Cycling became my adult athletic pursuit once my childhood days of team sports such as baseball, basketball and soccer were long gone. It pretty much has been since I graduated college back in the early ’90s. I’m what you call an enthusiast, or nowadays can be termed the “Gran Fondo” rider. I’m not into racing simply because I don’t want to go down like a domino and break my collarbone in a criterium – I’ve got a wife, three kids and a business to run! But I admire those who train to compete in amateur bike racing, especially those Masters guys who also have families and a career. Probably like the majority of cyclists out there, I enjoy both the group ride and solo rides. The midweek or weekend group ride is more social and forces you to step up your game, lest you get dropped. Fear is a powerful motivator! The solo training ride helps clear your head from stressful days. Over the years, my riding consistency has waxed and waned depending on what was going on in my life. Invariably something would come up, like the birth of a child, a move, a new job, etc. that took me away from my weekly riding routine. Soon a few weeks would go by and I could feel all that hard-earned fitness slipping away. And then weeks might turn into a few months. Since my non-cycling spouse liked that fact I was around more to help around the house, I figured it was good that I took some time off. But I would get restless, missing my fitness and time outside. All the time, I knew that getting back on the bike and into a new routine was GOING TO HURT.
So it was that one of those life interrupters came along at the end of 2015 – this time a local move. But add to that my volunteering as an assistant baseball coach for my son’s Little League team and my riding time went to nil. Before I knew it, it was nearly halfway through the year and I had hardly ridden my bike. Fast forward to mid-June and the baseball season was now over (Little League must be the longest and most time intensive of youth sports!) and we were for the most part in our new house. So on June 21st, the second day of summer, I decided to get back in the saddle again. Can’t you hear those Gene Autry song lyrics? Or Aerosmith? At lunch time, I hopped onto the shop’s demo Pinarello Dogma F8 – which just so happens to fit me 🙂 – and decided to dip my toe back in the water. One of my favorite short rides from the shop is the Newport Back Bay Loop. It’s scenic and fortunately, pretty flat. No serious climbing for me as I ease my way back! The first couple of miles and I’m thinking, “this feels pretty good.” But as I jumped on the bike trail and headed towards the coast, a nice 10 mph headwind smacks me in the face and suddenly I see my average speed start to drop. And now it was starting to hurt. I tell myself not to get hung up on what the Garmin says and just go at a comfortable pace. I’m not going to get back to my previous fitness overnight, it’s going to take some time and consistent riding.
I finished that ride feeling more tired than I wanted to admit but happy to have completed that first ride back – it’s more of a psychological barrier than anything. It was much easier to go on my second and third ride that week having completed the first one. Clearly my bike fitness has a ways to go, but it was nice to get the sensations of getting outside and spinning those legs again. Going through this process is giving me the chance to utilize some of the services we promote regularly at ARB Cyclery – in other words, to become a customer of my own shop! Having been off the bike for awhile, it’s definitely time for my bike fit to be re-evaluated. Some changes could be made to help me ride a little more comfortably until I can improve on my fitness, strength and flexibility. The subject of my next blog post in this series will be my visit to the SoCal Endurance Lab’s Senior Fit Specialist, Barrett Brauer. After that, I’ll pay a visit to the SoCal EL’s Exercise Physiologist to find my current level of baseline fitness. Stay tuned!