I've often time wondered about this and how it may vary from one cyclist to another. What are the components that make a good ride? Average heart rate, time in a certain zone, scenery, mileage, mileage equated to time spent in the saddle (average mph), the group you're riding with, the amount of dirt you accumulate on your body, the amount dirt on the shower floor after a long ride, how tired and sore you are afterwards, or... how many calories you burned compared with how calories consumed after, how good the ice cold beer tastes after said ride.
I've come to concern myself with several of these and not worry too much about the rest. Mileage....I'm not a roadie and thus try not to concern myself with how many miles did I ride today, for the month, or for the year. Oh sure, it's nice to know so you can brag about it and compare, but I've just never really kept track. 40-50 miles on a mtn. bike equates to more miles on a road bike. How much I don't know. Time...for me this is important. You definitely need to have a lot of time in a saddle.
What constitutes a good ride? Well, it's been said that the quality of a ride can often time be determined by the amount of grit on the shower floor. If this is the case then this past weekend has been excellent.
The group you ride with...The more the merrier! If you're a roadie this may be true. It is also fun to ride with a good group on a mountain bike. They push you and you tend to ride just a bit harder than you would alone. Maybe you were able to keep pace with the fastest riders. Even though one of them was eight days into antibiotic treatment for pneumonia and pushing a 37x16 gear combo on his ss. With that being said...I still prefer to ride alone much of the time. I enjoy the solitude, but also enjoy the companionship that a good group provides.
The past weekend provided me with much of this. Solitude, good time in the saddle, some important mileage, a lot of dirt accumulation, and some fun people to ride with. I felt great on the bike this past weekend and Matt even made a comment about how well I was riding. Maybe you can peak twice in a season. I'm feeling like it may be possible as long as I am careful.
Did you feel like you really tested yourself? This weekend I did and It felt great! Oh! Of course there is also that cold beer. Nothing tastes better after a good ride than an ice cold one.