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Perception vs reality

Old 10-04-17, 10:46 AM
  #1  
speedlever
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Perception vs reality

Well here I am at nearly 67 and about 8 weeks back into riding after a 5+ year layoff basically doing nothing while my bike gathered dust on the garage wall. I find that my brain remembers stuff my body doesn't. Yet. I guess that's to be expected.

What I find interesting is that some days I have to talk myself into going out for a ride and the ride is beautiful and I feel strong. Other days I feel strong and want to ride but the ride is disappointing and I don't have the strength/endurance I initially felt I had. Ergo the thread title of perception vs reality.

Can't figure out if that's physiological or psychological, or some of both... not that it matters. I expect I'm not alone in this observation.
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Old 10-04-17, 01:26 PM
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I had the same experience 35 years ago, so I'd bet it isn't age, IMO.
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Old 10-04-17, 01:36 PM
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I have read this here a lot .... And a lot of people say they had their best rides in terms of performance on days where they felt terrible the whole way, or rode slowly on days they thought they were flying ...... To me the lesson is "Quit making excuses and ride the dang bike."

But making excuses is what I do best
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Old 10-04-17, 01:44 PM
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back when I was forcing myself to regular running, I found I had good runs & some that were not so great. & occasionally I had runs that were surprisingly good. like out of nowhere, I was a different person. could never explain why. still, today, I try not to be wavered by so-so exercise regardless of sport, because I know, every now & then, I'll still be surprised by a really good personal performance. I keep track of rides w a cheap computer just because it's easy enough & interesting. kinda takes the guess work out of whether it was a "good" ride or not

but back to your title, I think your perception is your reality. isn't everyone's?
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Old 10-04-17, 02:21 PM
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Yesterday I was riding my worst-climbing bike, my legs burned the entire time... and I PR-ed an uphill stretch into the wind. Go figure.
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Old 10-04-17, 02:35 PM
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Some days you got it, some don't. If you ever figure out the formula, please let everyone know.


I have come to the conclusion that I don't have to stomp on the gas pedal every ride.
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Old 10-04-17, 02:54 PM
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An older rider once told me "It gets harder"; upon being quizzed, he replied that I'll know when I get older.
It's motivation. Older guys are like sharks; move forward or die. I find this to be true, without encountering the "dying" bit. Your brain goes to sleep; the rest of you follows suit.
The bike's the best tool I have for countering this. Either on the road, or in the gym.
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Old 10-04-17, 06:30 PM
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My body tends to remember things my brain forgets. I began riding seriously when I was 13 years old, and have logged countless miles since then. When I am on my bike, my body takes over, my brain takes a break. In my adolescent days, I was something of a mess. My home life was not pleasant, and I got into trouble from time to time. Riding a bike was the one thing which could calm me down, and it still does. When I get on my bike and start peddling, my problems disappear for awhile, and afterwards, things always look better.

I hate to have conversations with myself, because the side which argues to be lazy or eat more usually wins. To prevent this, I don't allow myself to think, I simply get on my bike and ride. I am never disappointed by my rides, unless a storm or mechanical failure cuts my ride short. Some rides are better than others, but any ride is better than no ride at all. My strength and endurance would be much lower, and my weight likely much higher were it not for my rides, good or otherwise.
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Old 10-04-17, 07:54 PM
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Interesting responses above. So I'll know when I get older? Well, I'm ok with thinking that point where I'm older is still in the future.

My bicycle is kinda my TARDIS. I think it helps keep me young. Sorta. But yeah, I feel pressure to ride all the time. Sometime I like that pressure, other times I resent it. But it's thoughts of losing my fitness (and I've regained some of what I lost), losing my butt conditioning (and that's actually a pretty big driver), etc. that sometimes pushes me out the door when I really don't want to ride. And then it's often those days that I really have a good day riding up those hills that so often beat me back into submission on not-so-good days.

Why my legs feel strong one day and not another will puzzle me forever.

As I think back on when I quit riding back in 2012, part of my reasoning was driven by discouragement about all the time and effort I put into riding just to maintain my conditioning. I reached a point where I just didn't seem to improve. And I wasn't ready to accept that. Combine that with schedule changes, toss in the death of a cycling friend and my fire died and I was ready to just be an old man. I even put my bike up for sale (glad it didn't sell).

But somehow, something changed along the way and I regained that desire to ride. I hope it sticks, especially over the winter. I'm actually enjoying regaining my fitness and losing weight. But the tough winter months with Thanksgiving and Christmas are still ahead.
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Old 10-04-17, 08:08 PM
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Perception is reality for the perceiver.
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Old 10-05-17, 04:06 AM
  #11  
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In my youth, 60 years ago, I preferred riding alone, but nowadays, at 77, I prefer riding in a group. If it weren't for the feeling of obligation to turn up at the meeting point three times per week, my wife and I probably wouldn't get out of bed before 9.00 am! We ride tandem at a good pace with the other oldies and average 16+mph over 25 miles each time. We have nothing to prove and enjoy the rides and the company. There's no need to thrash oneself every time, but if we feel competitive, we have the occasional sprint and generally have a great time.
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Old 10-05-17, 07:02 AM
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I believe we all have these days, I know I do. I usually have my better days when I feel like I am tired but I end up faster go figure. I love to get lost in my ride just enjoying the feeling of freedom sights sounds, I ride at day break its the most calming for me! I am never disappointed after a ride its all good!!
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Old 10-05-17, 07:05 AM
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I would just like to second what others have said. I often don't feel like getting out for a ride, but I almost always force myself to anyway, for the sake of trying to maintain fitness. For some reason, those days often turn out to be the best, either in terms of performance or simply in terms of clearing my head and bringing some needed calm into my life.

Other days I think I'm going to go out and ride hard and it simply doesn't happen. There are so many variables: quality and quantity of sleep the night before, food intake (quantity and quality), stress levels, amount of allergens in the air, etc.

One thing is certain though. When I ride I really don't think about anything but the rhythm of the bike. I suppose it's something like meditation, but it has a way of re-energizing me that nothing else has.
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Old 10-05-17, 07:12 AM
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Happens to me too, man! I thought I was the only one
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Old 10-05-17, 07:34 AM
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I bike commute. Somedays I'm rarin' to go, sometimes I'm not motivated. How much I enjoy the ride seems to not be related to my initial level of enthusiasm.

I had three very different "in the groove" rides this week. One was non-descript and non-eventful, but everything was in tune, including the rider. The ride home that day was uphill, against a cold, stiff wind and I still felt like I was "in the pocket". The next morning I rode in a cold rain with my rain cape, and again, it was magic. THe next few rides after that were good, but didn't have that extra spark. After 25 years of commuting I think it's a combination of mental, physical and mechanical factors that make for a great ride.

As far as motivation...I now think ahead to how good I usually feel after the ride, and that helps me get going, especially in the morning. (After I ride to work, I have to ride to get home...or take the bus...ugh!)
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Old 10-05-17, 08:21 AM
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Glad to hear I am not the only one that feels that way! I have to fight the urge to be lazy on some days. Particularly on the days when I am planning to cycle to work. It is so much quicker by car. At the end of the day these rides are the most satisfying. I do agree with the shark analogy. 👍
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Old 10-05-17, 08:55 AM
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Don't think about it. Just ride. Somedays you'll have bad days. Other days you'll have good days.
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Old 10-05-17, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by speedlever View Post
Well here I am at nearly 67 and about 8 weeks back into riding after a 5+ year layoff basically doing nothing while my bike gathered dust on the garage wall. I find that my brain remembers stuff my body doesn't. Yet. I guess that's to be expected.

What I find interesting is that some days I have to talk myself into going out for a ride and the ride is beautiful and I feel strong. Other days I feel strong and want to ride but the ride is disappointing and I don't have the strength/endurance I initially felt I had. Ergo the thread title of perception vs reality.

Can't figure out if that's physiological or psychological, or some of both... not that it matters. I expect I'm not alone in this observation.
67y.o. and back into it for "only 8 weeks" after 5 yrs. off might have something to do with it. But, are you disappointed with the ride, that you didn't meet your expectations? Or, disappointed that you rode?

No matter how good or bad I feel during a ride I have yet to be disappointed afterwards that I rode.

Last edited by BKE; 10-05-17 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 10-05-17, 10:26 AM
  #19  
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No, not disappointed. Just remarking on how my perception of how I feel vs how I perform seems to be so out of sync at times. Apparently, I'm not alone in that regard.
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Old 10-06-17, 12:00 AM
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This is an interesting thread. What makes a "bad" ride? I don't usually keep track of my speed well enough to know if I'm going faster or slower than the last time, and even if I am, it might be hot, it might be windy. If I don't feel good on the bike, it's generally one of: I didn't dress for the weather (it's a lot colder than I thought); I screwed up my hydration (20 miles from home, no water and dying of thirst); or I screwed up my nutrition (out for 4 hours and I only brought one bar). That doesn't mean there aren't times when I'm going up a hill, thinking, I should just stop and rest. But I usually banish that with "You wimp, you've gone up this hill 100 times, you can go up it 101 times" :-)
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Old 10-06-17, 02:11 AM
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A "bad" ride is a ride I had to force myself to do, thinking "I know once I get going I will be glad i went," but the whole way feels uphill into a headwind, knowing th whole while that I should have listened to my legs and my body and the tiny sensible part of my brain which says "Rest now and then. Recover. Skip today." (Usually that part is trapped under the really fat and lazy part which says, "Sofa good, TV good, Food even better---so TV on the sofa with endless food is Nirvana." Hard to tell which is which sometimes.)

Of course, even those rides aren't bad .... just not great.
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Old 10-06-17, 07:04 AM
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Disappointment lives in the shadow of expectation.
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Old 10-06-17, 07:16 AM
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Get a power meter. It won't lie and it doesn't care how you feel.
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Old 10-06-17, 07:56 AM
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Our bodies have a certain rhythm for training and recovery, and where we are in that cycle on a given day influences our performance. You train up, then there is a similar period of recovery where the pace and effort is lower - and our best practice is lower efforts in that period - and after that we train again but to a higher level.

The timing is different now than when we were younger, and if you're like me you're sometimes judging what the performance will be based on the past, but the body isn't ready yet. It takes longer to recover, yet we can lose our gains more quickly than before (I think) so that makes the whole process slower. The kicker is that different systems have different length cycles but they are dependent on each other. I've run into this taking up running this year - the large muscles train up pretty quickly, but that puts more stress on ligaments which take much longer, and when those get in shape the cardio can make bigger gains, actually quicker I think, and so on. Anything that happens to be in a down cycle can cause your performance to be lower than you expected, and your body probably needs that system to recover for a little while.

The upshot is unless you have some coach who knows what he's doing, you go by feel and don't worry about it if one or two rides feel slower or weaker. It's expected, a normal and necessary part of training. Just change the training goal on the fly, maybe get some long miles in without burning any matches and keep it in the fat-burning zone. Everything happens to align, that's the time to push harder.
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Old 10-06-17, 09:34 AM
  #25  
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On top of all the excellent info Mr. wphamilton provides ... while cycling might be the high point of our days, we do do stuff the rest of the time.

Regardless of how my cycling has been going, if I haven’t been sleeping well, and dealing with extra stress at work, am coping with some systems breakdown at home (lawnmower won’t start, kitchen faucet is leaking, etc) that affects me too.

Plus my emotional condition ... I might always feel fine but there is always stuff going on .... sometimes I might really be relaxed, other times I might feel relaxed on the surface but underneath a bunch of stuff is churning away.

Best thing I can do is take each ride as its own thing. As Mr. Brucwe19 says:
Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
Disappointment lives in the shadow of expectation.
last night I went for a ride with great excitement---I had just put new wheels and tires on my rain bike and was eager to see if I could feel a difference.

Five miles in I got a flat. Then my pump didn't work because all that rain riding had filled it with water and silt.

So ... I enjoyed a five-mile walk home, pushing my bike.

I had a decent stroll, and I still get to be excited to see how the new wheels and tires work.
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