Drive My Bike


Tour Of Utah
August 21, 2009, 2:25 pm
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The Tour of Utah has been going this week, and I’m excited to finally be able to catch some of the action in person. It is not often that we get to see pros like David Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, and others, who just rode in the Tour de France. Pretty cool! 

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My wife and I are planning to see Stage 3 tonight, at Miller Motorsports Park. It’s a 9.2 mile individual time trial stage. After the race is done they are going to open the course up to the public so that anyone that wants to bring their bike can ride the same course the pros just rode. Sounds like fun! (Other than the fact they are predicting the temperature over the asphalt could be 110F or more due to the hot day today. Yikes!)

Tomorrow a friend and I are planning on heading up to Snowbird in the afternoon to catch the finish of Stage 4, which is a pretty brutal 96 mile ride over several major mountain passes, ending with the 10 mile, 3300 vertical foot climb up to Snowbird.

Finally, I’m also hoping to catch some of the final stage on Sunday, which is a 90 minute criterium race in downtown Salt Lake.

This will be the first time I’ve been able to catch a bike race in person since I started biking a little over a year ago, and I’m pretty stoked!

If you’re a local then I’d encourage you to come on out and have some fun. I believe that all of the events are free to watch. Find out more info at the Tour of Utah website.

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Friendly Competition?

On the ride home tonight I was surprised how my competitive spirit got the best of me…

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The temperature for my ride in this morning was around 38 degrees (F), and my outfit was just about right. I was a bit cold for the first mile or so and then I got warmed up and it was a fairly comfortable ride the rest of the way.

This is the time of year in Utah when the temperature can swing 30 degrees or more in a single day, so when it came time to ride home today the temp was around 68. I had to pack all my cold weather gear in my pannier, which made things feel a little bulkier than normal. In spite of this, it was a very pleasant temperature to ride in, and I was feeling great as I took it easy for the first mile. I hit a stop light at the first busy intersection, and enjoyed the rest while I caught my breath a bit, warming up and anticipating a relaxing ride. The light turned green, and I popped back in the saddle and started rolling…. and all of a sudden a guy on a road bike blew by me on the right!

He had a messenger bag on his back, a nice looking light blue road bike, and a bright green jacket. It’s funny the things you notice in a moment like that. I’m not sure what it was that pushed my button, but I got totally irritated with this guy, and was determined to catch him.

I have been riding the rebuilt Trek lately, so keep in mind that I was on a big chromoly steel mountain bike, with a big fat pannier on one side, normal pedals, and running shoes. Not the most competitive package to race with, but all of a sudden I had a whole lot of determination!

About 3 blocks past the stop light there is a small hill, and I usually hate that part of my ride home, because I’m still not quite warmed up by that point, and I often have to drop a couple of gears and pedal fiercely while I slowly roll up the hill. Well not today! I really surprised myself, because I picked up the pace, and set my sights on that guy. I figured that he would be gone in no time, but amazingly I started gaining on him! As we started up the hill I was probably 75 yards behind him, and was gaining steadily. By the time we crested the hill I was  about 10 feet behind him, and I tucked in the pocket, trying to make the most of his draft. I thought about passing him, but all of a sudden I realized that I was REALLY tired! I figured that it would be better to savor the moment, than to pass him and then have him pass me back as I ran out of gas at the bottom.

Sure enough, as we hit the bottom of the other side of the hill he was able to maintain his pace, but I had to back off a bit and catch my breath. I kept my cadence up, but dropped a gear, and he slowly pulled away.

I thought that was the last I would see of him, but a couple of miles later I saw him stopped at a light up ahead, and I almost caught up with him again. The light turned green as I was about 100 yards away, and I gave it all I had, but he still was able to pull away from me.

I was thoroughly exhausted when I got home, but it was a good kind of tired. I have been taking it easier on my rides lately, trying to focus on the things around me and just enjoy the journey. It was fun to push the limits again and fire up the competitive juices. I also surprised myself how strong I was on that hill! I’ve definitely come a long way since I started my bicycle riding back in May. A little friendly competition can be a good thing.



Permission To Slow Down, Captain?
July 25, 2008, 5:58 pm
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When I started bike commuting I had no idea that it would put me on such interesting psychological journeys. Allow me to explain… I’m a pretty driven individual, and I push myself a lot. I push myself to grow. I push myself to succeed. I push myself to learn. I guess that is not all bad, except that I am learning that there is a dark side to all of that. I have discovered that when I am not pushing myself I begin to feel like a slacker. In fact, I think I actually have a fear of not pushing myself. The result of this is that I don’t think I ever really relax and enjoy the now. I’m so busy worrying about “the next thing” that the present goes right by and I miss it. The cool part of this is that my bike riding has helped me see this about myself.Stopwatch

Several times recently I have felt kind of burned out with my riding, and I have really had to force myself to go for that next ride. I have also started to notice some mild discomfort in my knees after some of my rides, usually when I have pushed myself harder up a hill, or tried to better my route times. In response to these problems I decided that I was probably pushing myself too hard, and I needed to slow down and let my body catch up a bit. I also began to realize that even though I had ridden my daily route quite a few times now, I had barely noticed the surroundings on the way. I was always so focused on getting to my destination, and pushing harder and faster, that I didn’t really enjoy the ride.

So… I have officially given myself permission to slow down, and I have really been working on focusing on enjoying the ride, rather than how fast I was getting there. I have to say that it has been difficult! I have started out a ride at a slower pace… but then… within a mile or so I convinced myself that I was fine… and was back to pushing myself as usual, often ending with the “burned out, sore knee” feeling from before. It also seems like every time I commit to slowing down I encounter another biker on the road, usually on a speedy road bike, and I am compelled to try to keep up with that person, even though their bike is geared faster and weighs less than a third of what I am riding! But, all is not lost, as I have had several rides recently where I was able to really let go and just enjoy the ride, and it was great. Ironically, most of them have been my night rides, which is kind of funny because my first night ride was probably one of the most difficult rides I’ve had since I started bike commuting. But my last couple of night rides have been a bit cooler, and yes, I was tired when I got finished, but it was a good kind of tired, and my knees were stressed, but not really painful. Best of all, I actually took the time on the ride to notice things around me. I remember now, I really like riding my bike!

So, I’m still pushing myself, only now I’m pushing myself to not push myself.

Permission to slow down, Captain? Aye, that’s an order!

Do any of you relate to this? If so, leave a comment and let me know.