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A Ride In The Life Of A Cyclist

'Virtual competition' drives one to success

DW (Dirty-Water)  Hall

Prodigy News
November 21, 2013

Is it simply for health purposes that a single riding competitive rider does what he or she does, or is there more that compels one to punish himself at times into a dehibilitated form for hours afterward? This article takes a look inside the process of what makes one such person do this.

CyclistAfter having set a new PR (Personal Record) today on the Rimer 31 (50K) route by 2 seconds which amounts to probably 20 feet on the road, I want to place some thoughts not only about the ride, but some things I have learned about riding and competition now well in to the second year of 'virtual competition':

In the past decades competition was more reliant upon actual competition with someone else present. With technological advancements we now have the ability for virtual competition at hand. With virtual competition it keeps your activity interesting while continuously seeking to improve. At my age (55) one never knows how they will feel until you start rolling. A lot of variations affect this aspect of it as well. With all that said, to compete in so many areas against oneself, it produces a level of virtual competition that you strive with great force to beat your prior accomplishments producing an incredible amount of satisfaction. Once you have reached a PR time, you will then begin searching for areas beyond just basic conditioning (and at times seemingly beyond oneself) where you can create faster times. Any one that has money can go out and buy lighter, faster equipment, better protein products and other such items and get a faster time. How about the person like myself that has used the same equipment with just simple adjustments and perfecting diet within a narrow range? You rely simply on what you can personally work for on the road. Now I will take you through how I was able to set my PR in secession today:

After eating and drinking for the ride (which is a separate conversation) I set air pressures in tires and lubed the chain with wax based oil. I checked wind directions which oftentimes will shift during different points of the day. Today I did not suspect a change and figured on a head wind for nearly the entire second half of the route. Because I ride a hybrid, wind is a far more major factor and have to struggle to find more ways to become more aerodynamic. Not an easy accomplishment when your body is like a sail against the wind. I however like the Trek Hybrid bike as it is much more durable and sees far less flats under all sorts of surfaces. But, it is  heavier then the standard Trek as well. Ok, let me continue. After already having set 2 PR's, the impetus to set a third was on in spite of knowing the conditions to succeed would be far more difficult then that of a typical summer ride. 

Two of the important factors I have learned at the beginning of a planned attempt at a PR is to start out with modest efforts and not allow anxiety to creep in. If I begin to feel anxiety I have to change my thoughts into a different 'zone' until I can develop the proper rhythm. This can take some time but must be accomplished early in the ride to avoid using up reserves that will be needed later in the race. This took place today in spite of the more favorable wind direction at the beginning. Once the beginning third of the race had been set and any anxiety had been brought under control, the preparations had been set for the hills and beyond. The end of the larger hills and the half way marked showed it was going to take a special second half of the race into the wind to be victorious.
Improving techniques to get just that little extra out of each pedal stroke is more of an art in my case as I do it almost entirely on the go and not from studying or reading after other cyclist. Some points though, I have learned from commentators during Tour de France broadcast. They have beneficial to me as branch off with new ways of doing things as a result. Today may be one of those days I have developed as a learn on the go. With the winds not strong, but a persistent breeze in the face, I used the upward side of the hills to get my air as they provided a block from the wind. This gave me a consistent ride on both sides of the hill while protecting the reserves for the long trek over the open slightly uphill areas that would determine whether or not PR was going to be set. I quite rode hard on the pedals for the long open area keeping a consistent pace while feeling the legs burn. Just prior to the final run up Artz Road Hill I was able to get a small amount of wind blockage going up to it and found Artz Road Hill considerably less into the wind then I had anticipated. As I neared the finish and checked the time I knew it was going to be close after nearly two hours of hard riding. As I pushed the final small inclines with some wind giving all that was left, little did I know it would be a new PR on a difficult day by only 2 seconds. This was the payoff which was oh so satisfying. This is what it was all about. And with 3 same route PR's in a row, it is not hard to figure that the next time out on this route will be to set PR. This is the what i call 'virtual competition'.

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DW Hall is Editor and Writer for