Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

27 October 2011

Mid-Life Cycling Mysteries

I've been cycling for a long time.  Well, at least, I've been riding for longer than most people, though the current shape of my body might belie that. Still, even after more than three decades of riding even when I had no logical reason for doing so, there are still some things I can't explain.

Here's one of them:  In spite of my advancing age and declining strength, my past few rides--whether commutes or pleasure rides--have been faster and smoother than I expected them to be.  Now, what I am saying is completely unscientific: I am saying them mainly on the basis of having finished the rides I took in less time than I anticipated, or than I would normally take to do them.  And this has happened without any effort on my part to make to make "better" (i.e., faster) time.

What's more, I have noticed this on riding three of my four bikes:  Arielle, Tosca and Vera.  I guess if I want to make a really valid claim, I have to take Helene out, too. (It's been a month or so since I've ridden her.  I can rationalize it this way:  For the rides on which I would have taken Helene, I rode Vera in order to fine-tune her.)  But if I were to ride her with the intention of testing this hypothesis, it would sort of invalidate what I'm saying, wouldn't  it?

On the other hand, there have been times in my life when I was in much better shape than I'm in now, yet the rides were slower and more arduous than the past few have been.  

Have you, dear readers, experienced anything like what I've described?  If so, can you account for it in some way?


  1. I feel that way after touring. You figure that after days/weeks/months of riding 50-100 miles a day fully loaded you'd be in "better shape." But then you get back home and that hill that was a pain in the ass before tour is now a pain in the ass again. Nevermind the fact that you just got done climbing several mountain passes, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000, even 7,000 feet high. A hill with maybe a couple hundred feet elevation gain shouldn't even be a blip on the radar!

    Contrast this with five years ago, when I was on my Pacific Coast tour. I had a few off days in San Francisco, and it happened to be Critical Mass. The ride was fun, but as soon as we left the flat waterfront to climb one of SF's famed hills, practically EVERYONE got off to walk. And here I was, practically RACING up this hill, and YELLING to others "C'mon!" "Is this all you got?"

    Man, I want to relive that feeling again!

  2. Thought you might like this infographic about the cost of commuting (go bikes!). Would e-mail but can't find it. :)


  3. I'm working with a different facet of the same mystery. In many areas of my life, I find that when I switch into "beyond time," when I'm not watching the clock or pushing, things seem to flow. Maybe a few years and some ease with life is creating that.

    I totally covet your bike collection. I will have a beautiful mixte someday!