On the road, Tuesday evening.
On the road, Tuesday evening.
Okay, I'll stop complaining about how windy our rides have been lately.
In my early twenties I was a sailplane pilot. Sailplanes are simple aircraft, but there's enough data flowing from the instrument panel that it's possible to become fixated on a set of numbers, rather than observing what happens outside the canopy. Judgment suffers. The instructors' antidote was a flight with the instruments covered, to get pilots' heads out of the cockpit. Forced to rely on observation and audio-visual cues, pilots sharpen their ability to judge altitude, airspeed, distance and other factors. Plus, you want to be looking outside the plane for other traffic.
Cyclists can be every bit as bad as pilots when it comes to keeping their heads inside the cockpit. Case in point: I recently sat behind a cyclist who obviously glanced at his cyclocomputer every five to ten seconds. I'm sure you've witnessed this, too.
Aside from the safety implications (God save us from the cyclist who is watching the computer while on a fast descent), there's a whole world that's passing by while we ride, and wouldn't it be a shame to miss it? A computer isn't going to quantify the landscape or weather, and it tells you exactly nada about the person riding near you. So doesn't it deserve a little less attention?
Last Saturday I led the first (at least that I know of) no computer ride. We met late in the morning, and everyone remove or switched off their computers. Then we rode. No one knew how fast, or how far we were going. And instead of obsessing over average speeds and other data, we talked and watched the Fall leaves.
A couple of comments from the ride:
"This is like cycling used to be, when we just rode our bikes until we got tired."
"We need to do this again."
There's nothing wrong with data, but I think it can't hurt to shift the balance away from it a bit. There's a lot to look at, and a lot we can miss, when we're fixated on a set of digital numbers.
Yeah, we'll do this kind of ride again.
The rain cleared out. Finally. And the wind wasn't blowing. For once.
What to do? Go for a ride.
What kind of ride? One with plenty of hills.
2009 was disappointing, mileage-wise, but 2010 is so far on track to be a respectable year. I'm just shy of 1,000 miles for 2010 (and hope to crack that by the end of the week), and am feeling reasonably fit, if not so fast.
4,000 miles is my not-so-lofty goal for the season, and it seems within the realm of reason. Just gotta pay attention to riding consistently.
Want a mix of rollers and hills to strengthen your legs (or let you know how out of shape you are)?
Try this 48 mile route:
Here's the cue sheet. A warning, though: Avoid the Grandover parking lot and find another location to start.
L Grandover Pkwy
R Groometown Rd
R Burnetts Chapel
R Coltrane Mill
L Elmer Beeson
X 311 -> Edgar Rd
R Beeson Farm
L Flint Hill
L Old County Farm Rd (store)
L Island Ford
L Walker Mill
R Wall Brothers
R Branson Davis
L Davis Country
X Cedar Square (store) –> Harlow
R Muddy Creek/Groometown
L Hickory Creek
R Vickery Chapel
R Grandover Pkwy
I haven't done the Farmers Market ride in, like, forever. It's the same route, week after freakin' week, and after you ride it for the millionth time in a season monotony starts to set in.
But it's a good benchmark for fitness, so I joined tonight's ride to see how I'm doing.
First, it wasn't a good night for benchmarking. The wind was blowing something fierce, so it made riding hard a challenge.
Still, I'm not at my best. For example, when I'm in decent shape I'll climb the hill on Old Salem Road, before the turn onto Teague Rd, at 25+. Tonight, I was struggling to climb much slower than that.
But hey, it's early in the season, I have only 350 miles in, and we still managed to average 17 mph over the 25 or so miles. Not bad for an early season, wind-whipped ride.
Last night's Roaming Ride was the first of the season, and a chance to get outside, stretch my legs, climb some hills, and watch some amusing course navigation.
Roaming is what the ride's all about, so I try to pick roads that are less traveled and familiar. In the past I've tried the make-the-route-up-as-we-go routine, but that's been less than ideal. So I'm back to handing out cue sheets, which in the case of last night's ride led to two moments of confusion:
But having to navigate and living with the possibility of getting lost are integral parts of the Roaming Ride. Want to mindlessly follow the same route week after week? This isn't for you. Like they say in the software biz, this isn't a bug. It's a feature.
Hills? A feature.
More hills? Even better.
The Roaming Ride continues next Thursday, unless it's raining. Look for details on the calendar at GSOVelo.com.