domingo, 23 de julio de 2023

What makes a ride hard?

The first and obvious answer is distance and amount of climbing. 

But if you have cycled enough you know that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Circumstances are what make a ride hard.

And the first and most important circumstance is who are you riding with as it will determine the pace. Ride with a group that is riding at a high pace for you and very soon you’ll find the ride hard.

That’s what happened to me yesterday. Riding in a group of five and from the start feeling the pace was a touch too hard for me. It took no time for negative thoughts to visit my mind. I’m the weakest rider, I’m going to need to drop, this is too hard for me… That’s hard.

Another circumstance that makes a ride hard is weather conditions. Add low or high temperatures, rain or wind to a ride and it gets harder very quickly. Especially if you violate the principle of "There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear" like I did yesterday showing up for the ride in my summer kit. What an amateour!! 

Yesterday we had wind and rain.

I wasn’t conscious of the wind in the first 100km which means we probably had tail wind. But the moment we hitted the flat section of the ride I was very, very conscious of the wind. At that point I was riding with Bidders, a very good time trialist, and Richard L, who had aerobars on his bike. I struggled big time just to hold on to their wheel. That, for me, was the hardest part of the ride.

Now, let's add rain to the mixture and you are getting into a really hard ride. I waited a bit too long to put the rain jacket on when it started to rain, which meant that I was very cold in the last third of the ride. 

So there we were with 200km in the legs, riding on to a head wind, wet and cold heading into the last hills of the day. What could possibly make the ride harder?

A mechanical.

And mechanicals we had (and saw) plenty. A broken spoke, a rear wheel hub that didn’t engage when pedaling, a puncture when we were cold and wet.

But we also were lucky with the mechanicals. A bike shop in New Romney managed to repair the broken spoke and the rear hub. A Dynaplug sorted out the puncture with speed. Bad luck can also make rides hard.

Yes. You wouldn’t say it looking at the distance and the amount of climbing but yesterday's ride was a very hard one.

And because of that I’m very happy now. Because I managed to survive the first two thirds of the ride. Because endurance showed up and I felt strong in the last third. Because I loved the solidarity we showed with each other while riding. Because it was a well organized event and a nice route. Because it feels great when you finish a hard ride.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

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