Ride better


Every year I adopt numerous new techniques that are designed to make me faster. Nose breathing … THOG pedaling … power meter … interval training … kimchi diet … etc.

The one thing that all these approaches have in common is that, by the end of December, I finally understand that THIS IS THE YEAR it has finally all come together. This [fill in the blank with name of new technique here] was the missing link between me and greatness, the secret which, now unlocked, will propel me to incredible feats of bicycling amazingness.

The other thing these innovations have in common is this: Sometime in February, or more precisely, halfway through Boulevard Road Race, the hopes and dreams of December will dissolve into the bitter tonic of “You will never be any better than you ever were, which was not very.”

Still, Imma teach you how to ride better

Notice I didn’t say “faster,” or “stronger,” or “more wattagey,” and especially I didn’t say “better in races.” Because I can’t show you how to do any of those things. If I could, I would do them myself and jealously hide the secret, or make you pay a lot of money for it.

The following advice only applies to a small group of people. Which people? Take the following screening quiz:

  1. I race. [yes/no]
  2. I am old. [yes/no]
  3. I am tired. [yes/no]

If you answered  “yes” to all three, then the new 2014 training program may work for you.

The problem with your training, whatever it is, is that it tires you out. This is because you are old and weak and slow. You think you’re young and strong but in fact you are not. If you toss up that old canard, “I fell better than I did when I was 25,” all I can say is that you must have felt like shit when you were twenty-five.

Nothing you have at fifty works as well as it did when you were young, especially your innards and your muscles. So when you ride your bike a bunch and follow one of those “3-week training blocks of hard efforts” it’s effectively smushing into a gooey pulp the tiny dab of strength and resilience you have left. In short, the solution to your training problems is one word — “rest.”

I don’t mean that kind of rest

“Rest” for a competitive cyclist (come on, admit it) means “not hammering as hard as I usually hammer.” You wouldn’t know rest from an uptempo jazz beat in 8/16. Your idea of taking it easy is an “easy” 115 miles up Mt. Wilson and back.

What I’m getting at is this: Your legs always feel heavy and tired because you don’t know how to rest. You know who you are.

Without getting into the physiological aspects of it, mostly because I know squat about physiology, here’s the deal. As you get older, you get weaker, uglier, and more stupid, and eventually you die. This means that the training load you could sustain in your 20’s (but that you didn’t because instead of getting up early and working out you were sleeping off a nasty hangover, doing the walk of shame, etc.), you cannot sustain now. Those training plans that work wonders for young bucks and buckettes in their 20’s won’t work for you. All they’ll do is snuff your spark.

How to properly rest

Rest is like enjoyment of natto. It is an acquired taste. Here’s how to do it so that you become refreshed, which is good, rather than more tired, which is bad.

  1. Don’t do any training plan that requires more than one “hard” week. You are too weak and feeble to sustain back-to-back weeks of big efforts.
  2. Your hard week should have no more than five hard days — Tue/Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun.
  3. Your easy week should begin with the three “B’s”, beer, butter and bread. Actually, so should your hard week.
  4. The key to rejuvenating your tired and worn out old legs is high rpm’s in a tiny gear. 110-120 rpm in your 39 x 28 is highly recommended. I know, you’re going to complain “But I’ll be spinning like a kook and only going 12 miles per hour!” Right. That’s because you are a kook. If you weren’t a kook you’d have a pro contract and race in Europe. But you don’t and you don’t. So shut up and spin.
  5. You’ll know whether it’s working because after your workout you’ll get home and will hardly feel like you’ve been on your bike, even if you’ve been riding for two hours.
  6. Since your easy week goes from Monday-Monday, you’ll have eight days of super spinny, super tweezly, non-stress riding. Your muscles will be continually soaked in a bath of oxygen-rich blood. When Tuesday rolls around, rather than dreading it and feeling like you’ve been ordered to go “over the top” at the Battle of Passchendaele, you’ll be so champing at the bit, so raring to go, so hot to trot that your significant other will stare at you in awe. You’ll also be ready to ride your bike hard.

There. That’s all I know. Take it, it’s yours.

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