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.