Last week Taylor Q. asked How to Avoid Boredom on Long Rides? The column had three excellent suggestions:
- Opt for scenic routes, if possible.
- Vary your courses. I ride flats, hills and rolling stuff on my road bike, do some mountain biking on singletrack and also ride a cyclocross bike on routes that mix pavement, dirt roads and canal bank roads.
- Cogitate! Steady riding often stimulates creativity, so it’s a good time to work out problems or challenges you face.
Although I ride with friends I enjoy riding alone, too. I go where I want to go, at the pace I feel like riding, stopping when and where I desire, and thinking about whatever interests me. Here are more ideas:
Phases of a ride.
Every ride of a couple of hours or more usually has three parts:
- Early in the ride you’re feeling good and excited about riding.
- Ugly middle when your bored and getting tired.
- Smelling the barn when your mood and power both improve.
When you’re in the ugly middle remind yourself that’s where you and at some point you’ll smell the barn.
Have a purpose.
At least some of your training rides should have a specific purpose. A showstopper is anything that forces you to quit (or significantly alter) a ride before you’re ready. Use your long rides to test different things that could be showstoppers: what you eat and drink, your rain gear (really!), your bike fit, your heat tolerance, etc.
See my recent column 10 Essential Bike Handling Skills for Roadies
If your goal is 50 miles instead of riding a 50-miler you’ve done too many times, ride on a course with many side roads exploring each road until you’ve done your 50.
My best ideas for columns, etc., often come when I’m riding along not thinking about anything in particular and suddenly ideas start to flow. I’ll stop and send myself a text with all the ideas.
Invent a story and take photos.
Early in the ride let your mind think randomly about the ride. What would be an interesting story to share via social media? Perhaps it’s spring and you photograph wildflowers. Or Victorian and other old homes in different towns. Or all the different crops in the countryside. Sometimes you’re riding your 50 with a time or intensity goal … and sometimes it’s fine to stop and take photos.
On a group tour one stage was from Montrose, CO to Salida, CO, 130 miles with 8,000 ft. of climbing including the sustained climb up Monarch Pass (11,312 ft.) We rode as a group to the base of the climb and then I dropped off. The climb took several hours and I spent the time trying to see as many different greens as I could.
On a tour I kept noticing that some hay was in smaller bales, some in rolls, some in large blocks and some in piles. I kept wondering why and finally asked a farmer. I learned the bales, for example, are to feed animals in a corral. The large blocks go out in a field.
When I’m in the ugly middle sometimes I plan dinner in great detail. I imagine I’m looking at a menu (even if I’m eating at home), consider my choices and then decide on the main dish. Then the appetizers … and the side dishes … and the dessert. Once I’ve decided what to eat I’ll while away the time thinking in detail about how I’ll cook it.
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.