There is simplicity in riding a bike. Almost everyone grew up on two wheels, the bike a rite of passage and the first taste of freedom. Who doesn't remember hopping on a bike and just pedaling away? Life was simple. Life was fun. Two wheels and a helmet - that was all we needed.

It's amazing that something so simple becomes so complicated when we got older. No more just hopping on the bike and heading off for adventures. Everything is planned and plotted. Every detail organized, accounted for and recorded. We have computers that tell us how long we rode, how many miles we covered and how many feet we climbed. If you're lucky, the gadgets will also tell you how hard you are working and how fast your heart is beating. Every inch of the ride measured for later analyzing. It's all useful data for sure, especially when training and racing. I've been using a power meter for the last six months and I love it. It's really refined my workouts and has provided me with more data then I can imagine. It's my favorite toy for sure and staring at the numbers after a workout is addicting. But what happens when the gadgets stop working? When the HR monitor goes on the fritz and starts reading in the high 200s? Or the batteries in the Garmin aren't charged and there's a gap in the data? Or when the power meter conks out and reads ridiculously low? After becoming trained to follow the numbers for every ride, what happens? Can today's tech addicted two wheeled freaks reconnect with the dirt and ride on feel alone? OR will the rides and races be considered "wasted efforts" because there's no data and no pretty lines on the charts? Nick's been harping on me about that the last few months - concerned that I'm letting my toys dictated the ride, not the other way around. Because it's the ride that should pick the bike - the right tool for the right trails. I'm not sure he believed me when I assured him I was riding my bike, not riding for the numbers.

Then comes 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest. My biggest race of the year. Of course I want all the data I can use to make sure I'm racing smart. And looking at the trends after the race - learning for the next time. We get to Gallup and head off to pre-ride. And my power meter has chosen that moment to go on the fritz, reading super low - 30 watts when climbing. Did what I could in the middle of the woods, but realized that I would be riding numberless for 24 hours. No problem. Return the racing to the simplicity of pedaling without anything but how I feel to follow. And that's exactly what I did. Instead of following the numbers at the start, I followed my fellow solo women. Instead of worrying about how fast I was climbing or how many watts I was sustaining, I rode what felt right for that moment. I followed the trail, followed the knowledge in my legs and mind of what was too hard or two slow, what was safe and what was pushing the limits. I rode through heat - monitoring my physical status mentally instead of with the numbers. I dressed for rain and watched the lightening crackling around me - analyzing the raindrops in my lights instead of the kJs I was burning. I slithered through the mud, feeling sorry for my bike, but having fun. It was serious racing, but I was just riding my bike - not staring at the numbers. And unlike at other races, because those numbers weren't staring back at me, I just kept riding. Never discouraged by how slow I was riding or how low the watts were. I didn't let the lack of data drag me down. I embraced the chance to follow my heart and listen to the internal, innate data  points guiding my race. And I had fun. Even in the mud, I was smiling. How can you not smile about the idiocy of it all - riding through the rain, lightening and wheel sucking clay for what? A jersey. A jersey I wanted bad enough that I would have kept riding if the race hadn't been held.

And that is really what racing and riding is all about. It's not the numbers, not the statistics. Those are for later, after the partying and fun is over. Riding is about suffering with friends, the simple act of turning the cranks for as long as you can - or want. Having fun and enjoying the moment.

But I still want my power meter working again!!!


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