We dropped my friends, Phill and Jonathan the other night on a fairly lively ride I described quickly in my Venge Day post. We started out pretty tame but the speed picked up quickly until we were cruising at 21-24 mph. That’s pretty good for us this early in the season.
Unfortunately, after six miles north of 22, Phill and Jonathan were hurting. We were heading south, with the wind coming from the west and our right and we were uphill – at 22-1/2 mph. It was almost a mile before I realized Jonathan and Phill were off the back. I told Chuck we’d dropped the other two and we sat up to give them a chance to catch up. When they latched back on, Chuck and I kept it at 21 with the crosswind and 23 for the tailwind and we finished as a group. The satisfaction on Phill’s face was easy to see.
My wife was standing in the driveway to greet us and Jonathan mentioned that Phill and he had been dropped several miles back. My wife looked at me with a stern, but funny, look on her face and said, “You don’t drop my friend, Phill”, and she wagged her finger at me. Phill let her know that he got exactly what he needed. He said that if he isn’t challenged, he won’t get faster for the season.
There are two competing ways I know of to get fast, and neither of them includes osmosis or sitting on a couch. There’s a slow way and a fast way.
The slow way is simple enough, more miles. They don’t necessarily have to be all that fast, either. Over time you build up fitness and you do, definitely, get faster. The question is how much faster? In my experience, junk miles produce junk results.
The second way is to put yourself in situations where you’re working harder than you can sustain, especially when you’re up front. This is the hard way but the results come much quicker and they’re greater. This is why Phill wasn’t upset at getting dropped. We hammered him, there’s no doubt, but as soon as we realized what we’d done, we sat up and waited for him. He had miles where he was right at the edge – and that’s what makes you fast.
Notice, the bike didn’t make this post. The bike is important, but not as much as the rider’s want to.