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Ask Oli: Accepting Autumn as a Roadie

What do you do to the transition from racing to off season, and summer to fall?

Ask Oli Autumn

It’s colder. It’s grey. It smells like moist, fallen leaves, and it’s dark when you wake up and long before you go to bed. There’s a chill in the air.

For some, it smells like cyclocross. For them the stoke is high and they’re rejoicing. “Bring on the rain! Bring on the snow!” they say. They’re crazy.

Looks fun right? … right?

For others, there’s less to look forward to in the immediate future. The next road race is many months away, and there’s a cold winter ahead. The hassle of dressing deters you from riding, just the idea of being wet or cold makes you shiver, flashbacks of time spent on the rollers are intense, and you’re not yet prepared to hunker down for the season.

Not everyone, of course, is feeling any negative effects of changing seasons. But for many, morale is lower as the time of transition is nearing or upon us.

Maybe we’ve stopped riding, either because we’ve been prescribed a break or simply are lacking motivation, and feel lost with this extra time, knowing not what to do.

Ask Oli Autumn
Autumn riding is full of colours

So, I have some suggestions for those of you that feel lost, perhaps a bit down, and maybe a little perturbed by riding.

  1. Consider cyclocross if you haven’t tried it before. The atmosphere is great, the general attitude is extraordinarily healthy, and if you can successfully not take yourself seriously and really just go out and have fun, you’ll set yourself up for a better winter. You’ll develop new skills, enjoy yourself, challenge yourself, and probably make some new friends.On the contrary, you might absolutely hate it, and realize that riding in the rain or on the trainer isn’t too bad after all… either outcome is probably good. Right?
  2. Do something that has nothing to do with the bike. Safely and at an appropriate pace, try something else: consider yoga, rock climbing, running, speed walking, hiking, skiing, etc. I hear pole-dancing is pretty in. Maybe join a choir.  It doesn’t have to be physical. Just stimulating.
  3. Don’t push yourself to ride. If you’re tired, you’re tired. If you feel miserable when you swing a leg over the bike, that’s a sign. Don’t ‘fake it till you make it’. A week or two or three, even a month off, will be far more beneficial to your training than pushing through. That’ll bite you later.
  4. Enjoy it. Change your mind about the fall. Seriously. Consider looking at this time of year with a different perspective if you currently despise it. Learn to love the rain or snow and layering up. Appreciate how much warmer warmth feels if at first you get cold. Pride yourself in the rides you do. Favor fenders and warm clothes over speed and miles. Have fun. Truly, if you can change your autumn narrative to be positive, you’ll start to look forward to this time of year.

Personally, I’m really struggling. Seasons changing with the many accompanying life transitions I’m going through are taking their toll. I’ve tried to ride a few times in the past two weeks, but haven’t ridden further than 45 km. I’m reminding myself not to force it, to spend time hiking and enjoying the weather, and giving myself permission to hang the bike up for a bit.

One can’t expect their relationship with the bike to be perfect year round. It must be allowed to undulate. If you’re having a hard time riding, that’s okay. Maybe take a break. You’ll love it again! Trust me – it happens to me a couple times a week!