Last September I alluded to some changes in how I view my riding and the quality of my rides. In Time for a Change I spent some time thinking about why, how, what and where I ride.
At that time I wrote the following:
During this exercise in introspection it occurred to me that when I ride on the road I am always watching the clock and average speed as if they somehow determine the quality of the ride. In reality, they are only data points and do not reflect how much I enjoy my time on a bike. Being outdoors, on two wheels, getting aerobic exercise and community with other riders are what I enjoy about riding so I have decided it is time for a change.
Starting next month, I will use a Cyclocross Bike for 99% of my riding for the next year. I will still track mileage but pay no attention to the speed of my rides - my attention will be on the things I enjoy about cycling.
In reality, mileage and clock watching diminish the quality and enjoyment of my riding. Since October, I have ridden the Moots Psychlo X exclusively and sometimes slowly - having a blast in the process.
I got to thinking more about this while reading Wileydog Cycle blog and his annual update Mileage Post (a clever play on words). I have done my share of posts about how much I rode the prior year somehow believing readers are out there breathlessly awaiting the results of my annual goal.
Each year the goal was to ride 5,000 miles. It did not matter what, just a mileage total. This year is about exploring, bringing people together and having fun on a bike rather than a specific mileage goal. I am not sure whether this will be a good thing for me, but am willing to see where it leads in order to revive the joy of riding.
I did not initially intend to go here when I chose the Moots CX to be THE bike for the year - rather it evolved over the last 1,000 miles of riding as I experienced the versatility and fun factor of a cyclocross bike. I believe if I set another mileage goal then I will be tempted to go ride a certain number of miles each day rather than explore and seek variety of road, trails and dirt/gravel roads.
This is not to say that I am moving this direction without trepedation. A few concerns I have for this process are:
- Will I gain weight by no longer forcing myself to ride certain distances to stay on goal pace?
- Will I get dropped on some group rides because I am no longer riding a 16 pound carbon bike and maintaining a high aerobic threshold?
- Will I (should I) force myself to get on the trainer when I can't ride outside if I am not trying to stay on goal pace?
- Will I maintain the same fitness level as in years past and is it important?
- Will I start touring? - not likely for now
Despite not having an annual mileage goal, I expect I will be spending the same or more amount of time on the bike. Most weekdays my routine is to ride for about 1 hour prior to work to get some aerobic exercise. This will not likely change much since there is not a lot of time for exploring on the weekday mornings.
I will still get dropped by the same people who drop me now so that will not change much either. If I can't hang with these groups anymore then I will need to find some new folks to ride with since it is about enjoying riding and I do not enjoy getting dropped.
Finally, on weight management and fitness - I have enough miles and time under my belt and know my breathing well enough to estimate where I am in my aerobic/anaerobic profile at any given point. I do not need to know the speed at which I am riding and will continue to ride predominantly in Zone 3 with periodic bursts in Zones 4 and 5 so fitness should be about the same.
2014 will be a year of change and discovery. I look forward to reporting in regularly and hope you enjoy the ride.