Cycling in the Zone

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Big Pete 1
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Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Thu May 25, 2017 3:56 pm

I recently have returned to cycling, after a few years hiatus. Before, in most rides I could slip into 'the zone' while cycling. However, that was then, but toady was the first time I had a little taste of what it was like. It happened when it was my turn to lead. My speed and cadence sensors were not working (dead batteries). So I had to rely on maintaining the tempo. With nobody in front of me to worry about, I soon slipped into a mild zoning out. My focus was steady, breathing and pedaling became locked in. There was a an awareness but not so acute as before. While I was leading, the empowerment of 'the zone' was started to make itself felt. I sensed that 'the zone' was starting to come back into my cycling again. So I am very excited about that, because I thought I had lost it.

Do you often ride 'in the zone'?
Do you have a routine/approach to initiate the experience?
What part of your experience stands out the most?

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RonK
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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby RonK » Thu May 25, 2017 4:16 pm

Most of us know it as "flow".
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

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Big Pete 1
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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:29 am

A week has past and nobody has yet contributed to this thread about riding in 'the zone' (aka flow).
Pity, I was hoping to get more insight into this psychological (or spiritual) state of mind.
It must be rare, because out of 100 views no one could contribute anything to it.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby TheWall » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:07 pm

Ok, I'll add...

I recently accidentally managed to remove the 'current speed' display on my Garmin...and I only discovered I had done this when rolling down the road for a 200klm ride...140 solo.

I discovered that my ride was just so much more enjoyable not looking down at the Garmin the whole time...helping me enter the"zone". This state of being certainly made the ride pass quicker and to my surprise, it was much quicker (avge speed) than I had anticipated.

I have not had the speed showing since and often I turn the screen right off (although I find cadence useful).

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby lone rider » Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:07 pm

I swear this forum gets infiltrated by googlebots just to stir up some more clicks.

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Big Pete 1
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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:44 pm

Hello The Wall. Thanks for your response.

I find the same thing about speed indications. As soon as you see that the speed is up the mind starts thinking it is getting close to the body's history of limits. It is often better to ride by feeling. A few times I have placed sticky tape over the screen of my friend's computer, and then they perform better.

Yesterday I was talking to an old rider about this same thing, he said "In my day nobody had a bike computer, only a watch, and we performed better than most young chappies today".

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Big Pete 1
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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:45 pm

lone rider wrote:I swear this forum gets infiltrated by googlebots just to stir up some more clicks.

Please explain. :?:

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby RonK » Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:35 pm

Big Pete 1 wrote:Hello The Wall. Thanks for your response.

I find the same thing about speed indications. As soon as you see that the speed is up the mind starts thinking it is getting close to the body's history of limits. It is often better to ride by feeling. A few times I have placed sticky tape over the screen of my friend's computer, and then they perform better.

Yesterday I was talking to an old rider about this same thing, he said "In my day nobody had a bike computer, only a watch, and we performed better than most young chappies today".

Maybe somebody should tell Froome.

Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

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Big Pete 1
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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:06 pm

RonK wrote:...Maybe somebody should tell Froome...]

That's very funny.

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Tim
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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Tim » Sat Jun 03, 2017 5:19 pm

Today I "rode in the zone" at an average speed of 23.8 KPH. :D
'twas a brilliant sunny mild early winter's day, the first glimpse of sunshine down here from over five days of gloom.
It felt magic.
I couldn't have cared less about speed, fitness, power, grunt blah, blah, blah.
The best day I've had on the bike for months.

On a side note BigPete, you mentioned John O'Sullivan in this or another thread.
In former Carnegie/Caulfield race days three decades ago he gave me my first training advise.
The only training that has ever stuck;
"Train in the small ring (42 back then) and race in the big ring."
It still holds true for me. One hard fast ride and four or five very easy small ring days a week.
This way I can ride all year, no injuries, I don't burn out and thoroughly enjoy it though no formal racing any more.
So the story goes John O'Sullivan got as fast as he was in '56 due to the fact he "worked" in Port Melbourne on the wharves, clocked-on in the morning, rode his bike all day, then clocked off at the end of the day and went home.
A very minor transgression on Melbourne's waterside compared to what was and still does go on down there. Much cheaper than training an Olympic athlete these days.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:54 pm

Tim wrote:Today I "rode in the zone" at an average speed of 23.8 KPH. :D
'twas a brilliant sunny mild early winter's day, the first glimpse of sunshine down here from over five days of gloom.
It felt magic.
I couldn't have cared less about speed, fitness, power, grunt blah, blah, blah.
The best day I've had on the bike for months...

That sounds great. are you aware of how you slipped into the zone? If so, can you share that here.
Tim wrote:...On a side note BigPete, you mentioned John O'Sullivan in this or another thread.
In former Carnegie/Caulfield race days three decades ago he gave me my first training advise.
The only training that has ever stuck;
"Train in the small ring (42 back then) and race in the big ring."...

That is exactly what Cliff Burvill told me too. I always ride and train in the small chainring. However, to keep the chain around the middle of the sprockets I do go up into the 53 when the speed starts going over the 33 kph.

while riding one day a friend wanted to pull out of the ride because he couldn't select his large chainring. I told him to stay in the small ring because if he can handle 100 rpm in the 11 sprocket he could do about 40 kph. He did not realize that and then decided to stay in the ride.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Tim » Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:12 pm

Big Pete 1 wrote:are you aware of how you slipped into the zone?


I'm in no way a subscriber to New Age hocus pocus but I do believe I was unwittingly practicing a form of "mindfulness" otherwise referred to as living in, or experiencing the moment.
Ignoring the Garmin and it's clutter of data.
Forgetting myself and any past or future happenings.
Turning off the internal dialogue.
Conscious of nothing much more than breathing, cadence, the bike sounds, the warmth from the sun, lack of wind and the pleasing rural countryside.
Just really happy to be where I was doing what I was.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby g-boaf » Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:26 pm

Tim wrote:So the story goes John O'Sullivan got as fast as he was in '56 due to the fact he "worked" in Port Melbourne on the wharves, clocked-on in the morning, rode his bike all day, then clocked off at the end of the day and went home.
A very minor transgression on Melbourne's waterside compared to what was and still does go on down there. Much cheaper than training an Olympic athlete these days.


In the corporate world, those things don't happen. Everyone wants data, analytics on everything. SLAs, KPIs, etc. If the services can be provided ahead of SLAs consistently, then you have to make some efficiency dividends (ie, restructure) until your existing people are so burned out and fed up that they pack up and go elsewhere too.

Some places even require the thumbprint scan for someone to leave their desk, and then have a KPI for how long someone is not at their desk... It's no surprise that the happier workplaces are always the very productive ones.


For someone with that and long hours, the "zone" might well just be 45-60min, three days during the working week where they just smash themselves to oblivion, then hopefully do some decent long bike ride on the weekend or a race or something like that.

Other than that, never underestimate the effectiveness of some time limitation or constraint. Like having to be somewhere at a certain time and getting away late. You have to then ride very, very fast, with safety in mind being on the roads with suburban traffic.

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Big Pete 1
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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 10:38 pm

Thanks Tim
Tim wrote:...Ignoring the Garmin and it's clutter of data.
Forgetting myself and any past or future happenings.
Turning off the internal dialogue.
Conscious of nothing much more than breathing, cadence, the bike sounds, the warmth from the sun, lack of wind and the pleasing rural countryside.
Just really happy to be where I was doing what I was.

I like that part about "Turning off the internal dialogue". For me it is a practiced knack to hit the internal 'pause button', or more realistically the 'hush button' on our censoring ego. Then in the quiet everything else, as you mentioned, becomes apparent.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby foo on patrol » Sun Jun 04, 2017 6:26 am

The only time you can get into the "Zone" as you call it, is if your legs are good, at that, point in time. :wink: The only thing I check regularly on my Garmin is cadence and heart rate, because speed isn't a factor to worry about in training. :idea:

I've had/have had many races in my younger days where, the legs were dialled in for the night and felt great but that won't happen if they aren't good. :wink:

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Discodan » Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:59 am

I'm not sure that 'being in the zone' is as applicable to road cycling as it is to some other sports or activities. I've certainly experienced it a lot when road racing motorcycles and sometimes on an MTB but never on the road, it also happens a lot when playing pinball for some reason.

My take is that with the other types of riding you have so much stimulus and so much going on that your brain can enter a hyper-focussed (but strangely not focused) state that strips that all back. Road cycling, for me at least, is a much simpler affair that typically involves lots of pedalling and hurt but is not a particularly complicated affair. I'll often go into a vagued out state where you're just on remote control but that is quite different than the flow state;l the telling factor is that your performance is worse not better, in a true flow state you have peak performance without being conscious of it.

There's a lot of literature on it outside of cycling that might be worth researching if you're really interested, such as:

https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/the-flo ... -the-zone/
http://www.myrkothum.com/flow-into-the-zone/
https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/being- ... -endeavors
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Big Pete 1
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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:04 pm

Thanks Discodan.
Discodan wrote:... in a true flow state you have peak performance without being conscious of it...

That maybe so for you, and it is different for everybody else.

For me, I may not be in peak performance just before going into the zone, but in the zone I am totally aware of my condition. From that awareness, and everything around and within me, I ride at peak performance for the condition I am in. In other words, I intuitively know how to ride the bike at 100% efficiency. In that efficient state, there are no thoughts of tiredness, but feeling as if I could ride at this efficiency for the duration.

I too have read much about 'the zone'. It is a thing a person does, out of curiosity, after their first experience of it; because it is such a revelation.

I started this thread, not so much to inform others what it is, but in the hope that others will share their experiences too. And to give insight for others to experience it for themselves.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Duck! » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:11 pm

As Discodan alluded to, if you really want to find The Zone, go mountain biking. I know this is a road thread, but here goes anyway. :-)

When you're in The Zone on a MTB, you become one with the bike and the trail; its features, the dirt, the grip, or loss thereof, of the tyres on the dirt, picking the right gear at the right moment for a change in terrain, yet you're not making an effort to focus on all that, you just tune in and diplace all the daily mundane guff that otherwise clutters the brain. And when you're in The Zone and don't have to concentrate on tuning in to the details, you can ride for hours. When you do have to force yourself to focus, the mental fatigue will kick in after a while, the bike handling gets sloppy, and that's when you crash & hurt yourself.

On the road, for me at least, while there is some similarity in just letting the ride happen, you can go into a kind of autopilot state which lets the mind relax and go elsewhere; my philosophy when I was transitioning from road to dirt and still doing a decent bit of road riding, was road ride when you want to think about Stuff, and MTB when you don't want to think about Stuff.

For me it's also therapy. I've had some bad periods with depression, and when my thoughts get all messed up and my brain begins to implode, getting out on the MTB and the engagement it involves breaks the cycle of bad thoughts and gets me back to some semblance of "normal", whatever that is.
Last edited by Duck! on Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:08 am

Duck! wrote:As Discodan alluded to, if you really want to find The Zone, go mountain biking. ...
For me it's also therapy. I've had some bad periods with depression, and when my thoughts get all messed up and my brain begins to implode, getting out on the MTB and the engegemet it involves breaks the cycle of bad thoughts and gets me back to some semblance of "normal", whatever that is.

Great post Duck. Thanks.
I learnt another variation of The Zone, especially with MTB riding.
This morning I am riding with roadies who normally MTB today, I will explore this with them.

I hope you don't mind me saying, there is a common link between The Zone and overcoming depression (and anxiety, and anger).
That is, in each case the focus is on how we deal with our ego's need for certain things to go our way.
With anxiety, it's about things which might not go our way. [future]
With anger, it's about things not going our way. [present]
With depression, it's about things that did not go our way. [past]
And with The Zone, it's about letting go of wanting/needing things to go our way, and just go with The Flow of it all. [now]

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby GJM » Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:50 pm

Just on that (very funny) Froome video above ...

They need to re-design his helmet so that it's at its most aero when his head is looking down. He does all of his attacks with his helmet flat-batted to the wind.

Re: the zone. I'm almost never in the zone on the open road. But I am often in the zone on a long country bike path or country lane, where I know I am safe and I can just flow along for hours. I guess the road just makes me too anxious. The Best place to find this zone though is not on the bike, but fly-fishing in remote country streams ... slowly, slowly, slowly the world as you know it slips away, and a more natural world and way of thinking slips in.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Big Pete 1 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:07 pm

GJM wrote:...The Best place to find this zone though is not on the bike, but fly-fishing in remote country streams ... slowly, slowly, slowly the world as you know it slips away, and a more natural world and way of thinking slips in.

Interesting.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby AUbicycles » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:08 pm

Don't look for the Zone. The Zone will find you!


Perhaps more interesting than getting a complete understanding of Flows and Zones is to know when and how you can get into it and what takes you out.

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby davehirst » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:11 am

Can't say I have found the zone on a road bike, although some days click, but the excertion and road awareness seems to stop any Zen moments.
I have often found it on motorbikes, on long rides,with lots of corners (Oxley hwy for eg).
I do know the minute I think wow I am in the zone I am not, as concious thought is zens enemy.
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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Mububban » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:00 pm

Tim wrote:I'm in no way a subscriber to New Age hocus pocus but I do believe I was unwittingly practicing a form of "mindfulness" otherwise referred to as living in, or experiencing the moment.
Ignoring the Garmin and it's clutter of data.
Forgetting myself and any past or future happenings.
Turning off the internal dialogue.
Conscious of nothing much more than breathing, cadence, the bike sounds, the warmth from the sun, lack of wind and the pleasing rural countryside.
Just really happy to be where I was doing what I was.


This is why I ride bikes. I don't have or want a power meter. I'm sure it'd help me improve, being blunt I am !! BAN ME NOW FOR SWEARING !! on a bike but I just love cycling. Because when I'm riding a bike, that is ALL I'm doing. Concentrating on the cadence, breathing (dear god, keep breathing!), being aware of my surroundings etc - I don't want to be watching watts and zones etc. I'll always only ever be a slow casual chump, but being on my bike is one of my true Happy Places. Simplicity. Bliss (yes even when struggling up hills!).
When you are driving your car, you are not stuck IN traffic - you ARE the traffic!!!

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Re: Cycling in the Zone

Postby Arbuckle23 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:15 am

Tim wrote:Conscious of nothing much more than breathing, cadence, the bike sounds, the warmth from the sun, lack of wind and the pleasing rural countryside.


Where is this place with lack of wind? Please tell me, I'm over wind this year :( :wink:

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