Thursday, November 30, 2006

Humbling Weakness: Riding into the Headwind

Normally I think of myself as a fairly "strong" woman. But that strength is fairly specific: slow strength, ground based. I'm not necessarily powerful (speed strength) and my muscular endurance is okay, but it is not something that comes naturally. I can power up a short steep hill on the bike fairly well; but if the hill is long or the resistance comes from a strong headwind on the flats, it kills me.

The warm temperatures over the last week allowed for some good bike riding. On Monday, I went out with PJ, Joe and Adrienne for about 2 hours. It was a conversational, but steady pace with the temperature around 67 and winds gusting from 17 to 24 mph. The last 30 min I took the lead with Joe and we pulled PJ and Adrienne back to the cars. The steady headwind was humbling.

I felt like a pipsqueak. My heart rate crept up into the 150s. I down-shifted to get into a good spinning gear, put my head down, brought my arms into a more aerodynamic position and tried not to plod forward. The cars were a glorious sight. My whole body was fatigued.

Riding into a headwind certainly builds cycling specific strength and mental toughness. And the mental part might just be hardest quality to build. If you've never experienced it, give it a try sometime. You'll come away with a different perspective on just how strong you are.

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