Weird Things You Think About Cycling

So this morning I was up before the sun and out the door in my cycling kit on the road before dawn.  It was a good thing to get out this early, as the temperature was 78 and rising; and I had to get to the wife’s company to help with a function over there.  All last summer I rode in the early mornings to beat the heat.  This year, we are working out at a really nice gym downtown, so I have altered my working hours so I can make classes in the evening.  I’ve also tried adding several early morning classes.  I need to keep training my body for early mornings – I really enjoy the pre-dawn time anyway.

Back to this morning ride.  It was only a short 15 mile ride, but I did make it into the zone.  A place where, once I get warmed up and rolling, my mind puts the cycling on autopilot and I don’t have to think about gear changes or maintaining speed, it all just seems to work.  This morning I hit this zone out on what is usually a busy road, but it lasted through 3/4 of a great zone road.

So my mind shifted back to old memories.  And this morning I thought about … Fencing.  About 15 years ago I took an Adult Ed Fencing class, and got hooked.  I fencing seriously for the next 10 years or so, and during that time I worked with my coach and his coach as well as during serval camps as an assistant coach.  For two semesters I was the coach of the Bowdoin College intramural team.  The memory that came back to me, however, as when I was helping my coach when he was teaching at Bates College.

We would always arrive 45-minute early so we could use the gym, set-up the class and watch the co-eds!  On this one particular evening, C (my coach), wanted to try a piece of equipment he hadn’t used before.  It was a rowing machine.  It was an extremely nice rower.  It didn’t have articulating arms, but it did use fans – which was rare back then.  So C wants to use the machine, but doesn’t want to hear from me how I rowed back in college for two years.  He also sees that the machine has a watt meter.  So he throws down the challenge to see who can generate the highest watts over 10 pulls.

Again, he wants no advice from me.  We were already warmed up from jogging and lifting a few weights, so there was no need to warm up pulls – straight to the competition!  He pulled like a rookie – everything all at once.  If I remember, his wattage was in the low 500’s, and since I had no idea how much power I could put into an oar, I was a little worried.  Okay, time to strap in.  I decided to take my first pull very lightly so I could get a feel for how the machine was going to feel versus pulling an 18′ oar in a scull.  My first pull was mid 300’s, but as the smile grew on C’s face, I could feel that the machine was fairly close to how I felt pulling on the water.  Time to crank.  The next 9 pulls were legs, back, arms – each starting to pull just as the last muscle group almost at full exertion.  BOOM!  Hello 850+ watts!!

What I remember most was a sense of accomplishment.  C was such a better fencer and fencing coach than me, but he was unwilling to take a little advice, and I could show him that this man, 12 years older than he, was an athlete as well.

Not sure why I thought of that moment this morning, but it did put a happy spin on the rest of the ride.

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