit of “want to” into it, you’ll progress rapidly, adding distance while keeping your speed up. We get out of it what we put into it, but be careful that your goals are in line with reality (weight and age). When I started cycling I didn’t know what to expect. I found out soon enough that 4 miles in 16 minutes on a mountain bike was pretty hard. Within a month I could hold that for ten miles… A year and a couple of road bikes later and I could hold 20+ mph (3 minute miles) for 30 miles on my own, and I was riding almost every day of the week….
However, my legs still took a while to build up. Estimates, depending on age, are two to five years before a cyclist can really start to realize their full potential but the common marker is “cycling legs in three years”. This won’t mean that you can’t realize gains quicker, you will if you work for it, over time your legs become much more resilient to the rigors of daily cycling so that putting together several hard days in a row won’t have you looking to curl up on the couch with a bottle of Aleve and the remote control for a few days to recover.
I’m working on my fifth year now, and last year was a breakthrough for me. I much stronger through my third year, but last year was special. I was pretty fast once I got into road bikes (let’s say a lot faster than average, but not all that fast next to those who race for fun). I increased my mileage year-over-year by 20% and was able to push out three months where I only missed two days on two wheels. Prior years, the best I could hope for was a couple of weeks in a row before I needed a day off… One day off a week was even better. This ability to ride on a daily basis, I ascribe to finally getting my cycling legs.
Cycling with speed is a very simple equation (i + d) w = a:
(Intensity + Distance) Want to = Awesome.
Oh, and one of these won’t hurt:
The topic of the proper placement of a taillight can be a bit of a charged topic, believe it or not, in a group setting.
First of all, an avid enthusiast roadie (such as me, not to put too fine a point on it) knows the best way to be visible is not just to wear a bunch of neon green or yellow stuff (no offense, Tinkoff) when you’re on your bike. Now, after seeing a guy, barely seeing I should say, riding in a forest green jacket, possibly the worst color to wear on a bike, one must know the trick is to be loud and proud. Err… Anyway, bright red works great. Bright orange too… Yellows, even some of the blues – and white is a sure winner. Brown, gray, black (how I wish this weren’t so! I love black!), dark green… these are all bad. The additional trick, however, to really sticking out, is to look awesome. The more impressive one looks on a bike, the more you stick out. If you doubt me, you’d better check your awesome.
There are those times, however, where you just wanna wear black. For these days, I like to fly a light, just to make sure I give myself the best chance to pull into the driveway with the rubber the right side down. Also, while I absolutely will not ride in pea soup-thick fog, I will ride in less than perfectly clear conditions… For those days I want the brightest light I can get and the Serfas Thunderbolt is it.
My friends and I all use a Serfas Thunderbolt taillight. All of us. Rather than drone on about how bright it is, I’ll simply say this, a police officer once pulled over a friend of mine on his bike to compliment him on his choice of lights because the officer could “literally see [him] a mile away”. He had it on “low blink”.
It’s a bright frickin’ light.
Anyway, the normal placement for a taillight is either on the seat post or on the saddlebag, right?
Not if you use a Thunderbolt, you’ll blind the $#!+ out of anyone riding behind you.
This is the proper place for it in a group setting:
On the left seat stay, just above the dropout.
See, the norm for a group ride is not to look at the wheel but over the shoulder of the person in front of you and up the road, with maybe a glance down every now and again to make sure your wheel spacing is right… With a Thunderbolt on the seat post, even though it’ll be pointing down a little bit, it can be distracting at best, blinding in the worst cases.
Now, because you’ll be checking the wheel in front of you from time to time, the seat stay placement might seem worse, because it will shine up into one’s face, but it’s not. We all ride with our light there and we never have problems.
So please, think of the person on your wheel. Don’t blind them, dude.
If you like using a light, I would like to recommend the Thunderbolt. In my opinion, it’s the best bicycle taillight on the market, by a long shot. I bought mine, minus my club discount at the local bike shop, and Serfas has no idea that I’m giving their light a review.
Ride hard, my friends. Or ride your approximation of hard. That works too. Just ride.
UPDATE: My brother from another cycling mother, Titanium Henry chimed in down in the comments section to suggest going with the full-time on position rather than the blink to avoid blasting your brothers and sisters in chain rings with a strobe light show…