Yesterday during my ride the classic song by Simple Minds came started playing through my headphones and it really was just the perfect moment for it. I was about an hour into my ride and was dealing with some headwind. I probably looked a bit laboured pedaling my bike and I was feeling a bit slow. But then Alive and Kicking started playing and the next thing I knew I was singing out loud and smiling.
I was doing it. Riding. Getting out and enjoying my bike. Sure I’m not as fit as I was. I’m not as strong as I was. But I can ride. I can only get stronger and fitter. Will I ever get back to the fitness I had – I don’t know. And frankly right now, I don’t care – I just want to ride for the sake of riding.
I’m riding without any “feedback”. In other words – no computer, no heart rate, no cadence, no speed, no power, no distance. Simply a digital watch so I know how long I’ve been riding for. There are no work-outs taped to my stem or power numbers to keep track of. I just get on my bike and pedal. At first I was a bit nervous about riding without a computer but now I kind of like it. I’m forced to pay attention to my body.
Are my legs turning over smoothly? Am I remembering to apply power and pressure through-out the pedal stroke? What is my upper body doing – keep my arms bent and don’t let my core cave in. How does this gear feel – a bit too easy – fine try a harder gear. I feel more engaged with my bike and my body.
This is the essence of riding. How we all started out. We got on our bikes and went for a ride. Maybe it was with friends or alone -but somewhere along the way you fell in love with riding. Your rides started getting longer. Maybe you signed up for a learn-to-race clinic or a bike tour. Gradually you may have become more serious – bought a computer or power meter, strapped on a heart rate monitor, started tracking calories in and out, and even hired a coach. All good things if this is what works for you. But don’t be shy of simply leaving all that stuff at home and just going for a ride.
Take it from someone who is very training and goal-oriented – it is very freeing to simply get on the bike and ride.
Some people have asked me if I’m going to make a “comeback” or if I’m training for the 2013-2014 season. Frankly the answer is: I don’t know. It is too early to tell. I’m still not in a remission from this ulcerative colitis. I cannot train and push my body hard until I’m 100% healthy – and I and my doctors don’t know when that will be. So for now, I simply ride when I can. I’m working on rebuilding my lost core and upper body strength with yoga and other simple exercises. I’m sticking to a low residue diet to try and let my colon “rest”. And most importantly – I’m listening to my body. If I’m too tired – I won’t ride or do those push-ups. If I’m having a good day then I might ride, do the push-ups and some yoga.
There is, as I have learned, such a fine balance between doing too much and doing enough. And right now – just riding is enough for me.