I had to begin a two week antibiotic course last week, and I was told by the doctor to "ride easy", no hills. You see, one of the known side effects of this drug, Cipro (not to be confused with Cipo, the Italian world champion cyclist....damn, too bad as I could use some Cipo) is that it can cause tendon rupture. I don't want any of that, so I agreed to ride easy for 2 or 3 weeks.
But last week, being a very nice Sunday, and my legs fully charged, I made my way across Oakland towards Berkeley, and there are some small hills in between. Those certainly rolled under my wheels easily, but I was going very moderately and using my lowest gears, which was funny and had me laughing at myself. But my legs wanted more, and before I knew it my brain had been hijacked and I found myself climbing up towards Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Brain kept saying "Legs say we'll just go slow and use the low gears and everything will be fine". And so it went, and I had a nice, slow climb up to Skyline.
Surprisingly, there were riders going even slower than me. I was limiting myself to around 8mph instead of the usual 10mph. There is a big difference in output between those two speeds. I recalled being tired and riding up Tunnel many times after a hard ride the day before and barely being able to hold 8mph. Yet it seemed an easy pace on Sunday.
Once again, I had the realization that speed is not the bar that measures the ride. I've talked about this before, about how I felt really great and fast, only to find at the end of the day my average speed was, well, average and no more. Then other times when I felt sluggish and had a mediocre ride only to see my speed was higher than average. Its hard to reconcile this reality that doesn't mesh with kinesthetic feelings.
Sunday's ride, as slow as I made it to be with the low gears and not pushing, was only 1.5mph slower average than my normal ride for this time of year. I would have predicted 3 or 4 mph less. Wow, that's a head shaker. It makes me wonder why some of us are obsessed with personal bests, Strava challenges, and like minded competitiveness. It makes me question why I ride the way I do sometimes, pushing it, kinda edgy, using a lot of energy that requires days of recovery. If I ride just a little slower I think I would ride much smarter, and not give it all to the bike. I wonder if I can do that. Or if I just have to be me, in whatever form that takes? Important questions indeed. Well, that's all for now, I have some great visual material from the Oakland Grand Prix I need to put up, so tune back in for that really soon, I hope.