The Summer of Cycling

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I suppose this is true for any pursuit, but there eventually comes a point when an activity suddenly “clicks” and becomes a full-on obsession. The latest for me has been cycling: since getting a new bike, I’ve been hooked on seeking and covering more pavement and elevation than I ever did during the combined 4+ years I was riding in the Bay Area.

A big culprit to this is Strava, a great web app that overlays a rider’s effort against their GPS route and further breaks down their ride into known segments frequented by other cyclists. This naturally creates leaderboards that have seduced many a rider (and injured countless PR-obsessed dummies), but for me that purely competitive aspect is not as interesting as the idea of building a giant and accurate fitness log that describes my season. Armed with a cycling computer (that measures GPS, speed, elevation, heart rate, and cadence) and my legs, I began to quantify my performance and correlate them to specific locations and moments from the ride: how much I was suffering from a climb, the point when I started to bonk out, and crucially, if my current effort could be pushed a little higher based on my current heart rate. And once the numbers were crunched and uploaded, I’d note any gains made, and reflect on how I could improve on the valleys when I get back out there. It’s an exhilarating circle if virtue that’s made me excited to go on rides as much as possible.

Unfortunately it’s also turned me into a mess when the rain and cold brought the season to an end. During the winter I’m hoping to take this strategy to the snow-covered Cascades for cross country skiing… Otherwise, it’s going to be a long haul until April when I’m able to the bike out for a proper spin.

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