I often tell people to ride fast and ride slow.
I also recommend riding with other people. You learn a lot, I say. You should always ride with the fastest people willing to have you along. And to pay it back, you should be willing to ride with beginning cyclists some of the time. That give and take, learning and coaching, is one of my favourite things about cycling.
Cycling friends come in lots of different speeds. Get to know them all. It’ll ensure you work fast days and slow days into your training schedule without being that deliberate about it.
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For more on this theme, read Things you learn from working out with others.
See also Riding slow and riding fast.
But you might wonder what a week with fast and slow days looks like, on the ground. Here’s my week of riding, just over 200 km, including fast and slow rides:
1. Fast training ride, Thursday
Distance 40 km (plus commute, day’s distance 62 km)
Average speed, 27.4
Where: Country roads north of the city
Who with: Coach Chris’s intermediate group
Highlights: Zooming down some stretches of road, doing some chase segments, racing up hills.
Not so good: Gravel, gravel everywhere! Will summer construction never end? We had to deviate from our usual route due to roadwork.
Age range: 15 (!) to 50 (me!)
Where: Country roads southeast of the city
Who with: London Centennial Wheelers, Short ride
Highlights: It’s fun leaving the city as part of a big group, more than 50 cyclists, drafting some fast men, and making it home before the rain
Not so good: Construction (are you sensing a theme here?) meant that the advertised distance of 70 km got bumped to 110 km, so we turned back early. Also a group member brought his girlfriend along (I think she was his girlfriend) and it was her first time on a group ride, possibly her first time on a road bike, and that didn’t work out and they left after the first 20 km. Not the best introduction to group riding but our club has skills workshops and really, that’s were she ought to have started.
Age range: 35-52 (in our group, my best guess, again note I’m almost the oldest)
3. Social ride, Sunday
Distance 59 km
Average speed, 21.5
Where: Country roads southwest of the city, meandering through construction (of course!), some dirt sections, lifting bikes over “road closed” signs. Shhhh. Home along the bike path for coffee and baked goods.
Who with: Friends Nat and David
Highlights: Almost no cars, perfect temperature, and David and I had fun sprinting with Nat who is trying to get faster. We also raced up hills with her and as a result increased her best average speed by a couple of km/hr! That’s fun.
Not so fun: Nothing really. We were late back but partners were phoned and plans were changed. All good, I think.
Ages: 40-50 (again, oldest, guess I should get used to this)
4. Rainy commute, Monday
Distance 12 km
Average speed, not sure, but fast-ish for the bike path, maybe 24 km/hr
Here’s my status update from Facebook for that afternoon: “Three observations about riding home in the rain. 1. Sitting in your office thinking about riding home in the rain is worse than riding home in the rain, 2. The bike path is all guys on cx bikes and mountain bikes and they all smile at me, 3. I’m really glad you got the hot tub Jeff.”
My policy is that I’ll ride home in the rain but not too work in the rain. We all have our limits. But that afternoon I’d been putting it off. I’d ridden to work in a dress and riding in the rain in a dress just seemed like not so much fun. I got out there and loved it. The bike path was clear of small children and walkers. There were lots of guys on mountain bikes grinning. It was infectious. My ride home was warm, wet, and fun. I went straight to the hot tub after.
5. Social ride, Tuesday
Distance 5 km plus 12 km commute
Average speed 20 km/hr
Joy Cameron is the person behind Bikes ‘n Brains, an event designed to raise awareness about brain injuries and bike safety. Last year I spoke about women and cycling safety at the event and this year I’m on the organizing committee. (We’re doing it again. Hold the date: September 26th, 2015, in Wortley Village, London, Ontario.)
Joy is getting back to riding after her accident and is starting to use her bike again for commuting. She put the call out for friends to ride in traffic with her and I happily agreed. We chatted about when to take the lane and about Wortley’s new bike box. We rode for a bit on the path and on the road and then stopped for coffee and muffin and chatted about Bikes ‘n Brains. Fun times.