This time of year is an exciting and terrible time for me. With the cold weather frequently breaking for glorious and unsettling days of warm temperatures, the temptation to ride my bike is irresistible. My winter fantasies of fast pace riding have been building up for months–now its finally time to get dropped. The first few rides of the year can be pretty excruciating, as you slowly relearn to embrace the sting of muscular endurance. Suddenly the hardened form and fast riding you remember from the fall is replaced by legs that want to give up. Where is your top end speed? where is the power you remember? Possibly the best part is being demoralized by the ‘stay fit’ riders, those prefer to keep their speed all year long. These factors make it easy to turn away from group riding in the beginning. No one likes to get dropped from their ride. It’s all too easy to allow our cycling to become ego driven, and giving into that monster is one short coming I am intimate with. You don’t have to let it get the better of you. Ride humble and remember that everyone has good and bad days on their bike.
Of course my message is one of encouragement: I’m here to tell you that the year is long, and there is much cycling yet to be done. Get yourself dropped. Heave and curse your bike for all it’s mechanical failures. Pull in the pace line, and leave nothing for recovery. Racing yourself to get into shape is frustrating, but your legs are not on your side yet. They need to be broken like wild horses. Remember, there’s light at the end of the tunnel vision. Pushing yourself now will jump start your fitness for the year. Do not be afraid to find out where you limits are. Every time you do, they will be a little further than where you left them.