Recently I was chatting with one of my athletes about long bike rides in particular what we like about them. Yes, longer rides are fun even when they have there challenging moments. Here are my top 3 along with several responses I got from others that have taken a few long rides.
1. Solitude - Long rides by myself allow me to ride at my own pace. Go hard when I want or just cruise and look at all the cool sites. Time in my head with my thoughts or figuring out client schedules. Of course at times, ok a lot of times no thoughts at all as the miles roll on by and I take in all the beauty surrounding us here in Colorado.
2. Friendship - The flip side is rolling out with a group for 4-5 hours. You can get to know someone a lot better after spending hours in the saddle. Long group rides usually involve a stop or two for beverages and other feeding opportunities. A favorite ride in the 90's when I lived in San Diego was a bakery ride out to Dudley's. When your tired you can just sit on a wheel and take a break while someone else leads the way.
3. Mental/Physical toughness - Whether by yourself or with a group, the first time you crack 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles it sure is a confidence booster. The longer ride is essential for both cyclists and triathletes that are looking to improve.
Here are a few more long ride likes...
1) The freedom to know you have hours ahead with just you and your thoughts.
2) The anticipation and then the feeling of accomplishment when it's over.
3) Knowing that you've earned at least 2 pints of beer and your favorite meal.
1) If the weather is ideal, I can ride forever. And ideal isn't overly specific... depends on the current season.
2) If the terrain is what I'm wanting to do, I can ride a long time. Terrain can be tough where I have the energy to work on hill climbs and have fun with decents. Or, the route can be rollers where I can get satisfaction in a higher mph average by still working it but not killing myself either. Note: the fall weather and colors have been a wonderful energy last 3 weeks.
3) Lastly, there are times I am simply motivated to complete an assigned long ride no matter what the weather or route. Grrrrrr....just wanna do it! :o)
1. Challenge! I love the challenge of the longer rides, mentally and physically; specially when there are hills and wind to take on!! (It's all how you look at it, no?)
2. It's my happy spot! With dealing with depression and anxiety, the longer bike rides calms my whirlwind of a mind, changes my mind set to actually be in the moment, and I'm now focus on the ride ahead of me and whatever lies ahead.
3. Embracing what I can do! Hey! These miles have been earned, not given! To even be capable to go out and do such long bike rides is amazing! And if you are able to do so, you're the one who chooses whether or not to "go the extra mile".
1) The Challenge. Overcoming the mental barriers of getting half way through your long ride and realizing you are only half way. Pushing your physical limits near the end and realizing you can do it.
2) The Scenery. This may be due to the amazing place we live, but if you are riding 100+miles in the area, you are going to see some highlights from Mother Nature.
3) Post Ride. The hunger, thirst, and desire to sleep that is with you the rest of the day. Makes you feel like you accomplished something worthwhile and are better because of it.
1) First of all I have to say that being able to train and take some of these long rides is that I am truly blessed! I have the time, the physical ability and one of the most beautiful places in the world to do so. Not everyone is as lucky! I love the speed and being able to cover a long distance. I often look at the Kohalas or Hualalai from a long way out and get some cool satisfaction that I'm going there, or was there!
2) The scenery! I've had some epic rides out on the old Mamalahoa highway - incredibly beautiful rolling hills, open fields, the smell of white ginger and the grass - incredible!!
3) The camaraderie - I had bib #1000 on my 70.3 in Mallorca. Got lots of comments and had some great conversation snipets from athletes from all over the world climbing up the long hill. Pretty cool!
1) The end of the ride
2) The isolation
3) Happy to have no mechanical issues
1)The best thing I find about a long ride is once you get past all the niggles and stress, for me usually the first 2 hours. I hit a point where I can just zen out and there seems to be this perfect balance. I'm not worried about speed, power or life's other stress'. Instead it's just me cruising and living the dream.
2) Another thing I enjoy about long rides is the company of a good training partner. Unbeknownst to our wives we might actually get more individual quality time with our training mates. Often these partners are reaching for the same goals and it helps to have them along
1) The solitude. I don't ride with music, it's not safe. So you're alone with your thoughts. It's an ideal time to mediate on your breathing or the pressure on your foot during a down stroke etc. if meditation isn't your thing, it's a great time to focus on various parts of your cycling. Yes I just switched the word meditation with focus. Pedaling, while being aware of everything else; traffic, the road ahead, foot position, aero position, lean etc. switch focuses every so often. The kilometers fly by.
2) If it's not a race prep ride: the treat at the turn around point when that is a destination of its own. Iced Coffee at Starbucks in Waikoloa out here for example. Nothing heavy, nothing a complete nutritional disaster, just something simple and appropriate. If it's a race prep ride: seeing just how tasty your choices for the race really are. I've surprised myself more than once on my gastronomical choices.
3) The early starts. Riding the Queen K through the lava fields and seeing the sun finally crest over Mauna Loa and Hualalai makes that before dawn alarm all worthwhile. Getting things done before many people even have a chance to decide what they're going to have for breakfast.
4) Being done!