I have a bad habit. I seem to constantly find myself on rides I am ill prepared for. Sometimes I don’t have enough water considering the heat and distance. Other times I don’t have enough clothing for poor weather conditions. I regularly go too far without enough on the bike nutrition despite knowing how important it is. That doesn’t stop me from regularly putting myself on the back foot just to test my fortitude.
These tests tend to put me in uncomfortable situations on the bike. Yes, better planning would mean less suffering and weariness, but honestly, it’s part of the adventure. Plus, I’ve learned how to recognize the telltale signs that maybe I’m in over my head way before it becomes an issue. After all, mental toughness is right up there with physical strength when it comes to cycling.
Last week I went out on a ride with a friend when he suggested we do a climb I hadn’t explored before. Considering how long I’ve been riding my local roads, there are only a handful of roads I haven’t ridden on. In the cast of the road in question, it’s because it’s so far from my house, and I don’t really like to drive to ride. So off we went, riding down to the climb that most people drive to.
At first I thought it was just the distance to the mystery climb that made most people drive somewhere closer. It turns out the roads leading down to it are less than suitable for safe cycling. Fortunately we made it to some quieter roads before I realized I didn’t plan properly for the ride. I didn’t bring enough food.
Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal. Riding in an urban or suburban area there are plenty of convenience stores, coffee shops, and the like in case you happen to need food or water. Unfortunately we were in the deep rural areas on San Diego. Like, ammunition casings on the ground rural.
This is where experience and mental strength came into play. I knew where we could stop for food, and I knew it was about an hour a way. If I just set a certain tempo, I could probably make it, and my friend wouldn’t even know I was suffering. Not until we got to the country store and I bought a coke, a package of pop tarts, some doughnuts, and a water to go.
Knowing where your limits are can help you understand how far you can push yourself. Cycling is a wonderful sport as it allows even the most amateur of cyclists to experience this kind of growth. I think it’s why I keep putting myself in these minor, on the bike, crisis’. It’s all to see how far I can push myself.