I not only a bike noob. I’m a bike geek.
Part of what appeals to me so much about this sport is the technology and opportunities to measure and test and repeat. Bike computers and Strava have been the best things that ever happened to my physical fitness. Because every time I go out for a ride, I have incentive to push a little harder a little longer.
To keep myself pushing both up and down hills with no coasting, I watch my average speed. I’ve got my own goals and bars that I set for myself. Depending on the route I’m taking, I know that I should be able to average 18.5 or 19.0 or more.
A bar that’s pretty high for me is to average over 20 mph over 20 miles. I’ve done it lots of times in a group, but it’s tough to do solo, especially with some hills in the mix.
Sometimes everything comes together — a day of rest, some tailwinds, a well placed cyclist to chase down and get the competitive juices flowing — And today I was 11 miles in, at the point where the loop turns back toward home and I was averaging 20.5. I knew I had some good uphills to get back home plus headwinds, but at that point I committed myself to keep it above 20.
It was a struggle, especially with a few stop signs and traffic, but I pulled it off. And the workout I got was like when I’m chasing down the crazy-good cyclists in the local club A group rides.
I pushed harder, got a better workout, just by playing head games with myself. That extra effort to simply keep the average up over an arbitrary number turned a good workout into an amazing one. And I get all the bonus accomplishment feels to go with it.
None of this would be possible without a good bike computer to keep tabs on the numbers. I have a Garmin Edge 510 paired up with a heart rate monitor and cadence/speed sensor. There are lots of alternatives. Even your smart phone running Strava will do the job. Though you need a handlebar mount for your phone to be able to watch the numbers.
And if you don’t use Strava, give it a try. If you’re worried about how you look to your friends and others, don’t. You don’t have to compete with anybody but yourself. Your goals are your goals. You don’t have to compare. Just be honest with yourself.
There is, however, something to be said about the accountability and support you get interacting with a community like Strava. Getting comments and kudos (likes) go a long way.
If you’re going for fitness this is how to do it. You have to push. No coasting. And lay off the “granny gears”. With all due respect to actual grannies.
Here are some of the things mentioned in this article.
The Garmin Edge 510 Bundle Version comes with a premium heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor, along with all the trimmings of the regular 510.