2020 in Review: What did you discover about your cycling self?

What a doozie of a year THAT was! :scream:

Of course, none us expected what happened to happen, and all our best laid plans went out the window. Looking back (hindsight is 20/20…ha ha…), what did you discover or learn about your cycling self/bike life that you wouldn’t have if times were normal?

For me, the two biggies were: 1) the power of long endurance rides and 2) volume is king.*

I had a lot of free time for most of the year and put it to good cycling use. The results were far more than I would have guessed. I’m trying to continue the trend for as long as possible before we return to the old normal, hopefully it takes me somewhere good!

*my 2020 TiZ stats (so far) which delivered a whole whack o’ all-time PRs and increased and extended my entire power curve:

2020 power

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@Captain_Doughnutman great question.

I learnt that:

  • I have a LOT to learn about nutrition
  • Sleep really is my best friend
  • I’m NOT just a sprinter.

Back in April/May time, @ambermalika recommended that we approach our training with curiosity. I did just that. I think I’m only just beginning to reap the rewards.

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  • Started doing vo2 work in a less formal, more “jam it up a hill and coast back down a few times” kind of way and found out I was leaving a bunch on the table by just trying to hit a target power. Always struggled with vo2 sessions, so it was a surprise to see myself surpassing the TR targets and still making big gains week by week.

  • I was a lot more liberal with adjusting the intensity up or down based on how I felt on the day. This was a game changer for HV training, particularly with regards to tri plans I think.

  • on that note, I’m way better at backing up hard bike sessions with hard run sessions than I thought. Feels like ass for the first 10 minutes, then I’m back to ripping hill repeats like normal.

  • got Strava and Zwift, turned out I have a way bigger ego than I thought.

  • Fasted workouts do nothing for me and make me sad.

  • Jalapeño Cheetos are not a good pre ride snack.

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Well on the other hand I learned I’m still a working stiff and doing my best to fit cycling into a week :man_shrugging: got tired of the idea I should be doing more intervals and found a better way forward.

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How much fun it is to explore your own country! With the lack of events there was no motivation for me to keep up structured training during the summer. And swanky bike vacations were and obvious no no, too.
So I just set out during the summer doing long rides to a different corner of the country every time. By now I covered about 40% of the country! (Measured in the number of different municipalities I cycled through).
I lost about 30 Watts from my FTP in the process, but that’s alright😄

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Back info…I have a variable schedule. Meaning, sometimes I work at night then early in the morning a couple days later. Some weeks I am gone (for work) four days in a row while other weeks maybe two days. Days free of work are variable as well. One week I may have 5 days off in a row and the next only two. Weekly and monthly schedules are never the same. Since the pandemic I was essentially free from Mid March to December (now back at it). With unlimited time to train/ride:

  1. Sleep and recovery is easy and makes a noticeable difference. I didn’t realize how utterly fatigued I was from my job and trying to fit in the training.

  2. I better defined how much intensity I can handle/week.

  3. I respond and can handle SST really well.

  4. Getting old is a curse…HR metrics on the decline even though power metrics are stable or increasing (go into red quicker).

  5. I’m super extrinsically motivated.

Many other things I picked up on with regards to how long I need to get say to 95% of peak performance. Following a plan is important but, if there are rides or events that don’t line up it makes no sense to miss them. Having fun is more important than hitting numbers for me.

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  1. I learned that I really enjoy the process of training.

  2. I’m a total geek, first year with a power meter, and I’m hooked!

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My first year cycling so a year of firsts but my biggest takeaway is that you really have no idea of what you’re capable of doing or where your limits are.

Looking back, I did 2:15 of tempo (Mount Bond +1) on Sunday at what used to be my anaerobic power.

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2020 taught me a lot about myself as a cyclist/triathlete.

I learned that I really love the process of training, from doing the workouts to experiment with new nutrition strategies, gear, I really just enjoy the whole thing

I also learned that I really like to ride indoors on the trainer. At the beginning of the year, I saw it as a grim necessity for efficient training, but never thought I’d be choosing indoor vs outdoor workouts as I often do now.

I learned that I can withstand far longer rides on the trainer than I ever thought. I remember one of my first “long ride” attempts on the trainer last December, and I bailed after about 90 minutes thinking this was the limit of what I could do inside. Then in August I rode Mianzimu indoors (5hr endurance ride) with a single bathroom break, in what was a defining workout of the year.

And I’ve learned a ton about the importance of routine, physical activity, goal setting, and countless other lessons that carry over to all aspects of my life.

I really will look back fondly on 2020 as a year of great personal growth, and TR was a big part of that. Thank you, TR!

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Yup. I used to be more of a mad scientist in this regard, no reckless challenge was off limits! That phase was fun(?) but yes, in 2020 I adopted I much more healthy curiosity, applying structured experimentation to my riding.

Yes! Although living in one of largest countries, this is a bit of a big ask. I did, however, explore lots of local roads, paths, and neighbourhoods that I never would have in a normal year. #urbangravel

Yup. Pre-2020 I probably lumped all riding together, even the “fun” rides had to be numbers based. Now, there’s a definite split between ‘training for performance’ and ‘riding for fun’.

:

Bonus discoveries/(re-)learnings: exploration and fun!
Basically the two things which most of us discovered as kids on our very first bike ride!

2021 goals should probably be more wheelies and more skids! :laughing:
Oh, and a playing card in the spokes. :wink:

image

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Nutrition. This has been my biggest failure (ignored opportunity for growth) during my 15 year cycling journey.

I spent a lot of time with nutrition this year…listening, reading, experimenting, customizing, improving, learning, repeat.

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If only tires weren’t soooo expensive!

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Well… in January I had Open heart surgery (Aortic valve replacement) So spent a lot of time trying to figure out what life after OHS would be like. My FTP did drop :rofl. In all seriousness having reasonable goals is much better than goals too big that can’t be met. one can ride indoors too much. Get outside and ride that is why we all do this! I really miss the social aspect of group rides. Finally there is nothing like a new bike to fire up motivation.

Honorable mention fueling workouts really does work.

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That for me cycling is still about getting outside with friends, doing group rides, and attacking KOMs/segments, rather than be stuck in an endless cycle of training for the next training plan so I can maybe go to a race in 2021. I was excited to race in 2020 but had so much fun that I don’t really care that everything was cancelled and have 0 races or events on my schedule for next year, rather just training to be a better cyclist in the scary real world with air and automobiles

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As an introvert, I really realized the difference between me (who gets his energy and satisfaction from being in nature or having some quiet time) and most cyclists I know who get their energy from the social aspect of cycling. COVID has really impacted their happiness.

This then translated to a massive learning at my job, where people are constantly asking me to go to dinners and happy hours, while I would prefer quiet down time after work. Work trips are exhausting for me because I want to walk and explore the city or relax in a park while my coworkers would rather get hammered and sleep as little as possible. It never occurred to me that they do those things because it gives them energy and motivation to be in loud and busy environments, whereas I get that energy and motivation from being AWAY from the crowd.

I don’t mean that as judgement, simply that it was eye opening for me and will change the way I assess situations.

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That I really enjoy the training process, and spent more time with the family working from home. it also allowed me to finally be disciplined and be consistent (latter half of the year).

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I learned that without a goal ahead, i fall apart.

Still had more hours cycling than the year before when i had goals.

I learned that im able to wake up early to cycle…if it’s after sunrise lol

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That a stiff, ‘aero’ road bike loses its appeal on our crappy road surfaces, and a bit of flex in the seat-post goes a long, long way to reducing fatigue :smiley:

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That I can multi-task. I bought myself an OONTZ and started watching YouTube videos that I finally could hear over my fans (computer speakers are lousy). Intervals are easier when your mind is elsewhere :smile:

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That even at 28 all this sitting infront of the pc everyday and beeing on the bike 6-10 hours a week is pretty unhealthy for your back and core. It‘s not something that magically popped into my mind during this year - I knew that before. But now I finally got around doing strenght training on a weekly basis and incorporated it into my trainingplan.

Having a dedicated space to set up my bike/trainer is key for me to train consistently. Therefore I moved my stuff from the app to the basement where I don‘t have to set it up for every session.

Stock TR plans are good, but custom are better for me. I like to stay flexibel and adjust volume and intensity on a weekly basis.

Apparently I can tolerate much more volume than I thought and I no longer fear intensive back to back days as I did before. Moving up from the low volume plans + a little extra to mid volume plans + a little extra will be interesting for 2021. As well as having our firstborn next summer and all the changes that come with becoming a parent.

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