As I rode home yesterday I found myself thinking about the different ways I judge my fitness, or more accurately my cycling strength. I was started on this line of thought when I realized that I was in a much higher gear (big chainring rather than middle, nearly the same cog) and was still feeling pretty strong. Then I looked at my speed and found it significantly higher (16 MPH vs 12) than normal. Finally, I took the few mild hills (overpasses) by standing rather than having to downshift.
All of this has got my thinking about the best way to really judge my cycling strength. I don't race, nor do I care to (and let's face it, if I tried to they'd have to create a whole new weight class, what would you call a Clyde class for someone in the Clyde class? Clyde-squared? sounds too much like the chi-square from biostats to me) so simple road-speed calculations don't mean much. I also only record my cadence to see if I'm steady, so that doesn't mean much. I used to use gearing as a judge of fitness/strength, by which I mean that the steeper the hill I could climb without shifting the stronger I felt I was, but does that mean anything about fitness?
I'm going to shift to the miles-to-bonk (MTB) standard, by which I mean how far can I ride before I stand up in the pedals, breathe deeply, and say "Wait, I have to go how much farther?" I figure this standard will come in handy as I torture myself on the 2nd Annual 100 Miles of Nowhere Ride (or in my case, 50) at the end of the month. Yes, I have done the insane and registered for the ride, and for some reason I'm looking forward to it. What does that say about me?