Friday Group Ride #479

Friday Group Ride #479

I couldn’t ride 100 miles right now. I am not bike fit. I just don’t have the miles in my legs, and here at the front end of winter, an icy crust on the front yard, piles growing at the roadside, I’m not going to be getting those miles any time soon.

This is not to say I’m not fit, and that got me thinking about a second type of endurance, the same we have different types of fun.

Type one endurance is the classic, I-can-go-forever kind. Your friends have a century planned, and you can roll out the door and join them without thinking too hard about it, or someone decides to lift the pace after 50 miles, and you have the legs to go with them, or even, someone proposes a long ride the day after you’ve done a long ride, and you don’t need the day to recover. You have those legs.

I seldom have this kind of endurance. It comes and goes.

Type two endurance is what I have, which is a constant, lower-level fitness born of never really stopping. I am not often doing monster efforts, but I am always doing smaller efforts, week-after-week, all year long. I rarely take more than 2-3 days off. In fact, when I do, I tend to feel terrible mentally and physically. My body gets tired, but it also needs the work. My mind, without that steady physical effort, turns into a real shit show. My emotional state deteriorates. I am much less fun to be around.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that type one endurance is much harder work to achieve, and its highs are often matched by subsequent lows, whereas type two endurance keeps me ticking along nicely. It’s easier to maintain in the moment of the actual work, because I’m not working that hard. What makes it hard to keep hold of is the constancy of it. It requires a certain faith in the outcome to keep going. It requires a continual search for new sources of motivation.

Few things test this pursuit quite like the advent of winter.

This week’s Group Ride asks, which type of endurance are you more likely to have? How do you maintain it? Whether you’re rolling out into cold and snow and ice or retreating to the basement, it’s hard to keep pushing. How do you do it?

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  1. Aar

    Right now, if I have any endurance at all, it’s type 2 by your definition. I quite purposefully took 2019 as a “rest year”. I hit a couple long-term goals in 2018 but wasn’t quite satisfied. Yes, in 2018, I had that type 1 endurance in spades. It was combined with speed like I haven’t had in decades. I was lighter than I had been in longer than that and my body fat was lower than before I was twenty. Yet, I wanted to hit a lower weight and get a bit more speed and endurance but I was burned out. Not end of season burned out, end of decade burned out. So, for 2019, I focused on landscaping, other household projects and having fun and, for the first time since my 2 digit age began with a 1, I stopped dieting and training! Nonetheless, I averaged 4-5 rides per week throughout 2019. Now, I miss the fitness and the pursuit of it. The long road back to my 2018 fitness level and beyond starts now. Just bought a new trainer and subscribed to an app based training program. Looking forward to paying the price to be a hammer….

  2. Dave

    I’ve had type two endurance since I began riding as a teenager. I keep a solid base of riding three to five times per week most of the year and then do spinning through the winter which I started five years ago and that really helps to get through the snowy months with my sanity intact. Before spinning I did a lot of running and xc skiing.

    Once I get back outside, I’ve got a decent base and I just keep upping the mileage on my rides. The key for me is recovery to fully benefit from the increasingly long rides. By June I am doing 100-130 mile regularly and feel very strong and that is when I have type one endurance which I hold through October. I love it because I can hold my own on most of the fast group rides and still have juice in the tank to sprint.

  3. TomInAlbany

    Ever since I got married and had kids, it’s been type 2. On some level, it’s been that way since grad school (1988) when my then girlfriend asked me to go to an aerobics class with her.I started working out and exercising with her. I’ve never really stopped. I had some off weeks and thin times when my kids were born and that endurance got me through the sleepless times.

    I haven’t been type 1 fit since probably the early ’00s. I’m OK with type 2 though. I still weigh less than when that former girlfriend asked me to go to that class.

  4. Shawn

    Except for my first racing season I’ve never been fit. I ride a little over once a week on average. But sometimes that ride is a race, and I almost always do very well. It’s weird.

  5. Jeff vdD

    I do two long road rides a year, both in June, typically a week apart. One is a century, the other 85 miles. So, on the surface, that might look like a strike against Type 1 endurance. Add to that that my fall is CX and my winter is fat-biking (for rarely more than 2 hours), and it might seem that Type 1 is definitely out.

    But, I’m not sure how to consider gravel. From April through August, I’m doing 2-3 40+ gravel rides a month. Those must be Type 1, right?

    I guess that makes me Type 1 Apr-Aug and Type 2 Sep-Mar. Type 1.5, anyone?

  6. Stephen Barner

    15 years ago, I restarted an annual double-century that had laid dormant for another 15 years. Now, I’m generally at what I would call “Type 2 Fitness” from August to January, when I start squeezing in longer and longer rides between the cold and wild weather of late-winter Vermont, until I can hit a target 170-mile ride by early June. Then I am pretty sure I’m ready for a very tough double-C. After the big ride, I’m in fantastic shape, which I often fritter away over July, as I try to get caught up on all the projects that piled up while I was out riding in the Spring. A long and steep commute has proven to be my general fitness savior. If I lived close to work, I would be fat. As it is, I can pull off a century almost any time, and enjoy it.
    Join me in June for #22.

  7. Parker

    If you were soft-pedaling and we were riding together and you asked my take on this week’s question, I’d say it raises another way of looking at something important we’ve skirted around before. Namely, why stay motivated by riding-for-fitness when that’s the motive for riding on bad weather days?

    I’ve never had what counts as Type 1 endurance for you. But I do have two distinct less challenging types. Not true of everyone with two types, I’m sure, but I couldn’t stay motivated by riding-for-fitness if I focused a lot on my more challenging type. I do focus there every year or two before and during a bike tour, and welcome having extra strength/stamina for a few weeks thereafter. But the focus that keeps me ticking along avoids working really hard most of the time.

    Even here in southeastern Virginia, my Type 2 endurance gets lowered even further during winter. I’m not enthusiastic about the speeds I get from pushing a heavy bike with hopefully bulletproof 32c Schwalbe Marathons. Nor do I like chugging down cold air as much as I don’t mind doing so with warm or cool air.

    I think your observation about faith is what’s foundational about riding-for-fitness as motivational. For cycling as well as for prayer, the relevant state of mind comes as a free choice that motivates one’s subsequent actions. Just as Kierkegaard said about prayer, the choice by cyclists has to be made over and over for the relevant state of mind to persist. No way around the matter. Right?

  8. Pk

    In college I was 6’1” tall and weighed 147lbs. I commuted 160 miles per week and trained another 100 hard. I didn’t know there were hills in my area. Ha! Today at 188lbs I feel like I live in Austria.

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