A little more than a week ago I was fawning on about our extended summer and how nice it’s been for cycling.
Yesterday, it was cold enough that there was a little snow mixed in with the rain. No chance I’m riding in that. I’m an enthusiast, not nuts.
So I set the trainer up in the living room, placed my Trek in it, and fired up Star Wars The Force Awakens. I threw a leg over, clipped in, and got to crankin’.
I missed cycling season two minutes into it and it’s not even entirely over yet. Still, sweating it out watching a movie beats freezing one’s tookus off in the rain – and the trainer definitely beats going on a real diet. So be it.
I know what you’re thinking – if it’s top-secret why would he share it in a free blog post?!
Well, because it’s also ultra-fabulous! I can’t keep an ultra-fabulous training plan to myself, now can I? Of course I can’t….
Okay, so come in here, real close… Closer…. Okay. Here’s my plan: on Monday, I’m going to ride my bike, pretty fast. Then, on Tuesday, I’m going to ride my bike, real fast… again. Then, on Wednesday, now this gets tricky, I’m going to ride my bike again but a little slower this time. For Thursday, I’m going to throw you a curve; I’m going to ride my bike! I’m going to take it easy though… because on Friday, guess what? I’m going to ride my bike again – and on Friday I won’t care what my pace is, simply because it’s Friday.
It gets really interesting for the weekend though! On Saturday I’m going to meet up with all of my friends and we’re going to ride our bikes wherever we want to go, because we’ll be on the gravel bikes, pace won’t matter a bit. For Sunday, I’ll give you two guesses what I’ll be doing but you’re only going to need one: You got it, I’ll be riding my bike with my friends (probably a rinse-and-repeat of Saturday).
This is all weather permitting of course. If it’s raining or snowing, we’ll simply take a day off until the weather is more favorable. See, this is the end of the season, friends. There is no training plan. Training plans are for the two months of winter leading up to the spring! Relax and have some fun, would ya? Sheesh.
I just read two posts, one from a really good friend and one written by a friend of his – both about what we can call Average Pace-itis. The basic gist is simple; Cycling enthusiasts place too much importance on Average Pace, choosing routes with prevailing tailwinds, that are devoid of hills, simply so one can pad their stats. As Average Pace-itis progresses, the cycling enthusiast chooses increasingly easier routes to pad their STRAVA (MMR/Endomondo/RWGPS) stats…. All of a sudden, said enthusiast realizes they haven’t seen a hill in a month because it takes their average pace from 20 mph down to 18-1/2.
I have the very simple remedy. Unfortunately this remedy comes with more side-affects than a new drug to market. Fortunately, they’re all good side-affects: Increased confidence, laughter, increased smiling, a decrease in obsessing over average pace… Basically, it’s winning, but without all of the bat-$#!+ crazy Charlie Sheen stuff.
See, interestingly, I don’t exhibit any symptoms of Average Pace-itis. I don’t, because I already practice the answer….
The key is to take one day a week, mine is Tuesday evening, to hammer out an easy route (ours is 29 miles and some change with a total of maybe a couple hundred feet of climbing – 47 km, 65 meters of up), preferably in a group. The group I ride with was around 20 strong this season and, depending on wind direction and intensity, we could complete that route in 1:23:×× to our best, just a few weeks ago, of 1:18:23 or 22.1 mph for an average (or 35.5 km/h). Pull out all of the stops, too. The race bike, easy route, whatever works. Our route is a loop, and this is the only rule: You can’t do a Point A to Point B, taking advantage of a tailwind, and call it an average pace. Doing so, without clarification, makes you a “poseur”, a fake.
Do this, and the rest of the week simply becomes training for the fast night. Add a lot of climbing, triple the distance and drop the group size down to five or six on a Saturday? The average pace drops to 18-19 mph (29-30.5 km/h) but hills make one faster on the flat and who cares about a Saturday anyway? The pace day is Tuesday.
No more Average Pace-itis for said enthusiast.
This has been a public service post for all of humanity, care of Fit Recovery.
The temperature is hoovering in the mid-40’s. It’s dark out. The lights get switched on and we roll out on the dirt roads. 25 miles later I’m bumping fists with my buddy, Phill before he heads home.
I’ve ridden on paved roads, maybe twice in the last two weeks, and one of those was on the gravel bike anyway (dirt roads were way too mucky after 36 hours of rain). I’ve only taken one day off in those two weeks.
My friends, my cycling world got dirty. In the cycling sense, of course.
I was up at the shop yesterday, playing around with different stems (I settled on a 110 instead of a 120 – but that’s a really long story, I’ll get into that in its own post because my thinking on a silly stem is really complex and it should make a neat post for the enthusiast) and it just so happened that my buddies, Phill and Mike, were up there too, along with Matt (the owner)…
So there we are, the four of us talking about how much fun we’re having in the dirt, and I see a look on Matt’s face that we don’t get to see very often. He smiles, and says he can’t wait to get out there with us – here’s a guy that’s been into bikes and the industry for longer than I’ve been alive, mind you…. the look was enthusiastic excitement. The look on his face showed how I feel when I ride – and on the face of a guy who’s been everywhere and seen everything there is in bikes?! Friends, that’s a conversation I’ll remember for a long time.
We wrapped up the conversation on a special topic to me; How lucky we are, as a group and club, to have such a great bunch of friends to ride with. I follow blogs, written by authors the world over, and what we have is rare.
It’s going to be really cold this morning, and a little windy, but I’ll give you three guesses where we’ll be, but you’ll only need one. The lack of traffic alone makes gravel road riding worth it. Being able to cruise around with a bunch of friends in that setting is simply awesome.
I should add, this whole gravel thing is a post season thing, maybe an off day in season thing, but the asphalt is still where it’s at.
I love to make light of recovery. At first, there was simply too much pain. I can remember being jealous of those who could laugh while I was such a mess. It’s easier now that I’m a little older.
For those who question whether or not I can drink, when I really don’t want to go through the process of explaining that I’m an alcoholic, or for those who don’t need to know that I’m recovering, I go with the tried and true, “I’m allergic. My liver doesn’t work like most people’s and if I drink alcohol, my liver just can’t process it right and eventually it’ll shut down.” I just leave out the part about drinking so much that my liver literally can’t keep up.
For those I can trust I usually go with, “The whole State of Michigan wanted me to quit drinking – it said so on all of the paperwork… The People of the State of Michigan vs. James L… I simply complied.”
I heard a new one last night that really got me going, and this one has a lot to do with the disease concept. Imagine a cancer patient. Now, imagine if cancer patients could stop their cancer if they simply went to a few meetings a week…. The line for those meetings would be out the door and into the street. That one wasn’t new to me, I’ve used the example a number of times in the past.
In that same vain, and using a cancer patient as the example again as one would relate to the “Are You sure You’re an Alcoholic” question; Imagine you’re talking to a cancer patient and you ask, “Are you sure you have cancer? Maybe you were just going through a phase.”
At that point the cancer patient says, “Yeah, we’re going to wait until that Stage Two cancer progresses to Stage Three or Four and then treat it. You know, once it’s really aggressive and jumping to different parts of my body. Just to make sure.”
Said nobody, ever. You treat it and move on. Anyway, I liked the way that put things in perspective. I am a recovering alcoholic and I can have all of my misery back, in a hurry. All I have to do is take a drink.
They say cycling in bad weather makes one a badass…
I say putting in enough miles that one can take a day off when it’s crappy outside is even more badass.*
8,140 miles for the year so far.
*This obviously doesn’t apply to anyone who lives in Ireland or the UK. I realize you have to ride in the rain over there, or you simply don’t ride.
A friend, the other night, came up to me as we were bowling (I bowl on a sober league) and asked if I could share my perspective with him, as a person who recovered young. He said that he was sponsoring a young guy who was struggling. Not with the steps, he was putting in the work, but with feeling like he was being cheated because he had to sober up young.
I could relate. I got over that 299 months ago.
I made peace with sobering up young two weeks into recovery because I knew quitting drugs and drinking would stop the pain. I quit digging, in other words.
Once I made the decision to quit, I gave up on the notion that I could ever drink successfully. I had exhausted all other options. I had tried everything I could think of to control my abuse. It was like trying to stop a freight train with a pea shooter. Talk about Don Quixote!
Maybe if I aim just right, and jump to the left as I shoot the conductor in the forehead with my pea shooter, he’ll stop the train…. Yeah! That might work!
As time went on, it became easier to leave that “cheated” feeling in my past. I went from having to quit to wanting to stay quit. And with that, the pain went. As the pain went, let’s just say it was easy to not want the anguish back.
I was watching the lead up to Monday night football last night. They featured a story about the Eagles quarterback and his tie to a young kid who’d died because of cancer. The kid was ten when he passed, and I was in full-blown tears watching the story.
That poor kid would have given anything to be able to get rid of his cancer by going to a few meetings and doing some steps.
Cheated? I cheated death and got an awesome life in the process. I wasn’t cheated by sobering up at 22. I was cheating.
It’s all in the perspective.