My friend and cycling brother from another mother wrote a post about some of his desires as they relate to cycling. One was to get a little faster.
I can relate to that line of thought. I shared it for several years. After all, it doesn’t get easier, we just get faster, right?
It’s been my experience that the theory has its limits. While there is no question one can always learn to push a little harder on the pedals, I’ve found a happy balance between speed and fun is more important.
In my case, there are a lot of factors that go into “fast”, including whether or not I want to ride with my wife regularly, and I do – more than anything:
- If I’m too fast for my wife, neither of us is happy – I’m riding too fast and she feels like I’m trying to hammer her into the ground, and I feel like she’s riding too slow and dogging it. Nothing good comes from that scenario.
- If I’m too fast for the group I ride with, and I’m close enough already, I end up hammering them into the ground while we’re supposed to be out on a fun ride – and nobody likes that guy. I should know, I’ve been hammered into the ground by enough of them.
- I like the guys in the A Group, and riding with them is great but I’m happiest with my friends in the B Group.
- Finally, and most important, dude, how bad do I want to hurt whilst I’m supposed to be having fun?
That last one is really what all of this comes down to. I’m not getting any younger and there’s a level of discomfort to riding north of a 23-mph average that I’m not too excited to sign up for. I know I’d get used to it before long, but in the meantime, it’s just not all that appealing.
I love being one of the strong guys in our group. I like being a guy my friends and wife can rely on to take a long turn into the wind so the group can rest up, or the guy who, in a pace line, rides a little out in a crosswind so those behind me get more shelter than if I’d lined up properly in the echelon…
In the end, if I get much faster, I’ll have to jump groups and that would likely mean a change I’m not willing to accept. At least not right now.
Cycling, for the avid enthusiast, isn’t always about getting faster – or at least it doesn’t have to be. Nowadays, what’s most important is the smile on my face when it’s all done. I find more appeal in looking back and thinking about how much fun I had than how fast I rode. This wasn’t always so, but that’s how it is now.
There will always be someone who’s faster. How much as I enjoy the entire experience of cycling is just a little more important than how hard I can push on a couple of pedals.