Riding for the Right Reasons
I’m wrestling a bit with this post. Let me explain why. My cycling efforts have been, for some time–completely unfocused. It’s really been this way for about a year now. When I look back at August and remember my ride for LIVESTRONG in Philly, I’m stunned I made the 70 mile ride with the lack of miles I put into training. And as usual, it’s not from a lack of desire, but time. Major time sucks for me include:
- Beefing up my education at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst
- Working that full-time job I’ve had for the past 14 years
- Maintaining important relationships with loved ones
- Major, life threatening illnesses with both parents in the last 12 months (this one mostly applies to my Dad, who is alive and fine now, but we almost lost him on 3 occasions last fall)
- Professional development
The ridiculous amount of snow this winter, followed by a wet and windy spring isn’t helping matters. Earlier in the year, I decided to set small goals each season to motivate me into working myself into a regular fitness routine. This is a sad, yet effective way for me to maintain fitness. Sad in that I need to make it a work oriented priority to do it. Effective because this strategy works. Ultimately working out makes me happy–I like it. I enjoy the strain on my body (despite my bitching) and the post workout glow lasts for hours. I really truly enjoy exercise and exertion. Though I find my life so wildly out-of-balance with all the “stuff” that take my time up, mostly work oriented.
Last weekend I missed my first goal: the Rockbuster Duathlon. It was raining cats and dogs, and the event is a 90 minute drive from my house. I wasn’t really in shape, but I could have handled the event. I just couldn’t justify 5 hours of the day to suffer public humiliation in the rain in 50 degree weather. Am I losing my edge? Is this what 40 is like?
But, last Thursday I went mountain biking with Heather. We rode the ridgeline in Highland Park, Greenfield, then on to Poet’s Seat, further up the ridge. It was a seriously windy day, winds gusting to 50 mph. When I shouted to Heather 20 feet in front of me, the wind carried my voice away and I went unheard. The winds were so powerful, they lifted my front wheel during one strong burst. We finally found some singletrack on the protected side of the ridge which was a pleasant descent. Then we did a little hike-a-bike action blazing a trail down a hill of loose rock covered in last fall’s oak leaves.
This, I found fun. I want to do more of that, and less scheduling my training. Less training entirely. More fun. More adventure. More riding. Missing goals makes me sad. I find myself trying to make myself feel better for missing something that should be fun, but here I’ve gone and made it work. What’s wrong with me? Haven’t I learned anything? And seriously, riding my bike is NOT my job. Why am I treating it like that?
I am knocking on wood as I write this, because I’m at last hopeful that this spring, and summer, might be different. I might soon have a work schedule that is regular, yet flexible. That I might just ride my bike because I love it. Not because I am squeezed out of the sport because of a hectic work/life schedule.
PS–An hour after mountain biking with Heather, I did a two-hour hike in the Holyoke Range with my friend Gail. More adventure, this time on foot. I think training less isn’t necessarily going to mean less exercise. Instead, I’m hoping it means just the opposite.