Today I figured it was time for an easy ride. Lately, I’ve been pushing it hard, doing hills, doing intervals — or fartlek — but generally, including a lot of fast or strenuous riding. Obviously, that can’t continue, and I do bear my overall condition in mind.
So I rode over to the Veloway. Although there are stretches where I tend to really hammer it, I told myself that today I wouldn’t watch the computer, wouldn’t pay attention to cadence. I would just pedal around a few times and head home.
When I pulled in, it turns out there was some sort of organized ride going on. A group that benefits kids had set up a tent and a food and drink table. An ice cream truck tootled away in the parking lot. Lots of people of all ages, mostly in street shorts and cotton t-shirts, pedaled mountain bikes and cruisers around the three-mile track.
I thought the conditions were tailor made for me to do my easy ride. But some of the riders, adults who seemed to be associated with the group, were real bikers. How could I tell? Well, they wore lycra jerseys and padded biking shorts and rode road bikes. I’ve got a problem when I see folks like that on the Veloway — or anywhere, for that matter. I suddenly feel the urge to catch and pass them. I started my first lap, took a swallow from the water bottle, and set out after two guys about 100 yards ahead of me.
It took me all of five seconds to remind myself that today was an easy ride. I shifted down to the small chain ring and rode at a moderate pace. Heck, if you’re going to go easy, go easy. I was going easy, but I sensed that it still wasn’t easy enough.
Then, two guys passed me. I knew they were coming, because I’d seen them when we were opposite each other at a hairpin turn. I expected to be passed. But the second guy — he never should have passed me. He was a big guy with an awkward pedaling style. His knees pointed outwards and he seemed to be one gear lower than he should have been. I applied a little more pressure and drafted him.
Uh, this is an easy ride, remember? I backed off, and watched him pull ahead. Well, at least I could take satisfaction from passing the little girl on the mountain bike.
No I couldn’t. I passed her and felt like a schmuck. The only consolation I could take was that if I hadn’t passed her, I’d be going so slow I’d have trouble staying upright.
That was pretty much the story of the day. I did four laps, 12 miles total — 18 for the round trip from home. I remembered what was drilled into us at a clinic last fall when we had to stay in Zone 2. It was hard then, too. Twice, I passed “real” cyclists. Each time, I recognized the error my ways and slowed down to get repassed by them.
When I turned into my driveway at home, I figured my easy ride had been a bust. I knew I pushed harder than I should have. But the computer said I averaged 14.9 mph for the trip. I compared that to past rides I’d done on that same route. My average turned out to be 16.2. On a couple of occasions earlier this year, I averaged more than 17 mph. OK, I guess I did go easy — sort of. But man, that easy pedaling — that’s hard.