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Good Days Bad Days

Life in the Bike Lane

Tom Frady

If you are an avid cyclist you know about the unpredictability of good days and bad days on a bike. Somedays, you know you’re not “feelin’ it” before you get out of your drive way. The next ride you are certain you’ll be the first one up Chili Hill (actually, I never think that, but you understand where I’m going with this).

It’s all a mystery. No pattern. No discernable reason.

I almost always ride in a group, in fact, basically the same bunch of guys every time. My good days don’t mean I’m the fastest or strongest, they mean I feel like pushing myself a more and it doesn’t hurt (much). Bad days mean telling myself I’ll be the “caboose” or decide to be “nice” and ride with another rider who is suffering “to keep him company”.

Even professional riders, with all their training, nutrition, massages and motivational speeches have unexplainable bad days, when their legs are like cooked spaghetti. Just get in the middle of the peloton and let the draft pull you along, Gerard!

I don’t train, I just ride. My nutrition regimen is deciding whether to have oatmeal or Cheerios in the morning.

Just the other day I was feeling a bit out of it before I even got on my bike. My knees hurt from getting up and down while weeding the day before and my legs seemed stiff, probably from dancing ‘til 2:15 the night before (That’s not true. It might have been 4 hours in the car, though.). On this day, we were climbing Twelve Bridges, then Sierra College just a couple of miles into the ride before I had time to warm up.

But, I felt great. Might have even beat a personal best up one of the hills. (Yes. I time myself up some hills. Get over it.)

On the really bad days, nothing seems to work for you. You’ve put 40,000 miles on your bike, but today it doesn’t fit. Your neck begins to hurt and sunscreen drips into your left eye. You consider walking your bike up that bump on the bike path, but some 7-year-old girl on a pink bike with streamers on the handlebars is crushing it. You probably forgot your banana, too. Your regular Wednesday ride is nothing more than a Magical Misery Tour.

Sometimes I sit in my garage taking of my bike shoes, totally spent from the easy Sunday ride. The next day, 3214 feet of climbing to Auburn exhilarates me.

Getting scrambled legs climbing Mt. Vernon or gasping for air after a 2-mile sprint down Wise from Garden Bar to McCourtney doesn’t mean you’re having a bad ride. A bad or good day has little to do with how difficult the route is. I rode 137 miles with 8000 feet of climbing in 105 degree heat. Toughest ride I have ever done. At the top of the last hill I was so near death I felt totally alive. Also my best day on a bike.

We all have bad rides. Or maybe just part of a ride is bad. We tend to focus on our faults, analyze and re-analyze why this one time we just couldn’t go fast, or go long or, well, go. There will be days you feel so good you begin to look around for that endorsement deal. You love cycling.

What will the next ride be? Let’s find out . . . .

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