To Train or Not

It seems like bike blogs fall into two categories. On one hand, we have what I think of as “serious racing blogs.” Bloggers post details and stats from their latest races, outline their grueling training regimens, and, generally, take pride in a certain amount of suffering. I read a number of these blogs, mostly by mountain bikers, and find them interesting for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, we have transportation cycling blogs. Generally, but not always, kept by women, these blogs suggest that biking is not, in fact, about suffering, but can instead be about getting from A to B with some dignity and a little fun. The bicycles are prettier, the clothes are prettier, and the life outlook is certainly more congenial.

The problem is that I fall squarely between these categories. While I have a lovely fantasy life in which I commute, gently, to the office while wearing a skirt suit, perhaps stopping to buy some organic vegetables on my way home, that life isn’t my reality. My grocery store is 20 miles away. While I could, technically, bike to my farmer’s market, the ride is both on the long end of comfortable and involves some unsafe neighborhoods. On the employment front, I am, as I say, “between things.” I’m hoping to solve all three of these through an upcoming move, but in the meantime my transportation cycling is very limited.

I’m also no athlete. It’s been two years since I started biking, and I still struggle to climb hills or to ride even remotely fast. I’ve made progress, but it’s nothing to jump up and down over. I don’t even want to be a cycling athlete. I have zero interest in the kind of fast-paced group riding that “serious” road cyclists love, and less than zero of the technical skills it takes to do mountain bike racing.

Which puts me squarely in the in-between category that sometimes gets pegged as “recreational cycling.” We have a subscription to Bicycling, but I laugh at its excesses. I bicycle mostly because it’s the only kind of exercise I’ve ever been amused by. I like it. I don’t do it for a particular purpose, aside from getting outdoors and staying healthy. I probably log more miles in a year than purely recreational cyclists do, but otherwise it’s my category.

Still, when you come down to it, I would like to be in better shape for the cycling season. (Unlike professional athletes, I mean “season” quite literally, as in, the season that it is warm enough for me to cycle outdoors.) I also have a love for plans and schedules and a lot of time on my hands. Dedicated training plans seem so suspicious, though–so very “fake pro,” which is a trend in road cycling that I despise. I wonder where the line between “fake pro” and “schedules help me exercise better” really is?

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