Saturday, May 12, 2012

Anatomy of a bike ride…

I went for my longest solo ride this season this morning, and during the few hours on was on my bike I thought a lot about training. Last week, I took Monday as a rest day after my 35 mile group ride on Sunday, and then did relatively short rides on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. None of them were great rides, and I was feeling pretty frustrated about my training regimen. I felt slow and sore, and really wasn’t enjoying riding my bike. Adding insult to injury, the only five minutes that it rained really hard on Wednesday were during the last few minutes of my ride. It had been sunny, with blue skies and fluffy clouds, and just before I arrived home, the temperature dropped by 10 or so degrees, the sky darkened, and the rain poured. I was cold, wet, and miserable. I wasn’t sure how to solve what seemed to be a combination attitude and athleticism problem, but a little voice in my head said “Is it possible that you are pushing yourself too hard?” I had brushed off the same little voice as I headed out on Thursday, and ended up cutting my ride short because I just didn’t feel good. As I looked at the beautiful, cloudless sky on Friday, I decided to take another rest day. It wasn’t on my calendar, but I thought an extra day of stretching might make me feel better. Lo and behold, it did. This morning when I got on my bike, I felt much fresher and was able to enjoy the burn up the hills, the wind in my face, and the perfect temperature of the air. I also warmed up properly, letting myself amble along for the first ten minutes, spinning faster than I needed to and pushing less than I could. I realized that I might have been sabotaging myself, pushing hard right out of the parking lot, straining cold muscles up the hills while lamenting slow progress, day after day without enough recovery time to get stronger.

For the record, it only rained a tiny bit on my ride today, which I consider a major victory. Also, my second lesson of the day was that I can, in fact, feel cold fronts move in while I ride my bike. They are not pleasant and I wish they would hold off until my ride was done…

Here’s to learning important things at the beginning of the season, and riding stronger AND smarter the rest of the summer!

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