The Denver Post published an article, by Daniel Petty, about this year’s Ride The Rockies and he wrote, “the event, though not competitive, certainly requires training.” If only the (highly valued) RTR volunteers pulled us up the steeper mountain climbs, then training wouldn’t be so “required.”
Still, we can stop, snap a few scenic pictures, eat as often as we like and take time to smell the roses.
Bicycling at a touring speed is nice. Except what about all of those hours and hours that you trained? It may lead you to see if your fit body can handle the route when you amp up the speed. Like when you think of going faster when another cyclist pedals by, and as the greyhound dog chasing the rabbit, you jump behind their wheel, draft and maybe even take a few pulls. Or maybe you are with a few faster riders and you’d like to make an improvised racing team of it (with a team name based on the most prevalent bike in the pack) and pound the pedals as if it’s the Giro d’Italia – with rest stops. That’s fine, as long as you stay within the rules of the road. Go for it! This ride is your chance to live like a semi-professional racer, if you choose. After all, can you think of a ride that is exactly as long as RTR, but tougher?
Enjoy your Ferrari fast, tour-crushing speeds (probably not a good idea though on the gravel road section on Ute Pass – read ‘Gravel Tips,’ by Jim Rutberg). But no prizes are awarded to the fastest rider. Yet the grueling day-after-day of getting “back in the #saddle again” might slow down and auto-correct some of your racing spirit, as if your internal gears have a GPS saying, “recalculating average speed… continue for 100 yards at the pace of snail.”
Playing the speed game is sometimes worthwhile, even if it’s only a momentary boost of playing catch up to another rider, but speed can also lead to unwanted pain. The “revelation” of this article is that you can reverse the trend of hurting yourself in cycling. Be smart and pay attention — your body, your heart rate, and your revolutions per minute (cadence) – and remember that each of those components are different than the other riders around you. We are not all made to go at the same average speed. Aim for a workout if you want, but a good goal is to try to ride below eighty-percent of your maximum heart rate – going only up to the point where you are putting in a healthy effort, yet you are not at a sprint at the end of a Tour de France stage. Turning out good-paced revolutions will help you reach the happy bicycle ride revelation that lies in finding your zone. In that chilled out place where a good workout blends with a comfortable pace. Plus you’ll be more alert and able to enjoy more of Colorado. Now that’s a finish line, hands-in-the-air win!
Anyone can have more training miles deposited in their bank than you, which tends to mean that they will have a higher average speed. When the fast rider goes past you try to ask yourself before you join them — or the peloton — are you doing a quick uptick of your pace or do they really match your comfort zone and you want to stay with them? Not every rider/peloton is for you. Like life, choose the speed you want to go. You’ll end up in a better place at the end of the day.