I’m a slave to numbers.
It’s my formal training. I’m a computer engineer where concise algorithms, and tight logic that lower costs and reduce staffing are rewarded. And, how do we know we’ve done it right? By the numbers. We measure before the new procedure, and then measure again after it’s implemented. We know by the numbers.
Well today I planned on a 75-80 km ride I completed once last year. A beautiful ride that passes by several recreational lakes on smooth roads (mostly) peppered with frequent short, steep hills, and long flat sections that includes Victoria Road. This ride would be a good test of my fitness, I thought. I was anxious to see what speed I could maintain spinning at 90-100 rpm.
You see, I track a lot of numbers. Average speed. Distance. Average cadence. Heart rate. Time spent in each of the training zones. Elevation gained. Average slope. Maximum slope. Every ride, I record these statistics. I’m a slave to these numbers. I subscribe to the theory that if it isn’t measured, it isn’t managed. And, I want to manage my training. I want to improve. Get faster, and stronger.
Imagine my horror when I saddled up only to discover my cycling computer was dead. Dead. Nothing worked. No heart rate. No cadence. I stopped. Check my HR belt. It was fine. Checked the cadence sensor. It was fine too. And the speed sensor. It seems all the batteries expired at the same time. What else could it be?
I continued without my numbers.
I was lost at first. Then I began to judge my speed, HR, and cadence by feel. After all, I have ridden long enough to know what 30 kph and a 95 cadence feels like. I could tell a lot by my breathing. When it became laboured, I knew I was working above Zone 1. The longer, steeper climbs my heart was pound, and I was out of breath submitting. I was in Zone 4. I had a 20-25 kph hurting wind on the way out, and a helping wind on the way back. Slow on the way out. Fast coming back in. 15-20 kph out, and 30-35 kph back. And, because I maintained a high cadence most of the time, I was not really tired when I finished. Not like I was last year.
Maybe I don’t need that cycling computer after all.
I can’t compare the numbers from one ride to the next. The wind and terrain is different every ride. Maybe cycling by feel is all that is needed.
What do you think?