I was watching the Tour of California…oops…I mean, the AMGEN Tour of California, as the announcers were always very careful to say, the other day, when a noncyclist wandered into the room. The peloton was cruising along flat ground, and the riders had formed echelons, so there was a vicious cross-headwind blowing, and the noncyclist asked, “How fast are they going? Sixty miles an hour?”
My goodness. Sixty miles an hour on the flat and into the wind, sustained over many many miles. That would indeed be impressive. The reality, however, was quite impressive to me, but the noncyclist, who seemed nonchalant about the idea of a bike going sixty miles an hour on the flat, was not impressed at all by the fact that they were actually going 35-40 mph.
In the Indiviual Time Trial, the average pace was around 37 mph, which certainly impressed the heck out of me. A noncyclist, having seen part of the time trial asked me, “Could you comptete?”
“I beg your pardon?” I replied politely.
“Could you go into that race and compete?”
Well, of course, I don’t have a license…but, if I did, could I compete? Well, if by compete you mean smile politely as all the pros shot forward and disappeared over the horizon while I sat back and watched them go, then, yes, I certainly could.
“No,” I said. “I’m not that fast.”
“Well, what if you trained?”
Hm. Well…if I had a professional coach and professional equipment, a doctor to monitor me, a power meter and heart rate monitor, my own cook and quit my job so that I could train six or eight hours a day, then….no. Not a chance in the world. I may not know precisely what my limits are, but I know that’s well beyond them.
What are my limits? Well, one day three of us rode “Six Hills Road.” That isn’t actually its name, and there are probably more than six hills on this short stretch of road. It’s a beast and a lot of fun at the same time. Even if everyone has been riding together, it is every man for himself as we hit the hills. You go as fast as you can and wait for the slower folks at the end.
One day I did this ride with Scott and a friend of Scott’s. The friend had a problem and Scott, could ride me into the ground with one leg tied behind his back, waited for his friend. I didn’t hold anything back and flew down the road. At the end, I was hanging over my handlebars while my stomach made a series of uncertain revolutions.
Scott and his friend caught up with me. “What are you doing?” Scott asked.
“Trying to decide if I’m going to throw up,” I gasped.
Scott laughed. “Come on,” he said, and he and his buddy pedaled gently away. I sighed and clipped in and pedaled after them. I hadn’t quite reached my limit after all, apparently.
The cycling club rides and annual double century – 200 miles in one day. I completed this ride. I was the lantern rouge, paced in by another rider dead last. I didn’t finish pretty or strong, but I did finish. No limit there, either.
The thing about cycling is that it will encourage you to push through what you think your limits are, and that’s a pretty rewarding thing.
Scott says, “You have to start by knowing you can do it.”
There you go.
I’m going for a ride.
See you on the road.