Day’s Verse:
A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

Proverbs 15:15

This year, with not having a daily commute to worry about, I’m really enjoying pushing myself biking-wise. Mostly I’ve been extending distance (up to about 80 miles so far, nothing astonishing but pretty decent for March and much longer than I rode in all of 2010) and elevation gained (who knows how much I’ve actually climbed? Depends on which device/GPS interpreting software you ask; best estimate is around 5,000 feet).

Today I tried something a little different and pushed intensity rather than distance or climbing. The weather started overcast with wet roads, but as the day progressed we got partly cloudy and some sun, the nicest biking day we’ve had in weeks. I rode Lucy.

Once we got across I-90, I resolved to do everything I could to hang on with the main group. It didn’t take long for the main group to split up. The fastest people were way out front, and we spread out pretty far. I was able to keep up with, but not pull, at a 23 mph pace for the last 23 miles of today’s 63-mile Lake Washington loop ride.

The one time the guy I was riding with had me pull, my heart rate skyrocketed and our speed steadily dropped. He hopped back in front of me within, oh, 5 minutes. That’s OK with me, since keeping up at that speed even while drafting pushed me to close to my limit.

I quickly learned that to keep up, I had to focus on the wheel in front of me. Don’t look at the scenery and definitely don’t look at the terrain. And as soon as it looks like the guy ahead is pulling away, put on a burst of speed and keep up. When I lost focus, I started falling behind. By the end, a gap had opened up between me and the main group; another stronger rider came along and kindly pulled me up to the main group, but I couldn’t hold on. I tried so hard, but finally admitted that, with a mile or two left, I was toast. I let the main group pull away and arrived at the parking lot a few minutes after the leaders.

Overall, I’m pleased with how the ride went. My “schedule” said 55 miles and 5800 feet of climbing, but what’m I training for? RAMROD, if I’m extremely lucky, and that’s not until late July. Otherwise this season’s goal is just to get stronger and build my skills so I can think about joining a racing team next season (recruiting for teams takes place in the fall). In terms of building strength, I’m pretty sure today was a win.

Did I just mention joining a team? Yes, I’m thinking about it. I’m enjoying riding with the Francis Gan (“Team Earthdreams”) group right now and it’s plenty challenging. I don’t expect that to change. But I’d kind of like to dip my toes into something more organized; at least, I’ve been very tentatively considering it. But I’ve worked hard to bury any competitiveness I have, since it never behooved me to compete on commutes; and in high school, I always worked myself into a froth of anxiety before cross country races. Would the same go for any bike racing I did? Would I hate racing, and would it just add more stress to my life? Quite possibly. But on the other hand, it might be a chance to really push my limits and see what I can achieve. That’s something I’m really enjoying right now, and certainly racing would push me. I don’t know. It’s just an idea I’ve been batting around for a few months.

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