Ride better

December 24, 2013 § 42 Comments

Every year I adopt numerous new techniques that are designed to make me faster. Nose breathing … THOG pedaling … power meter … interval training … kimchi diet … etc.

The one thing that all these approaches have in common is that, by the end of December, I finally understand that THIS IS THE YEAR it has finally all come together. This [fill in the blank with name of new technique here] was the missing link between me and greatness, the secret which, now unlocked, will propel me to incredible feats of bicycling amazingness.

The other thing these innovations have in common is this: Sometime in February, or more precisely, halfway through Boulevard Road Race, the hopes and dreams of December will dissolve into the bitter tonic of “You will never be any better than you ever were, which was not very.”

Still, Imma teach you how to ride better

Notice I didn’t say “faster,” or “stronger,” or “more wattagey,” and especially I didn’t say “better in races.” Because I can’t show you how to do any of those things. If I could, I would do them myself and jealously hide the secret, or make you pay a lot of money for it.

The following advice only applies to a small group of people. Which people? Take the following screening quiz:

  1. I race. [yes/no]
  2. I am old. [yes/no]
  3. I am tired. [yes/no]

If you answered  “yes” to all three, then the new 2014 training program may work for you.

The problem with your training, whatever it is, is that it tires you out. This is because you are old and weak and slow. You think you’re young and strong but in fact you are not. If you toss up that old canard, “I fell better than I did when I was 25,” all I can say is that you must have felt like shit when you were twenty-five.

Nothing you have at fifty works as well as it did when you were young, especially your innards and your muscles. So when you ride your bike a bunch and follow one of those “3-week training blocks of hard efforts” it’s effectively smushing into a gooey pulp the tiny dab of strength and resilience you have left. In short, the solution to your training problems is one word — “rest.”

I don’t mean that kind of rest

“Rest” for a competitive cyclist (come on, admit it) means “not hammering as hard as I usually hammer.” You wouldn’t know rest from an uptempo jazz beat in 8/16. Your idea of taking it easy is an “easy” 115 miles up Mt. Wilson and back.

What I’m getting at is this: Your legs always feel heavy and tired because you don’t know how to rest. You know who you are.

Without getting into the physiological aspects of it, mostly because I know squat about physiology, here’s the deal. As you get older, you get weaker, uglier, and more stupid, and eventually you die. This means that the training load you could sustain in your 20’s (but that you didn’t because instead of getting up early and working out you were sleeping off a nasty hangover, doing the walk of shame, etc.), you cannot sustain now. Those training plans that work wonders for young bucks and buckettes in their 20’s won’t work for you. All they’ll do is snuff your spark.

How to properly rest

Rest is like enjoyment of natto. It is an acquired taste. Here’s how to do it so that you become refreshed, which is good, rather than more tired, which is bad.

  1. Don’t do any training plan that requires more than one “hard” week. You are too weak and feeble to sustain back-to-back weeks of big efforts.
  2. Your hard week should have no more than five hard days — Tue/Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun.
  3. Your easy week should begin with the three “B’s”, beer, butter and bread. Actually, so should your hard week.
  4. The key to rejuvenating your tired and worn out old legs is high rpm’s in a tiny gear. 110-120 rpm in your 39 x 28 is highly recommended. I know, you’re going to complain “But I’ll be spinning like a kook and only going 12 miles per hour!” Right. That’s because you are a kook. If you weren’t a kook you’d have a pro contract and race in Europe. But you don’t and you don’t. So shut up and spin.
  5. You’ll know whether it’s working because after your workout you’ll get home and will hardly feel like you’ve been on your bike, even if you’ve been riding for two hours.
  6. Since your easy week goes from Monday-Monday, you’ll have eight days of super spinny, super tweezly, non-stress riding. Your muscles will be continually soaked in a bath of oxygen-rich blood. When Tuesday rolls around, rather than dreading it and feeling like you’ve been ordered to go “over the top” at the Battle of Passchendaele, you’ll be so champing at the bit, so raring to go, so hot to trot that your significant other will stare at you in awe. You’ll also be ready to ride your bike hard.

There. That’s all I know. Take it, it’s yours.

§ 42 Responses to Ride better

  • jack from illinois (not my real name) says:

    Rest is good. Resting on a volcano is better. If you don’t have a volcano handy, don’t stress. By the end of January I will be selling the most advanced and realistic volcano simulator available anywhere. Soon you can have all the benefits of a volcano right in your own bathroom.

  • dan martin says:

    Thanks Coach WM!…I never knew I was screwing up my rest weeks with beer, kettle chips, and the couch. With this knowledge Im gonna kill it in 2014. Can I get on your EZ payment plan?

    • fsethd says:

      Wankmeister coaching requires me to pay you. Anyway, you will kill it in 2014, as long as we can figure out what “it” is.

  • Tom Paterson says:

    Well, I need some help here. I googled THOG pedaling and nothing seemed to be bicycle related. It’s good to know there are other worthy obsessions* out there besides cycling, I guess, but what is “THOG”, please? I really need to know!


    • Tom on hobbes says:

      The Google seemed to think I was asking about THONG pedaling. Now, having lived in Austin for some time, I am aware of The Thong Guy who pedals around, but come to think of it, I haven’t seen him since, well, about the time you left Austin…..

    • Tom says:

      My best recollection:
      THOG = The Hand Of God, aka Thurlow

    • fsethd says:

      THOG pedaling is an adaption from the pedaling technique made famous by Thurlow Rogers, a/k/a The Hand of God, a/k/a THOG.

      • Tom says:

        Yep, even if you are a recent USAC national champion, chances are Thurlow has dick-stomped you, far more than you have, or will, ever dick-stomp Thurlow … even if you are 20 yrs younger than him.

        Of course, once upon a time the same could have been said about “Invincible” :-/

  • Peter Schindler says:

    Well said.

  • RGT says:

    “Your easy week should begin with the three “B’s”, beer, butter and bread. Actually, so should your hard week.”

    Forgot the fourth “B” …. beetroot juice

    • fsethd says:

      Hmmmm … that has a tincture of healthiness to it. Not sure I could get the Wankmeister acolytes to accept it.

  • New Girl says:

    Blogging amazingness. Thank you Wanky.

  • the 3 r’s Ride, Rest ,, Recreate,( I play golf) on the off day,,,,52, feeling 25

  • Le Poseur says:

    At this point my only aspiration is to resemble someone who belongs on a bicycle.

  • Hello festhd and All,

    OK – although I lived in and traveled about Japan off and on for 30 years I was ignorant of natto – so I had to look it up …………… (unless I imbibed while my senses were dulled with sake or beer and do not remember – entirely possible) ,,,,,,,,,,,,,, here is what I found ……..

    “Do you eat natto?” he was routinely asked – he didn’t realize that was an identity question he would need to slot in alongside sexual preference and political affiliation if he was to mingle with the Japanese.

    “Travelling in Akita, during a mealtime I would be happily chomping away on some foodstuff and a local would remark that I seemed to enjoy Japanese food. I would say, yes, I like all of it. Invariably they ask, “EVEN NATTO?”

    Natto resembles bits of hardened fox feces anchored in snot. It’s really unusual to eat, especially with chopsticks, though I can’t imagine eating it with a fork or spoon. I spend much energy trying to disengage a series of endless threads hanging between the bowl and my mouth.

    The flavor is strong like the smell. At first I needed lots of soy sauce, spicy mustard, rice and miso soup to get it down. I’m weaning myself off the condiments. And from what I read, it really is healthy. Loads of vitamins, good for the bloodstream and the bones.”

    I did not miss much in not eating Natto ……………

    On a different topic I plan to pay my $2.99 subscription donation in something more substantial than crass coin …. some of my stock in trade that will actually make you faster without any work.

    Send your shipping address to neal@view-speed.com


    • fsethd says:

      Okay, that is damned funny. Natto is occasionally eaten around my breakfast table, but not by me!

  • …stopping is good.

  • Jj says:

    My takeaway from all this is that rest is good. So if I rest more than everyone else then I will be unstoppable in 2014!

  • spinner says:

    Start slow then ease off…..

  • Deb says:

    Sounds like my Dad and his golf game. But all that matters is that you keep at it and enjoy the journey. Everything else is a bonus. Happy spinning!

  • Gary says:

    Old guys in SoCal do five hard days in one week? Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever done two hard days in a row since high school (that was running track and cross country). Now that I’m old, one hard day followed by as many easy days or rest days as I need before I feel like going hard again is as much hard as I want to do.

  • Tom FitzGibbon says:

    Have been to Passchendaele in Belgium; very moving place with lots of mud. Good riders around there; those visiting not so much, then or today. With that, I will continue my 6.5 year and counting program of heavy rest…coupled with very little riding. I can attest that it works well if mediocrity, or worse, is the goal. Maybe I can be a rest coach. Only $14.99 per month for advice on when to rest.

  • brad bailey says:

    is this a case of “do what i say and not what I do?” Do you actually rest or just write about it?

What’s this?

You are currently reading Ride better at Cycling in the South Bay.


%d bloggers like this: