The downfall in the pursuit of “easier”

As a group we’ve been brainwashed into equating easier with improvement. We judge the effectiveness of a bike upgrade by how much easier it made riding. We judge a program by how much easier it was to keep up on a group ride or to be competitive in a racing series. However, there is a downside to this constant pursuit of “easier”.

The truth is that “easier” shouldn’t always be the goal. Here are two examples that come to mind –

1) When training or riding sometimes you want to be able to dig deeper, hurt worse and go far faster and/ or further than you previously could before. Just because you finish a ride or race and feel like you are about to puke, pass out or have an out of body experience isn’t a sign that you suck. Riding hard is going to be, well, hard.

2) Learning to use new movements and muscles is going to carry a learning curve. Old habits are “easier” than new movements, even if the new way will ultimately be better. It is called The Dip and it is what happens when you try to break through a performance decrease to realize even better performance on the other side. For example, getting the hips into your pedal stroke and/ or using flat pedals has a learning curve that you just need to get through, even if they are “harder” than what you used to do.

Both of these examples are ways that you can take the pursuit of “easier” too far but the second example also speaks to how it can deceive us sometimes as well. Using something that makes riding initially “easier” doesn’t mean that it is always the best path. Fight through the dip and resist the call of the herd to come back to the “easier” path and you might be surprised what you find on the other side.

-James Wilson-

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  1. Chris Cowan says:

    Thanks… I really needed this post. My buddy and I just got back from camp and we where both talking about how we feel a little awkward on the trail now that we are working on new habits and trying to suppress the old habits. We both have faith that the reward for this awkwardness is going to be worth it but sometimes you mentally get worn down. Gene Hamilton’s advice about lowering your expectations is dead on. Earlier this week I did my drills and I had the expectation that I was going to rock them, the end result was a very poor performance. Today’s session I went into it with a humble mindset and had an awesome session. By far the mental game is the biggest challenge.

    Reply • March 31 at 9:40 am
  2. Tyler says:

    Good thoughts James. Your first point reminds me of a previous post where you comment that interval training will always be hard….performance will improve, but the effort still feels hard.

    I have been thinking about your ‘call’ to stand as much as possible when pedalling….I think your second point relates to this. I really resist this idea to get out of the saddle as much as possible when pedalling, rather than just when I need to. To be honest, I wonder if it is unreasonably hard. It seems like it will make every ride into a maximum-intensity, heartrate-flying-through-the-roof type of ride. I guess that’s admirable, but is it physically (and mentally) achievable in the real world?

    Reply • March 31 at 11:53 am
    • bikejames says:

      Good point on the standing efforts – turning every hill into a do-or-die effort will will burn you out, but always trying to find easier ways up will hold back your development. Somewhere is a middle ground that can be hard to find but we should all look for.

      Reply • March 31 at 4:21 pm
  3. Noah says:

    With your help I feel faster than ever, but riding hasn’t gotten any easier – except mentally. Now I know I can power to the top of climbs and get off the brakes on the downhills. Cant stop crashing though, I guess that’s part of learning….

    Reply • March 31 at 2:50 pm
  4. WAKi says:

    I think this issue is totaly on time.

    We are bombed from all sides through all possible means of media, that life should be… easier. We are promised to get shortcuts from anywhere if we only buy this and this product, this and that program etc. “We make your life easier” seems to be transmitted from most commercials. I mean what’s the mortgages an bank loans mostly about? bloody shorctcuts! How many people do it because they are really pushed by the life situation vs those who just want to achieve higher welfare faster? Buy a house, two cars, holidays twice a year, all the expensive super toys for your kids, – all of that at the age of 30 or even less, while our parents had to work all their lives to achieve that and many never got to that point.

    So yes James I totaly agree, it’s great you bring up such topics. It comes together very well with Gene’s theory of Difficult vs Challenging. He never says about EAZEE and he never says “it’s all about pain”.


    Reply • April 1 at 12:16 am
  5. Daniel says:

    Similar to what Noah wrote above, Greg Lemond said, “It never gets easier, you just go faster.”

    Reply • April 3 at 4:46 pm

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