Riding Easy is Hard

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.


  1. says

    This sounds like my husband. He has a hard time doing easy rides sometimes. He usualy drags me along so he can focus on going slow since he average is 20-something mph and mine is 15-16mph lol. Riding easy is hard! Hard from the mental aspect.

  2. Kevin says

    I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying the blog. I enjoy your writing and your perspective. I live in Seguin, and I am insanely jealous of all of the bike-related options you have up in the Austin area. I can’t wait to come up to the veloway for some truly traffic-free riding.

  3. says

    I think most of us riders know exactly what you’re talking about. There are a lot of times when I head out on a ride thinking that I’ll make it a recovery (or easier) ride, and before I know it I’m out there pushing as hard as always.

    It really is hard to go easy on the bike sometimes. Great post, Ray.


  4. says

    It does take discipline to go easy. It’s all in your mind…I’ve figured out that I can tell myself to have an easy day on my commuting bike and actually take it easy. Doing the same thing on my road bike drives me crazy…

    Try riding a different bike on your easy days and see if that makes a difference.

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