Do not forget the cycling basics

Most of the time I write in my blog so that I can read it in the future and learn something that I may have forgotten.  This entry is defiantly something that I want to remember.  The unofficial theme of the Sylvester ride was Star Wars.

My dad once told me

If you are the smartest person in the room then you need to find another room.

My 40+ years of cycling experience did not prepare me for running into the Pecan City Pedalers (PCP) cycling club (PCP) in Albany, GA.  Most of the places that I have lived in were nationally know for great cycling IQ.  I have lived in places like Portland, OR and Austin, TX.  In my opinion and my first hand experience the PCP has the highest cycling IQ of any town that I have cycled to date.

What do I mean by cycling IQ? Cycling IQ is a term that I just made up for this discussion.  I have no verifiable facts to back up this statement so you will just have to believe my feeble memory as I ramble on about how great PCP are and just deal with it.  To me cycle IQ in a city is measured by what type of cyclist are available in a region.  I have lived in large cities where there are a lot more cyclist by volume than Albany, GA, but I have never lived in a city where the quality and cycling knowledge is so high in relation to the total population.  I have also never interacted with a cycling club that had folks that actually race.

Yesterday when I was trying my best to keep up with Darth Vader at 26 MPH I thought about my dad’s quote and realized that it was great to not be the fastest cyclist in town.  Even though sometimes it is hard for me accept a challenge to ride way outside of my comfort zone I am grateful to live in a town and know folks that are there to challenge me.

This is what I normally ride when I am by myself. I am safe in my comfort zone riding on flat land and averaging a consistent 17-18 MPH speed for almost 50 miles.

This is a ride that I did with the PCP yesterday. Even though the overall speed average is less than my solo ride the day before the real difference is in the details.  The elevation of the Sylvester ride is three times the Leary ride.  I kept up with the main group for about 30 miles  riding at speeds that make me dizzy just to think about it before I ran out of energy.

One thing that I want to remember by writing this blog entry is that I want to realize that I am limiting myself based on what I think I can do.  I cycle at my best when I do not think about how fast I am going.  I may have to cover my Garmin when I ride with PCP so that I will not freak out when I realize how fast I am riding. Sometimes it is best to listen to the force within you than to rely on some external indicator to tell you how your are doing.

Running out of energy is another thing that I want to remember by writing this blog entry.  I always have to re-learn a few things and this is one of them.  When I ride short rides like 30 miles I usually have enough energy from my regularly scheduled daily meals to do it.  When I bike commute to work which is about 20 to 40 miles I can survive on eating breakfast and then riding to work.  In the evening I can ride home and then eat dinner and everything is OK.  When I ride 50 miles or more then I need to really fuel up before the ride and make sure that I am constantly replenishing my fuel before it runs out.  To be clear fueling and hydrating are two different things.  I failed on both of these basic principles on the Sylvester ride yesterday.

Being able to recognizing what was going on and having the sense to slow down and deal with a foolish mistake is what my cycling IQ told me to do if I did not want to call my wife to come and get me.  Everyone will make mistakes, but is is what you learn from your mistakes that matters.  I will never take for granted that I can casually consider going on a 50+ mile ride with PCP and ride at 20 to 25 MPH without being prepared again.  I will have to remember my basics.

  1. hydrate the night before a big ride.
  2. hydrate before you ride
  3. fuel your body for a big ride
  4. take extra fuel that you can consume while you ride
  5. do not do a big ride the day before you do a big ride

Thanks to Chip Battle for waiting at the turns to make sure that I did not get lost on the Sylvester ride. Guys like Chip are just one of the reasons PCP is a great cycling  club.

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