Thursday, May 7, 2009

Riding Naked

It's been an interesting spring, biking-wise. I decided to ride more tuned in than ever to my body's health and fitness (in trying to recover from illness and injury). Accordingly, when I returned from Moab spring training camp (with a cold, a bruised femur and two torn muscles -- ah, camp!) I began riding naked.

No, not like that. I'm getting back to nature, but I don't want to scare anyone.

I mean, without a heart monitor and without even a cyclocomputer. The only thing I've been bringing on my rides for the past seven weeks has been a watch -- and occasionally, I've even forgotten that. The only way I've known how far I've ridden is by mapping my route online afterward.

It's been a very different experience. When I go out, all I have to rely on as far as training metrics is the various sensations from my body. It's been an education -- truly. I'm a better rider for it.

I'd been thinking about trying this for many, many months, but I just couldn't let go of my precious numbers. Oh, once in a while, I'd ride without the HR monitor or even without the computer, but it was rare, and hard for me.

For the sake of my limited time, I'll just say that -- for what it's worth -- I'm healthier and fitter now, both overall and bike-specifically, than I expected to be. And I am acquainted with my fitness in a much richer way.

Perhaps more importantly, nearly every ride I've taken has been enjoyable. That didn't used to be so -- I'd ride to maintain a plan. Sometimes that meant "pushing through" when I didn't enjoy it. Perhaps I was in better shape then. (I like to think not. And even if I was, I rode myself into illness that way.) But either way, the plan was choking the life out of my relationship with the bike.

At heart, I've always been more intuitive and spontaneous than intellectual and regimented. I fall into planning and analyzing when a) forced to by circumstances (job, finances, etc.), or b) I'm acting out of fear or worry. Usually both.

This spring, I've been riding out of joy and health. And getting stronger and faster.

More on this later.

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