Road cycling and suffering are intrinsically linked. To get faster, you have to ride harder, to ride harder you have to be prepared to suffer on the bike. Over the years I’ve learnt to love and embrace the suffering. I love to ride so hard that the only thing I can feel or think about is the pain. Or perhaps I’ve always loved the pain and cycling simply gives me a legitimate excuse to inflict it upon myself? Who knows.
Recently I’ve gotten a little soft, heading out for longer endurance rides where there’s a lot less time spent flat out. There’s nothing wrong with that of course. If you love 100 mile rides in Zone 1 and 2 then all the more power to you, but I live for that intense burning through my legs and lungs. One of my “favourite” sessions is to find a good climb, power up it as hard as I can, then coast back to the base and see if I can hit it even harder. Maybe I’ll even do it a third time. Leave nothing in the tank.
After all, if you aren’t suffering, are you even really riding?
“Once, someone asked me what pleasure I took in riding. ‘Pleasure?’ I said. ‘I don’t understand the question. I don’t do it for pleasure; I do it for pain.” – Lance Armstrong