what I learned about training

In previous posts I have written about participating in the MS 150, a two-day, 150-mile charity ride to benefit Multiple Sclerosis.  Last year was the first time I participated, when a good friend invited me to join her.  We did most of our training together, as we did not meet our other team members until the day before the ride.

This year I was more on my own since my friend couldn’t sign up for the ride.  Early in the season, I was dreading the long rides by myself as I thought I would be bored silly after awhile.  However, I quickly learned lesson #1:  vary your routes to places you haven’t biked before, and the time will fly.  I rode into nearby Massachusetts, over bridges with gorgous water views, around the city and in the country.  There were times I felt I was away on vacation as I discovered beautiful scenery I hadn’t seen before.

Later in the season I began meeting up with the aforementioned team members.  Although I was looking forward to the camraderie of cycling with a group, I was a bit nervous about being able to keep up with them.  There ended up being no problem, as naturally some cyclists were faster than others.  The quicker ones would wait up for the rest of the group at various points in the ride, and it all worked out well.  Lesson #2 taught me to keep an open mind when you’re invited on a ride, even if you don’t know the others all that well.  If I hadn’t joined my team mates for training, the actual charity rides would not have been as fun, since I got to know them much better than I had last year.

The last lesson is patience.  Previously I would be chomping at the bit to get my 40, 50 or 60 mile training rides over and done with.  This year I decided to not worry about “getting back on time” and make the training the focus of my day.  That way there was more time to study maps before getting hopelessly lost, take more water breaks and enjoy a real lunch instead of eating snacks on the side of the road.  My patience paid off:  I was able to ride longer and hurt less the next day.  The weekend before the event saw me logging 132 miles, which really boosted my confidence for the big day.

The weather was kind to over 900 charity cyclists last Saturday and Sunday, as we pedalled from Southern Rhode Island to New London, CT, and back the next day.  Having patience, taking long breaks, cycling with others into territories unknown made the event an unforgettable one for me, so much so that I cannot wait for next year’s ride and to cycle this year with new found friends.

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