Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Separation from the bike

After the XC Marathon Champs I put the bike away. In the last 3 weeks I rode it once. I could find many reasons to justify it, getting a new job and moving to another country would be on top of the list, but they would all be just well-sounding excuses. The truth is, I'm tired. Once again something has gone wrong. This time it's not overtraining like after my first season when newbie's eagerness outweighed reasoning. It took me a while to fully understand that this time I simply lost my heart for cycling.
It didn't happen overnight, it took its time to sneak upon me and drain out my passion drop by drop.
It was a hard season. A depressing half a year of unemployment followed by half a year of a depressing job, exhausting me mentally. When I was off work I preferred cycling during the day, unlike most of my cycling buddies but I could always catch up at the weekend. But in the spring I started working at the weekends, and some evenings, making it hardly possible to synchronise my training schedule with anybody else. Yeah, a training. How easy it is to find somebody at the level similar to yours, available at the same time, willing to share their knowledge and not wanting to stop for a snack every 15 minutes? Then due to some job-related circumstances I had to cancel races I had planned to do, and together with them my motivation seemed to go away. What do you train for if you have to cancel your target events?

But then I went for a race and I felt that buzz warming up the heart, and for a moment I loved it again. But every time I raced I could feel that something was missing, something was not working as I would like it to. Ok, I spontaneously upgraded myself to the Elite level, suddenly racing against girls times better than me, and I can be proud of myself that I stood up to the battle and didn't fall far behind. But I still felt I was falling slightly short of myself.
So I started training harder.
At the end of the day I was often tired physically and mentally and all I could dream about was to get under a warm blanket and stay safe and happy. Instead I took my bike to the hills. There were more and more days like that, and less and less often I found some solace in my rides. I didn't want to ride, I wanted the blanket, but it would make me feel too guilty to stay in so I went out again, hating every stroke of the pedal.
I was out as often as I has an hour to spare, tired, miserable, cold and lonely.
And then another race came and once again I was just about to ride how I wanted, not close enough though.
So I was out in the hills again, going up and down and up and down, to get stronger.

And then the XC Marathon Champs came. Another race when I was in the position for getting a brilliant result but instead felt so sick that the race turned into a struggle to survive. In the evening the bike was put away. A week and a half had to pass for me to be ready to get close enough to it to wash it.

Some time later I had a few fantastic spins with Wendy and the girls from Epic, a lot of laughter and chatting and a bot of cycling. And I loved it.

Now I must say, I was getting results. Almost every ride uploaded to Strava showed me at least one PR and a few other medals. I stayed in the Elite and throughout the season made the gap to the front line smaller. Still quite well-sized but smaller nonetheless. 

I started working with a dietician to sort out my metabolic, insulin and thyroid problems. Experimenting with my body's reactions probably cost me a lot at the races but there are some results so it was worth it.

In other word, there were many things in the last season that should bring a proud smile on my face.

But now my bikes are in Dublin and I'm in London and after 3 weeks off the saddle I'm only slowly starting to miss them.
But I know I can't race. I have to find out what I loved about those two wheels three years ago when for the first time I discovered cycling. If I love it again in the spring then great, there are plenty of races over here. If not, I will just continue being happy and purely enjoying what I do.
And at the moment it means crunches, planks and jogging in the park.

You have to train to get better. and the harder and wiser you train, the better you become. But if you lose your love to what you're doing, you won't be great. You can still be good, even very good, but you won't be great.
And I don't want to be only good.

Here's some good read by Justin Lindine (http://www.embrocationmagazine.com) that Sean's sent me, about the calmness and happiness a bike can bring into the hectic civilised life:
http://www.embrocationmagazine.com/online/i-ride-the-line


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