After being sick and exam ridden for a couple of weeks, I’ve spent little time on the bike. The old motivation to get back on is always hard to find after a pause and it’s been a bit funny to identify some of the silly contributors to my lack of riding desire.
Simple and silly insecurities that I wasn’t totally aware of such as lost leanness, less defined leg muscles, or even a lessened tan and hairier legs, make me feel a bit self-conscious. I don’t want to go out for a ride and look as unfit as I feel. God forbid I lose a group ride!
Even just starting with a short, easy ride is unenticing knowing that I have to get dressed in my kit which always feels a little different when I put it back on for the first time in a while. When you ride regularly, simply the process and time commitment of dressing in all your layers before a short ride can be a deterrent. It’s ridiculous, I know. But it’s true. Getting dressed is such a drag.
A few days off the bike can sometimes feel like an eternity. Everyone else has been training and getting ahead while you feel as though you’ve been slipping. Having to find my flat repair gear to put on my bike, find and fill my bottles, dig my shoes, helmet, kit and glasses out of my unpacked bag from my last race is just way too much work.
“If I had a full-time soigneur and mechanic, riding would be so easy” I often think to myself as I sit and drink my third cup of Elevenspeed coffee and stare at my bike loathingly as it refuses to pump its own tires. “Maybe I’ll ride tomorrow.”
Cycling is way more than just riding. I mean, come on, you also have to get dressed, take care of your bike and keep track of all your stuff. Plus, what if your peers see that you lost some fitness while you were too sick to ride? They’ll know that you’re human and weak!
In all seriousness though, it can be hard to avoid the all or nothing mindset at times. Not riding much or only being able to go for short, easy rides, sometimes makes me feel as though I may as well not ride at all. This is a tricky mindset to navigate, as it can lead to very imbalanced practices, whereby I either ride hard and a lot each day, or not at all, because I don’t feel great or I’m discouraged by the struggle to get back into my routine.
Now that the sun is out and it’s warm, I went out for a light and lovely seaside spin on my old steel, down-shiftered Bianchi in normal clothing. This was a pleasant and informal reminder that cycling isn’t all about winning group rides, I think.
So, maybe I’ll start tomorrow. Or the next day…Or the day after that. Or whenever my personal soigneur and mechanic arrive.
Oliver Evans is a 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria and racing with Trek Red Truck Racing.