TCI Friday

You know how this works. It’s an audience participation thing. I set a scene, ask a question, and you answer below. It’s how we get to know each other. It’s how we figure out what the hell is going on.

I’ve been fitter than I am right now. In fact, for a long time, a few decades probably, I was much fitter than I ever knew. You can lose sight of what’s normal when you’re surrounded by monomaniacal cyclists, and all those years when I could big-ring steep climbs or bang out 50-miles on a Wednesday morning, I still had this conception of myself as fairly middling.

But I was extraordinary, albeit nothing special inside the cycling bubble.

Although I’m still, at least tangentially, in the bike business, a lot has changed. I don’t ride to work every day anymore, because I work from home. That cuts out a ton of base miles, and because I live on top of a hill, a bunch of useful vertical feet, too. I don’t travel around the country to call on bike shops either, which means I’m not enjoying the popular game “thrash the rep,” which is where the folks at a shop invite you out to sample their local riding and then bury you.

I’m no longer in the bubble, but maybe just on it.

Now in my 52nd lap of the sun, I have a tremendous base of mileage and experience. I have muscle memory, and I know enough to ride within my limits. The spring has sprung here in New England, and despite the mix of cold rain and unexpected sun, I’m building myself back up for the season, and it’s going ok. I’m keenly aware of what I no longer am, at the same time realizing that I used to be quite something.

Right now, I’m 5-out-of-10, with 10 representing not the best I ever was, but rather the best I can be right now. I’m middling me, but on an upward trajectory toward something pretty good.

This week’s TCI Friday wonders, how fit are you right now? Give us a number out of 10. Is your number low because the season is just starting, or high because you’re season never ends?

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Join the conversation
  1. alanm9 says

    So, the range is personal for every rider, got it. I’ve been commuting all winter but the weekends have been on a suck cycle, so I only just turned over 1K miles for 2023 last week, way below average. On that basis I’m at about 6. Hoping to get my first century in this month, then I’ll have a better idea.

  2. tcfrog says

    I’d say a 7/10. I haven’t been riding as much as I should have considering I have a race in less than a month, but I have been staying active in other ways, and with a few good training rides should be able to get myself to a fitness level that will let me finish in the first half of riders. I might not compete for the win (except in the Clydesdale division) but I won’t be in anyone’s way either.

  3. Wyatt says

    4 with a realistic window to peak at 7 this year with a little bit of luck. This is solely based on the reality of the rider I am this year with no historical context (which would surely drive these numbers lower).

  4. John Rezell says

    I seem to go out of my way to crank it up slowly at the start each year. This year the weather really sucks — not just more rain but generally colder all day — and that combines with my decision to be more of a whimp about weather so I’m probably a 4 with a forecast of 8 by the end of July

  5. Jeff vdD says

    6 of 10 …

    … where 8 is as high as I WILL get this year and 10 is as high as I COULD get this year.

    My 13-week Tue/Thu 80 min trainer sessions just finished yesterday, hence the 6 and not 3. But still work to be done for an end-of-July 3-day MTB stage race.

  6. rides in be says

    I have not been consistent enough on the trainer or willing to brave enough cold rain to feel great at this point in the year. That said we have had a mild spring in the southern mountains of Appalachia so I have put in some distance and that is not normal for this time of year.

  7. trabri says

    The last few years has been middling year round. Not what I used to be but good enough to feel healthy and able.

  8. khal spencer says

    At 69 1/2 laps around the sun, I won’t pretend to look or feel like I did in my thirties. I wake up and don’t see my name in the obituaries, so that is good. January and February were slow months due to lousy weather and some health issues. In March I hit my mileage milestone and now am ahead of it in April. I would say I am at 6 or 7 and need to work on endurance, as strength is pretty good. If I get to 8, that’s all fine.

    It is not about racing or competing with others any more or proving something to myself or others. Been there, done that. I’m just not letting my fitness go down the drain and want to be able to get on one of the bikes and have it feel great. It is about getting on the bike, hitting the steep hills on the north side of Santa Fe, and saying “damn, that felt good, bring on another”.

  9. TominAlbany says

    I’m about a 3. And I’ve got a 40 mile gravel thrash coming up in 8 days.
    Recently divorced (can you say that after 1-1/2 years?) and having changed jobs to an industry that is pure time-lines and over-committing. I don’t ride much on the weeks the kids are with me and don’t have the energy after work for much anyway – if there-s actually any time after work.
    I’m curious to see what happens this year. I’ll be 58 and ‘slowing down’ activity wise and not by choice – at the wrong time…

    1. khal spencer says

      Took me several years to get over a divorce. The solution was to ride lots to clear the head. Oh, and get my shit together to finish my dissertation. Good luck with that. I feel what you are saying.

  10. Rosé Dave says

    I’m a 10. Why? Because I’m doing the best I can to fit riding in with other areas of my life, i.e. family, work and my other interests. I could have forced more saddle time into 2023 so far but the things I would have needed to sacrifice were too costly to give up. I’m slower now than I was a few years ago. I haven’t won a race in my local mountain bike series yet, as I have in years past. I’m heavier now than I was when I was at my fastest. None of that matters. My riding is just what I want it to be right now.

    I won’t be a 10 if my fitness is the same in 3 months. Spring is the time to get fitter, meaning that my best now is different than the peak I want to hit later this year. Measuring that annual evaluation is a task for another day. Right now, I’m satisfied with what I am.

  11. dr sweets says

    6.6…my season never ends. While I have continued to at least get in a few rides a week and usually a visit to my gym, I could be much stronger and weigh less. That said, I am riding pretty damn well in terms of my ability to keep going and my bike handling is as good as it’s ever been. As a type 1 diabetic for the last forty years it’s a constant battle to stay within the window of ideal energy use during exercise efforts and that window has remained a moving target my whole life. I’m not satisfied, but I’m okay and I still have fun.

  12. Antonio da Silva says

    I’m (57) stagnated for the last two years do to a Chronicle leg muscle fatigue that I cannot figure out why. Every ride takes a long time to recover and muscle pain is always there (even if not riding for 2 weeks).
    But, I keep on riding and I’m not totally unhappy with the overall fitness status.

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