Sunday, March 8, 2009

Moment by moment.

The time I spend riding my bike often serves a similar purpose as meditation. It's a parenthesis of time where the focus is the present moment. Whether I'm going up a hill or working on spinning more smoothly, If I'm doing it right, my thoughts are completely on the pedal stroke at hand, or more precisely, foot. Yet, that constant concentration on the now has a cumulative effect.

There is a ride that I like to do. It starts at my doorstep, it goes to Escondido, just a couple of blocks from where the Tour of California ended and then back home. It's got some rolling hills and some flats. A good all-round 28 mile ride. When I started doing this ride, I used to worry about making sure I saved enough energy to get back home; about getting over the hills that I would reach much later, about the headwind I would undoubtedly encounter on the return leg. All that worry took away from paying attention and ultimately just added time to my ride.

Where in the past I would be concerned about my ultimate average speed and the overall ride, in the last few weeks I've been concentrating on immediate things, things in the moment: cadence and heart rate. All I worry about is that at the present moment I'm producing the highest possible cadence while staying in my Tempo and Sub-threshold workout zones. I don't mind going above those zones during hills or deliberate hard effort sections, but for the most part, I try to keep it tempo. The results? I've been shaving a minute or two from that ride over the last 3 or 4 weeks.

I've heard Mari Holden, former National Time Trial Champion, Olympic silver medalist in the time trial, World Champion and all around cycling babe, talk about staying in the moment. For her, every pedal stroke, every turn, every small rise of the rode was an opportunity to put time on her rivals. But to take advantage of that she had to be present for each of those opportunities. In cycling, as in life, there is no better way to get a favorable result than to focus on the moment at hand.

For now, it was a good week of training, even though I was in San Jose for the weekend. On March 14, I will be doing the Solvang Century, half-century for me. I look forward to reporting back next weekend, hopefully I'll beat my time from last year. Nevertheless I can guarantee that my focus will be heart rate and cadence, because a good ride is built moment by moment.

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