You Spin Me Round

“Each human life is like a new symphony heard for the first time. It can’t be understood or fully appreciated until after the final cadence.”

-Alan Harris

This weekend’s training rides provided a lesson that I hope to carry over into my day-to-day life: keep it simple. If I focus on my cadence–I can get to my final destination faster and probably with a stronger performance.

Bike Path in Concord/Lincoln near Route 2--Just off of Airport Road
Bike Path in Concord/Lincoln near Route 2– Just off of Airport Road

In the last two days, Wuggs and I have biked in excess of 80 miles. Creatures of habit, we have stuck to our favorite roads in between Somerville, Bedford, Carlisle, Concord, and Lincoln.

I’ve been having trouble with me bike computer. I find that the more I WANT to rely on measuring my speed and distance–that I keep pressing inaccurate buttons or accidentally moving my magnetic gear. Electronic devices–I think that you can measure a person’s age by their aptitude for using programs and gadgets. I used to make fun of my mom and her generation for their seemingly inability to “get with the times.” And now I find myself a victim to the same technology issues. I think this means that I’m officially at the peak of my adult experience!

Today I was messing with the odometer/speedometer on my computer. I give Wuggs mad props for inherently understanding how to tiptoe (and sometimes do the marine crawl) around my wildly swinging moods. What can I say? I’m Italian!

There I was, silently fuming, pushing my buttons harder and faster (like that would make a difference)….and there Wuggs was watching the fuse burn closer and closer to detonator. Moments before the explosion, she offered a simple but brilliant solution:

“MAC, we’re only riding to Bedford and back. We already know that’s 25 miles. Can we just make a pact to have the bike shop look at this at a later date?”

Wow–my wife really is a calm and collected innovative thinker. Why didn’t I think of that?!

I let it go. And it was good for my ride because I funneled all that pent up frustration into my cycling and made some serious headway in gaining speed today.

Although the computer did not read speed and distance–almost magically, it was able to accurately track cadence. In cycling terms, cadence is the number of revolutions of the pedal crank per minute. I learned from my recent visits to Back Bay Bicyles that touring cyclists (like me) should aim for 85-100 rpm (pedal revolutions per minute). This is a great article on the subject of form and technique for getting the most out of your cycling:


Back to my faulty computer system….and by this, I mean the one on my bike and the one in my head!

Well it turns out that my crotchety bike computer was about the best “coach” that I could have today. Usually I’m tracking my speed, distance, and cadence all at once while I cycle. The result is that I have a vague idea of all and I’m really not performing at my optimum with any.

On this trip, I decided to focus all my attention on my cadence. My goal was to keep my cadence between 80 and 95. I actually kept my gears on pretty low levels to maintain this cadence. Usually, I have my gears set as high as I can because this gives me the illusion that I’m actually going faster. What I learned today is that–even if I’m cycling on a lower gear–as long as I maintained my cadence to 80 and above, I reached my final destination in 3/4 of the time it usually takes. For example, it usually takes me about one hour to reach the end of the minute man bike trail from my house. Today, I reached it in 45 minutes!

What a lesson! This simplification of a goal can translate to other areas in my life. I can be so distractable–especially since I finished graduate school in May. I’m so used to multitasking that sometimes it feels like I’m accomplishing many things–but only at an average level. I would like to experiment with my projects at work (when I return from my conference in DC next week) by breaking up my daily schedule in 15-3o minute chunks and then completely focusing on one task at at time. I look forward to measuring my performance after this test!


This is an entry from th adventurous, thoughtful and occasionally humorous journal of my training escapades in preparation for two great century bike rides: Harbor to the Bay and El Tour de Tucson.  To find out more information or to make a pledge, visit our home blog, The Amazing Adventures of Two Girls on a Bike.


About themacdoodle

Communications Manager, Creative Strategist, Community Builder, & Possibility Agent
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