Friday Group Ride #224

Friday Group Ride #224

Asked how he’ll do in the race, the Euro Pro says, “I have trained well, and the sensations are good.” I read this bland, stilted statement over and over and think about what it really means. I feel good. I feel good. I have trained well, and I feel good. Sensations is a good word though.

In the morning, as I wait for my riding companion, a cup of coffee perched next to me on the stone wall, the sun spreads slantingly up the street and warms my exposed arms and legs. This is the moment when the regret of leaving the bed’s horizontal comfort first lifts. It’s a good sensation.

We are on the road and off again as the morning traffic percolates to a boil. The grass is trying hard to overgrow the trails, its tall blades licking our shins with dew. They itch as they dry, the trail dropping away to slick dirt before us.

There is a rattle board effect you get riding skinny tires over New England roots. You have to modulate your grip, somewhere between death grasp and pianissimo. The end of the trail brings attention back to the state of hands, forearms and shoulders. I shake them out, back on the pavement.

We bob and twist from town to town, capering, linking up sections of neighborhood and odd patches of woods, until all around us the day is humming. Life is in full swing, and we need to wrap this adventure up. We cut across one last park, take the hill from the side, only turning into the steep of it at the very last second, then battle with it briefly, to breath’s end.

That feeling of finally cresting, pedals slackening, a first deep breath into your lungs, and then back in the garage, the basement, up the stairs to the shower, and the sensation of suddenly, sadly needing to be at work, this latter sweetening all the ones that came before, a dry wine to set off summer’s richest fruits.

This week’s Group Ride asks what your favorite sensations are on the bike? Do your prize the struggle? Or the finish? What are the high notes of that physical/emotional opera that plays out on the road or on the trail? And when was the last time you felt them?

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19 comments

  1. Dustin

    “I feel good.”

    Those are good days. When you can get on top of the gear and stay there, spinning fast and easy, when it almost feels like the pedals are turning themselves, and you’re just chasing them trying to keep up.

    Another good one is the unknown. That nervous feeling of heading into something, but not sure what it is, or how well you’ll come out the other end. Turning down a road you’ve never ridden. Riding a new trail for the first time. Sitting in the start line of a race you’re not entirely sure you can finish.

    Good sensations indeed!

  2. Rod

    My favourite sensation was of total mental fulfilment and bodily emptiness, coming across the finish of a time trial I had botched the year before. There was nothing left – finished strong, but legs were shot, coughed and couldn’t breathe for about a full minute at the end, and wasn’t able to control the bike at the end of the runway and almost crashed.

    I knew I had done well – it was the perfect ride – “easy” on the downhill bits, bloody hard on the slow parts, no losses of mental focus. Good turnaround, off the aerobars on a slow uphill section, hammering and coasting over some rollers… All according to plan, and passing 3 other riders in a 38 km test.

    It’s the only time on the bike where mind and body actually worked in collaboration and close to 100% output. It hasn’t happened again – but this race takes place again in 6 weeks so I hope I can do it again.

  3. harris

    I had the sensations Tuesday on my after work ride, but my regular group was working late and I was solo. The sensations were strong right up to the last three of the twenty eight miles, where you turn and face a strong headwind the rest of the way in. I was ready to crush them, until I saw my dad up ahead and I dropped the pace so we could ride in together, with him in the slipstream so he could take it easy – which brings its own sensations, of a different nature.

  4. Scott

    Harris,
    The comments section of RKP needs a “Like” button. Beautifully sentiment. Well done!
    My dad bike commuted for many years which probably influenced me to do the same. He’s in his 80’s now. Riding is a concept he left behind 20 years ago. I sincerely regret that the trajectory of our riding experience did not overlap. Now, as my son’s strength increases, I take shelter on his wheel with a huge sense of pride. I need to make sure he knows that!

  5. imakecircles

    The good sensations happen for me in late spring/early summer. There are lots of small, short coastal hills about these parts, but heading into the higher elevations and longer climbs requires the snow to melt on its own schedule. Returning to the short, sharp, shocks of the coastal hills after several times in the higher mountains makes them to seem shorter and less shocking.

  6. Aaron

    I have three – 1) mentioned by others – that point in a ride where it’s all clicking and your are speeding along and the pedals turn effortlessly, as if you are gliding and could go forever. 2) just before the apex of a steep incline, on the precipice of a drop where you know pushing it over the hill will give you a long descent, and you zip up your jersey because you know the wind will cool you off quickly. Downhill you plummet. 3) In a group ride, when some one refreshes the town-line sprint competition that you forgot about, and one of the others gets the jump on you yelling “preem!” and you jump on it to catch a wheel if you can, and you all laugh crossing the town line in whatever order, anticipating who will get the jump in about a half hour or so when you get to the next town line.

  7. Anonymous

    It’s the sensation I had the other day grinding out the 50×24 4 miles into a 10 mile climb of 5% average grade just before you know you are going to have to shift to the small ring. That right on the edge feeling. Not blowing up but knowing you are so close.

  8. Alan

    On the road, it’s always the wind. I live in a windy area (northern Colorado). Sometimes it’s your friend, many times not. When it is blowing with me (or at least not against me hard), it makes one fly…and sometimes, when it opposes me, trains the mind to fight. And the wind on a fast descent let’s me feel like a bird.

    On the mountain bike, it’s all visual. What do I see, how fast can I go up in the rocks and how fast can I see the obstacles on the descent.

  9. Ransom

    When the little drop turns back upward and your legs, invigorated by a little break and a little velocity, don’t load up like you expect, the effort does’t spike, and you go uphill feeling like you’ve got the that apocryphal electric motor hidden in your downtube.

    Finding that tempo on a long climb where you know you’re working hard, and you feel it, but you feel like you’re getting a great return on your pain.

    When you trust your tires on the finally-dry-and-clean pavement, and the bike feels planted and you carve up the twisty bits.

    Just feeling loose and comfortable on the bike on a warm day.

  10. spiff

    The best sensations are when your legs start to feel tired and sore, but it doesn’t really slow you down it make you go faster, for longer.

  11. Derek

    When you carry enough speed to not case the landing. Sometimes the realization that you have this time occurs early enough to throw some style into your air time. So you get to truly send it.

  12. Les.B.

    Sitting on the bike on Cotharin summit.
    To get here I’ve traveled 30 miles across the Santa Monica Mountains, and the grind up crazy steep Cotharin is the last major assault on sore muscles.
    At the summit I can see out to sea to the west and the mountain ranges back to the east.
    But the serene feel-good is only temporary, as I have before me the most harrowing descent of the day, Deer Creek, and 30 miles of dodging beach-goers along the highway back to Santa Monica.

  13. August Cole

    That bike is awesome… the kind of machine suited to a freeing of the mind and childlike play in the rain and mud. That is the best sensation for me. Chris Froome recently talked about having blocked legs after a bad crash in the Tour de Suisse. I find that the bike unblocks my mind, if not my heart. it let’s me be more creative and more present. You never know how you will feel on a given day when you ride for fun. When there’s nobody paying you to ride, it actually matters more how you feel. The most important thing is that you feel ‘better’ when you get home.

  14. Mark

    Sunday – 35 miles in, our 12 rider group turns in to a steady cross wind from the left. Immediately, 6 men form an echelon taking the lane, rest of the group stretch and line the gutter. The “Boss” quickly organizes a second echelon, I am in the front group, everyone is taking steady pulls, working together, the chatter has ceased, eating up the miles, The sensation was awesome!

  15. Cyril

    The sound of the loose boardwalk planks rattling under my tires every morning as I commute to work along the Charles.


    1. Author
      Robot

      @Cyril – I rode that boardwalk for years. The BU Bridge. For a time, I tried to hop the two loose sections to be as quiet as possible, but then I’d scare the bejesus out of some jogger which, while funny, seemed a little mean.

  16. Tom in Albany

    My favorite is when the kinks have worked out of my nearly 50 year old body and I’m just grooving along noting nothing but my surroundings and the wind on my scalp!

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