Flat Rides

There is a big blob of land south of Nimes called the Camargue that is flat as a crepe (it’s the delta of the Rhone River) and I almost never ride there. Whenever I do, though, I think I should do it more. Not because it’s flat but because it’s pretty. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

I never do flat rides. I never ride on straight roads. It’s just the way my part of France is.

Well, yesterday I decided to do something different and ended up on the D135 south of the city and did as flat a ride as could manage (around 100 m of ‘climbing’). What I want to say about all this is that flat riding is hard; you have to pedal ALL THE TIME. My ass hurt, too, and it was only a 2 hour outing.

My rides are always ‘struggle up’ then ‘chill down’, giving me the chance to get off the saddle, freewheel and enjoy the scenery. On the ride yesterday I had to go hard ALL THE TIME because going easy was boring and it hurt more somehow. I also tended to want to get aero and even considered resting my elbows on the bars; something I’d never think to do on a normal ride.

I now understand why Classics riders are always called ‘hard men’. You have to be physically and mentally (especially mentally) strong to ride in these conditions. And there are people out there who do nearly all their rides on roads like these. You have my respect, sirs and madams.

10 thoughts on “Flat Rides

  1. Right on Gerry! Like most things in life, both hills and flats have their pro’s and con’s. In Southwestern Wisconsin, I haven’t found a flat road section longer than 5min (there is the off-road rail-to-trail which I may do more of) and the hills are great source of variety, scenery and potential for short “hurt.” Yet the flat roads around Chicago also have their benefits: definitely for fast, intense group rides (boy, do I miss our group rides! That excitement is not to be found by solo rides and I can’t see how that could be replicated in the hills as the group would also splinter on the first hill and that’d be it). Speed is fun; hills are fun.

    • Maybe that’s why I don’t do group rides over here, Jan. It’s not flat enough! I do understand what you say about ‘excitement’, though, from Haute Route and other events. And as you said everything is fun if it’s cycling!

  2. Well, isn’t this an interesting development! While it pleases me greatly to read these words I can’t help but point out there is a reason why a professional peleton arrives in a giant pack at the end of a flat ride and splinters to bits on a mountain stage. Mountains are hard. Still, I suppose it is possible there is an element of being used to a certain type of ride. You climb mountains for fun and do it regularly. I ride on the flats and could do so all day (as long as I had enough sugar donuts and Mountain Dew). When I occasionally have the opportunity to do more than 1,000m of climbing, it’s always an adventure. I guess what you do often becomes less challenging. But please don’t forget, I have trade-marked the “Flat Roads Tour” and may one day even use it!

    • You’re welcome to FlatRoad, Steve, at least for a few more years. If I get close to 60 and am still in the business I might need to consider a new ‘product’!

      All is relative. I find some mountains fun, but steep gradients are hard these days. I could actually see myself riding more flat in the future, especially if my ‘rouleur’ body doesn’t magically transform back into something resembling a climber soon!

  3. Hey, Gerry, we were on (another) flat ride on Sunday and had this exact same conversation.  Rich can give more details.  StokerSent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy Tablet

  4. Welcome to my world. We have notoriously strong winds in the Foothills of the Canadian Rockies, especially at this time of year. The winds are relentless and make you beg for mountains. If the winds are calm though, than flat roads can be as hard as you want to make them, unlike mountains where you have no choice. I personally like mountains, but as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a bad ride, just some are better than others.

    • I thought about naming that ride ‘mini Priddis’. You must really have to get yourself into the zone to ride those long, straight miles alone.

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