Measuring Your Success

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I’ll Preface with a Montage

One of the greatest montages of all time is in Rocky IV. A cinematic masterpiece where Rocky Balboa trains for the big fight by furiously sawing logs and chopping trees, hurling giant boulders, doing pull-ups in a barn in front of a roaring fire, pulling a dog sled weighted down by his drunken brother-in-law Paulie Pennino, and trudging knee-deep through treacherous, moderately deep snow with a tree trunk on his back. John Cafferty’s “Hearts on Fire” blazes in the background. Meanwhile, Ivan Drago is surrounded by personal trainers and scientists with all the advanced training-technology money could buy in 1985.

When I was a kid, that scene meant I didn’t need expensive, top-of-the-line gear to be good at something. All I needed was my wits and the will to . . . the will to . . .  what was I talking about?

Phase I

OK, it helps to stay focused and for me that’s no easy task. I was reluctant to dive into the whole bike computer world.  I didn’t want little floating numbers interrupting my user experience. It was important to me to disconnect and enjoy the ride. And it still is, but after a while I started to wonder how many miles I was riding and how fast I was moving. Enter phase two of my revitalized bike life. I downloaded an app that provided me the data I was curious about: Speed, Time, Distance and Calories Burned.

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Phase II

After a few months of tracking my rides those numbers started to look pretty interesting. What I discovered was, as I accumulated my training data I became increasingly more motivated in improving my stats. This lead to an increase in activity and ultimately a fun and personal game that I seem to still be playing. I’m not entirely certain if I’m winning or losing, but what I do know is, since I started tracking my rides,  my riding experience has been elevated to a whole new level.

Since my journey into the realm of bike computers, my curiosity has evolved into figuring out what I need to do change those numbers in order to achieve specific goals. For example, I still have 10 pounds (OK, more like 20) I need to shed and now I have measurements I can rely upon to help me focus and achieve that goal.

Phase III

When I first started tracking my rides, Strava’s app was all I used. After a while, I wanted a dedicated device on my bike with more versatility, features and upgrades and the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT seemed like a great way to advance to the next level. Now I have all the standard data I’ve been using, plus additional info like cadence and global maps, but more importantly, a host of fully compatible options like Strava Live, power meters and KICKR smart trainer controls. It’s even compatible with electronic gear shifters and muscle oxygen sensors. A power meter seems like the next logical step for me and seeing as winter is right around the corner and I don’t have a trainer, I like that the Bolt is compatible with Wahoo’s smart trainers. It’s also the only legit aerodynamic bike computer out there, which Wahoo claims can save you 1.5 watts. To me, this isn’t such a huge deal, but it’s still a pretty cool feature. What I’ve enjoyed the most about my experience with the Bolt is its ease of use and simplicity. You really don’t need to fuss with it much. It syncs up easily with your phone and other applications and is very intuitive to operate. While I have yet to experience all the possibilities the Bolt has to offer, it’s nice to know that the options are there and waiting.

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Phase IV

I was invited on a group ride where I immediately realized my health and skill level in relationship to other riders. Long story short, I made it back with the rest of them and I made it back in one piece, but not without humility. What I learned from this little experience is I’m making progress, but there’s still much more work to be done. From time to time, it’s not a bad idea to measure yourself up against others. They, more than likely, will leave you in the dust, but that’s OK. In the cycling community, this is done in a fairly civilized manner and most are more than willing to be helpful and encouraging along the way. That’s what’s so great about this sport or recreation or whatever you want to call it. If you’re like me, it can be hard to get out of your comfort zone, but good things happen when you do and I’m convinced they can only get better.

Moving Forward

Today I got back on the bike after about a week of not riding. I felt like I had made some significant progress in the past couple weeks, only to be slowed down by life’s little detours. Once you have momentum it can be tough to bounce back. But then I remind myself that life is filled with constant setbacks, false starts, do-overs and the like. It’s important to keep your eye on the prize, whatever it may be. (John Cafferty’s “Hearts on Fire” blazes in the background)

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