Day -14: Love the Burn

One of the ways to get initiated into biker culture is to read a very famous website on “the rules”:    It’s a testosterone fueled opinion on etiquette, bike fashion, clothing, riding, driving yourself, etc.    Sample quote:

Rule #10//  It never gets easier, you just go faster.
As this famous quote by Greg LeMond tells us, training, climbing, and racing is hard. It stays hard. To put it another way, per Greg Henderson: “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.” One caution, the language is R-rated at best

I had a really tough training ride yesterday — Derek from my bike group and I decided to go out early to get a few more kilometers in.   I’d like to say Derek is 35 and a former racer, but my best guess is he’s a couple years older than me and doesn’t look like a killer cyclist.   But he is just a monster on hills or when we’re in an area in Singapore with no lights, no cars and a lot of free road.   I knew it was going to be a tough ride going into it.   The last time we had done 130 kilometers, probably 90 minutes of which was in an absolutely bucketing rain.

I was already getting a bit tired when we approached Changi Village (probably 60 kilometers into the ride).   Up until that point we’d shared the lead, so I was thinking I was getting stronger.   He says “do you mind if we try a little hill climbing?” and darted right.   It wasn’t a particularly long hill, but fairly steep for Singapore.   Derek just pulls away.   Turns out it is a dead end; he just wanted a little warm-up.

When we hit the roads around Changi we started to ramp up the pace.   Normally I try to keep a pace of 31-32 kmh by myself.   He and I did 36 for the first 1/3, then Derek started picking it up.   For the last half (10 kilometers?) we were going 40-42 kph.   To put it in perspective, my wattage meter gave a 202 (exactly) for a 20 minute section of that run.   This means I was at my FTP for 20 minutes of a 3.5 hour ride.   BTW, once we topped 36 I gave up trying to share the lead; I just studied his posterior as only a bicyclist can do.

When you’re having a good ride, you feel a very steady, not insignificant pain in your legs that is known as “the burn.”   It’s a persistent call by your muscles to slow down.   It’s how you feel on the last push-up before you give up.   And you learn not to give up.   You learn not to fight the burn, but to love the burn.   It’s more than mind over matter, it’s a sensation that is consistent with “I’m out here doing what I set out to do.   I want to get better, I want to push myself.”    When you’ve cycled in the burn for 3-5 hours, the after cycle is a feeling of exhaustion but not pain.   One thing great about bicycling is you don’t usually have knee or back or ankle problems.   You are just sore.   And elated.

Saturday, 19 May 2018 Training:   95 kilometer ride, 3:24 around Changi Airport.   Probably a personal best.   One thing that was nice is my left/right balance was 53/47, the closest to parity I’ve ever recorded.   This means my injured right leg is strengthening faster than my left.   That’s good news.

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