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? Continue reading

How slow can you go?

Like most cyclists, I have trouble sitting still. So when recovery days roll around (or force their way in), I tend to panic at the idea of lounging around. There’s nothing worse than waking up to a day filled with sunshine and cooler air and then remembering that I’m supposed to spend it taking it easy so my body can grow stronger.

So I decided to try an active recovery ride. When I’ve attempted them on the trainer in the past, my impatience always got the better of me and before long, my speed crept up until I was happily working away in the aerobic zone, doing the opposite of recovering. Continue reading

Rest. Ride. Repeat.

I love the phrase, “Have you got rocks in your head?” especially when muttered by feisty grandmothers. I’m generally a cautious (and often painfully slow) decision-maker, but when it comes to cycling, my otherwise clear head is often full of boulders.

Take last week for instance. After circuit training and adding new plyometrics into the mix on Tuesday, I decided to hit up a new group ride the next day. My calves were still aching a bit, but hey, I wouldn’t be using them much, right? The answer to this question became painfully clear by mile 30 when I decided to grab the wheel of a blazing fast pace line. A few rotations, and boom, I was on the front, pulling like hell to maintain the train’s blistering speed. Gritting my teeth, I felt proud to be pulling a group of strong men along, until I peeled off the front and the pace ratcheted up again. Suddenly the adrenaline high wore off, and I realized that my calves were on fire. Continue reading

The pain cycle

Pick up a cycling magazine or drop yourself in the middle of any pack of young male cyclists and you’ll hear this message loud and clear: to make the most gains in this sport, you have to push yourself as far as you can, and then repeat. I went in to the sport living this mantra, and boy did I work my ass off. I showed up at group rides, the only B rider, and was forced to hang on to the wheels of the jet engine A group. On the mountain bike, I put in full days with a group of guys, forcing myself to dig into the red zone until my hamstrings couldn’t take it anymore. And on my road bike, I trained for an ambitious first century, one with 8,000 feet of climbing in the sweltering August heat.

Am I crazy? Looking back, I’m beginning to think so. Continue reading