Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Slowing to Smell the Roses

Every now and then, I decide I'm going to do some chill-out miles. Usually between my LeMond's ability to go very, very fast and my personality that lasts about two miles and then I push my average to something high and go hard for the rest of the ride. Every now and then, though, I actually soft-pedal for semi-significant distances and find that I have, yet again, forgotten that fast isn't the only speed bikes can go and it's not the only speed I can enjoy. Today was one of those days.

I think it helps that my LeMond is in Seattle already, so I only have my mountain bike and my commuter. The things the mountain bike is good for are stability and handling, but it doesn't have the need for speed that the racing bike does. When I'm on one of my bikes and I'm pushing myself, my world narrows to the road/trail/whatever in front of me and a scan along the sides to make sure that nobody's about to try to commit suicide by cyclist. Granted, I was going for it on the way out today, but after I stretched I decided that I was still feeling beat up from my running adventures and I soft-pedaled back. I got to look at the water, read the T-shirts of people coming in the opposite direction, listen to the knobs on my tires sing, enjoy the light, etc. etc. Nothing hurt, I barely sweated, and yet my speedometer somehow drifted as high as 19. I think I had a tailwind.

So now I have to figure out if and how I'm going to integrate this kind of thing into my training schedule, once I have one again. Most cycle training schedules call for six rides a week, with the sixth one being at an easy pace and distance. In the past I've thought that that was something I didn't get to do - I've always tried for consecutive off days. In the past I've also thought that my knees would prevent me from making running one of my regular activities, but it's my ankles that are limitting me now. If I can discipline myself to ride slowly, and not give in to the temptation to shift up a gear, push a little harder, and fill all that empty space in front of me, I can do one more ride a week.

There are a lot of reasons I enjoy riding bikes and, lately, running. One of the chief ones is that it gives me some privacy in the middle of a crowded city. Another is that I like to go fast, and a big one is that I like a challenge. Perhaps now I can add a fourth reason. A weekly slow ride might be the way I can do just enough not to get too jumpy to take some time to do nothing.

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