I have learned this year that all relationships evolve – even the relationship that many of us have with cycling. At times it is a constant (or at least regular) point of focus, while at other times it takes a backseat. There are many reasons for these changes, none of them inherently right or wrong, and all should be appreciated.
I started this line of thinking a couple of weeks ago when I ran into a cycling friend of mine. He is one of the strongest cyclists I know and, more importantly, also one of the most likable and humble. I had not seen him out on our local group rides for several months and had been wondering what had been keeping him away. It seems that he had not been on his bike at all during that time. A couple of serious crashes had left him with injuries from which he was still healing (the first of which I witnessed from only about 20 feet behind as he and two others got T-boned by a car). But there was more to it than that. He has a family, kids busy playing sports, and a business to run. He indicated that he missed being out and riding/suffering with his cycling buddies, but he had (at least for now) lost his desire to push himself quite so hard and was still trying to figure out what his cycling future would hold. How was he going to balance time away from family and risk of further injury with his desire to get out and ride with friends? For now, he was taking a step back to think about it.
A few days later, I happened to step onto a scale for the first time in several months. I looked down and did a double-take, as it was telling me that I had gained 15 pounds since the last time I weighed myself. I suppose this shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to me. After all, my training days have been pretty few and far between this season—dramatically less frequent and intense than they have for many years. Apparently my appetite has not decreased in response. I am still enjoying riding as much as I always have, but ever since my early-season fitness, and thus my racing ambitions for the season, received a severe setback due to injuries, my focus and relationship with cycling (at least this season) has changed from what it has been for many years. I have found myself not worrying so much about “needing” to get out and train. Instead, I have just gotten out when I’ve had time and when I’ve felt like it. I must admit that I get frustrated with my decided lack of fitness whenever I join a group ride, or ride with friends that are now quite a bit more fit than I am, but in many ways, I have enjoyed the relative break. Having said that, seeing that number on the scale has helped me to refocus and rediscover reasons to get out and ride again, more than reasons to not. Again, ever-changing relationships.
Another friend has been riding hard all season, recently placing in the top 10 in his age group at the Mountain Bike National Championships. He has been focused on getting out and training as much as possible for the past many months and now, with that big event behind him, he is ready to shut down the intensity for the rest of the year. He is still getting out quite a bit, but he is approaching things from a much more relaxed and casual perspective.
The thing is, we all get different things out of our relationship with cycling, and sometimes that relationship changes – based on any number of factors. The nice thing is that the sport will always welcome us back – if, when, and to whatever degree we are ready to rejoin it.
Trent Newcomer is a veterinarian and the franchise owner of Velofix Colorado, a mobile bike shop operation that serves the Front Range, from Fort Collins to the entire Denver metro area. Book a bike service appointment and have them roll up to your home or business at velofix.com.