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The One, Simple Inescapable Truth about Training to Ride Faster on a Bicycle

I can still remember my first ride on my brand new, never been ridden until I rolled it out the door, Specialized Venge.  I had just removed all of the useless weight (reflectors, etc.) and set the saddle for height and fore/aft position and pumped up the tires that still didn’t even have a scuff on them yet (after the photo session, of course – it’s only brand new once).  The moment of truth had arrived…

I donned my finest kit, strapped down my shoes (I had Pearl Izumi Tri shoes at the time), put my helmet on, and rolled out.  I started fairly easy at first, not wanting to wreck the ride by pushing too hard, too fast, and too soon… sounds like a tragic comedy, actually.  Coming up my favorite stretch of road (at the time), I was absolutely flying.  Faster than I’d ever gone on that section of road.  A wry grin stretched across my face as I pushed harder on the pedals.  My first ride on a real, honest to God, super-bike…

And then it hit me.  I had no more excuses.  If, from that moment on, I wasn’t fast, it was the fault of the engine.

It was a sobering reality.  When I set out for my first ride on my brand new super-bike, the last thing I was expecting was an “oh shit” moment, but that’s what I got.

I didn’t know it back then, but I did have a few small excuses left.  The Venge was a bit heavy out of the box and the wheels that came on the bike were cheap junk, but today all of my excuses are out the window – I literally have everything an amateur cycling enthusiast (with a mortgage, a smokin’ hot wife, and two kids) could want in a bike:

As a member of the B Group in our club, having gone from an average on the exact same course, over 30 miles on Tuesday night, from 20-1/2-mph to better than 23-mph (we were toying with 23-1/2 at the end of this season), there is one simple, inescapable truth about riding fast; if you want to get fast, you have to get used to pushing beyond your comfort zone.

I have my limits, of course, and I think that’s a good thing.  I have a solid core of friends I like riding with and I don’t feel it’s necessary to get much faster than they ride.  In the end, it’s all about being happy, anyway.  I had to pay the piper in puke to get here, though.  There are months spent on the trainer, pushing harder gears than most normal folk would bother putting up with.  There are the spring miles used to get ready for our first 100k of the season at the end of April that we like to do at a 20-mph average…  There are entire two or three-hour rides where I’m thinking, “Dude, why do I do this to myself!?”  When I’m down south, on vacation in the mountains and rather than sitting back and relaxing, I’m hammering up the steepest damn hill I know of so I can get back home and be a little stronger on our version of “hills”.

Most people who struggle to ride fast think the folks at the front are up there hammering the group down the road, passing bon-bons back and forth, talking about the latest market changes and the fed’s quarterly plan for the interest rate.  Nope, they’re struggling too, just like everyone else.  Some have just learned to push through it a little better than the average bear.

While all of the trinkets and do-dads are worth a mile an hour (maybe 1-1/2), in the end, what really matters is the engine.  A high-end bike won’t fix low-end legs©.

 

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