The hardest part of cycling with any speed is training faster than I want to ride. The second is getting used to the hurt.
I put in 157 hard (but fun) miles over Saturday and Sunday. My legs, on Monday, were smoked but I still managed 40 easy miles to loosen up my legs – or at least that’s what I was hoping for.
The warm-up last night was rough. The wind was whipping at 15+ mph and it was picking up. I hid like a champ but my quads protested mightily when I got to the front for a short pull into the wind. It hurt. The last two miles, with a tailwind, were almost comical. We were pedaling fairly easy at 27 mph.
As has been the case for more than a month now, we split into our B Group after placing a new guy with some people who should have been his speed (as a side note, when you’re asked by a group leader what your pace is, DON’T EXAGGERATE).
I started toward the front and prepared for the worst. I knew the first 15 miles were going to suck. I was right. The wind was easily over 20 mph after a couple of miles and we were dead into it.
On the plus-side, we literally rode right around a rainstorm. We missed getting rained on by just a mile or so.
The last of the headwind miles was brutal. One of the guys asked another guy and me to pull, into the wind and uphill, for more than a full mile to deposit the tandem at the next hills so they could hold the pace they needed. We did it, but I was actually worried about holding on to the group after the turn….
Then, Our Lady of Glorious Tailwind took over. Our average after the first 15 miles was in the upper 16 mph range (just 26 km/h). We would finish just shy of 20 when it was all said and done (32 km/h). In other words, the last 15 was very fast.
Interestingly, working that hard really loosened my legs up by the time we were done (opposite of what I thought would happen). The last ten miles felt a whole lot better than the first and middle ten. I missed the 20 mile sprint into Vernon because one of the guys went too early and rather than let him go and flame out, I thought I could hold on. I ran out of gas 200 meters from the line. I did, however, position myself perfectly for the last sprint and took that one by a few bike lengths at something like 36 mph.
I have always advocated for a cyclist to ride to the limit of their endurance, both in person and on this blog. To a point, this is good advice, but I’ve come to believe it is also shortsighted.
Now that I’m a bit more knowledgeable, I believe it’s better to ride to the limit of one’s enjoyment.
There is a trick to my proposal though. If I’m going to ride at the edge of my enjoyment, I have to train beyond it.
That’s really the ticket, isn’t it? Having fun? No matter how hard I push myself, if I’m not having fun, what use is the fitness? I have never been more grateful for being a part of the B group as I have been this year. Having fun is way better than depositing some of my breakfast on my top tube.
Just a thought.