“It never gets easier, you just go faster.” –Greg LeMond
I think of this a lot, and there is a good amount of truth in those words. It can be hard to measure progress, especially when you’re not necessarily on the lookout for it all the time. I’m not obsessed with getting faster. I don’t use Strava and I hardly ever time my rides. Sure, I’ve thought about it—doing the same loop on a regular basis, or the same big climb to the top of the mountain by our house, or the same route to town and back, and quantitatively measuring my improvement (or maybe lack thereof). But usually when it comes time to ride, I forget about all of that, and just go. Lately I’ve gotten into using MapMyRide, especially for road rides, but mainly because I am curious about distances and elevations more than times.
This is not at all to say I don’t try. It’s rare that I don’t go for it 100%. But, with only my own judgement and perspective to work with, I usually don’t notice how much stronger I’ve become or how my skills have improved until I nail a move or clean a familiar rock garden that I know has given me significant difficulty in the past, or when I make it up a steep hill that I never could before, or when a climb seems a little less lung-busting and thigh-burning than it did previously.
In those moments, I typically feel like the girl in this video. I realize that yes, my riding has improved over the past two years, even though most of the time, I feel like I’m just as tired and beat up as I’ve always been. I guess I’m just going faster.