This post is part of a series where I’m overthinking my approach to training for the 2021 Six Gap Century ride in North Georgia. All time spent thinking and writing probably would have been better spent on the bike.
I don’t ride my bike outside very often. The number one reason is safety, but I have plenty of other reasons. I like to get on the bike when I’m ready to ride and to be done with it when the ride is over–not a lot of preparation or clean up. And (living in Florida) it’s nice that the trainer lets me ride at night when it is a little cooler and on simulated hills. Maybe the biggest advantage I see in the trainer over the road is that I can get power metrics off my trainer/Zwift that I don’t get outside–I don’t have a power meter.
So how will trainer riding affect my experience at Six Gap? I won’t pretend there aren’t drawbacks, but I think the benefits of riding on the trainer far outweigh the limited benefit I could get from riding outside.
“What about riding with other people?“
I definitely recognize this as a skill that is important for cyclists. The thing is, I’m not trying to be a cyclist. Not a real one anyway. Not a poser one either. When I envision the next 5 years there’s a lot more jiu jitsu than cycling involved, especially outdoor road cycling. I think I’ll still enjoy jumping on Zwift and knocking out some races or getting in trail time while I’m in Tennessee, but I can’t see me falling in love with cycling and doing a bunch of group riding. It’s just not my thing, and it’s probably a product of spending most of my past bike time training for triathlons and riding alone, even when I’m outside.
“Yeah, but if you can ride with other people, you get the draft!”
Where is the opportunity for a peloton to form and save me tons of energy in this ride profile?
I’m not seeing a lot of draftable miles here. Not enough to make it a major focus of training anyway. And it’s not like I have ZERO skills at riding with others now. It’s not like I’m only comfortable at 2 bike-length space between everyone. So the gain of getting better at where I’m already sitting doesn’t seem that big.
An analogy is that I could swim faster than I can, but I’d have to put in a ton of work to do it. And if I put in that time/effort on the bike or run instead, I can get 2-3 times (maybe more) time improvement. So back in my tri days I quit trying to get better at swimming, and it paid off.
“Yeah, but you’re a big guy, and the practice descending will help you go faster.”
True, but we don’t have any 12% grades to descend here for practice. I’ll get some of that in when I’m in TN, but just enough to build my confidence. Ultimately, what am I going to do, try to pull an extra 30 seconds out of my Hog Pen descent by riding on the razor’s edge? No thanks. I’ll tap the breaks where needed, keep the bike upright, and finish a couple of minutes later. Besides, I can probably more than make up for those gains by getting better at climbing. And the more time I spend descending, the more time I spend recovering.
To sum this up in general…
I’ve been able to ride a bike since before I can remember. I’ve been better at it and worse at it than I am right now. I’m well aware that bike handling skills are a real thing, and I could get better at them if I applied myself. I just don’t see those gains having much of an impact for someone of my ability. For world class guys, sure. But at my age I probably don’t have the risk profile to even implement most of what I could learn. I mean, there are things I can definitely do on a mountain bike, but there’s always those few percentage of times when it wouldn’t work out.
At the end of the day, the reward just isn’t worth the risk or the time involved in improving. Not for me anyway.