I Support a Healthy Tail(wind)


Cycling solo-style gives you lots of time to think. Too much time, typically. In fact, if I am riding alone and am unable to come up with something to keep my mind occupied… I start to have a pretty bad time (especially if a climb isn’t going so well). As counterintuitive as it may seem, having someone with which to chat or some other task on which to focus actually makes me a better rider. The more cycles I spend thinking about how tired I am/how long the climb is/how far it is to get home… the worse everything seems – downward spiral style. I’m pretty sure the technical term might be called “psyching yourself out.” Luckily, I identified my tendency toward mental self-flagellation and its negative impacts on performance early on in my cycling career (ha!), and discovered a few tricks to keep myself spinning happily. The easiest one? Entertainingly enough: plotting my next blog post. That’s right, trying to pick out which pieces of my ride might be interesting enough to write about actually distracts me pretty well (remembering what the topic I’d picked by the time I finally get home is a whole other story).

Today’s ride was a tough one. It was solo (so no oddball companion stories to share). It was short (no “omg my legs” whining to be had), and the route was a three times out-and-back repeater course (no unexpected hill surprises to be found). I didn’t run anything over, and I didn’t fall down. So… you’re probably wondering by now… what do I have for you? Well, when there’s no giant interesting event to talk about, sometimes summing up all the small things you notice can be pretty amusing. For today this translates to the “I support” and “I cannot tolerate” lists. Oh yeah folks, two for one here. Please try and keep the excited screaming to a minimum. Without further ado:

I support

  • Riding outside. Spin class is good (and is what I had planned for today), but wind, sunshine and outdoor smells are better.
  • Nicely paved roads, closed to traffic. Descending at 30mph without worry of being hit by a car is a good thing.
  • New batteries in the chest strap and cadence meter for my Garmin. My data nerd side will finally get a full-on fix!
  • Awesomely cute puppy jerseys (and people who compliment me on wearing them).
  • Little kids out riding bikes. Not much bad to say about parents encouraging kids to get active (especially these days).
  • Re-riding well known routes and focusing on performance and “all those little things.” Believe it or not, practicing pulling bottles solo (after a season using the devil Camelback) was way helpful.
  • Kickass tailwinds. Pushing my average speed from 13-14mph on flats up to 17-20 is frikkin’ fun.
  • Attacking from behind on a climb just to see if you can get ahead and stay there. Internal mental contests keep me motivated!

 

I cannot tolerate

  • The friendly tailwind’s flipside: the headwind. Grinding my flats time down to 10mph around some turns is just mean.
  • People riding without helmets — especially kids. Hitting your head on pavement at any speed is dangerous, there’s just no reason not to be protected. And parents should know better!!
  • Riding serpentine patterns in the middle of the road, especially on a descent. Yeah, the road is closed to traffic… but I’m pretty sure traveling in unpredictable patterns “just for fun” is still a bad idea.
  • Tiny kids and the middle of the road. Be sensible folks! If I smack into your 3 year old at 30mph, it’s not gonna go well for either of us (especially if he’s not wearing a frikkin HELMET!!!). Keep ’em safe, keep ’em on the shoulder.
  • Fixing flats at the crest of a climb with 6 of your friends, when there’s a perfectly good shoulder three feet to your right. C’mon man!
  • Forgetting that I’d hurt myself and then pushing off hard to get up a hill on my already stressed out knee (at the very first baby climb). Ow. Just… ow.
  • Core classes with an over-abundance of squats which caused aforementioned knee issue.
  • Snot rockets. Not much more to say there. EW.

 

Nothing earth-shattering, but it kept my mind busy. And that enabled me to try and push my speeds up and improve skills without *too much* self abuse. My overall pace was up about 2-3mph from average, and I pushed my descending speed a bit faster than normal with some hawt “core engaged” crouch in the drops action. Not bad for a quick, unplanned, hour long ride! And… because I know you’ve been missing it… the return of Garmin data!!

Motion Based ride data

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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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