Cycling isn’t ballroom dancing. Or is it?

The struggle is real.

I’ve written a lot about how hard it is to pursue cycling goals and still maintain the rest of my life.  I’m forever in conflict, feeling out of balance between knowing I need to mow my lawn and paint my house and needing to put more hours in on the bike, and go to my son’s baseball games, and concerts, and awards ceremonies.  Single parenting to a school aged child is demanding work in itself, but then I work full time in a job where it’s not unusual for me to put in hours long after I leave the office.

I’m tired of writing about this.  I’m tired of thinking about this.  But I’m not sure how to stop.

Recently I watched a documentary on television.  I’m not sure what it was, I platooned in mid way while channel surfing one evening.  The premise was happiness across various modern cultures.  They focused on a woman from Japan who loved ballroom dancing, and did it competitively.  She was passionate about it, practiced for hours, sacrificed time away from her family to compete on the highest levels.  She explained that there are very few dance partners that would commit for a season, and the pressure to get a good male partner was high, since there were so few male dancers. The men had their pick of decent female dancers. The pressure for her to be at her best, so she could get a good partner and compete to win, was stressing her out to the point where she stopped enjoying the dancing she loved so much.

So she gave it up. She gave it up because she loved it so much, and didn’t want to ruin it.

I found myself relating to her story. I totally get it. It was sad, but liberating. By not participating at that level, she was free to enjoy it, and regain the balance in her life.

I stop just short of adopting this strategy for myself. I was so disappointed in myself last year–my performance on the bike was really not representative of what I think I’m capable of doing. But what I’m capable of cannot be achieved because I only have 6-8 hours a week I can ride. How do you break through to the next level of personal performance with just 6-8 hours? More in needed. And I don’t have more, If I had it, I’d give it.

I have tried to lifehack my way into better workouts, getting more from less, applying all my management skills into my sporting endeavors. It’s fun, to a point, and then it feels a lot like work. I love cycling. I don’t want to ruin it.

So, what to do?

OK. So here’s the thing. I’m not throwing in the towel…..yet. And I don’t think I’ll ever walk away from cycling. It’s been too good to me and I love it too much. But I may need to give up some of the goals I’ve been hanging onto that may or may be driving me a little crazy.

But before I do that, I figure this is it. I have this block of time this summer where I think I can work myself up to that next level that I lived in oh-so-briefly when I had the saddle time. If I can do that, and maintain that gain, then I can try to have a satisfying cyclocross season. I’m on a grassroots team this year, Team KIT, which should help psyche me up.  I need more friends to ride with, so rides don’t feel like a job, but positive ways to build relationships with the cycling community. Hopefully Team KIT will introduce me to even more fun cycling people. I need to keep it fun too–making sure I do at least one “fun” ride a week, which means dirt, mud, woods, and a mountain or ‘cross bike, without an agenda. But here we are–summer’s here! One more stab at mediocrity before a new chapter of more recreational, more adventurous, more explorative cycling–not just intervals and comparing my results with women half my age. I’m realizing about turn to a corner here. I’m going to take it at full speed.

Cycling is dead. Long live cycling!


2015 CX Season here I come!

2015 CX Season here I come!


About Karen

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

2 responses to “Cycling isn’t ballroom dancing. Or is it?”

  1. Laura says :

    Sister, I feel your pain. 2013 was a banner year for me on the bike. 2014 was pretty good but somewhat marred by Real Life ™. This year is half over and I’ve barely scratched out 400 miles. I’ve had to forego the buke more than I want to. But when I’m riding all the time, it can start to feel like a chore. Better to keep it fun than to burn out and sell everything at a garage sale.

    I just read an article on Overtraining Syndrome. The take-away for me anyway was fit it in when you can, forgive yourself when you can’t, and even pros need to dial it down leat they cause permanent damage.

    Hang in there sister. Train smarter, not harder and your next level could be around the corner. 🙂

  2. bgddyjim says :

    Karen, I’ve followed your blog for a long time now and I don’t blame you a bit for choosing not to race anymore. I have no desire whatsoever to race, even though my friends insist I could win at the Cat 5 level… I ride with Cat 4 and Cat 3 racers and I know how fast they are. I know how hard I would have to work at the next level and I’m just not willing to put in the work to ride at that level. I won’t turn cycling into a job. I’m certain that I’ll be far happier as an avid enthusiast than a racer (and so will my wife and kids). You lose no points with me for keeping it fun.

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