Yogi Berra said, “90% of baseball is mental; the other half is physical”. Like many other “Yogiisms”, though logically incorrect, this one has an odd, zen-like quality.
He could easily be talking about riding time trials. You might have a good engine but if you don’t master the mental aspect, then it’s just … suffering. Actually it’s suffering in any case, but the ideal is to optimize it: just the right amount of discomfort over the given distance. Go out too fast and you die a horrible death. Go out too slow and you kick yourself for having “too much in the tank” at the end.
Learning how to do that takes some practice. The problem is: who wants to practice suffering? Bike riding is supposed to be fun. Why would you want to get on a bike just to ride until you feel like crap?
Fortunately (I suppose) the human mind is sometimes able to fool itself. There are a few tricks that, if nothing else, make the TT training doable. Thinking about this, here are the top tricks that seem to work for me.
First is to find a good stretch of road. Some roads just seem better for TT training. If I’m going hard and am constantly being buzzed by cars, or have to dodge bad pavement, then I get annoyed, get distracted, and then just think about how much I want to stop. Once I find a good route, then it just feels like a TT route. It feels right to go fast.
Everyone I know who TT’s has some kind of data that they look at. Ideally that’s a power meter. But a heart rate monitor, or even watching speed over a known course seems to work. Besides being an essential training tool, it’s an additional point of attention away from the discomfort.
Maybe the best trick — for me anyway — is to do some training TT’s. Like the Thursday night TT in Leroy Township. Once you know that someone is recording your time, and know you’re in competition with other riders, a switch goes on and the suffering is in a completely different context.
Now the fear is that having thought about and exposed the tricks, will they still continue to work?