It’s that time of the year that I’m doing slower and longer miles, mostly by myself. Having lots of time to think through intervals and the long road in front of me I seem to reflect the most on the bike from January to March due to the speed and lack of companionship (my choice.)
Yesterday I struggled through my workout for many reasons. #1 As I’m getting towards the end of a couple blocks and haven’t had a threshold test so I’m stronger than where my zones are set. #2 The gearing on a cross bike with slicks is much different than a standard compact. It’s my own doing and I can fix both of these things. Regardless, the workout left me frustrated with finding the right gear and terrain for workouts.
Today I entered my 2.5 hour ride with a bit more optimism. Without any intervals to chase after I stopped looking at the Garmin page that listed watts and went off my Perceived Exertion scale that I have internally built in me from 15 years of cycling. I focused on pedaling strokes, enjoying jumping the potholes and digging deep into the turns.
Then I focused on shifting.
Shifting covers so many pieces of our lives. Often in cycling I find that I allow myself to sit in the gear I’m in. Maybe even falling behind the cadence I need to turn over my gear comfortable. Then there is the fear of the shift to a harder gear as it may be too hard. Maybe I’ll need to shift back? Maybe there will be a miss shift at the wrong moment or maybe it will show that I’m weak?
Shifting gears is as much about the mental feeling as it is the physical. Picking up your cadence and finding that you can push the new, harder, gear just as well as the easier. Your speed increases and often, especially off road, you find that it is easier to ride at this faster pace as momentum and speed is your friend.
Much of life is learning when to shift, when to push yourself, when to be happy with your pace or when to slow down. As I pedal around for the next couple months my thoughts will be focusing on the shift. Shifting the bike, shifting my mind and shifting how I live my life.