I ride about four or five days a week. Of those days, two of them are usually designated as ”hard” rides — group training rides where I work on strength and speed.
While these training rides are mostly fun, I don’t particularly enjoy the sprint intervals, or suffering while riding at my limit up the climbs. I suspect most people don’t. It’s hard! It hurts!
So why do it?
I do it so that on the other days, I can ride easy and enjoy the scenery, the sunshine, the wind on my face.
I do it so that if I want to explore new routes, or go somewhere across town on a whim, I can — regardless of how far that might be. I don’t worry that a impromptu destination is 30 miles away, meaning I’ll be adding another 60 miles to my day. It’s not going to be a problem physically. (It might be problem explaining to my wife why those extra miles were more important than cleaning up the backyard. Ha!)
And I do it so that every so often, I can have one of those magical days. The kind of day where I can ride miles and miles and miles, and not feel the effort at all.
I had one of those magical days a few weekends ago. I led a group of friends out to Fountain Hills, up a climb called Eagle Ridge. It’s not the hardest climb in the valley, not by any means. But it’s still climbing. And it felt effortless. For sure, I was riding well within my capabilities, and that had something to do with it. And it was a rare cool and cloudy day here in the valley — we actually got rained on part of the way.
After finishing the route, I rode down with my friends to their house, with 40 miles covered. It was still cool out, and my legs were feeling good — in fact, they were just getting warmed up. I told my friends I was going to ride out to Gilbert, tacking on another 60 miles or so to my day. They of course looked at me like I was nuts. Why would I want to do the extra miles? Wasn’t I tired?
And why Gilbert? There are a couple of places in Gilbert that have special connections for me, from times gone past. I like to visit them every so often. Also, unlike the hilly route we had just completed, the route to Gilbert is all flat. I knew the riding would be fast and easy.
And it was. I never felt the miles the whole day, even though I ended up with 106 of them covered. Through all those miles, it felt like I was floating.
It was magical.
What’s even more magical, is that when I got home, I was full of energy. You’d think I’d be tired, after 100 miles of riding. But that wasn’t the case. This happens quite often for me after long rides. Why I don’t know. Probably something to do with having my heartrate up, and those dolphins — I mean endorphins — kicking in. Whatever the reason, I quickly and efficiently did chores around the house, to help make it up to my wife for being gone most of the day.
I made it a point not to sit down until I finished said chores. I knew from previous experience that as soon as I did, it would all be over and I would crash immediately. I would be sleepy and tired the rest of the day.
That’s part of the magic too — napping afterwards through a basketball game playing on TV.