In training for short distance riding

Woman riding a bike. by Simon Launay, on Unsplash.

Springtime for me is always a slow time for getting back to regular cycling. Honestly, I don’t really devote a lot of time to it until my semester ends at the beginning of May. Then the inevitable, regular-as-clockwork panic sets in. Oh no! I haven’t been cycling enough! I’m so behind on getting my mileage and stamina up to par! I’ve got to train more NOW!

What’s wrong with this picture?

First, I cycle for FUN. There’s no pay involved. This is an avocation, a way to feel good in my body and in the world, and a fun activity to do with friends.

Second, given that I feel like this EVERY YEAR, perhaps a reframing of the situation might be in order. Just a thought.

Third, the sports gear that I own DOES NOT include a time machine. So going back to February and riding the trainer isn’t an option. Going on winter rides isn’t an option. Going on more rides in April isn’t an option.

But now, in May, there are options.

One of them is this: riding now.

I’m pleased to report that this is exactly what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve ridden my bike to friends’ houses a couple of times, talking to them from the sidewalk. I’ve ridden to do errands. I rode my bike in downtown Boston, just for a change of scene.

Side note: on my Boston ride, it was interesting and strange to experience such little traffic downtown. There were loads of parking spaces, few cars and even fewer pedestrians. However, I did encounter a car double-parked in the bike lane even though there were plenty of spaces close by. Some things never change…

These rides are short– 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there, none of them more than an hour or so total cycling time. So why are they hard? Why do I need to train for them?

First, there’s the business of making sure all bike stuff is set up and in ready-to-go condition. It’s not my year-round habit, so it requires a restart.

But second, and more importantly, I have to train myself to JUST DO IT. Riding short distances sometimes feels like a lot of effort for not-a-lot of payoff, fitness-wise. But it does pay off. It reminds me about how much I like being on my bike. It gets me out of the house more often. It feels good. Yeah, those things.

I’ll be cycling longer distances this year, for sure. And that will require the usual training. But it feels important to train for short-distance riding as well. Those benefits are different, but no less important. Maybe even more important.

Dear readers, how do you feel about short-distance cycling or running or other sports? Do they feel different to you? Are they a part of your life? I’d love to hear any thoughts you’d like to share.

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