Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Competitiveness

Riding companions on the GAP
for a 44 mile ride in  2014
I have never played team sports or enjoyed competing in athletic competitions. When high school and college classmates were playing football or soccer I was backpacking, rock climbing, and spelunking. While I do not enjoy competing against others in athletics I do compete against myself. I have always striven to hike farther, climb higher, and cave deeper and longer. Now that I am cycling again I am striving this season to ride more often and farther than the previous two seasons.

I started cycling again in 2014. My first ride that season was May 8th. The last time I cycled that first year was September 13th. My longest ride during the season was a 44 mile ride on the Great Allegheny Passage from West Newton to Ohiopyle. While I rode with a group of three other riders that day I never felt like I was competing against them. I was just happy to keep up with them. I rode a total of 395 miles in a little over four months that first year, not a long season or significant mileage.

My first ride in 2015 was April 11th. October 23 was the last time I cycled last year. That means my riding season last year was more than two months longer than the previous year, making for a riding season of more than six months. While my longest ride last season was only 41 miles, 3 miles shorter than the previous season’s longest ride; I enjoyed more rides between 20 and 40 miles long than I did the previous season. On August 29th, 2015 I surpassed the miles I had cycled the season before and by the end of last year had biked 602 total miles.

Me at Milepost 0
of the C and O Canal
I was out on the trail much earlier this season than the previous two. My first ride was March 9th, a full month earlier than last year. On May 4th of 2016 I surpassed my 2014 total mileage and on June 9th 2016 I eclipsed my total mileage for 2015. My longest ride so far this season has been 50.4 miles. I have already cycled 654 miles this year, thanks in part to an eight day trip on most of the C & O Canal Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh, PA., and expect that I might be able to ride over a thousand miles this season before the weather becomes too cold.

I usually ride alone (more about that in a future installment) but when I ride with others I ride for the company, not the competition. At times I have been content to just keep up with the pack. At other times I have found myself at or near the head of the pack, not because I want to be first but because I have tended to be in a little better shape than most of the other riders.

How competitive are you when it comes to cycling? What do you enjoy more, competing against others or competing against yourself? Or do you eschew all competition all together? 

Here are links to previous installments in the series:

Stats (Eighth Installment)
Accidents Happen (Seventh Installment)
Pedals for Cleats (Sixth Installment)
Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment) 

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