All Ahead Full

Guest Article: The 3rd Hour

Guest Article: The 3rd Hour

by / / 46 posts

Many of us cyclist don’t go out on the bike for under an hour, at a minimum. What’s the point? It is barely a ride if it is not at least two hours on the bike. I need half an hour to convince myself maybe I do feel OK. After an hour, the first queries can go down to the engine room, is everything good down there? Some people feel better as the ride progresses, some don’t. The ones who say they really start to feel unblocked after five hours, I hate them. @GogglesPizano weighs in on hour number three. 

Ride to live and live to ride, Gianni

I have always ridden bikes and as I expect is the case for most of us here I can perfectly describe every detail of every bicycle I have ever owned, starting from cruising the neigbourhood on my blue CCM Swinger in my younger years then moving on to through my Kuwahara BMX then onto some real bikes. Biking was just what I did – every day.

Things changed though roughly 25 years ago in my late teens when on one spring afternoon I hauled my Father’s blue Raleigh Record 10-speed out of the shed and hit the highway for the first time with the sole motivation to ride my bike far and ride fast. I had been running cross-country in high school so I had a pretty solid aerobic base and the start of a decent set of guns. I remember a couple of things about that ride very vividly, the first being that I felt like I wanted to go on forever the second being that all I wanted to do was eat when I got home and finally I made my mother drive the route right after to figure out how far I went (she got tired of doing that after about the 2nd time). Within a month or two I had purchased myself a stunning blue Trek1000 and began to ride more and more approaching the century distance fairly quickly. I never quite fully understood my connection to the ride during these years but I knew it was there and it was strong.

Fast-forward to the present. There is something that I have learned to love more than anything else about riding. For me I long for the 3rd hour of the ride; I can’t really describe it fully but I will try.

What is so special about this 3rd hour? On longer days for me the first hour or two is usually about settling in, letting it warm up a bit, let the breakfast and coffee dissipate and clear the head of all of the challenges of the week. Then as I enter the third hour a few things start to happen, the endorphins are starting to really kick in, I know if I am on or off for the day, the temperature is warming up, the aches are loosened up, all of the Anti-V is clear out of the way and usually I am also as far out from home as I will get on my ride. This for me is my happy place, it is where I want to be – always.  The ache is slowly beginning to build in the legs, the hunger is starting but I still have lots left in the tank. Occasionally I may catch glimpses of The Man with the Hammer but the 3rd hour is not where he tends to show up, and usually at this point I still think I can outride him. Don’t get me wrong – I love the latter hours of the rides and the sensations that come along but for me I will always long for that way I feel in that 3rd hour.

// Guest Article // The Rides

  1. Very Nice. I think that Orson Welles would agree and, if I am not mistaken, this is a clip of The Man with the Hammer trying to get through the storm drain near the end of the Third Hour of the ride.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvnjHevRceQ

  2. I’m clearly not getting my work/ V balance right. I’m always nearly home by the third hour and even then SWMBO is giving me the look!

  3. This time of year and with all the shit of day-to-day life all I manage is 1 hr rides.

    But at least I’m riding.

    Good article.

  4. Good article. Realizing that I need all the 45min to 1hr rides to keep the 4 to 6 hour rides going. Many times I ride circles in the driveway awaiting my wife to drive up. “Kids are in the house. Back in an hour!”

  5. Now that I think of it, we’ve been attacking one another in the third hour. Now it all makes perfect sense.

  6. I have couple of loops that I regularly ride, individually each is about 2.5 hrs and together about 3.5 hrs. I’ve been surprised how many times I’ve gone out for a 2.5 hr loop and come to where they join and turned right for the extra hour vs left to come home. Somehow the extra hour seems special when it is sort of stolen time.

  7. i manage 10 – 12 hours a week mostly commuting from the Surrey Hills into the CIty of London and back, uphill, after a day’s work. Most working days, whatever the weather, hangover or not. It’s an hour or so in each direction dodging all manner of fuck-wit who’s sheer bloody mindedness or slow witedness is going to get you killed or just plain rolling on four wheels instead of two. I approach each ride like a time trial and to quote an old interview with David Jeffries (Isle of Man TT legend on powered wheels), ” I’m gonna go as fast as I can, as safe as I can”. A three hour stint in the countryside is nice work if you can get it. A daily dose of demonstrating ones powerfully smooth stroke, dropping off fools half my age after I have toyed with them whilst dodging all potential hazards is what keeps my enlarged heart pumping. Yeah, I live the countryside, it’s my back yard. But who’s got the time?

  8. What I have discovered, after reaching a higher level of training, is that a two hour ride is too short most times. My guns begin to wake up at the 90 minute mark. Hitting the 3 hour point, as mentioned, is where the magic begins. Luckily, I have the time to train and I don’t let weather interfere with that. Only on my recovery/easy days are my rides sub 2 hours. Most weeks, I am in the saddle for 20 hours. Now that winter is upon me, I have to properly kit-up my body and bike for the cold and dark ride home. The 3 hour training rides (Tues. through Thurs.= 270 km) during the week require lights and my Therm-ic insoles. On the weekends, when not racing, 240 km is the norm. It is on the 4 hour weekend rides that Rules #6, #9 and #71 come into play. Mentally and physically, the 4 hour rides feel the best.

  9. This is really spot on.

    Now that it is getting darker earlier, my indoor trainer season has begun in earnest. The time dilation that seems to happen with the trainer versus riding outdoors is amazing. And it’s also amazing how I always manage to forget how slowly time feels like it is going when I’m riding in my basement. I try to break the rides in 10 minute blocks, but each minute is still agonizingly long–you gain a much more acute sense for the passage of time.

    Outdoors it’s just the opposite. I’m often struck by how that 3rd hour just sneaks up on me.

  10. 2 yr ago, I would really start to crank in the third hour. Presently, on the odd occasion I ride that long, I’m suffering like a dog.

    Still takes me 20 km to warm up properly though. 50, not old, but getting younger either.

  11. Sunday bunch has a third hour, it’s a time of quiet, as the pressure builds and the group thins out, no apologies are asked for or given, it is the reason I’m there.

  12. @piwakawaka

    Sunday bunch has a third hour, it’s a time of quiet, as the pressure builds and the group thins out, no apologies are asked for or given, it is the reason I’m there.

    Pure poetry!

  13. @Sparty

    @piwakawaka

    Sunday bunch has a third hour, it’s a time of quiet, as the pressure builds and the group thins out, no apologies are asked for or given, it is the reason I’m there.

    Pure poetry!

    Yes this is exactly the sensation I mean to describe

  14. @Buck Rogers great film. My all time favourite.

  15. have to agree, my usual commute is too short to touch the sides, but I’ve discovered that a hill that seems particular tough in hour 1 is surprisingly easy in hour 2, and between 2-3 I finally hit my peak. Sadly, once past hour 4 everything starts going down hill (if only) – the flat is ok, but anything over about 8% turns into a vertical cliff.

    I’ve also discovered that any break over 5 minutes long sends me straight into hour 4 . Can’t stand it when people start whinging for a coffee or cake once on a ride, I’ll leave them behind, tossers. Never use feed stations on a sportive – one place when there’s guaranteed to be a queue for the bogs (isn’t that what hedges are for?) and stupid people boasting about something irrelevant.

  16. @dyalander Yes. I love that film. I first saw it around 15 to 20 years ago and that final scene with his fingers coming up through the grate have never left me. Just amazing.

  17. Yes. Hour three is where the magic starts.

    My mind is full of cobwebs and dark oubliettes where useless thoughts endlessly circle the drain. Hour three is where all that shit is gone, just utterly fucking gone, and it’s just me, the road, the bike, sips of water, a bit of food. Nothing else. Total clarity.

    People ask why we follow the rules. This is why. The rules are a monk’s discipline that allows us to focus our minds utterly on the single goal of enlightenment.

  18. Interestingly but not at all surprising when I am riding higher mileage I can get the “third hour” feeling earlier in the ride ..

    @gilly

    I’m clearly not getting my work/ V balance right. I’m always nearly home by the third hour and even then SWMBO is giving me the look!

    Yes, luckily for me my other half understands (somewhat) that the correlation of my riding time to my happiness is very high and will occasionally actually send me out to ride …

  19. Well written piece! The third hour in my typical weekend rides is great also, though maybe for different reasons. That’s about when I am heading back out of the mountains reaping the results of the morning’s climbing. Occasionally my average HR on the descents is higher than it was on the climbs. Love the feeling of flight.

    I much prefer rides that start low and go high. Even better if the early climb to elevation is steep and the return gradual so it can be savored. This is why I won’t bother to ride the Assault on Mount Mitchell again. Work without reward.

  20. This thread is making me think I need to do some more longer rides.

  21. @GogglesPizano

    My wife is well familiar with how good exercise is for my silly head. I’m lucky to have a boss who runs marathons, (one of a small group of folk who has run one on every continent, including Antarctica) and he gets it too. On one occasion after a very distressing case, he actually instructed me to come in late the next day on the understanding that I ride for at least a couple of hours in lieu.

  22. Nice! This is a great one, Goggles.

    Love a long weekend ride. I’m usually rolling back in when most folks are just waking up. I can’t help but think of all I’ve fit in, seen, experienced, and ENJOYED while they were still in the stack.

    Three hour rides are where it’s at!!

  23. It’s been said above, but I don’t understand the hate on hour rides. If I only have an hour, isn’t it better that I’m on the bike than on the couch? Even an hour before work puts my mind in a good place for the whole day.

    Surely, three hour rides are glorious, but they are built by riding whenever and for however long we can.

  24. @Owen

    It’s been said above, but I don’t understand the hate on hour rides. If I only have an hour, isn’t it better that I’m on the bike than on the couch? Even an hour before work puts my mind in a good place for the whole day.

    Surely, three hour rides are glorious, but they are built by riding whenever and for however long we can.

    I don’t think anyone hates them, and as you say anything is better than nothing, but we find you need to hit the groove & get into the rhythm. This usually happens after a couple of hours when you suddenly realise you haven’t had a conscious thought for a long time, just the spin on the wheels, the smell of that field a couple of miles back and the cute bum of the one of girls you overtook going up the last hill. Then you take a corner wrong and end up on your arse with a nasty case of gravel rash and a couple of broken spokes.

    Or is that just me?

  25. Great piece! I can totally relate. If time is a (limiting) factor, I have a standard 50kms loop. Takes less than 2 hours and I’ve done it so often I know every inch of road. For me it is my most basic ride on the road. Afterwards, I’m not tired but I have the comfort of doing a decent ride.Usually one bottle and no food is eaten save an emergency gel.

    I then have an 80kms loop which takes me into that 3rd hour. The game changes. Two bottles, one gel usually consumed. More time needed, more energy needed. More commitment. From there it’s going for 100kms or 120 kms.The 3rd hour is the hour of transition from getting a ride in to getting out to ride.

  26. With the days being so short in New England now, I’m lucky to get in 90 minutes on a long lunch break (one of the perks of working from home). Weekends are often full of Anti-V distractions (though I lost half of my day yesterday to brewing a recovery ale). I’m dreading this winter more than most and predict an unfavorable change in my power:weight ratio come spring…

  27. @markb Fair enough. Good to have some elder Velominati around to set us straight.

  28. I was half way though the 3rd hour of a frosty MTB ride this morning and that is when I start to sometimes either come alive or flounder, depending on the world thoughts that swirl around me on any given day.

    Today I called down to the engine room and Scotty quickly responded “your getting all your going to get today”

    For the first time in quite sometime I found myself slumming at the back of the group hanging on.

    Bad to the point that a few times they soft pedaled a few times so that I could catch on

    WTF, I was humbled considering I am one of the guys who usually pushes the pace

    A bad ride is better than no ride, oh well

  29. @Roger this is a sign that your body is giving you… Maybe just the warp drive needs a rest, maybe your about to come down with a virus (have you been hanging out with @xyxax?) or worst of all you need time off…

    FFS it is now winter in NE and there is no need to kill it until January unless you are going to do Bucks little jaunt across ME-NH-VT in June? If so stop whining and get out there more.

    Come pay me a visit and take one of my Mojito training rides!

  30. Good one, I like the thought processes.

    My third hour is generally near the end due to time pressures more than anything else.

    Also time to start looking for the ever elusive “third place”

    Great string of articles over the last coupla days.

  31. I always recognise the 3rd hour, it is preceded by The Knock and I have to say I rarely remember it unless I have been wise enough to put in a judicious cafe stop…

  32. @Roger

    I was half way though the 3rd hour of a frosty MTB ride this morning and that is when I start to sometimes either come alive or flounder, depending on the world thoughts that swirl around me on any given day.

    Today I called down to the engine room and Scotty quickly responded “your getting all your going to get today”

    For the first time in quite sometime I found myself slumming at the back of the group hanging on.

    Bad to the point that a few times they soft pedaled a few times so that I could catch on

    WTF, I was humbled considering I am one of the guys who usually pushes the pace

    A bad ride is better than no ride, oh well

    I hear you. It never fails to amaze me how the body responds (well, mine anyway) to the onset of cold weather. Rides that just a few weeks earlier in warmer, more temperate conditions were relatively easy. Once the temps dip into the 20s and 30s riding just gets harder. Personally, I blame the fact that cold air is denser than warm air. It could also be my body saying take it easy and slow down, it’s the off season.

    Indeed, a bad ride is better than no ride. That’s the truth.

  33. @Rob

    @Roger this is a sign that your body is giving you… Maybe just the warp drive needs a rest, maybe your about to come down with a virus (have you been hanging out with @xyxax?) or worst of all you need time off…

    FFS it is now winter in NE and there is no need to kill it until January unless you are going to do Bucks little jaunt across ME-NH-VT in June? If so stop whining and get out there more.

    Come pay me a visit and take one of my Mojito training rides!

    YES! Agreed on all parts (esp the xyxax part!!!)

  34. Nice piece!

    Club rides have been closer to 3 hours of late, but was able to get out for 6 on Saturday in the hills near Prague. There does seem to be some Anti-V rubber band that gets stretched and then seems to dissolve after a couple of hours. It also seems to be when the chit chat dies away and the sounds and rhythms of the ride settle in.

  35. @rfreese888

    Nice piece!

    Club rides have been closer to 3 hours of late, but was able to get out for 6 on Saturday in the hills near Prague. There does seem to be some Anti-V rubber band that gets stretched and then seems to dissolve after a couple of hours. It also seems to be when the chit chat dies away and the sounds and rhythms of the ride settle in.

    That is quite true! The early chatter that eventually fades away as the ride continues it always indicative of my favorite time during the ride. I for one, am not much for the chitter chatter. I don’t mind the non-serious, unimportant short conversations. But the rider who is compelled to single handedly carry on in depth, serious conversation about training or gear ratios, ride around others and through the group, just to stay next to me and convince me they are an expert on some cycling subject, make those first stretches of the ride a metal challenge. I’m just not one who has that much to say, and when Chatty Kathy rolls up beside me, I find things to be immediately less enjoyable.

  36. Nothing wrong with an hour long ride…as long as you can ride around 50kms in that time.

  37. Goggles – agreed; nothing like losing yourself in your ride. Once in a while, just stop and take it all in; then roll on again. Below – the rewards of a three hour ride, leave the cities and the traffic behind. @Nate and @Frank will recognize.

  38. how appropos! on my last 3 hour ride, as my mind was clearing, i noticed leaves falling and suddenly this zen-like thought popped up (i’m not sure if it’s a koan or not):

    -a falling leaf moves no mountain;

    but a blown one does.

    it instantly reminded me to pedal harder/faster.

  39. @wiscot

    The 3rd hour is the hour of transition from getting a ride in to getting out to ride.

    I love that definition.

  40. The 3rd hour was good to me today. Haven’t been out much lately (my Rule #9 compliance isn’t the best), but was determined to do some cycling today. Hour 1 is spent loosening up the legs. Hour 2, I start to get into it, but am distracted by intermittent drizzle and a crosswind that had just enough westerly in it to annoy me. Hour 3, I swing south and pick up a tailwind. The sun comes out, and the roads seem to be doing the moving.

    Hour 4, and now the legs are starting to suffer – inclines that were powered up earlier now have me shifting gears and the quads are starting to burn. A visit to the parent’s house (strategically located at 90km out of a planned 130km) brings some respite, but the first five minutes back on the bike hurt like hell. Into hour 5 and I start to suffer. My stomach is having trouble with food, and although I feel thirsty, drinking seems to offer no respite. Every incline and lack of hedgerow exposing me to headwinds are cursed; downhills and reappearring shelter are welcomed. I make it home, legs sore, but it felt good to get out on the bike again.

    And even though the last 2 hours were a slog, it was worth it for the third hour.

  41. @Teocalli

    @wiscot

    The 3rd hour is the hour of transition from getting a ride in to getting out to ride.

    I love that definition.

    Agreed. That is perfect.

  42. Man, I gotta ride more. The days with the longer rides are more magical (for me that means anything more than 1.5hrs), but like others I believe any time in the saddle is good time. You who ride massive hours… How do you do this? Laid-off? Kids in cages? Lonely wives/husbands?

  43. @therealpeel for me there were two things that got me out riding more 1- getting cycling kit to ride in all weather types and going out no matter what – see Rule #9. 2- getting up early…. Really early. The coolest part now is that the rides I love the most are the ones I used to never even think of starting

  44. @therealpeel

    Man, I gotta ride more. The days with the longer rides are more magical (for me that means anything more than 1.5hrs), but like others I believe any time in the saddle is good time. You who ride massive hours… How do you do this? Laid-off? Kids in cages? Lonely wives/husbands?

    In my case substitute 1 letter – a Lovely wife.

  45. For me, the third hour is a reality check. It’s where I figure out how much this ride is going to hurt. The third hour is when I find out if that extra speed I had in the first two hours was all me. Most often, I find that the early speed was just a light and slightly sneaky tailwind that becomes a troublesome headwind when I head the other way. Sometimes I praise the third hour, other times I curse it, and love it the same time.

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar