…it’s not a beauty queen…
Monday through Friday I ride my bike through 10 miles of mixed Hills every morning just after sunrise. It’s a full-on sprint. Each outing I ride at roughly 95% of my highest capacity for that course.
On Sundays though, I ride a flat round-trip of 26 miles from Bonsall to Ocenaside, ending at the water’s edge where I take a moment to honor the sea before I turn back inland. My Sunday ride is not a sprint, just a steady pace in an enjoy the scenery kinda way..
For the 20 months or so since I have been using this protocol, one inconsistency has stood out on my flat, 26-mile Sunday ride, yet I had not figured out the reason for this inconsistency until a few days ago.
Despite that my route to the coats is flat, and that the wind is usually at my back, my return trip from the coast is always, ALWAYS slower than my ride going there. I average roughly 19MPH headed west, and 17.5MPH on my return.
One might immediately attribute this to tired legs, and that might make some sense. Also, stopping for a few moments at the halfway point to take in the sight of the ocean does me no favors. And there is the psychology involved with turning back — the dreary trip home mentality. So, it’s easy to assume that my return trip would be slower and pass it off as the combination of a mental and physical letdown.
One problem though, I’m an athlete. I train, eat, and prepare like an athlete, especially before my Sunday morning ride. To my way of thinking, there’s no reason that my 13 miles coming back should be any slower than my 13 miles getting there. In fact, the wind is usually against me headed to the coast, and at my back on my return. Still, I’m always slower on my coming back.
And equal distance. A flat ride. Proper nutrition prior to riding. The wind in my favor on the return. So, why am I always slower on the way back…?
Perception. Or should I say, misperception…?
You see, my flat ride is it really flat. I start at roughly 300 feet above sea level, and I end at sea level. Only now, after 20-months of riding this route, have paid attention to my GPS data. Now 300-feet of an elevation change over 13 miles is almost invisible. To look at this bike trail at any point along the way, it appears flat.
But it isn’t flat, and 300 feet of climbing, even if it’s over 13 miles, will impact cyclists of any level, and I am only an intermediate cyclist. This 300-feet climbing costs me about -1.5MPH on my return.
Of course this has nothing to do with cycling, and everything to do with human perception.
For 20-months I have assumed this ride was flat – – and it is never been flat. And that, THAT makes me wonder what other assumptions I make all day long that are incorrect or that am completely blind to …? Indeed… Jhciacb
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