Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Of all the things I've lost I miss my mind the most. (Ozzy Osbourne)

My work continues, to return to cycling after surgery on both my feet. Time to try some gentle hills. After all, the closest thing to hills in Miami is a bridge or two.

Central Florida has hills. A nice variety of hills. And in October it has the Gainesville Cycling Festival. Saturday is a group of event rides (century, metric, gravel, family) benefiting the local Boys and Girls Club. Sunday the rides move south of Gainesville to the Ocala area and horse country. Sunday has delightfully scenic routes, assuming you love horses and all that.

Since the surgery on my feet I've had to make some changes.
  1. Studded flat pedals only. No more clipping in. (But I still use stiff-soled bike shoes. They are much more comfortable.)
  2. No pushing through the ball of the foot when pedaling. (I've gone back to the pedaling style I used decades ago for off road rides on my mountain bike. Keeping the foot flat on the pedal with the axle of the pedal about an inch behind the ball of the foot.)
High cadence pedaling is difficult unclipped. There's the definite possibility of wounding yourself if a studded pedal gets away from you. (Those studs are wicked.) Higher resistance and bigger gears are what I'm doing lately, while keeping a constant eye on my power meter so I don't blow myself out, especially when I'm riding with companions who are faster. (Which is all of them these days.)

Bottom line: climbing is (ahem) interesting. I wouldn't call it more difficult. But it is slow, frustrating, and demoralizing since I can remember how much faster I used to climb clipped in. I'll get a bit faster as the muscles get stronger so I can push my average power higher on climbs, but I think I'm just going to have to suck it up and accept being a turtle on climbs.

But back to the Gainesville Cycling Festival. The bigger hills were the most fun. I got left far behind by my riding companions on the way up, but (have I mentioned I love descending?) I could catch up with them as long as there was a nice descent on the other side of the climb. The highlight of my ride: my power meter readout. After the first half hour I knew my numbers to assure that I'd keep up and make it to the end of the ride in OK shape. (Three cheers for power meters! Worth every penny you spend on them!)

It was a great weekend. The Gainesville Cycling Festival is a weekend of riding that's well worth the drive to Gainesville. Lovely hills, and great routes to ride. A winner.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Attention is a limited resource, so pay attention to where you pay attention. (Howard Rheingold)

It was time to put the bikes on the car and head to a laid back bike event. A gentle introduction to riding metric centuries again. We headed north past Tampa to Inverness, Florida, and the annual Withlacoochee State Trail ride.

Years ago when I was learning another sport, they told me where to focus my attention: keep my head up and my eyes looking down the course. Where you look is where you'll go they said. Look down and you'll go down.

For weeks I've focused my attention on my feet and pedals. That had become a bad habit. I had too narrow a focus of attention. To ride well and safely, I needed a broader one. Eyes up. Attention focused ahead and around me.

Figuring out where to focus my attention (and doing it) made everything go better. My pedaling was smoother and stronger. I kept up without feeling stressed. Best of all, I got to enjoy the scenery: oak trees draped in Spanish moss, wild flowers, lake and river views, birds, tortoises, and other critters.

I limped slightly on my way to the snack table at a rest stop...and it made me smile. I'd been paying attention to the trail and surroundings rather than the minor discomfort in my foot. I had an extra cup of trail mix to celebrate.