A bike ride by any other name would smell as sweet… or would it?
What makes a bike ride so desirable in May, or on that first warm Saturday of the season? What is it about them that makes you want to go on them?
What makes you choose your route in the first place?
Is your route decided by distance?
Thirty miles isn’t always thirty miles though. Thirty miles of mountains is way different than thirty miles of flats. Sometimes you want the mountains, but sometimes you want to do that two mile straightaway to test your speed. Taking your time on a ride can really stretch out a few miles to take hours. Of course you could also skinsuit and aero helmet the highway to have an average of 25mph. These are all small things you contemplate when pumping up your tires and stashing the co2 and tire irons in your rear pockets.
Terrain has a big role in what makes a bike ride what it is. You can’t ride your twelve pound Scott Addict on babyhead gravel meant for a full suspension (well, you can but…) You also tend to take your lightest steeds when there is a ton of climbing unless you are a pain addict. But when you start thinking about terrain in terms of pavè versus off-road, this brings up another topic…
The Bikes themselves. Your bike makes a huge deal on what kind of ride you decide to go on. If you ride your full carbon bike to the summit of Mt. GoFarkYourself with your buddies, you sure as heck will not take it up the mountain. It’s just silly. Same thing with doing a TTT with your full suspension bike, Both of these ideas are just crazy and bikes really do have certain purposes. Mountain bikes are decent on road, but cannot sustain speed. Your road bike can do a lot more than you typically use it for, but complications can occur. A cross bike, or… oh goodness… (should I say it?) a hybrid bike really are bikes you can take just about anywhere, but aren’t great at anything.
What about congestion of vehicles surrounding you? The traffic, other than weather and terrain is number one in my book for deciding which way to go on a ride. Although rural roads in West Virginia typically aren’t that congested… I will still avoid certain roads at certain times or certain days/seasons. Its just common sense to not go around roads that come off of highway intersections right after work. Same thing with ANY WALMART around 5:00 in the area.
With all of these pieces of the puzzle put together, I have decided that as long as the ride follows a certain elevation profile, it makes everyone happy. I have come up with a bike ride profile that will be perfect for just about anyone.
This path starts with a steady climb that gets the heart rate going. Once you are at the apex of the climb, it goes into a short but gnarly downhill that will let you rest, but keep you excited. The flat ride keeps you in a steady pace, and this is when the PRO riders kick it into high gear. The climb back out of the valley really let people see who is who. The rocky, rolly terrain back home is to finish off the ride and make your legs hurt, but it is okay… you’re almost home.
With any kind of bike ride, this profile works perfectly. Road, Mountain, Singlespeed, Cross… Whatever. Writing this post has finally made me decide…
For me, the elevation makes a ride. The thrills of the downhill, the excitement of the paceline on the flats, the grueling endurance shown on the climbs. These are the things we learn to love. Cavendish loves his sprints. Dave Zabriskie? You know he loves the flats too. Andy Schleck is fantastic on the climbs and hasn’t really specialized himself as anything though.Who can forget Vinokourov’s descents after major climbs? The varying types of elevation all balanced, yet encompassed into one ride make it perfect. These are the moments we love. These are the moments we remember. These moments are what make great bike rides.