Jess; 86-years young, and still going strong.
The Pace. To some, it is a matter of life and death. It is the difference between a good ride and a bad one. It is where a man tests himself against other men in the heat of battle (and, I’ve seen the gals do it, too). We brake for no one. The passing scenery is but a blur. Snot-rockets are a minor annoyance. It is the stuff of legends. And, the process repeats itself wherever, and whenever, groups of cyclist dwell.
I used to be that kind of cyclist. Then, I met Jess.
86-years young, with nothing to prove, Jess subscribes to the philosophy of actually enjoying the ride. His ear-to-ear smile has been honed by countless, thousands of miles of riding, with all kinds of cyclists, over varied terrain, in all kinds of weather. And, after sampling the battle more times than he could remember, he had finally achieved cycling bliss – The union of Human, Mind, and Bike.
And, what was the secret Jess discovered? Well, turns out, it was as plain as the road in front of him. He concluded volume, rather than outright-intensity, was the answer. And, you know what? He was absolutely correct, and, after trying his method for myself, it really is a good way to go.
My prior riding routine was to go out and do all-mighty epics, stopping at no less than killing myself, or it just was not a proper ride. Whether in a group, or alone, if I was moving, I was hammering. I mean, we, as cyclists, are told (and expected) to go out and hammer, hammer, hammer, and when in doubt, hammer some more, right? I started to become a pretty good cyclist, though my hammering made it difficult to ride more than four or five times a week, as any more mileage just left me physically exhausted, and with a very sore ass. The routine, believe it, or not, even led me to occasionally avoid the bike for extended periods of time. I was not having any fun. Something had to give.
I met Jess one day at a local coffee stop where he was talking to a group of friends, which he said, "liked to hammer." Jess, being the prophet of motion he now was, only greeted them to say “Hi,” then, he was off to do his own ride. I asked to tag along, and that was when he explained how he rode, extolling the virtue of riding at a slower pace, whilst riding for more extended periods of time. Time pedaling became the key, not necessarily total mileage. I liked the concept. Intrigued, I wondered why I did not realize this sooner. So, off we went at 13-15 Miles per Hour, for a little over an hour, and then stopped for coffee. And, it all felt so good, too. For the first time in my cycling career I did not care how fast I was going, nor what anyone on the road thought about my pace. It was LIBERATING! It was FUN! I loved my bike AGAIN! It all made so much SENSE!
My new riding routine now has me doing rides, the Jess way, of course, of an hour, to an hour and a half, and I usually end up with 15-to-25-mile rides. I also began to accrue mileage riding six-to-seven days a week with no discomfort or stress. I am not only getting fit, I am a whole lot happier mentally, my ass does not ache, and I am really enjoying my rides. Plus, I can even take in the scenery, too! Sheesh, what’s not to like?!
Summing it all up, I am not criticizing other cyclists, or their methods, as truly to each their own. The trouble, as I see it, comes from those who see the ride as nothing but a selfish, hammer-fest of glory, punishing all-comers. They, and their methods, not only discourage others from becoming long-term cyclists, they are also missing out on the pure joy of the ride.
They need to meet Jess.