Finding the Why

I’ve been doing this bike riding thing for a while now. For me, it has always been about the racing. Until now.

Now, it’s about something else. Something softer and more enticing. It’s about being out on my bike with friends. Riding with people I would never had the opportunity to ride with. Doing events/races/rides because they sound appealing.

And this has changed how I approach my training. For so many years, my rides were laser-focused. Each time I got on the bike I had a training or racing goal. I was so invested in prioritizing my rides and making sure I hit the wattage numbers for each workout.

I craved the structure. The calendar that told me what to do on each day. The software that told me and my coach if I was progressing at the rate we wanted.

And now here I am. I’m not that same bike rider anymore. I’m not a racer. I’m a rider. I’m a person who rides for enjoyment. But yet, I still want to do well in the events I sign up for – like the Gravel Guys series, Rooted Vermont, and the local cyclocross series.

It’s a strange place to be. One that I’m slowly getting used to. A couple of weeks ago I had a very structured workout to do. One that had me doing VO2max efforts, anaerobic capacity intervals, and microbursts. The exact workout that I craved and always wanted to do more of – the really hard workouts that had me wrestling every ounce of power out of my legs and soul.

Only thing was this time, just a few weeks ago, I found myself bored with the workout. I couldn’t understand why I was doing it. I was confused about why I was making myself hurt so much. I did the workout – but I had zero enthusiasm for it. I didn’t get the usual rush from seeing the numbers on my Garmin or feeling the ache in my legs. I couldn’t see the point in this kind of riding anymore.

And then this past weekend happened. Saturday was the Lanark-Liege Gravel Guys 75 km race and Sunday was the 120 km Ride of the Damned. A big weekend.

The course on Saturday was the opposite of what I like – hills, very steep hills, punchy climbs, and practically no flat roads. A course that had me at one point close to tears as I pulled myself over one climb and had me off and walking up three other climbs.

I went to some dark places during this ride – my brain trying to convince me to let the other women ride away and thinking some negative thoughts about bikes, gravel, and hills.

It was in the car on the way home that it all clicked. Even with the suffering – I had fun. I was proud of what I had done. I was thrilled to be able to ride with the women that I did.

This is why I need to keep doing the hard workouts. So I can go out and do these kind of events. To have the ability to get up the next day and do another long hard ride. To know that I can keep doing this when I’m 65 or 75.

Saturday gave me an entirely new perspective of what it is to be a bike rider. I’m not at the front anymore – not even close. This is okay. I’m at a different place.

But I’m still the same person – that person who strives to do her best and always wants more.

P.S. A huge thank you to the super women who invited me to do the Ride of the Damned with them. It was a fun day – even though the rain and cold got the better of us. Thank you Blanche, Lucie, Jenn, and Lisa for the day and the ride. We made the best of it and I think we all came out of it smiling.

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Post-hot chocolates in Wakefield trying to think warm thoughts.