There are lots of reasons for riding and lots of different kinds of bikes to do it on. Even within major groups of bikes that include: road, mountain, bmx and casual/commuting there are infinite sub-groups of bicycles depending on use and requirements. Then there are all the different types of equipment within the subgroups to further specialize a bicycles use. And all of this because everyone is enjoys riding a specific way for specific reasons.
Some like hard-short efforts, some are technical riders, some like long touring rides, high jumps, racing and leisurely riding. Even within a fairly specific type of riding there are people that will focus on different aspects, generally those they enjoy or excel at. In a road race some people will focus/excel at climbing while others look to sprinting down the flats and still others look forward to technical down-hills.
Very competitive cyclists will train measuring various metrics, looking for improvements in their specialties and improving their weaknesses. Here again there are as many theories and training programs as there are cyclists. Lately I have seen a lot of numbers coming in from different riders, from faster speeds, to shorter times to better power that have been attained for the year.
For myself, I know that I’m faster. I have very few numbers that show that directly but there are some. I have set new speed/time records on my commute and I was far faster on the HPC (over 30 minutes) this year. I travel at a higher rate of speed on average and climb much better. In high power groups I can hold my own both on climbs and flats; I’m not the fastest at either but I can stay with the front group for both.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely a lot of riders that climb faster, ride faster, longer and generally better. Had I started riding competitively when I was younger and made different choices concerning my health I could probably have been a fairly competitive Cat 1 or 2 as a GC. But I didn’t and I’m not so I have to work with what I have. I will probably never measure metrics closely as I don’t need to, I just need to add to my general fitness and focus on my general abilities.
So part of it comes down to why RAAM; why if I’m in the 10% of the riders in this area in my category and maybe only the top 25% (if that) in the world is there not a lot more people at RAAM and why am I? One piece is that I am fairly well rounded; I can jump out and catch another rider, I can climb, I can ride for long periods and I am a pretty good technical rider. Another part is that I can and do push myself very hard, recover and push hard again. I also want to do this where a lot of others simply don’t. I don’t expect to win, simply succeed.
I do have work to do to get into better physical shape, but I probably won’t be measuring a lot metrics to do so. The biggest issue I have to work on is pacing. I tend to push too hard; part of the issue that I had on the S2S. I made great time into Orondo and then suffered. I need to back off my pacing a bit on longer rides and do a better job of resting and feeding. That over everything else is going to be the metric I measure; did I ride the ride I was on and pace for it.