The other day, Vicky made a comment about my constant cycling. “It’s just the way you are. If you do something you like, you want to do it a whole lot. Smoking. Drinking. Now, cycling.” She makes a good point. I have that addict mindset that wouldn’t understand moderation if you broke it down into five two-letter words…
That said, if you have to be addicted to something, it’s good to find something healthy. Mind you, I am using the word “addicted” and not “proficient”. There are still so many cyclists out there who just blow me away on a daily basis. I’m not talking about Lance Armstrong; I’m just talking about the guys on the Santa Ana River Trail. Even in my little corner of the world, I have a long way to go.
After riding my first century a few weeks back, I went out for my second. And it really was amazing. This time, I took fewer snack breaks and actually found myself hurting a lot less. I combined the century with a metric in the same week!
That century was on Friday. Yesterday, I was back on the road for a 75 mile ride. I wasn’t going to do another century but I wanted to get some distance in there, still. And this really has me surprised. In the years since I’ve taken up this sport, I’ve never been this aggressive. The first year, I got in some 40 milers but stuck with 10-15 mile rides normally. Two years ago, I brought my maximum ride up a metric, which is 100 kilometers (or 62 miles). I did it completely by accident, just overextending the hell out of myself. Again, my normal ride was closer to 25 miles. Last year, unemployed, I decided to really push it and set a goal for myself of two metrics. I did it, if barely, and increased my daily ride into the 30-40 mile range.
This year, I set a goal of three metrics. I also decided that to improve my distance I would ride longer distances on a daily basis. So, I set out riding 30 miles from the very beginning, when the “season” began in March. (The “season” is determined when it’s not too cold or wet for my whimpy ass.) I was able to put two metrics behind me before the beginning of July and, when the Tour de France began, I set out on my very first century.
It feels great to set goals and not only meet them but blow them out of the water. I have lost track of how many metrics I’ve done this year. As a result, I’m changing my cycling focus from single rides to weekly totals. For example, rather than planning on a single century, I set a weekly goal. This week, my goal is 200 miles. I’ve already put 75 miles in the bank.
The best thing about this 75 mile ride, though, was that it helped me decide on a different goal: speed. The distance of my rides doesn’t mean much if I’m just cruising along at 10-12 miles/hour. Recently, I’ve been testing my speed and have found that I can get pretty close to an average speed of 15 miles/hour. I’ve hit 14.8 and 14.9, but I never hit 15. As I was riding yesterday, I decided that rather than focusing on the distance I was riding, I would focus on keeping an average speed of 15 mph.
And I did it. I’ll tell you that the difference between 14.8 and 15 mph is a whole lot greater than you might think. It really killed me to maintain that speed.
And now, I’m craving another ride. I took today off to get some work done but have three back-to-back rides planned after that. Each ride will be about 45 miles in length and I’ll be going into some hills for a change. The key is to keep testing my limits and setting new goals, to keep this new addiction going…