I’ve been riding regularly since the end of last year. After a terrible year (from a cycling viewpoint) I’ve recommitted to getting out. So I’ve managed to keep this up for over a month, and yesterday some friends who are back from their annual sojourn in Florida said they were riding so I took up a big section in the heart of the day for longer ride. (Thanks Lisa!)
The last time I did this ride I hadn’t been on my bike for weeks and weeks, and not before that for weeks and weeks, etc., etc, and that’s not a great way to have fun while riding with folks who are on their bikes all the time. I Panted and heaved and struggled and got dropped and dropped and dropped again, and generally had little fun other than proudly knowing that I had earned the price I was paying through neglect. Suffering on a bike has a long history. I was in good company, other than the relative speed at which all this was taking place.
So I’ve building back up a bit and it was time to go a bit longer and as it turned out faster. Amazingly the weather cooperated and it was relatively warm out (high 40’sF). That in and of itself was pleasant — my birthday ride the other week was in the low 20’s, the feel’s like temps were 0F when we started out.
Anyway, we hit the first flat and we’re cruisin’ along and my partner drops off saying something about going back and riding with someone else, so I keep going. I continue on and when I actually look back I see no one. I’m awfully surprised. How could I have dropped this group of stronger riders and folks who have been riding every day in Florida? No idea. I still don’t. I really lighten up now floating at 10MPH and shortly I here a “whoop” from behind, and a second later there’s the group. One person suggested doping was the cause for my new found speed. I wondered whether I had just burnt all my matches unintentionally, and would be dragging and bonking on the backside of the ride.
But it turns out not to be the case, and there was plenty more groovin’ along on this basically flat route. There were a couple of little hills which I struggled with as much because I wasn’t prepared for them as anything else. For me tempo on even a short hill… and “knowing” the hill, where it gets steep, how to ride it (bigger gear here, spin here, out of the saddle here) is critical to maximizing what little I have.
However I felt some strength, and some spin, and just a bit more like someone who rides than I have in a year. I’m sure I held my partners back a bit on the ride home, but not so much that I felt like a drag. This month is “try to ride every day Sunday through Thursday” month for me. Yesterday was the start, and today should be no problem, though I have to get the trainer set up in addition to doing the spin.
I’ll keep mentioning it over the course of the month to embarrass myself into keeping the commitment as much as possible.
The point of all this however, was to reming myself of the huge improvements that can be achieved simply by making riding routine. Even the once a week or better I’ve been doing has greatly restored some ability. I’m not sure why that should be such a revelation at this point, but it is. So now it’s time to amp things up, and seriously prepare for the hills. I hope to ride shorter and more intensely this year as time is as short as ever, and there’s less time for long lazy rides (as pleasant as those can be) so I have to make my time on the bike count, and that means intervals and hills. So be it. At least my knees aren’t hurting for the first time in 2 or so years now.