In between racing and training there is something called ‘A Life’. If you are like me – cycling is my life (sort of), but there is other stuff that requires you do perform a balancing act. You know: that stuff you do to pay the bills so you can buy more cycling gear, so you can ride your bike, so you can race, so you buy more gear… It’s a vicious cycle. If you have loved ones that don’t cycle: they probably agree. Maybe somewhere in all that you need to find time for those people that think you’re crazy and love you anyway.
This article is about trying to find a balance in the craziness.
To be honest, I’m an addict. I’m addicted to doing too much. All the time. I’m addicted to cycling, yoga, loving my husband, painting, my career passion(s), hiking, creating art, writing a lot – plus enjoying life… the list is almost endless. As you probably know all these addictions (we’ll call them hobbies) take time. Being a competitive cyclist takes more time than most. This can be challenging for those that depend on you for support as well as those that support you.
I’m a lucky lady that married a cyclist. He is actually a retired British competitive cyclist that did quite well in his day – which he’ll tell you all about if you ask. At length. He’s a great training partner and a gentleman. You’re probably thinking: “well, that must be awesome – he’s totally supportive of your racing!”
Yes and no.
My husband and I essentially met cycling, although if you ask him, he’ll tell you he found me on a park bench. Ah, that British humor. Our idea of ‘spending time together’ is riding our bikes together. He doesn’t race any longer, but he’s an avid cyclist. Typically when I’m racing – he’s riding his bike somewhere, but we aren’t together. As you may know: racing can take up most of the day! We don’t see each other very much when I’m competing.
Insert the balancing act…
In order to spend time (on a bike) with my hubby, I must manage my time to include days to ride with him. This is a struggle for me because, as a competitive cyclist I tend to be a bit Driven. A bit Focused. There is a lot of self-control that goes into training and racing as well as managing a balanced life that includes time for my loved ones. When my team races: I want to race too! And I want to represent my team at all the races I can! But, I must choose how I spend my time wisely and make sure I include rest in the schedule as well.
Years ago I gave up racing because I couldn’t find the balance I needed. I didn’t have a husband (or even a boyfriend) at the time, but I have always had a deep love of bike riding. This is a way of life for me that most other cyclists can relate to. I cycle because I love the freedom, the intimacy with nature, the feel of the sun on my skin, the breeze, the vistas that open before my eyes as the miles roll on, and the hum of tires on pavement like a song of pure joy.
I turned away from racing for a while because I lost that love in the Drive to Compete. I became all about how many calories, how many miles at what pace, and how many hours. I spent a lot of time beating myself up because I wasn’t performing to my idea of perfection. I also didn’t understand the power of resting and taking time for ME. I didn’t start riding my bike to race. I started riding a bike because wanted to be outside and escape the big city.
I finally woke up one day and said: “What the heck am I doing??”
I stepped out of competitive cycling because I didn’t want to lose the love of riding a bike. I didn’t want to lose that joy. People don’t believe me when I say I race bikes for fun. Not everyone does. Some do it just for the exercise or the challenge in itself. A way to burn calories or fulfill some affirmation that they area ‘real’ cyclist. I feel sorry for them. I love competing and riding my bike – but not as much as I love my husband (darn close; don’t tell him) or as much as I love being alive on this beautiful planet.
Therefore: a balance must be maintained. Control is required as most competitive souls, like me, are driven individuals and it’s VERY easy to become absorbed. We can focus so much that we lose ourselves a little in the process. We can become a single focus of racing to compete and win. It’s an addiction too. Face it people: if you aren’t a junior racer – your chances of going Pro are slim so get a grip. Have fun!
I write this because I still struggle with the competitive perfectionist demon inside that wants to play the game and the over-responsible side of me that wants to ride with my team and race in all the events! I do the balancing act every day because if there is one thing in life that you can’t buy, beg for, borrow, find, or make: it’s more time.
Choose Wisely and Cycle On!