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
  • Motherhood
  • Homeownership
  • 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.


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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

3 responses to “Riding for the Right Reasons”

  1. tuckamoredew says :

    I am biased towards riding for fun. Any reason to ride my bike is a good reason, all rides are good rides. Of course, I’m not any sort of competitive rider so I don’t have any reason to set training goals.

  2. Glenn_in_MA says :

    Great post Karen…one to which I can truly relate.

  3. Velosopher says :

    So many of us suffer from the “this is supposed to be fun” syndrome. For me, getting that straightened out is a process. This year, my motto is, “Fitness follows fun.” If I’m having fun, I am by definition as fit as I need to be — probably fitter than I would have been because I’m not making it work. Along these lines, I bought a Salsa Vaya this week, and have been getting off-road with it — having a blast. See post here:
    I decided that something new in my exercise life was called for, to breathe new life in. So far it’s working great!

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