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Old 08-26-08, 08:08 AM   #1
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I suck at riding my bike...

...and it bums me out.

I'm envious of people who are faster, stronger, and more skilled than me.

I know the solution is to ride longer and train better, but industry, efficiency, time management, patience, and dedication are not among my strong suits. As a result, I should just learn to be comfortable with my general suckiness.
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Old 08-26-08, 08:15 AM   #2
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Who cares how other's ride. As long as you ride better today than you did yesterday, then life is good.
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Old 08-26-08, 08:45 AM   #3
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You need to develop a more relaxed attitude toward riding. Maybe even avoid certain areas of the forums...

Try embracing attitudes as expressed in other areas of cycling, like those you will find here:
http://www.3speedtour.com/

You don't have to ride a three speed, just adopt some of the attitudes.

I don't know how old you are, but maybe read some of the threads in the Fifty Plus forum, and go for a pie ride... take a ride to a nice pie shop and enjoy a piece of blueberry pie.

When you ride, enjoy the journey.

Of course, if your objective in cycling is to go fast, these things may not appeal to you, and this advice is meaningless, but there is a chance that there is an aspect of cycling that you are missing by being concerned about those faster stronger riders...

When you are out for a ride, don't forget to stop and smell the roses, or listen to the spring peepers, or look at the sugar maples turning red...

Maybe you will even get to the point that when you ride, you will look at the beautiful buildings and nature around you and feel sorry that those fast cyclists aren't able to see it as well as you are.
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Old 08-26-08, 08:51 AM   #4
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If I get frustrated by my lack of speed, the only solution is for me to go find a hill.

If you haven't read them already, search the Folding Bikes forum for the word "pootle". It's a philosophy that can be applied to any ride, and I find that thinking that way distracts me from the fact that I'm not a top-notch performer.
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Old 08-26-08, 08:59 AM   #5
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Don't get me wrong though. I love riding, even if I wish I were "better" (whatever that means).

Yeah, I do enjoy going fast, and one of things I've really enjoyed over the past three years is the steady improvement I had been making. I've started to plateau though, which was not unexpected.

FWIW, I'm 29 years old, and I know I'm an okay cyclist. I'm not great, but not awful. I can handle myself pretty well in city traffic, and I'm proud of that.

I can't help but be envious of the people I encounter who are clearly stronger than I am. I know that's because they work harder at it than I do (probably), so if I really wanted to be like them, I should work just as hard too. I don't know if I have that in me though.

Basically I'm just moping right now. Part of it is that I've never really excelled at anything, and having plateaued in my bike riding skills after much progress is getting me a little down.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:01 AM   #6
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As a result, I should just learn to be comfortable with my general suckiness.
Not necessarily. I've never been good with goal-setting and working towards them. It always seemed arbitrary to me, and frankly, if a goal seemed too hard, I'd just quit instead of even try.

In cycling, I've been able to set goals, work towards them and achieve them, although I still haven't been able to carry this over to the rest of my life.

My first goal (in March 2006) was to replace commuting by bus with commuting by bike. My first ride was 0.67 miles. I had to stop halfway to rest. The next day, I rode to work, and had to stop and rest every mile. My goals became a block further, and a block further. All little increments and I achieved them. Within a month, I could ride to work non-stop, and instead of hoping for red lights, hoping for green instead.

Adding little bits of distance and difficulty--like hills--helped me a lot. When I plateaued, in November 2006, I knew it was time to quit smoking. Cycling helped me do that too.

Then it was skills. Riding with people a lot better than me, and asking questions about how to learn, helped there. There are two groups I ride with now, one from a shop ride where I'm pretty good, and another is my club, where my goals are measured in how many miles can I go before getting dropped.

Along the way, I came upon the opportunity to ride the Rockies--real pie in the sky stuff for a lifelong lowlander and ex-smoker. Around here, a half-mile long hill, gaining only 150 feet knocked me on me @$$. But I figured the higher I aim, the higher I'll hit. I paid for the trip.

I peppered everyone with questions, learned what I needed to train for, how to train for it, then I went out and did my best, hoping it would be enough.

I came back from that trip three weeks ago. I rode to the top of Mt. Evans, at 14,130 feet, it's the highest paved road in North America.



Three days later, I rode from the high plains to Rocky Mountain National Park.



I'm not sure what my next goals will be--it's awfully hard to top 14,130 feet.

Well, actually, I'm hoping that on tomorrow night's club ride, I can make it five miles before being dropped. If not, then the week after that.

Now, I could have accepted that I would always suck at cycling, given I was age 50, a 35 year smoker, with one bum knee and an arrhythmia. No one would have blamed be for wheezing and wobbling along at 6 or 7 mph and pushing the bike up hills. I simply decided I could do better and set out to discover how much better I could do. Still haven't found the max.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:01 AM   #7
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It's an acquired skill. Keep riding.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:07 AM   #8
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Just ride dude, I mean, who cares how fast or strong you are...isn't the core of riding a bike because it's fun as sh*t and you can make fun of those lazy *******s that watch American Idol? I once thought I needed to compare myself with other cyclist, but when it comes down to it, you are always going to be better than others and others are always going to be better than you.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:12 AM   #9
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After reading tsl's post, it occurs to me...

Perhaps the thing we need is to figure out is what goal motivates us.

You won't likely ever be the fastest cyclist in the world, but if your goal is to ride a century, there are specific steps to take. If your goal is to ride 20 miles in under an hour, there are specific steps to take.

Lance Armstrong could have lamented that some cyclists sprinted better than him, but instead he concentrated on what he wanted. He wanted to win the Tour de France.

Your goal is likely to be different, and what you do to acheive the goal will be different, but it starts with the goal. Your goal isn't that other riders are faster and stronger, so what is it?

By the way, this has me thinking too... Thanks for the encouragement tsl.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:14 AM   #10
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Not necessarily. I've never been good with goal-setting and working towards them. It always seemed arbitrary to me, and frankly, if a goal seemed too hard, I'd just quit instead of even try.

In cycling, I've been able to set goals, work towards them and achieve them, although I still haven't been able to carry this over to the rest of my life.

My first goal (in March 2006) was to replace commuting by bus with commuting by bike. My first ride was 0.67 miles. I had to stop halfway to rest. The next day, I rode to work, and had to stop and rest every mile. My goals became a block further, and a block further. All little increments and I achieved them. Within a month, I could ride to work non-stop, and instead of hoping for red lights, hoping for green instead.

Adding little bits of distance and difficulty--like hills--helped me a lot. When I plateaued, in November 2006, I knew it was time to quit smoking. Cycling helped me do that too.

Then it was skills. Riding with people a lot better than me, and asking questions about how to learn, helped there. There are two groups I ride with now, one from a shop ride where I'm pretty good, and another is my club, where my goals are measured in how many miles can I go before getting dropped.

Along the way, I came upon the opportunity to ride the Rockies--real pie in the sky stuff for a lifelong lowlander and ex-smoker. Around here, a half-mile long hill, gaining only 150 feet knocked me on me @$$. But I figured the higher I aim, the higher I'll hit. I paid for the trip.

I peppered everyone with questions, learned what I needed to train for, how to train for it, then I went out and did my best, hoping it would be enough.

I came back from that trip three weeks ago. I rode to the top of Mt. Evans, at 14,130 feet, it's the highest paved road in North America.

Three days later, I rode from the high plains to Rocky Mountain National Park

I'm not sure what my next goals will be--it's awfully hard to top 14,130 feet.

Well, actually, I'm hoping that on tomorrow night's club ride, I can make it five miles before being dropped. If not, then the week after that.

Now, I could have accepted that I would always suck at cycling, given I was age 50, a 35 year smoker, with one bum knee and an arrhythmia. No one would have blamed be for wheezing and wobbling along at 6 or 7 mph and pushing the bike up hills. I simply decided I could do better and set out to discover how much better I could do. Still haven't found the max.
Thanks for the encouragement. That actually does make me feel better
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Old 08-26-08, 09:33 AM   #11
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I have always been an aggressive rider because of where I learned to ride , but it took a lot of patience more than dedication . I worry more about looking the part "are people going to think i'm serious if I ride in a pair of denim shorts and running shoes" but once I have few couple miles behind me I have already found a subtle pace and forget what I was worried about....
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Old 08-26-08, 09:37 AM   #12
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when it comes down to it, you are always going to be better than others and others are always going to be better than you.
Excellent perspective! Gonna keep that in mind when I feel like I suck big time.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:43 AM   #13
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Not necessarily. I've never been good with goal-setting and working towards them. It always seemed arbitrary to me, and frankly, if a goal seemed too hard, I'd just quit instead of even try.

In cycling, I've been able to set goals, work towards them and achieve them, although I still haven't been able to carry this over to the rest of my life.

My first goal (in March 2006) was to replace commuting by bus with commuting by bike. My first ride was 0.67 miles. I had to stop halfway to rest. The next day, I rode to work, and had to stop and rest every mile. My goals became a block further, and a block further. All little increments and I achieved them. Within a month, I could ride to work non-stop, and instead of hoping for red lights, hoping for green instead.

Adding little bits of distance and difficulty--like hills--helped me a lot. When I plateaued, in November 2006, I knew it was time to quit smoking. Cycling helped me do that too.

Then it was skills. Riding with people a lot better than me, and asking questions about how to learn, helped there. There are two groups I ride with now, one from a shop ride where I'm pretty good, and another is my club, where my goals are measured in how many miles can I go before getting dropped.

Along the way, I came upon the opportunity to ride the Rockies--real pie in the sky stuff for a lifelong lowlander and ex-smoker. Around here, a half-mile long hill, gaining only 150 feet knocked me on me @$$. But I figured the higher I aim, the higher I'll hit. I paid for the trip.

I peppered everyone with questions, learned what I needed to train for, how to train for it, then I went out and did my best, hoping it would be enough.

I came back from that trip three weeks ago. I rode to the top of Mt. Evans, at 14,130 feet, it's the highest paved road in North America.



Three days later, I rode from the high plains to Rocky Mountain National Park.



I'm not sure what my next goals will be--it's awfully hard to top 14,130 feet.

Well, actually, I'm hoping that on tomorrow night's club ride, I can make it five miles before being dropped. If not, then the week after that.

Now, I could have accepted that I would always suck at cycling, given I was age 50, a 35 year smoker, with one bum knee and an arrhythmia. No one would have blamed be for wheezing and wobbling along at 6 or 7 mph and pushing the bike up hills. I simply decided I could do better and set out to discover how much better I could do. Still haven't found the max.
Someday, I'm gonna be YOU! Thanks for a very inspirational post. The small incremental goals seem to be the key to riding successfully.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:56 AM   #14
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I once thought I needed to compare myself with other cyclist, but when it comes down to it, you are always going to be better than others and others are always going to be better than you.
I was going to say something similar. I learned that when I took karate lessons -- even my sensei could learn new things from other experts who had more experience, and even a student who had been taking lessons for a week could teach something basic to someone who had only been there a day.
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Old 08-26-08, 10:02 AM   #15
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...and it bums me out.

I'm envious of people who are faster, stronger, and more skilled than me.

I know the solution is to ride longer and train better, but industry, efficiency, time management, patience, and dedication are not among my strong suits. As a result, I should just learn to be comfortable with my general suckiness.
You're trying to emulate what you perceive as a good thing. You already have diagnosed some of the hinderances to your ends. Think of this as an exercise in the development of yourself, in the practice of human virtues. Just don't go overboard because a rider sometimes gets side tracked thru envy which is never a virtue.
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Old 08-26-08, 10:24 AM   #16
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I just go out and ride. I try to push a little bit on every ride. Some days I just don't have anything me (like today), so I take the day off. But it's a lot of fun.

For a change of pace I do an "out and back" ride with my son. He'll be 7 in a few weeks. Our last ride was down to Old Sacramento for lunch and back. almost 34 miles. Sunday we're going to ride up to Karen's Bakery for lunch in Folsom and back. That's more like 28 miles. We ride a slow, easy pace. He has a great time, and I enjoy it too.

Every once in a while, go for a "just fun" type ride.
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Old 08-26-08, 10:31 AM   #17
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Look at it like driving a car. You drive, you go places, you see things, maybe just drive around for fun. You're usually not the fastest driver on the road, but that doesn't mean you stay home, either.
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Old 08-26-08, 10:36 AM   #18
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I kind of suspect that we all feel that way sometimes.

The biggest problem is that those feelings keep you from enjoying your bicycling accomplishments.
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Old 08-26-08, 12:13 PM   #19
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My personal goal is just to ride more regularly. I ride once, maybe twice a week.

So just going out at all is an accomplishment for me. And yeah, it's a little discouraging to look at threads like the "definition of INSANITY" where people are talking about regularly riding dozens of miles that I can't even fathom. Fifty, sixty, eighty miles in a day? No way I'd be able to do that.

Yet.

But when I first started riding my trike after years of not riding, seven miles was an accomplishment. Now twenty miles isn't much of a stretch for me.

Acknowledge the progress you've made already, and don't let the fact that there's room for improvement discourage you -- as has been mentioned several times, there's always room for improvement.
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Old 08-26-08, 12:43 PM   #20
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I can't help but be envious of the people I encounter who are clearly stronger than I am. I know that's because they work harder at it than I do (probably), so if I really wanted to be like them, I should work just as hard too. I don't know if I have that in me though.

Basically I'm just moping right now. Part of it is that I've never really excelled at anything, and having plateaued in my bike riding skills after much progress is getting me a little down.
(A) The majority of people are average at any given thing. If the majority were above average- then above average would just be average again. Average isn't some horrible thing the way society makes it out to be- it's reality and there is no shame in it.

(B) If you really cared as much about getting better as you say you do, you'd train harder. I am led to believe that either you are truely depressed and need the help of drugs/therapy to overcome the emotional blocks preventing you from working harder - or - more likely, you have a sense of entitlement that you should be rewarded with legs like Lance even if you don't train like he does.
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Old 08-26-08, 01:51 PM   #21
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Awesome post tsl and keep up the good work!
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Old 08-26-08, 02:39 PM   #22
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Holy cow tsl! You inspired me to keep riding as well.
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Old 08-26-08, 03:04 PM   #23
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Who cares how other's ride. As long as you ride better today than you did yesterday, then life is good.
Life is good because I rode yesterday, and today, and will ride itomorrow and in the future and not give a fig if I ride "better" or not. Neither commuting nor recreational riding has to be a training or competitive event. I am not riding to compete with myself or anybody else. I'd recommend the OP consider that approach to his own cycling. Fun cycling does not require setting goals.
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Old 08-26-08, 05:31 PM   #24
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Life is good because I rode yesterday, and today, and will ride itomorrow and in the future and not give a fig if I ride "better" or not. Neither commuting nor recreational riding has to be a training or competitive event. I am not riding to compete with myself or anybody else. I'd recommend the OP consider that approach to his own cycling. Fun cycling does not require setting goals.
You're quite right, setting goals is not necessary to have fun. And I know I do tend to be hard on myself, and be a bit too competitive sometimes. It's funny though... I get no satisfaction when I'm a stronger or faster cyclist than someone else, but I do feel inferior sometimes around cyclist who are stronger and faster than I am. Not always, but it happens. That's a personality trait of mine that could probably use a little work.

Still though, it is pretty satisfying to become fitter and faster. Not to mention fun. I just need to find the right balance.

Edit: I also just want to mention that even though I may get bummed out that sometimes, cycling is still one of the greatest joys in my life, and I have fun every time I go out and ride

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Old 08-26-08, 06:10 PM   #25
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Competitiveness is a wonderful thing. Just take it with a grain of salt. Meaning that there is always someone faster than you so don't stress out about it. It is far more important to me that I keep improving.
Now I for one am extremely goal oriented. Nothing brings me greater joy than to finish a goal. On the other hand I am briefly extremely annoyed when I miss it....then I get over with it and make a new goal.
Simply enjoying riding for the sake of riding is also very important.
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