Mentally, it is hard to ride easy. According to my profile I have a sometime type-A personality. When I ride, the type-A part tends to dominate.
When I begin a ride that is unstructured (which most are) the conversation in my head typically goes like this. “Self” I say. “It is such a beautiful day and I am blessed to be able to and to have the motivation to be out here on my bike, I am just going to take it easy this time and just ride”. And I do. Well, I do until I get about 2 miles in and start to pay attention to my bike computer. See, my Garmin is programmed out of the box to give me my 5 mile splits. I have become a slave to my 5 mile splits. 15 minutes divided by 5 miles equals 20 mph average (about what I ride). About 2 miles into my ride I start to calculate my 5 mile split. This is were I begin to change from “just ride” to “I am a cyclist that averages 20 mph”. The rest of the ride becomes a series of 5 minute time trials that must average out to around 20 mph.
For sometime I have been trying to derail this M.O. and simply ride. Today I succeeded. I ignored my Garmin and just rode. Well, I didn’t ignore my Garmin, for some reason its announcements of subpar data just didn’t phase me. When I came to a hill, I pedaled but didn’t work to maintain any speed. On the flats, I stayed out of the drops and took in the scenery. On the downhills I soft pedaled. The ride lasted 25 miles, averaging 18.2 mph, with an average heart rate of 135 and cadence of 83. Here are a few observations:
1. It is not any easier riding slow. Going slow takes more time, more effort and benefits less from the momentum of the wheels. On hills my HR climbed nearly as high and stayed there longer. It actually felt harder at times. I think the difficult part of going faster is the mental and physical readjustment to the new faster speed.
2. You really do smell the roses. Well, maybe not this time of year, but I did enjoy the unfocused pleasure of riding. Without my constant internal coaching or calculations of my splits I was able to relax and enjoy be “present”. Here is a shot I took along the way.
3. People in vehicles are nice. Although I am mostly a very curtious cyclist, today I was downright friendly. I waved to passing drivers and guess what? They waved back. Even the guys in pick up trucks. Most people are really very friendly if approached the right way.
4. Wind sucks even more when you are riding slow. I HATE WIND. In Texas it always seems to be windy and I always seem to be riding into the wind. Today, the wind averaged around 15 mph and when you go slow you feel it a lot more.
5. Cycling is a joy. Okay, I already knew this. Today’s relaxed ride reaffirmed my love of the adventure that cycling brings. I road my usual route. One that I have ridden probably more than 50 times this year. Today though, I rediscovered the much of the beauty that I normally dismiss.
Do you have a sport of a hobby you love? If so, I recommend that from time to time you put away your “A game” and do it for the pure joy of doing it.