I love the phrase, “Have you got rocks in your head?” especially when muttered by feisty grandmothers. I’m generally a cautious (and often painfully slow) decision-maker, but when it comes to cycling, my otherwise clear head is often full of boulders.
Take last week for instance. After circuit training and adding new plyometrics into the mix on Tuesday, I decided to hit up a new group ride the next day. My calves were still aching a bit, but hey, I wouldn’t be using them much, right? The answer to this question became painfully clear by mile 30 when I decided to grab the wheel of a blazing fast pace line. A few rotations, and boom, I was on the front, pulling like hell to maintain the train’s blistering speed. Gritting my teeth, I felt proud to be pulling a group of strong men along, until I peeled off the front and the pace ratcheted up again. Suddenly the adrenaline high wore off, and I realized that my calves were on fire.
There’s also a saying about hindsight, and a week later, as I sit on the couch with still-aching calves, my lack of judgement appears painfully obvious. My mantra is that things are best in moderation. But why can’t I seem to apply this logic to cycling too?
On a cerebral level, I understand how to avoid overtraining and prevent injuries. But it’s frustrating to love something like cycling where many of its positive outcomes aren’t achieved by pedaling, but rather through sleeping and sitting on the couch. If there was a recipe for recreational cycling, it would read something like this: “Ride hard for three hours, then either rest for 48 hours or pedal painfully slow for one hour the next day. Then rest again.”
So after completing a slow ride around town today, it’s back to the couch to rest with a bag of ice. When I close my eyes, I can still feel the energy of the paceline and the way my legs buzz as I grunt toward the crest of a steep climb. I’m just counting down the hours. I can’t wait to do it again.