Mid-Season Thoughts on Biking

a.k.a. ‘Why am I doing this’.

First, a bit of background. I grew up riding a bike. From 2nd grade through college it was my primary mode of transportation, even after I got my first car. Then I moved down to the San Jose area, and although I kept riding for a few years, work, marriage, and kids soon took precedence and I stopped riding for about 25 years. Fast forward to about 2 years ago and after a lot of frustration with weight gain and lack of fitness and lack of progress once I tried to lose weight by walking, I started biking again. I’m enjoying it, mostly, but a few recent events have caused me to question my goals and approach to cycling.

Two weeks back, I joined my local recreational bike club in a climb up Mt. Diablo. The weather was cooperative (cool), and I did well, but by the following Monday, my right knee was in a lot of pain – tendonitis. A week of rest, ice, and Ibuprofen settled it back down, but it was a real wake up call. Then, last weekend, we rode up Mt. Hamilton. It was hot, and while the Mt. Ham climb is not that challenging (rarely steeper than 7-8%, and most of it at 6% or less), its really long – 15 miles of climbing, with two short decents along the way. This morning, I’m finding myself spending a lot of time wondering why I wanted to do these climbs, and ultimately whether or not this is the style of riding that I want to do.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still very much happy with cycling in general. I’ve started losing weight again after a long hiatus, and the 25-40 mile rides that I do locally are a great joy. For sure I arrive home feeling glad that I went out and rode literally every single time.

What I’m questioning is whether I want to do these more challenging rides – the centuries and hill climbs. 100 K seems to be a very nice max for me right now, especially if it involves less climbing than some rides. I’m signed up for the Sequoia Century this coming weekend, and I’ll be doing the 100K which has two climbs up to Skyline – one from the bay side, and one from the ocean side. That’s a lot of climbing (6000 ft.) for me, and will probably go a long way to cementing my thoughts about all of this. What I’m thinking is that unless / until I can lose quite a bit of weight, maybe I’m not doing myself any favors by doing long climbs – the last thing I want to do at this point is anything that takes the fun out of my riding.

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