I’m excited to ride this week because it’s “feel week.”
Usually I am a bit of a slave to my power meter data. I try to stay within the prescribed range.
But this week my coach told me to put up a timer on my power meter and that’s it. Keep steady pressure on the life pedals. And ignore power.
So that’s fun.
I’ve noticed in racing that you don’t really pay attention to power. Instead heart rate is important so you can keep tabs on your effort.
So getting a feel for power is also important. Because if you’re not checking power on race day, you still need a feel for how you are doing.
In fact, the same goes for heart rate. In my last race, I had an intense first hour, but I didn’t notice it. I didn’t notice it because I track power and heart rate religiously when I am training. Without these two data points, I didn’t really have a good feel for my effort.
But during a race, particularly the first hour it seems, you have a lot more to pay attention to. Strategy, other bikes, getting a feel for conditions. So you aren’t really looking at power or heart rate.
Being able to feel these two things is what this week is about.
I did another gravel race today. I should be elated – I set a bunch of personal records on power and heart rate.
But I’m not elated. I’m not a very patient person and I think I expected to see results faster. And I know I’m seeing results so … what is it?
In the simplest terms, biking rewards many years of consistent effort. And I’m basically 6 months or 2 months into giving consistent effort.
I’ve learned there are many things in life that can be obtained by brute force. Most business things don’t require many years of output. Instead, businesses are made up of projects that are thought of in 3, 6 or 12 month terms.
I’m pretty good at getting results when brute force works.
But brute force doesn’t make biking easier. You can’t brute force a 44 mile ride. In fact, it’s the opposite. You have to train so that eventually your heart rate stays down and your power output increases.
My bike coach explained it simply: “there are things in biking you have to earn.”
Another example comes from the movie Iron Cowboy (highly recommended). The main character talks about the many years of letting his body transform as he put in the work to be great at triathlons.
I’m drawn to racing bikes because it’s not something I’m good at. I was about to write that I don’t like putting in years of effort to get good at something. But that’s not true. I worked nine years at my company, grinding on it day in and day out, before we sold it.
I’ll start by saying I feel very, very grateful to be alive today. COVID-19 has been horrible and not everyone has been so lucky. My uncle died, my neighbor died, millions died.
Each day is a blessing.
Today I went to a Royal’s game with my kids and wife. It was the first event where things seemed to be getting back to normal. My kids loved it, my wife loved it, I loved it. I made it a practice to stay off my phone throughout the game.
And then we were rewarded with a walk off home run. Let’s see if I can share a link from Twitter:
I’m at the lake and I’ve been inside the whole time trying to figure out how to mix a podcast. It’s messy and hard and frustrating and I don’t sleep well or really do anything each day other than try to figure out how to use audacity software.
Like anything, this will get easier with time. But right now I’m most definitely in the dip.
So I’m sitting here trying to think of something interesting to write. But instead I feel brain dead. That’s what happens when you wake up at 7 am and stare at a computer screen until 3:30 pm. I’m waiting for my dad to get home so we can go fishing.
Here are some tips on getting energy back that have worked for me in the past and hopefully work for me now.
Take a break but only when you know what you will do next. I actually stole this idea from Earnest Hemingway:
You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.
*Also of note about this blog. I hate citation formatting; I have hated it ever since law school when I tried to do correct citations to make the law review. If you want correct citation formats go somewhere else. Looking at you, Bryan.
If you have to go back to the work, and you are brain dead, do something that completely removes your mind from the project. In law school, I would play basketball for a couple hours. Today I’m going to go fishing before hitting the podcast again tonight. A good tv show or movie can suffice. I just started watching Watchmen.
I’ve also learned that I work much, much better in the morning. So I’d rather work at 5 am than at 10 pm.
This would be a very subpar post except I worked in Hemingway.
I have lots of ideas. Everyone has lots of ideas. Ideas come in our brains; ideas fly out of our brains. For example, I have two substacks that I started and abandoned.
The internet is just a big notebook.
The most interesting ideas, though, are the ones that burrow into your brain. The ones that won’t go away. This morning I woke up and involuntarily started thinking about an idea I have been gnawing on.
We all have ideas.
But it’s the idea that sticks around that are most interesting. I have the ability to take an idea and play with it, to do mental gymnastics with it for awhile. I’ve actually learned to not turn on this power very often because it is so distracting.
I have a specific example. In 2013, I was running a business. I happened to take a vacation to the beach with my family. And I started working on another idea that was so dumb. Here it is:
Discovery Hound was going to be a low cost e-discovery tool for lawyers. What a waste of a beach vacation.
What’s the point? Ideas come and go. Watch for the ones that aren’t fleeting.
I have a future post in me about “why do sports?” But today I just want to say:
I crushed my gravel race yesterday. Major progress was made.
There are a lot of lessons here.
What you eat matters. I made some simple switches to what I eat during a ride and went from barely finishing a race to sprinting to the finish.
I went to bed the night before the race fearful of the weather. It turned out to be perfect — cool and only slightly wet. I was worried about nothing.
Also I will note that I passed three riders the last 10 miles of the race. That felt really really good.
I am 41 years old. It’s nice to know I still can do “it” — whatever that is. I’m locked in on riding and ready to see how far I can push this.
Also if anyone is reading this and needs tips on how to ride 50 miles in the rain at about 55-60 degrees. First don’t wear leggings, they get wet and heavy. I went jersey, vest, and arm warmers. No hat. And I used gloves with no fingers. It was the perfect riding outfit for that type of weather. It didn’t rain much though.
It’s amazing how much planning has to go into a four hour bike ride.
I’m jinxed. Tomorrow is my second gravel race, this time in Smithville, Missouri. For the uninitiated, gravel races are on… unpaved roads. Like gravel, and mud and whatever else.
Going into my last gravel ride, which was my first, I had one wish: don’t rain. So of course the night before it rained. The course was definitely wet but manageable. And it didn’t rain the day of.
This is the weather forecast for my race tomorrow:
There’s an 80% chance of rain at race start. Lovely.
I’m still going to do it. I’ve been psyching myself up all week. But man, I generally avoid riding in the rain.
Why do I avoid riding in the rain? Why do humans not like to be rained on? Is it some primordial instinct that makes us want to avoid the rain? That’s a weird thing to me — what is the root cause for wanting to avoid rain? Rain doesn’t burn our skin or really do any other harm. I guess rain theoretically can make you cold which makes you susceptible to sickness.
Logically the rain shouldn’t bother me. I’ll do the race, get wet and then dry off.
I do need to remember to pack a towel and spatula.