It’s late into the group ride and we’re on the home stretch, that time when we ramp up the pace and drive it home to the cafe. I roll onto the front – the bunch safely tucked single file behind me – and little by little I wind on the power. We’re cruising at 30kph, then 32, 33 … We pass a couple of riders and signal for them to join the train, so they draft in behind.
A few more watts and I’m doing 35kph, riders are one by one dropping off unable to maintain the pace of the K-train express. Still on the front, I wind it up further and our speed creeps to 36 … 37 … 38+ kph. I soon realise there’s only two guys left clinging to my wheel so I gently roll off the gas and let the group reform.
I’m feeling pretty fast and fit at the moment. I’m totally crushing each pedal stroke, I’m setting a fair few PR’s on Strava and I’m generally just loving my cycling – but there’s always that drive to be faster. That niggle in the back of my mind. So how fast is fast enough? How many miles is enough? I struggle with this question a lot. In fact I think it troubles me much more than it should.
Baggy shorts beginner to full Lycra lout. I’ve come a long way, baby…
I’m by no means slow, but I’m nowhere near fast. There are many, many riders around here who could kick my teeth in over a long ride or drop me like a stone up (and down) the local climbs! That said, exactly how fast do I need to be? How fast would make me happy? And how much am I willing to sacrifice to attain that?
I’m an average “B group” club rider at best. I don’t need to be faster. I don’t race or get paid by results. My livelihood doesn’t depend on my wattage output. When I swing a leg over a bike it’s purely for enjoyment and fitness, but still I feel I should be faster, stronger, fitter.
Each friend in this photo is a faster and stronger rider than me.
To be able to hang with the “A bunch” and not feel like death would take some serious training. It’d mean following a plan, up early for turbo sessions, less riding for fun and more structure, sacrificing family time to fit it in. Cut down on my cake consumption, eat a little healthier, ditch my weekend bourbon and diet cola. And for what? Just to ride with a faster group on the weekend warrior ride? Would I enjoy my cycling more? I’m not so sure. Quite possibly I may enjoy it less!
Whaaaat? Eat less cake? Blasphemy!
I already get up early to put in an hour’s ride before work a couple of times a week, plus longer weekend rides. Add to that a turbo session or two and I’m “training” five to six days per week. I say training, but in reality it’s just riding. Maybe I need a goal event to aim for. Something that I need to be fitter for. Or maybe I just need to chill out and be happy that I am fit and healthy and able to ride like I do?
Ride. Smile. Enjoy. Be happy!
At the end of the day, we ride because we enjoy it. Right? The cold hard truth is that no matter how fast or strong you are, there is ALWAYS somebody faster and stronger. Always.
So fellow roadies, how fast is fast enough?