I have an interesting story to share.
I was out for a gravel ride yesterday with Big Tim and his wife Jen, when towards the end of the ride, we encountered a local PRO rider in our area, Ben Wolfe.
Even though I could not see him behind a moped chugging along uphill at about 18+ MPH (and 450+ watts), I knew it was him before he passed us, eyes focused squarely ahead, breathing through his eyelids, and a gentle smirk on his face as we cheered "venga venga".
We all know Ben and like him a lot and know how hard he works and how talented he is, albeit, we usually get this impression from the rear. He has been dealing with some injuries in his early years as a PRO and it's incredible to see him in action, regardless of his setbacks. WOW.
Ben was of course motor pacing and keenly focused on refining his strength, efficiency and fitness for some upcoming event and/or race in his season.
NOTE: If you have ever ridden with a PRO or drafted on their wheel, you know it feels different and looks different than with normal riders, even good ones. It's like the air comes off their bodies differently. That is not by mistake. That is through specific work, positioning, and yes, motor pacing. Which I do not recommend for most riders.
PRO's have Talent and Passion (and a screw loose)
Ben is a seriously disciplined rider and seems to have a real passion for what he does, as do many of us everyday cyclists. Well, maybe some of us.
Most PRO riders I have known over the years have something else that some of us don't and that of course is specific, targeted, and timely focus. They rarely "just ride" and even if it seems they are mulling about, make no mistake they are doing that mulling for a reason.
They have specific "PHASES" of their training, just like we offer here in SOULO.TV.
They have, among many other specific phases;
BASE PHASE to Build Fundamental Strength (most important)
STAMINA & ENDURANCE Phase to prepare for long term stress.
SPEED & EFFICIENCY Phase (race specific or other)
Each phase has it's place, purpose and FOCUS. This is the same, PRO rider or everyday cyclist. The only difference is the relative intensity and quantity of time (volume).
We everyday cyclists can have similar focus, albeit with less time to ride and other things on our plate.
Granted, PRO riders are paid to be focused, but if you've ever known or ridden with a PRO rider, you know that most of them tend to be militant in their preparation for specific things. Hence, why many PRO riders don't make great training partners for us everyday cyclists.
In fact, many times I have encountered regular everyday cyclists trying to "train like a PRO" by riding more volume, more intensity, and too many goals with no real purpose and wind up BURNING THEMSELVES OUT because they are trying to be someone they are not.
I see a lot of this with the emergence of things like ZWIFT and other computer driven programs that tend to sway us cyclists to forget why we ride in the first place. Power is great. Knowing your FTP is good. Making every ride you do about numbers, like a PRO? Not so sure about that.
What and why was Ben out there yesterday?
Ben could have easily been finishing up a short 90 minute motorpacing ride with specific intervals. Or maybe working on his position on the bike at higher draft speeds. Or for all we know, he was completing a 4 hour endurance epic on the winds of a moped and a crazy ass friend. Who knows. He doesn't post his rides usually or his reasons. I wouldn't either.
NOTE: Did I mention how F$#@^ing cold it was yesterday? Whoever was driving the moped is a good friend or maybe significant other? Whoever it was, he or she LOVES BEN. That is for sure.
My point is not to encourage you to go find some nutty friend to haul you around motorpacing on an open road, in the March winds, but rather, put some focus into your riding specific for something that challenges you.
Yes, have structure and put focus into your training. Yah, you can use power numbers, ZWIFT, STRAVA, etc.
BUT, make sure the 'SOULO' is there to back you up or you're not gonna get very far. I have seen it too many times. Lots of initial focus, but no soul and the rider winds up frustrated, plat, and usually off the bike.
You don't have to be a PRO rider to work harder, put focus into your training or improve yourself with time tested FUNDAMENTALS.
Many of you have been longtime customers or listeners of mine for going on 15 years now, so you know how I feel about the importance of:
Quality Training over Quantity Training
Goal Specific Training in Short Durations
The Removal of "Junk Miles"
The Focus on Mastering Fundamentals
ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS ride because you love it.
Big Tim is training once again to go back to The Dirty Kanza 200 for the fourth time. You know how I feel about repeating the same goals you've already tried again and gain, BUT It seems to be an event that captures the heart and soul of Tim's riding, enough that he wakes every day excited to train for it and in that case, it serves it's purpose.
My goals for this year?
There are none that I can lay out in terms of when, where or what--HOWEVER, I can tell you that my only goal this year, and last has been to "RIDE HAPPY".
It seems ridiculous, but in 30+ years of riding, it is still the goal that motivates me the most and the hardest to hold onto. The big rides, power numbers, zwift races, weight on the scale?
All meaningless without a smile on my face when I ride.
We may never "Draft a PRO" and we may never breathe through our eyelids at 450 watts, BUT that doesn't mean we can't KICK SOME ASS and have a blast with our riding and smile with our personal successes.
Ride on my friend.