Yesterday’s ride took me through the east end not far from the route I took to the Leslie Spit last week. A bit before I hit busy Queen Street my directions take me in to a quiet residential street. A mom and a group of about 8 kids playing in the street move out of my way as I pass a sign on one home’s lawn for Kaitlyn’s 12th birthday celebration.
Around the corner I arrive at my destination. the Doll House. Some people grow flowers in their garden but outside this home dolls, tchotchkes and frisbees grow extremely well and have been for quite some time.
As I had a bit of time and wanted to get some more riding in, I headed down to the lake near Ashbridges Bay. There were quite a few people, particularly at the beach but if you got a little bit further from the parking area you got some space to yourself.
On the way home I noticed something. Compared to riding inside on the trainer, this ride is relatively easy. Don’t get me wrong, my heart rate is responding, it is definitely exercise, but I’m holding something back. Part of that is due to the nature of outdoor cycling. Unlike indoor cycling, you can coast on flats and downhills. And it isn’t a race or a group workout. Nobody is watching to see if you’re giving 100% or even 80%. (I was giving about 50%, truth be told). Two questions came to mind. The first is ‘Why am I holding something back on a ride that is meant to improve my fitness?’ and the second is ‘What would happen if I gave 100%?’ And so, on the trip home I decided to do just that: Ignore the impulse to coast or hold back. To push through discomfort in my legs and my getting winded and just go.
You can see in the graph where that happened. The first third is a ‘normal’ ride. My heart rate is hovering around 135. It’s exercise but it isn’t that tough. In the middle is my riding around the park. There were lots of pedestrians and children walking around erratically. It would be impossible to safely push myself there. But then, you can see the moment where I decided to apply myself fully to my efforts. My lowest heart rate during that stage was higher than my highest on the way to the lake. And the results were as expected: My speed was about the same going home, uphill as it was going downhill on the way to the lake.
It’s a great illustration of just how much, in this one instance, I am holding back as a general rule, and what benefits can be gained from not holding back. And with repeated efforts like this, how much would my capabilities improve as well? What would happen if I did this in every aspect of my life? What if I did this in my writing, my running, my cooking, or my day to day work? With only a finite number of days to spend in this life, why would we do anything else?