An English professor who bicycles once told me he did his recovery rides on the mountain bike. That’s been ringing in my head ever since. Mountain biking bounces you around a little bit and it is not as easy to get a smooth spin with your legs as it is on the road, so the road ride is the normal recovery choice. But the thing about going off road is you soak in the sweetness of the vegetation and the tone of the soils. Relatively motor free. Clean air. Softness. It is relaxing for your mind and can open up your spirit. I’ve been finding myself gravitating towards the open spaces above the foothills on some of my easy days. Riding to city’s edge and then going further up on the hard packed granite based trails with 25mm tires turns out to be a fun choice.
The foothills trails involve some climbing too, and occasionally I get lost, or drawn into going further than intended, so it is not perfect recovery. My dirt road recovery rides can leave me tired and needing more rest. But very satisfied. And I must say satisfaction is the bottom line for long term success in bicycling for me. I may be a little bit tired but I’m going to ride. Plus, during back to back races or in longer stage races, I know what to expect. I don’t feel like anytime I spend riding is wasted.
I was reading about 59 year old legend Ned Overend and the science and art of riding strong into your middle age. There’s some great points in Ned’s article regarding quality workouts and the importance of rest. I try to assimilate and apply the best advice that stands out to me. He mentions he’s selected the “right ratio for [him]” and I think that is key for all of us. Learn about how we operate as individuals and do the research so we know there are choices, and have the courage to experiment and try something new. Ned reminds me of a bicycling Ralph Waldo Emerson. Know the world but to thine own self be true. Mostly I stick to what works, which is just enjoying time on the bike and cherishing pulling the world in through my experiences on the bike. Today I saw wild turkeys. Often times I meet people. I get some thinking and reflecting done. Study places. And most of all when I return from a ride I feel like I have lived today.
You see a lot while out riding and it is an engaging way to observe the world. I feel good when there is an element of adventure in the ride meaning I improvised and wasn’t sure where it would take me. You realize something about the extent of your own powers through facing uncertainty. No matter how humble our output, when applied with diligence you can take yourself a long way, especially if you’re not afraid of getting a little tired and dirty. Ned’s gonna beat you no matter what, and he’s been riding so long he knows all the trails. So I figure I better find my own way around and enjoy today. And spend more time exploring by bike always remembering that my job is to build the receptivity and courage to listen and learn.