Cyclists are often asked what is it about cycling that motivates you to get spend countless hours on the bike? For every cyclist I know, the response varies from, “I grew up racing” to “I just wanted to improve my physical fitness and over time came to love cycling”. Whatever the reason, cyclists share the common understanding that is not always fun, and quite often the word “suffer” can be found imbedded in most cycling conversations. There is a love, hate relationship that is forged over time with the suffering. On one hand, the primal part of the brain says, “STOP PEDALING! THIS HURTS!” while the rational part of the brain says, “GO FASTER, DON’T STOP, YOU CAN DO THIS…” The mind plays this intense game of tug of war and on any given day, on any given ride… Learning how to manage this internal tug of war is as important as any aspect of training. For some, this can be a game changer!
Hey, “you should get in shape, you will be faster!”
Sometime in mid-2013 a friend of mine introduced me to road cycling as way to improve my overall health and conditioning for mountain biking. At the time I was carrying about 220 lbs. on my not so muscular, 5’10” frame. Let’s just say, it was not a pretty sight but within a month I was hooked on riding and begin to join him for group rides a few times a week.
A particular group ride on Wednesday nights included eight to ten riders of all different experience and skill levels. The group of riders that came together each week could be lumped into a couple of categories. The “old guys & the regulars”, not to be taken lightly. This group included the Patriarch of east valley cycling and a handful guys that faithfully tried to keep up with him over tens of thousands of miles ridden each year. Then there were “young guns, brash hot shots that would acquiesce to directions from the patriarch, reluctantly, after being yelled out for going too fast and dropping the third and final group of riders, namely me, along with the occasional new rider that would show up for 1-2 weeks, only to never be heard from again. The reward…The ride culminated at a sports bar each week providing us with the opportunity to fill our bellies with every imaginable option of fried food, beers and unhealthy but tasty menu offerings. What could be better?
I recall several of my early rides with this group vividly, as they would wait, patiently, for me at the top of almost every small hill. One hill in particular stood out because at the top of a gentle, 1 mile and 3% incline, riders turned around and descended back down to the “regroup” at a convenience store. As I often was the last rider in the group, I would take note of who the first riders were returning down the other side of the road. As expected, the first riders heading back down the hill was a mix of the “young guns” and the strongest of the “old guys & regulars”, including a brash, “young gun” that was almost always setting the pace for the group. I often heard the bantering voices of the Patriarch and this rider about setting a consistent pace and waiting for the slower riders…It was a playful and spirited banter, and most weeks the young gun got his way by setting a faster pace than the previous week.
Somewhere around the four or fifth week of being the last guy in the group during the ride, but the first guy to “order dinner” at the sports bar, I found myself getting a, unsolicited,