Feel the burn(out)

I’ve come to expect it every year. Though usually it creeps in when the leaves are falling and a chill begins to penetrate the morning air. During this time I reflect on a season of road riding and cyclocross, reminiscing about all the adventures packed into one summer. And then I promptly stay the hell away from my bike for at least a few weeks.

This month I haven’t even cracked a hundred miles and even on my 30th birthday I had to push myself to get on the bike because “that’s what I enjoy.” Cyclists cheered at winter’s departure way back in March and the odometer has been ticking off big numbers ever since. But that warm fuzzy feeling wears off over six months. Little niggling aches become full-blown pains and suddenly the legs are always heavy despite eating every superfood and foam rolling to the moon and back. People are still on summer vacation and I’m feeling blue. Bike riding is my emotional stability, my social connection and the way I shake all the thoughts and worries from my head so I can sleep at night. Despite still having cycling events I’m registered for and cyclocross, I just want to stop. What happens now?

Over the past two weeks, I’ve tried to channel my November mindset. Taking a break from the bike doesn’t mean I have to sit on the couch and drink beer (though this can be highly therapeutic). That’s right, there’s running and yoga, swimming and hiking on the nearby trails. I’ve spent so much time babying my legs for the next event, that I’ve forgotten about their various uses. There’s also time for cooking, baking and catching up on projects (like blogging!). I have to be reminded that I do have other interests.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that I finally got the urge. I was out running and a group of cyclists passed in the far lane. I waved excitedly and they returned a subtle half-smile as they carried on their conversation. I wanted to yell, “Wait, I’m one of you!” But I was just a dorky runner or, at best, a tri-geek. All at once I wished for my Cannondale.

I knew I had to return, but on my own terms. I had to dump the mindset of big miles and Strava QOMs and just ride. I couldn’t be training for anything or doing intervals. I didn’t even let myself upload a route to my Garmin or peek at power data.

Without the weight of expectation, I pushed away from the driveway. My legs were loose as I pedaled and all at once the familiar rush returned. The leaves aren’t falling just yet, but I’ll go where the wind carries me.



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