Lessons I have learned about cycling

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By Charles

I’ve been told I ride a bike excessively. I guess that may be true, as I have ridden on 5 continents and logged over 100,000 miles in 13 years, both racing and touring.

If you are not a cyclist or just new at this marvelous activity, it might help if I tell you a few things I have learned over the years—mostly stuff taught to me by reading, by riding in a 25 member group across USA, or from cycling friends in competitive cycling clubs, and mostly a desire to constantly improve.

The first lesson we all know. It is a lot easier to ride with a tail wind than a head wind. I didn’t need cyclists to tell me that. But they did teach me how to ride in a pace line. What you learn there is that it is easier to ride right behind someone (drafting). You can save 20% or more (more if you sit 14 inches off the rear wheel of the rider in front of you!) if you ride in the pace line behind the first rider. The first rider doesn’t ride any harder than if they were riding alone, but the others benefit. It is beneficial to have a good idea on how the other riders in the group ride, do they stay straight or do they move side to side etc. You must be alert with your eyes, ears and mouth to sudden movements of group riders, potholes, debris on the road etc. That is fun!! It also an adrenaline rush to be riding at speed tight together in a group!

The second lesson I learned early was ”ride your own ride.” I recall one of my first group rides, a fellow rider started going more quickly up a long hill, and I took off after him. Another rider told me “ride your own ride”— basically telling me that I probably didn’t want to chase this guy. Good advice. Had I done that I never would have made it to the top. That was not my pace. It is also important, especially on hills to ride your own ride because you find your own zone, sometimes it can be hard to ride slower than your body wants to go.

Thirdly, advice about multi-day rides; “ride for tomorrow”, or “don’t burn all your matches too early”. That means that if you ride too hard today, you will pay for it tomorrow. It goes well with “ride your own ride.” We all get to the finish line at some point, wherever and whenever that is….the key is to stay within yourself and most of all, enjoy it and have fun!

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