Reality Check

Two years ago, I remembered the Seagull Century as being a challenging experience. As I had mentioned in my last post, R and I were less experienced riders then. This year, we both felt great at the end– or at least, not in as much pain. Surely having a road bike and having spent more time in the saddle contributed to this, right? And that these factors would translate in a faster time?

I was disheartened to discover that my average speed this year was exactly the same as two years ago: 13.1 mph.

So, Iron Rider was right: it’s not about the bike. And skiffrun was also right: I am just not putting in enough miles per month to make any difference in my riding.

I keep trying to add more miles by commuting more by bike, but it hasn’t been working out. And my time has become more limited, now that I’m back in school part-time and I am also spending more time practicing music. As much as I love bicycling, I choose to spend more quality time into these endeavors than riding. So that means getting better (faster, having more endurance) in bicycling takes a back seat.

The perfectionist part of me is annoyed that I can’t do everything well, but that’s incredibly unrealistic, and I know it. The best I can do is to enjoy bicycling as much as I can and feel good about it, even though I am, and will be, slow.

Still, I really would love to do a brevet and finish without DQ-ing.

11 thoughts on “Reality Check

  1. It is a cruel fact that in endurance sports, the only way to get better is to spend enormous amounts of time doing it. But as you say, it isn’t always about getting better, Get out there and have fun!

    • Ah, would that I had more time! I should be grateful that I can do as much that I do, with fantastic people, and feel good doing it. Thanks, Sean!

  2. “The best I can do is to enjoy bicycling as much as I can and feel good about it”

    Isn’t that the whole point, or at least the most important point, of riding your bicycle(s)! The reality check is that you won’t be getting FAST, and that you may have to struggle a bit to complete LONG rides. Guess what? Lots of people are in that category.
    “even though I am, and will be, slow”

    I have a rando friend here in North Carolina, I’ll refer to her as “JayJay” or “Jayjay” or “JJ”. This is what I tell others about riding with JJ: “She ride a straight line, she does not swerve or accelerate or brake suddenly; she points out all hazards; she makes jokes; she laughs at your jokes. What more can ask of a cycling partner? … So she’s a little slow; does that really matter?”

    Although their usual 200k time is between 11 and 12 hours (sometimes slower), JJ and her usual cycling partner, “sag”, completed R-43 (if I count correctly) last weekend. 43 consecutive months of at least one 200k — mostly permanents — mostly on a flat course — but not all were on courses completely flat. AND, JayJay was named NC Randonneuse of the Year for 2011.

    Reports on many of JJ and “sag’s” rando adventures can be found here: “sagittandy”..
    You can do an occasional brevet and / or a permanent and / or a populaire. If you approach them with the attitude to check out the sights and smell the roses, they can be fun.

  3. If you finished the same course feeling great after feeling that the last time was painful and challenging, then you have made a difference. Average speed is only one way to measure performance and, unless you are racing or competing, it’s not a very relevant measure – especially for long rides where weather and terrain can make a big difference in time.

    ( By the way 13.1 mph avg is easily fast enough to finish a brevet – you only have average 9.5 to do that. )

    Don’t be discouraged. This is supposed to be fun! Enjoy what time you to ride.

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement, Iron Rider! It’s true– as long as the riding’s enjoyable, I’ll continue to do it.

  4. I’m still in the camp that says it is NOT about loading up tons of miles (which can be detrimental if extreme), but about the quality of what you do – making every mile count. “(i.e. volume) in highly trained individuals does not appear to further enhance either endurance performance or associated physiological variables [e.g. peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), oxidative enzyme activity]. It seems that, for athletes who are already trained, improvements in endurance performance can be achieved only through high-intensity interval training (HIT).”
    One does need the occasional long ride, though, for mental training, figuring out nutrition, hydration, gear, etc.

    • I think the high-intensity interval training has merits. I just haven’t gotten around to trying it, partly because I don’t know what I’m doing in this regard.

  5. I do lots of things at a bad or average level, but I like doing lots of different things. It’s fun and interesting and well-rounding. I’m never going to be a person who does ONE thing GREAT, like a scientist or novelist. One thing is boring. Narrow. Variety is great! You have tons of variety, and I think you’re in very good company. πŸ™‚

    • I don’t like doing lots of different things. I like doing just some. πŸ™‚ I think that if I’m spending a lot of time with one thing, I should be able to do it well, or else not spend so much of my time and energy on it and be happy with the level I’m at. I feel like I put a lot of time into biking lately. I think all the miles have paid off in the sense that I feel less spent in riding, so I guess that’s good.
      I do like variety, but I like to be a little more focused in my approach in general. I’m feeling a little out of focus at the moment, but I’m working on it.

  6. I’m totally in the “Why aren’t I better at this? But I want to be good at everything I do!” camp. But with biking, I think it’s good to switch between doing a lot of miles for one event and backing off. Last year, I trained a lot (for me) in the spring for a major ride and did the metric Seagull Century in the fall. This summer, I did a lot less biking and that was okay. Also, I think averaging 13.1 mph is pretty good, especially because last year’s Seagull was so damn windy.

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