Monday, March 22, 2010
It's Coming Back
It's coming back. Not the fitness, but the spin and the stroke. For the first time since getting back on the bike a week and a half ago, I feel like I have got the spin back. The fitness will take much longer.
When I first got on the bike 10 days ago, I felt like I had that classic pedaling-in-squares motion - all hurky-jerky and not really feeling like I was connected to the bike at all - like my legs, my body and the bike were all disconnected and moving in different directions. However, a week of dedicated focus on the spin has resulted in a quick turnaround and now the pedals feel like they are going round!
Over the years people who I have ridden with have always told me that I had a smooth pedal stroke - that I looked good on the bike. For this, I have to thank the wheels of the many really good riders I have sat on over the years. All I was trying to do was copy how they rode. One of those wheels, was the wheel of former 7-11 Pro Team rider and the first North American to wear the Tour de France Yellow Jersey, Alex Stieda( pictured above on the left). When I first moved to Vancouver in the early '90's Alex, then semi retired, rode occasionally, with the group of roadies and triathletes I rode with. Sitting on the wheel of a rider like Alex you see the efficiency, not only of the spin and the stroke, but of the whole body. No matter what he's doing, the pedals keep turning over in that ultra-smooth metronome style - up-hill, downhill, on the flats, reaching for a bottle, shifting gears, fetching something from the pocket of his jersey and so on. It never changes. He looked so comfortable and at ease on the bike.
I was thinking of Alex this week. It was 25 years ago this Spring that, Alex and the 7-11 team made their debut in Professional Cycling - the first American based team made up of almost all American( and a Canadian, Alex) riders. This really was the beginning of the long hard road that led to the greatness and success of Greg Lemond, and subsequently and obviously, Lance Armstrong!
I have ridden with many others as well who have great form and style on the bike. My good friend Vince Beretta is one. He's another one with that buttery smooth pedal stroke. I have sat on his wheel on so many long rides, I have lost count. Vince is former top triathlete who was an uber-cyclist in the sport before we even knew what an uber-cyclist was. Whenever I am riding behind a rider like Vince, I am always trying to visualize, that form in my head and transfer it to what I am doing on the bike.
So, in 10 days and 7 rides, I have focused on form. I have concerned myself little with what gear I am in or how fast I am going or what my heart-rate was, I just focused on turning those pedals over as smoothly and efficiently as I could. This morning, I rode the rollers for about an hour and for the first time since getting back into it, I felt that connection between my legs, the bike and my body. I felt good. Now I have to build the fitness back. That's going to be a longer road!