Ray's Biking Blog

I ride my bike to work… I'm a bike commuter

WINTER MILEAGE…. NOT IN VAIN

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I think there comes a time in every athlete’s workout routine where they question what they’re doing. In the 6 months I have been biking religiously, I feel I have hit a road block. (no pun intended.) I mentioned this to Bill on a recent ride we did. Sure, I can go out and bike 25 miles without even really thinking about it. It’s easy. I can do it. I know I can.

The problem I’m running into is that I’m questioning if I’m truly getting better as a cyclist? I ride daily. I put in between 75 to 100 miles a week on good weeks, 40 to 60 on bad weeks.

But, am I getting stronger? Am I getting faster? I know for certain my duration is increasing. I know my legs are stronger than they’ve ever been before, even when I was in my 20’s. But I feel I’m not getting any faster on the bike.

I think part of it is my bike. It’s not a road bike. It’s a modified mountain bike that I have put close to 1,500 road miles on in the last 6 months. I love my bike, don’t get me wrong, but I feel it’s holding me back.

So, each day I go out and I ponder if I’m really gaining anything by being out on the road, churning the miles away with each crank of the pedals.

Part of me is saying that “It’s still WINTER.” I have NEVER put these many miles in during the winter season. Hell, even when I “used to ride” (in my 20’s), I NEVER rode this seriously, and this frequently.

Yesterday changed alot of my previous thought patterns.

I got home from work, and there was enough light left of the day to allow me to get out for a nice 1-hour ride.

I anxiously suited up, and with the warm weather upon us, I actually got out simply wearing my riding shorts, 1 short-sleeved riding shirt, along with a brightly colored long-sleeved riding shirt. It felt great to have such “little” on.

I started slow, realizing that if I warm up correctly, the ride will be a much smoother ride. So, for the first 3-5 miles, I just casually rode. The weather was nice. The breeze wasn’t too bad. Nothing to take note of. The scenery was invigorating, even though I took a route I do so frequently I could probably ride it with my eyes closed.

About 5 miles into the ride, my brain got “the click.” This is my internal signal my body always sends me that it’s time to kick it up a notch. So boy did I kick it! I felt 20 years younger yesterday. The hills seemed to be flat and I attacked them with energy I didn’t know I had. I wasn’t tired. The temps helped keep my heart rate down, yet at the same time, got my blood really pumping. Kinda hard to explain.

I had a good sweat working and I felt invincible. It was awesome. I don’t have rides like this that often.

During all of this, it hit me: Those December, January and February miles I slaved away in 30 degree weather are paying off. There was a purpose/reason I got on my bike during those winter months. It’s for days like yesterday.

I think I have built up a solid base for myself and now with the warmer weather here to stay, my body can now focus on other parts of my ride without having to worry about the cold weather.

The closest analogy I can think of is this: Do you have “Jean Day” Friday’s at work? If you do, don’t you look forward to it? You’re more relaxed. It’s still another day at work, but the fact that you’re comfortable makes the work day go by quickly and painlessly.

Riding in WARM weather does the same for me.

Those winter months weren’t spent in vain. They served a purpose. Yesterday I got to enjoy the “fruits of my labor” so to say.

I CRUSHED my average MPH yesterday. I got in 14.7 miles in 50 minutes. If you do the math, that’s an average of 17.5 mph.

My wintertime rides saw averages closer to 14.5 – 15.5 mph.

Spring and Summer rides are looking better and better to me each day.

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