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 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.