Sometimes I pick up a book or a magazine that just seems to resonate with me or say just what I need to hear. This time it was a magazine.
Last Tuesday it rained. Somehow it often rains, or threatens to rain, on one of my favorite midweek afternoons. On Tuesdays my group ride, RoadSpokes 201, congregates at about 5 and heads out on the roads by 5:30 p.m. It is an amazing group of a variety of riders who join together simply to ride, to enjoy having company, and to train a little and/or learn a little.
Usually by Tuesday I have sent out an email with a suggested training plan or principle to think about and use. Or not. This time, however, it had looked like our ride was destined to be cancelled. On my way to the parking lot, I grabbed an August Bicycling Magazine that had just arrived in my mailbox.
Well, wouldn’t you know, it cleared up and by 5 riders began to arrive. I needed something to share. I opened Bicycling and found the perfect article on riding in the heat. Here is some of what I learned and shared:
1. A handy formula for riding in the heat and perhaps cutting back in intensity (giving yourself “permission” to do so?) is to add the temperature to the relative humidity. If the total is 130 or more, dial back. When we rode Tuesday it started out as 85 degrees with relative humidity of 55. We started with a nice ride out and then picked up the pace for a fun and fast ride. Great ride:)
2. When preparing for an event (like the OR Century), and especially if you anticipate hot and humid weather, consume fluids liberally throughout the entire preceding week.
3. Be sure to include a combination of carbs and protein in your post ride fuel – not only is protein needed for repair, but it also helps hold replenishing fluids.
In the Know How section, there was a great article, Keep It Simple, dispelling the myths of perceived hard and fast “rules” used by the pros. “Alison Tetrick of Team Twenty16 explains what makes sense in the real world.” For example: if you’re riding with friends and feeling great (or not great), ditch your training plan and enjoy the day.
“Ride for four or more hours multiple days a week. Do this instead. You probably don’t have unlimited spare time, and unless you’re training for a big-mileage event, you don’t need to put in endless hours of pedaling week in and week out. Maintain or improve our fitness by building high-intensity efforts into rides of an hour or two. Go to BICYCLING.com/intensity to choose from a variety of intervals that will make you stronger and faster.”
On the other hand, on another page, Bill Stickland quotes from a forgotten source: “Ride for at least 30 minutes a day. If you’re too busy to do that, you better ride for an hour.”
Perhaps my fav, however, is “Small Mercies,” a piece by Heidi Swift for her regular column JOY RIDE. In it she tells of incidents when she was struggling on a ride, being dropped or fighting wind. Each time another rider(s) returned to help her finish. Referring to each, she concludes: “…reminded me of my humanity-of our humanity-that who we are and how we behave on the bike is simply an amplified version of who we are in the world. That our bicycles can transport us and transform us-but that they can also crack us open and lay us bare and force us to be raw and honest and exposed. That we can choose in the worst moments to treat each other with compassion and that maybe, as cyclists just as with other people, we are really only as good as our last small act of mercy.”
For many, if not most, of us, riding is about so much more than being first. Performance matters. But it is the process, the shared dreams and goals and fears, the small accomplishments, the tiny victories along with the seemingly large defeats, and the people, that matter most.
Perhaps it is what cycling is all about. It is work, hard work. It is learning and training. It is exposing oneself to things that scare us, things that can break us. It is baring oneself to vistas and emotions that can only be seen and experienced from a bike. It is a climb, an opportunity to grow, to enlarge, to find patience and strength you did not know you possess. It is a downhill, a release, a shout of pure joy, abandon. It is motivation, dedication, endurance. It is real life played out on a small saddle on two skinny tires.
RoadSpokes is the proverbial pebble dropped into the pond. By meeting and riding weekly, we connect, make friends, find cycling partners for other times, other routes, other training. We adhere strictly to a no-drop policy. Encouragement and camaraderie flows freely, stories are swapped and advice is exchanged.
Yes, riding alone can be beneficial and a privilege; as one rider recently dubbed it, a “zen” ride. But there’s nothing like meeting up with, riding and then celebrating our sport and our friends. I wish you both, along with miles and miles of safe and happy memories.