Ride the Puddles

Ride Journal: Graduation to Badass

Posted by bikezilla on August 11, 2010

I’m not saying that Kelly no longer has reason to hang her stem in shame and sigh in the presence of other bicycles, but she at least has reason to fake a smile, now.

I have officially graduated to Badass!

You might wonder (though you probably don’t) how one so lowly and lame as I am might be capable of such wondrous advancement. And I want to tell you, truly I do, but I have need to first explain how this marker of Badassedness came to be set and sought after.

About a year ago I read “Lance Armstrong’s War”, which was written by Daniel Coyle.

It was Coyle who set the marker in place.

In the book he says something like, “Any kid on a huffy can do 15 MPH, but only a real badass can do 35 MPH.”

And by the way, if any of you can supply the actual quote I’d be . . . well, not exactly eternally grateful, but at least somewhat appreciative for some period of time that I promise to be no less than five minutes.

So for the past year or so I’ve been pathetically striving toward this goal, but never managing more than a frustratingly close 34.4 MPH and that only once.

Until now!

I finally figured out that the only way I was ever gonna get strong enough to ride in my biggest big gear regularly was not to “work my way up to it”, but to just, well, do it.

Do it now and accept that it’s gonna be slow and painful. Have a bit of patience and eventually I might stop being a complete embarrassment to dear Kelly, my faithful CX machine.

And today it happened.

It not only happened, but after nearly a month of pounding out the big gear miles (or as “big gear” as Kelly possess, being a CX, which is 46/11) it not only happened, it was EASY!

Not exactly easy, easy, but it was no longer like trying (vainly) to churn my way through a field of wet clay.

Every gear I hit felt like it was flowing, like it had been waiting for me and welcomed me, rather than like it resented me and was trying to repel me. Finally!

When I topped out it was my lungs, not my legs that brought me up against my wall.

And when I reached my car and eagerly checked my cyclometer like a five year old running downstairs on Christmas morning in hopes of finding that Santa has indeed left him the puppy or bicycle he’d asked for, there it was, silent and beautiful, staring up at me as I cycled through the numbers: 36.7 MPH.

I hadn’t just hit the marker, I’d surpassed it.

But I was nervous. Really nervous.

The 34.4 MPH mark was a fluke. Once I hit it I couldn’t get back to it. Not that day and not on any other. What about this?

So with trepidation I rode it again. Again, like that little kid scurrying down the stairs on Christmas morning, I headed back to my car, eager to look but anxious about what I’d find: 36.3 MPH. YESSSSSSSS!

I had finally, FINALLY graduated to Badass.

Next markers?

— Sustain 35 MPH for at least a minute.

To get more I suspect I’d do well to move to a road bike, but after that:

— Hit it on flats and shallow climbs (Hell yes I was heading downhill! No, it isn’t cheating. Is not.)

— 40 MPH.

There’s more, but that’s where my lowly sites are set for now.

My thanks to Mr. Coyle.


4 Responses to “Ride Journal: Graduation to Badass”

  1. Chris said

    Dan Coyle makes a similar quote in the footnote of his book Tour de Force:
    Not to get too mathematical, but here’s why: velocity has one dimension, while air, possessing volume, has three. Increasing speed by a factor of two (say from 15 to 30 mph) means pushing eight times the amount of air (2X2X2 = 8) and thus spending eight times the energy. Which is why a sixth-grader can ride 15 mph on a flat road, while only certified badasses can reach 30 mph. This is also, incidentally, who pro bike riders are so impressed by seemingly tiny differences in prologue times, since they represent much larger differences in raw power.

    Hope that helps, it may not be exactly the quote you had in mind but I think it’s the same sentiment.


  2. Chris said

    Opps, I obvisouly put something in that made a smily face instead of the number eight.

  3. shettegaf said

    Very Interesting!
    Thank You!

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