Training vs. riding – what are you doing?

Most weekdays, my alarm goes off at 5:00am (4:30 on sunny Tuesday summer mornings).  I roll out of bed, throw on my gear and head to the ride of the morning.  I don’t wear a heart rate monitor, I don’t use a PowerTap, and I don’t even have a computer on any of my bikes.  I’m not using RPE, VO2 max or wattage (unless you count the wattage in my lights).  I’m getting up at that ridiculous hour to get a ride in before I start my work day, and I’m riding because I need to.

I have always loved bikes, but we had a trial separation that lasted about 12 years or so when life got in the way.  I started a family, started a business, survived a horrible motorcycle accident and forgot about riding.  I put on some weight, and prepared to become “Middle Aged Man”.  At some point though, things started to change.  For some unknown reason, I got back on my 15-year-old mountain bike, and on a beautiful fall day I headed out to the Southern Kettle Moraine trails with my friend Mark.  I think we did 1 Blue Loop, which was enough for me at the time, and all the old feelings came rushing back.  As we exited into the parking lot a photographer snapped a picture of my fat ass for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  I was literally back in the saddle from that day on.

“Then” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel picture)

"Now" (www.xtrphoto.com)

Fast forward some years, and I more fit than I’ve ever been.  I’m riding 12 months a year, putting on more miles than I ever have, racing mountain bikes, and starting to add road bike races to the 2011 calendar.  I built a cyclocross bike this winter which can only mean there’s at least 1 ‘cross race in my future too and I’m starting to ride with a lot of people who train now.  I’m starting to get questions about my training too.

 

When exactly did my riding become training??

As Mark will tell you, this is a dangerous spot for me to be in.  I would make the World’s worst poker player because I have a habit of just going “all in”.  He knows (better than I do) that if my riding becomes training, I will instantly suck all of the life out of my greatest passion.  I’ll begin posting Zone charts and uploading HR data and buying books about science and other crap I could not care less about.  Worse yet, I’ll start geeking out about bike stuff – relying on the latest high-tech garbage to shave seconds off my time, blah, blah blah.  Worst of all, I’ll start to hate all of the “work” I have to do just to get out and ride.  I’ll forget why I ever got back on the bike on that beautiful fall day…

Thankfully, (and thanks to my friend Mark and others just like him) I know that I love riding too much to train.  If it means I lose a race because of it, or even skip a race to do a ride, then so be it.

 

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3 thoughts on “Training vs. riding – what are you doing?

  1. Great article. I’m reminded of how my most fun racing season was my first. After that I started to have expectations and, inevitably, disappointments.

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