Cycling has done incredible things for my life… from fitness and health to crazy adventures and places I never would’ve been, it’s been a great ride the last 5 years. However, due to a character flaw of mine where I have to take something, and then take it to the extreme, in a way I lost myself over the last 5 years. Riding a bike that was originally purchased to get me outside and exploring turned into racing full race schedules of both mountain bike and cyclocross, with a decent spring road season thrown in. Goal was cat 1 license… then pro license… then a UCI points chase to become World Cup eligible. I struggled to juggle life, the bike, goals, and missing out. Missing out. Missing out on fun rides because they wouldn’t be the “right” type of training, missing out on funner races because another race was somehow a better puzzle piece to the wannabe pro racer life, missing out on other adventures for fear of injury/taking time away from the bike, missing out on just hanging out. Dealing with guilt. Guilt when I didn’t ride, when I didn’t ride how I was suppose to ride, when I didn’t want to drag myself to another race.
Then 2017 came. I didn’t train like I usually do, but was still reaching FTP goals. Then I got sick for well over a month in the spring which knocked me on my ass. Nonetheless, I had a crazy successful road season in my first go as a cat 3. But I wasn’t happy. I had to sit down and revaluate what I wanted from a bicycle. I realized I liked the IDEA of racing a World Cup more than actually putting in the money time, effort to try to actually do so. I liked the IDEA of racing constantly but when it came down to it, the travel, time, money was tiresome. I was sick of putting guilt on myself when I didn’t ride. I hated feeling like I was expected, though not sure by who, to show up at certain races or perform a certain way. So I stopped. My mountain bike race calendar got chopped to fewer and fewer races. Sometimes I rode like shit (Gunnison Half Growler), sometimes there was the flicker of a well trained pro license holder (Erock Sunrise to Sunset). I decided to not show up to a Laramie Mountain Bike Series race unless I truly wanted to (4 races into the 6 race series and I haven’t been to a single one). I wasn’t racing any road hill climbs, even though I am a current national champion in that discipline. I decided if my heart wasn’t into it, I wouldn’t do it. If I decided I wanted to run a 5k instead of riding on a weekend, I would. I would take chances, experience new things.
I remember reading a blog years and years ago when I first started riding by an up and coming U23 pro mountain biker, and how she described just walking away from pro cycling after Sea Otter one year and I remember being so confused and couldn’t understand why anyone would do that. I judged her pretty hard honestly, mostly because at that time I would’ve given anything to be racing at world championship events and living the pro life. But I get it now, though I was nowhere near her level.
It’s not just about the bike. I am more than a bicycle.
I can’t say whether this is a permanent change or just a relief from the past several years of heavy racing and training schedules. But I’m liking it, and doing some new things! I’ve actually gone for a run at 6:15am. I’ve climbed a 14er on foot after setting that goal 5 years ago. I’ve gone on some long mountain biking adventures and petted llamas and ignored Strava. I’ve camped in Mr. Fozzy for other reasons than a bike race. I’ve mowed my lawn and watered it faithfully instead of letting it burn up because I needed to be riding a bike instead of moving a sprinkler around every 30 minutes. I’ve lived a more normal life where riding a bike is a part of it, NOT my entire life.
I’m looking forward to a healthier balance on racing, with a bit of Steamboat Stinger thrown in as a duo and hopefully actually enjoying Dakota 5-O this year versus just going through the motions. Naturally, I am tentatively planning on a full cyclocross season because cross is cross and cross is awesome, but really I am not committing to anything at this point. I actually am considering a trail running race even!