[065] Country roads

Swim: 0 m/60,000 m

Bike: 35.4/254.3 miles

Run: 0/100.7 miles

I learned some interesting things on my 23-mile ride Sunday:

– Riding in the country is awesome. Sunday morning I attended a function in a town about 23 miles from my in-laws’ place, and I took my bike along so I could ride back to the house while everyone else drove. The area is flat – maybe not exactly pancake-flat, but the hills are much gentler than anything I usually ride in my part of the state. This was my first mostly flat long ride, and it was interesting for me to be able to keep up a higher speed and cadence for the entire distance. My average speed for the ride was 19.6 mph – 1.6 mph faster than my previous best (which was only two days earlier).

– 20 mph is hard. I don’t know what it is about 20 mph. It’s probably just because it’s a nice, round number. But I want to hit it. In more than three months of triathlon training I haven’t yet performed a ride with an average speed of 20 mph or more. I’ve gotten up to 30 mph for brief portions, and have probably ridden individual segments during a ride at over 20, but I’ve never had an entire ride of that pace. It’s hard to do! I thought I might crack it in Sunday’s ride because the course was so flat, but I didn’t quite get there. I started out a bit slow for the first few miles, just to get the legs warmed up, so that probably made the difference. I’ll generally be happy if my training rides stay above 17 mph, but someday I want to break 20.

– Biking is a good workout. When I first started road biking recently, I made a comment to a friend that biking was so much easier than running because running requires constant effort, but you can slack at biking. If you stop running, you immediately stop moving forward. But if you stop pedaling, you’ll likely coast for a while, particularly downhill. So you can build in rests during a ride, or even become lazy. But now that I’m getting a little more experience in the saddle, I want to get the most I can from every ride. That means I never stop pedaling, no matter how easy the terrain might be at a given point. Going downhill? Kick the gears up and keep going. Need a break at the top of a steep hill? Drop the gears and continue with at least a light spin. Sunday’s ride was 69 minutes, and I was working for every second of that time.

– Biking is fun. I’ve mentioned this a few times in recent months, but I love workouts that break me away from the routine. Workouts that get me away from the same loops and courses. And, particularly since I am biking every day in April, a change of scenery is welcome. On Sunday’s ride I was alone, 23 miles from home, with just my bike. It was such an amazing feeling to sail along the quiet, newly paved roads, lulled by the constant “whirrr” of my chain gliding over the sprockets. It was invigorating to go fast for long periods with no hills or stop lights to interrupt the flow. I wasn’t riding through a giant suburban mass, but along country roads and through the occasional small community. It was such a feeling of freedom, and on such a larger scale than going for a run under the same circumstances. The distances I can cover are so much greater, I almost feel like a 16-year-old with a drivers license – I can go anywhere now! These workouts, whether biking or running (or swimming, when I finally get to the open water this season) re-awaken my love for the particular sport, once it’s been removed from the crushing sameness of the daily workout.

(The specs at the top of this post include Saturday’s 12.9-mile ride. Alas, this one was in the neighborhood, on the same streets I’ve run and biked more times than I could ever count.)

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2 Responses to [065] Country roads

  1. David H. says:

    Sounds like a nice ride. If you get a free day or two, I think you’d love a ride on the Parkway, plus the higher elevation training would be highly beneficial.

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