Riding for fun
It’s been so nice these last couple weeks to just get out and ride for fun. Work has been incredibly stressful lately, so there is no way I could have raced the last couple mountain bike races, even if I wanted to. I know I would not have been in the correct mental state to focus 100%, so I very easily could have ended up injured. Instead of entering the work week tired, I’ve been going into Mondays feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Now I want to be clear, just because I am not racing and just out there riding for fun, doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing a good amount of riding. I’ve done my first century, the grand fundo, and numerous rides with my local club. In fact, I’ve ridden more miles and will have logged the most hours on the bike for any month this year. Add to this the fact that I have now run a couple times, about 5k each run, for the first time since I was rear-ended right before Christmas.
So what have I realized, overall, this past month? I love riding my bike and being around friends. Yes, racing can be fun, but it is also stressful and frustrating. Mountain bike racing also doesn’t allow me the competitive out that I hoped for by racing. I’d rather be along in the woods then around people, which means I end up holding up the rear (instead of midpack where I should be), since I am not able to lead the pack with my technical skills. This leaves me with pent up aggression that never truly gets released. I get enough of this type of feeling at work every day, so it’s the last thing I need in my personal life.
Now I’m not saying I’m not going to race anymore, because I honestly don’t know at this point. What I do know, is that I’m going to only do events I think will be “fun.” I’m not going to torture myself doing courses over my head, but I AM hoping to do some more endurance style events, which will cater to my strengths. So what will I do in the meantime? I will keep riding with my friends and trying for QOMs on strava. I will push myself to get personal bests on sections of road rides, while also continuing to work on my technical skills in the woods. Each time I’m able to conquer a new section (whether speed or skill), I’m fulfilling my competitive nature.
Overall, I think my strategy has been working. I’ve been happier, probably a much more pleasant person to be around, and I’m still getting to ride my bikes. I know the beginning of August will be a little hectic, with travels to Seattle and British Columbia for work, but I plan to continue on this path of “enjoying” life outside of work. Hopefully my stress level will remain low and if/when I race next, it will make me that much stronger of a competitor.