I began this year intent not to make any New Years resolutions. I the past, I seldom completed them. They were too aggressive, or unrealistic. Instead, on the advice of a young woman I met on a return flight from Phoenix in December, I selected 2 words (Imagine Change) to direct my efforts to improve my cycling experiences. Despite my age, I imagine myself as a leaner, faster, and more confident cyclist.
So, how do I make these changes? How do I become leaner, faster, and more confident?
First, I needed to loose weight. I was already a healthy weight for my size but I know weight makes a huge difference on the bike, particularly when climbing. Like many, I put abdominal weight on easily. I researched the idea of intermittent fasting on-line, and was convinced this is the most effective, fastest way to lose unwanted belly fat. I have practiced this since January combined with regular HIIT workouts in the morning before breaking the fast. In addition, I break the fast with a wholesome bowl of oatmeal (stone cut oats, a banana, berries, and a tablespoon of peanut butter). This regimen works, at least for me. I have lost 30 pounds, and reduced my waist size from 35″ to 28″ over the past 9 months.
Now, how do I get faster?
Well, the reduction in weight has certainly helped. I climb more quickly with less effort. Today, I climbed a local 2 km hill with a 5-6% grade averaging 16-17 kph. I can remember a time when 10 kph was an effort. I have also worked on maintaining a more aerodynamic body position when descending, and battling headwinds. I have slammed all of the stems on the road bikes, ride on the drops more frequently, and wear tighter, more aero kits. I have noticed that my average speed on all of my regular routes is faster, by as much as 10-15% which means I am maintaining a faster pace throughout.
Now, how do I become more confident?
Confidence is relative. What is confident for some, is routine for others. Since my high speed crash, and visit to the hospital 2 years ago, I have been cautious, particularly when descending, and in traffic. I want to break out of my comfort zone, explore new routes, ride every day regardless of weather, and tour more. I know when I’m doing this regularly, I’m confident in the saddle.
This is a process. Already I am more confident descending, partly because I do it frequently, and partly because I have a new bike that likes speed (more on the bike in a subsequent post). I have also been working on my bike handling skills. Even after 40 years, there is room to refine the pedal stroke, body positioning, corning, climbing, and sprinting techniques. The GCN YouTube channel has been invaluable. They regularly post videos on virtually every cycling topic – how to climb and descend faster, improve your FTP, maintain your bike, train for century brevets, fuel a ride, recover after a ride, and much more. If you are not familiar with the channel, I strongly recommend it.
So, I can also say that I am more confident.
Can I be more confident? You bet.
Can I be faster? You Bet.
Can I be leaner? No. I wouldn’t want to be any lighter. But I can get stronger. So, I will continue to imagine the best exercises to strengthen my cycling muscles.
Imagine the changes you want, and make them happen.