The Daily Grind: Training For FUN
This is the third journal post in a week touching on burnout, mental fatigue from a full year of bike racing, and garnished with hints of frustration about results. Yes it is November, cyclocross ruins everything, and as the 2019 Road Calendar begins to loom on the team’s minds, thoughts of shutting it down to recover for winter base training is being discussed. However, this is not some failure or disappointing reality that we need to come to terms with - this is great - with a few months of decent riding weather, with the Northeast’s infamous emblazoned leaves still on the trees and not yet rotting into the soil, its something to celebrate.
Its easy to slip into the self-centered Type-A bike racer mentality: training by yourself, driving to races that you target for results, racing for results, rinse, wash and repeat. This is not the goal. This is not why we do this. Bikes and bike racing are a way to experience a community and part of the country that we would otherwise not have in our lives. Its not about sacrificing other forms of fun; its about enriching them.
Lately I have been trying to take a different perspective on assessing my life decisions and happiness. Putting myself into who I was 10-years ago and wondering what they would think of me now. I stopped racing bikes in college because I wanted to surf, play music, and party, as opposed to spend weekends driving around California with a bunch of guys who were not my dudes. I got back into racing bikes in NYC’s Central Park after law school as a much needed release from the pressure and harsh realities of young adult life. I only trained moderately at first, but the momentum grew, friendships with other bike racers formed, and it sort of took on a life of its own. This past weekend, I just did my 51st race in 2018. That is a lot of races, and I think it may be too many. It was a really great distraction from some shitty life-stuff that I dealt with this year, and I do not regret doing any of them. I had a breakout road season, and managed to win some XC-MTB and CX races. However, looking at 2018 through 20-year old Ted’s eyes, I do not think he would be super stoked.
Leading into this past weekend my head was in negative place. With a 2-week block of training under my belt and poised to race back-to-back NJCX and PACX races, I hoped to seal a USAC category upgrade. While getting off to a hot start of the 2018 cyclo cross season, I had some bad luck in my last two races, and so was eager for redemption. It is hard to perform well when you want something too badly. On Saturday, I had a truly bad time riding my bike – I did not have fun. I started too fast, exploded, and crashed.
Driving to PA to Clay’s partner’s family home after Saturday’s race, I knew something was off. I threw all expectations for Sunday out the window. We drank lots of wine, ate good food, and talked about most everything except cyclo cross racing. Sunday I didn’t do anything special, but I had fun. I enjoyed being at the race, racing, and hanging out at the Stoudt’s brewery race venue after.
I do not feel burned out on bikes. In fact I think I like bikes more now than I ever have. However, I am tired of all the driving, sitting in bridge traffic coming back home late sunday night after exhausting weekends, and I am definitely, definitely, tired of stressing about my performance measured by results doing this silly hobby that I have taken on. Moving forward, I am focused on minimizing stress, maximizing fun, and spending a lot of time pedaling my bike. I think I need to back off the training for the immediate future in the hopes of having some pop for road 2019.
Road 2019 I plan to consist of more local races, and fewer big weekends or long travel days. But for now, I am just going to ride my bike.