Friday Group Ride #306

Friday Group Ride #306

In order to solve a problem, it helps to state the problem as clearly and succinctly as you can. So, for example, I might say, “I’m sick of the constant blare of election news,” and then I can make plan to avoid all interactions on-line, in person, etc. with all American human people. See. Solved it.

In the context of cycling, I think I have spent too much time misstating the problem. In other words, I have often wondered why I am not fitter, faster, stronger than I want to be, and as many of my friends appear to be. I have told myself that I am a good climber, but there is abundant evidence that this is not actually the case.

The truth is, I have come to see, I am an entirely average cyclist, even in my best moments.

And you know, that simple description, “average cyclist,” is pretty emancipating. It frees me from the obligation to engage in intervals or hill repeats, except when I feel like it, which is, quite honestly, almost never. I don’t have to be epic or fast. I don’t have to hang tight on long climbs or take extra long pulls on the front of pacelines that are beyond my abilities.

I might be a better rider if I was more consistent, but my life doesn’t seem to allow for much consistency in this regard. I seldom have more than an hour of free time. And those hours don’t always come with the requisite motivation. That’s ok. I’m average.

This week’s Group Ride, asks you to describe yourself as a cyclist in 3 words or less. Tell us what those words mean for the way you ride, for when you ride and how you do it. Some of you are hammers. I know you are. Some of you are lollygaggers. I don’t even know what that means, but I know it’s true.

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  1. Kyle V.

    Chasing wins/wheels

    I’m a competitive cat 3 road racer who has won my share of races and I’m getting ready to upgrade to cat 2 at which point I’ll start chasing wheels again. With time I’ll hopefully get to the point where I can start chasing wins again. It’s funny how cyclical cycling is.

  2. Bart

    Adventure Seeking Hammer

    I’m bored with standard road riding. I’m totally hooking on the multi-strada/adventure/gravel stuff but I still like to get on the front of a group road ride and stretch the group out. Others might be annoyed but I think it’s fun.

  3. cbj

    Barely hanging on….

    Seems that, no matter the ride, I always feel that physically, mentally, or emotionally I am on the verge of getting dropped. Need to find slower friends…

  4. David Fair

    Cat 3 poseur

    Having reached an above entry level race category on the road, I have come to a crossroads between going full method (12-16 hour weeks w/ intervals and data crunching in between) to try and contend and compete with hopes to do well and further progress. Then there’s the other end of the coin where I can say that’s that and sustain what I’ve got going for me now.

    I’d have to make a conscience effort to get in the type of shape to do well and gain recognition in races and I have to admit there are times in which I’m pretty dam close. Most of the time it’s the later where I celebrate a good performance whether it’s after a race, or a training ride by over eating and binge drinking on and off for a week or two.

    It’s a vicious cycle, and I’m still trying to figure out where I stand in the vast world that is cycling.

  5. peter leach

    Me in three words: “Never give up”.
    With all due acknowledgement to Winston Churchill (but he used more than three words).

  6. Aar

    Shut Up Legs. – It just had to be said and, in this case, it is purely in fun

    On a more genuine note, both of the following apply (pardon the borrowing):

    Happy old guy
    Dropped on hills

    After a knee replacement, im just happy to be out spinning with a casual group this year. Im the guy who keeps that group together by going back for dropped riders. When I get in faster groups, I get dropped on hills and I’m really happy with that. It’s all way better than ending every ride in tears due to knee pain for the past two years.

  7. Lyford

    Slow but stubborn

    Give me a low enough gear and enough time on the climb, and I’ll git ‘er done. 😉

    Hills over headwinds

    Would be another. Climbing gives me a sense of accomplishment, but grinding into a headwind on the flat is demoralizing.

  8. Girl

    I can only get it down to 3 3-word sentences:

    Lousy on hills.
    Live in plains.
    5 pounds overweight.

    Those are my excuses/explanations for poor climbing skills.

  9. Icabod14

    Decent, former runner.

    I was lucky to find a group to drag me into cycling at the time my feet gave out. The best part is I discovered I can climb better than most locals, and I enjoy it.

  10. John

    Best ride partner

    At 48 years old, and coming back from liver failure I have come to find great joy in being the guy on the ride that tells funny stories, and gets people to ride more. I have raced since the late 80’s and still do today, but results are not the most important thing anymore. In my hey day is was an absolute leg breaker! There was no ride tough enough. Today however seeing people push past what they thought they could ever do, no matter what that measurement might be is a tremendously satisfying thing to be part of.

  11. Jay

    Go all day.

    Not always fast, though. How about five words? Fast for an old guy.

    I ride my bike as often as my schedule allows, sometimes with a group, mostly alone. Sometimes I go hard, but mostly I ride for the enjoyment of just being out and riding my bike. I like in a mainly rural area so the scenery alone can make any ride worthwhile.

  12. Dan Murphy

    Dealing with age
    Still having fun

    At 60+, the rides have changed and I just have to accept it.
    Riding has evolved a bit over the years.
    70’s – all road
    80’s – brief hiatus from bikes, windsurfing addicted, rediscovered bike in late 80’s
    90’s – road and mt bike, emphasis on mtb, mtb racing
    00’s – almost all road
    10’s – back to dirt, but on road bike.

  13. Geoffrey Knobl

    Potential Rarely Realized

    What this means to me is that I’ve dedicated my life to my family and my job. For recreational sport, biking is tops for me. I’m a fan of road racing and a fan of the suffering I experience and enjoy, especially when I get to that rare state of being “fit.” It doesn’t happen very often. When it does, I feel I’m fast on the flats and can climb a bit. I feel I could have been a real pro at least in ability but only at the lowest level. I’m not sure I’m psychologically right to be an actual pro, riding with people surrounding me less than 6″ away in all directions and having the laser focus not to bump into them. I’m also very aware that when I state this I must do so carefully since others, if they don’t know me well, will likely think I’m bragging and full of s***. But my friends and acquaintances and a few strangers, some of whom were Cat 5 racers, have told me that when I knew I was “fit” I was really fast. But it only confirmed what I felt was true. It’s an overly-ego-feeding compliment to be leading a paceline at 28-30 mph and hearing other “fit” people gasp and drop off one by one. But I choose not to do that with my life and am happy with that decision. I think I could have kept that level and improved on it if I were paid to ride my bike. But I would rather have earned a quiet living, had a family and children and, well, it’s too late now anyway. In my 50s, I need to concentrate on having some money left during retirement and paying for my kids’ college. I don’t think I could have done that racing bikes. It’s going to be hard enough now as it is. So, I’ll get fit again soon – I’m on my way now – but won’t hold that fitness but for a few months probably before the inevitable break from cycling then break from a proper diet over Christmas then gaining of 30+ pounds. I hope I can prevent that but the sacrifice in staying that way is hard on me because it takes away from my family. So, I’ve learned to enjoy how I ride whenever and whatever fitness I’m in, enjoy how fast I am when I am fit, enjoy the races I see on TV or the ‘net, and enjoy the suffering to get “fit” once again. And even the process of getting non-fit. But most of all, I enjoy my job and my family and that’s a smidge more important overall (but not by much).

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