Hell Ride 7-14-2009

There  are probably more reasons not to ride than there is to ride a road bike. However, quantity does not equate to quality.

There was a burly field of six riders that presented themselves for the ride: Robert R., Byron, Mark B., Jim, Eric and Greg W. rounded out the field.  As I was riding over I was thinking that there might be a fairly large field turning out to spin their wheels tonight.  Those of you that road ride know that it is an acquired taste.  Its like tomatoes, black olives, or spinach.  If somebody doesn’t like to road ride you can’t convince them otherwise.  For those that do ride you understand the sublime feeling of clicking off the miles in a pace line, jockeying for position in a tight pack of experienced riders, the freedom of coasting down the open road, the whirr of gears, and the whistle of wind through the frame and your helmet.

I maintain that riding on the road only gets fun when you are riding above 20 mph, and I still believe that axiom is true.  However, there is more to the secret of bike riding.

We all know, everyone who gets this email, knows that there is a certain barrier to the sport of cycling.  Let’s face it, mountain biking, road biking, cyclo-cross, single speeds, fixes, even downhill requires a certain base level of fitness to get into the sport.  We aren’t a team that has been formed to play horseshoes, bowling, or croquet.  Nothing against those pastimes but they don’t require the degree of fitness that spinning a wheel does to enjoy.  Spinning a wheel fast, now that’s where it gets more fun.  For me it’s not an incremental increase in fun, it is an exponential increase in fun the faster the wheel spins.  There is a theory regarding the perception of speed that posits your perception of speed is in direct proportion to your observation of the distance from the object that is moving.  For example you perceive speed when looking at the ground from a commercial airplane as slower than when you are looking at the pavement through an open car door traveling 25 mph.

Endorphins, blah, blah.  Adrenaline is my natural high of choice.  You get the latter by spinning the wheel fast whether it is down a single track, in a pace line, or sprinting for a finish line. The closer you are to that point, the faster you are, the nearer you are to edge of your limit—when you are sliding off the edge of the trail, or rolling at you max heart rate, the more fun and the more vitamin A.  The former is just a derivative.

So here is the raison d’être for getting out and riding consistently: for a brief moment, or two, or three; the universe narrows down to that thing in front of you, whether it is the finish line, the wheel in front of you, the guy next to you or behind you and you are simply responding to the ebb and flow of the group, the wind, and the road ahead.  You don’t have to necessarily think conscious thoughts about what you are doing, the legs are spinning circles, you know the road well because you ride it enough, you know where you are at in your training regimen, and all you have to think about is the next guy and what your strategy is to put your wheel ahead of his.  Doing that one thing well, and fast is what counts on Tuesday nights.  You are in the zone.   The thrill, the adrenalin rush, the endorphin ride, the stress of the day melting away, the camaraderie, the trash talk are all fringe benefits.

Here are the results from tonight’s ride:

Stage 1

1 Eric

2 Jim

3 Greg

Stage 2

1 Eric

2 Mark

3 Jim

Stage 3

1 Greg

2 Mark

3 Byron

Hope to see you out there next week…

Mark

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