In Search of the Sweet Spot

I’m fortunate to live in a suburban area that gets pretty rural in a hurry. The roads are good, the traffic is light, and on a brilliant day, it just doesn’t get much better.

The term “sweet spot” comes to mind.  The term originally referred to various pieces of sporting equipment, notably cricket and baseball bats and tennis rackets and is the place where a combination of factors results in a maximum response for a given amount of effort.  I’d like to think the term applies to cycling as well and not only applies to the result of the effort but also the experiences along the way.

Although neither a specific location or tangible place, the sweet spot is a bona fide destination. It is an experience, a feeling, the place where time and place meet to form the perfect moment. It’s  the roar of a headwind changing to an all but imperceptible whisper now that you have a nice tailwind after making the turn for home. It’s noticing the intricate shade patterns on the pavement caused by a sun filtering through branches of overhead trees. It’s the feel of effortless, soft-pedaling while still cruising along at 20+ mph. It’s hearing then seeing a white-tailed deer bound off through the trees suddenly startled by your near-silent approach. It’s found carrying on a conversation up the hill that usually leaves you breathless.  It’s cruising along under the watchful glare of a red-tailed hawk perched on one of a hundred telephone poles lining the route.

The sweet spot is the payoff for the hills, the heat, the headwind, and the other challenges posed by all the other rides you have logged. Sweet spot rides make you think of song lyrics having nothing to do with cycling but adapted for your purpose.

Lost and alone on some forgotten highway
Traveled by many, remembered by few
Lookin’ for something that I can believe in
Lookin’ for something that I’d like to do with my life

There’s nothin’ behind me and nothin’ that ties me
To somethin’ that might have been true yesterday
Tomorrow is open; right now it seems to be more
Than enough to just be here today

And I don’t know what the future is holdin’ in store
I don’t know where I’m goin’, I’m not sure where I’ve been
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me
My life is worth the livin’, I don’t need to see the end

Sweet Surrender (John Denver, 1974)

or. . .

Gold was just a windy Kansas wheat field
Blue, just a Kansas summer sky

Matthew (John Denver, 1974)

or to get really corny. . .

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you a day just like today

Sunshine on My Shoulders (John Denver, 1973)

OK, I like the old, sentimental stuff. Maybe something a little more quirky and actually about cycling would be appropriate.

Pedal on
Pedal on, pedal on, pedal on for miles
Pedal on

You see whenever I’m alone
I tend to brood
But when I’m out on my bike
It’s a different mood
I leave my brain at home
Get up on the saddle
No hanging around
I don’t diddle-daddle

I work my legs
I pump my thighs
Take in the scenery passing me by
The Kerry mountains or the Wicklow hills
The antidote to my emotional ills
A motion built upon human toil
Nuclear free needs no oil
But it makes me hot, makes me hard
I never thought I could have come this far
Through miles of mountains, valleys, streams
This is the right stuff filling my dreams
So come on, get up on your bike
Ah go on, get up on your bike

Pedal on
Pedal on, pedal on, pedal on for miles
Pedal on

Acoustic Motorbike (Luka Bloom, 1992)

Call it an endorphin rush, in the zone, living the moment, the sweet spot. Whatever you call it, grab it and pedal on down a forgotten highway along a golden Kansas wheat field with sunshine on your shoulders from a blue Kansas sky above.

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2 Responses to In Search of the Sweet Spot

  1. Daniel Weatherly says:

    You’ve captured the rides beautifully. Great to have you blogging again.

  2. Joni Schroer says:

    Well I think you’re an awesome writer and am so proud of my biker! Love you

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