My last few Sunday's have been dedicated to intense cycling (intense for me, anyway). I'm generally out on the road between 6:30 and 7AM – mainly because I like to get an early start, but more so because there’s no traffic, the sun has just fully risen and, well, it’s just so damn peaceful with no one around. I usually do about 8-10 hard miles, consisting mainly of steep inclines and interval type work and have been averaging about 16.5 mph with some speeds as high as 29 mph and as low as 11 mph.
I have this one particular series of hill-like inclines that challenge me right at the beginning of my ride – maybe 1 ½ miles into my trek – that get my heart and lungs a pumpin’ right away. I like taking that hill early, not because it’s easier to do when I’m fresh (because I do other hills after it anyway), but because it’s my albatross. Me, one on one with that hill, I can feel my chest pumping and at times, hear my heart beating as I talk my way up that hill and when I concur it I don’t realize how hard I’m breathing or how much my lungs are burning because I kicked its ass and I feel great. Without a doubt, these Sunday’s have provided a stimulating and productive ride - challenging my heart, lungs, body and mental toughness. It's very rewarding as it promotes many positive aspects that go beyond the physical – and let me tell you something, it is physical (it’s unbelievable how much the lower body works taking those hills and the torso stabilizes your efforts).
These rides allow me to challenge myself on many levels, some I can't begin to explain. The interesting thing is that if I didn't strength train, if I didn't eat wholesome foods, if I didn't rest properly, if I didn’t work hard - I would not be able to perform and appreciate what I experienced on my ride this morning. Sure, it sounds like what I did this morning was “the work” and in essence, it was, but that’s not how it felt. It felt more like re-creating and offered an intrinsic value that I’m appreciative for having had the opportunity.