Since I began riding bicycles, which morphed into becoming a full-blown cyclist, I have loved going fast. All of my training centered around doing everything I could to be faster. Fast days were 20-21 mph averages. “Slow” active recovery rides we rarely, if ever, below an 18 mph average. I rode alone for the first three years, with rare exception – and I rode fast. Within two years of road biking I was holding a 21 mph average on my own for 30 miles.
After three years, almost four, I finally got my cycling legs (as they were described by my friend and the owner of our local bike shop). “Cycling legs” describe a state of cycling fitness where one’s legs finally become accustomed to the constant effort of daily cycling. Simply put, cycling legs recover faster from greater effort, day after day – it’s as if the body finally becomes accustomed to the regular effort. Cycling legs are awesome.
I like my bikes fast, light and low…. and red on black. And clean.
I will always love going fast – taking a corner leaning so far that I have to throw my inside knee out to get that extra little bit of pull through the apex always reminds me of being a kid. I can’t imagine I’ll ever grow tired of that.
This year has been special though. Some of my friends are starting to slow down a little bit and we have a few women who ride with us, my wife being one of course, so we’re just not cranking out the average speeds like we used to (except on Tuesday nights) and surprisingly, that’s not such a bad thing. I have to spend a lot more time up front to get a proper workout, but all that takes is a little want to and a desire to move air for my friends so they can ride faster.
That said, I’ve been enjoying the slower rides these days. Riding with my wife and friends and being able to look at something other than the butt in front of me (not so bad when it’s my wife’s butt, butt I digress), has been really nice. I get done with a little gas left in the tank so I’m not cooked for the rest of the day and I have a lot more fun while I’m riding.
There are only a couple of times where the slower cycling is no bueno: Tuesday night and the century. Tuesday night is that one day a week where it’s good to finish with my tongue dangling only inches from my spokes. It’s the ride to let it all hang out. The century, 100 miles (not 100km), is the second. 6-1/2 hour centuries get a little old. I can hang for the 5-6 hour century but any longer than six, I just want to get it done and have a tough time refraining from putting the hammer down. Lastly, when it comes to weight management, faster rides mean better weight loss and being able to get away with eating more. It just is what it is.
There once was a time I disagreed with the idea of riding below one’s ability. I believed in pushing the pace, in constantly working to go faster. My attitude has softened a little bit, mainly because I’ve found that riding a little slower is actually a lot of fun – and in the end, having fun is what cycling is all about.