Lately I have been struggling with motivation. There are still days I want to jump on the bike, but there are others that I will look for any excuse to avoid it. I mean any excuse. I raked the leaves in the yard the other day with the thought that it would qualify as my physical activity for the day thus excusing me from getting on the bike. I have spent extra time cleaning around the house and even volunteered to help tow a moving container for my sister-in-law two mornings in a row in what would normally be my time to ride. Normally I would just ride another time, but now I seem to be using these activities as excuses.
I didn’t have this problem when I first started riding. Two summers ago I began riding as a way to get into a little better shape, but also as something to do when I was laid off from my job. It was a great feeling to get out and ride. I was able to concentrate on riding and not worry about anything else that was going on. I was just starting out so eight miles seemed like a huge accomplishment. I soon was able to push myself up into double digits and then twenty-mile rides. This seemed like huge progress to me. Looking back it seems less like success and more like a nice place to start a journey, but it seemed huge at the time. Motivation was much easier to maintain when goals were falling fairly easy. It was nice to be able to look at a twenty-five mile ride and think it was an accomplishment when I couldn’t ride ten miles at the beginning of the summer. By the end of the summer I had a better bike and felt like I had accomplished all of my goals. Once fall came I put away the bike for the off-season and forgot about riding until the spring.
At the beginning of this year I made a resolution to be much more serious about my cycling and set out some fairly lofty goals for myself. They might not be lofty for others, but for me they were pushing what I thought I could do. My wife also bought me a great Trek hybrid bike to help me accomplish them. I wanted to do a metric half century which is about 31 miles. I also wanted to do a few solo rides of 30 plus miles to be ready. By spring I had also bought myself a trainer following a friend’s suggestion to help me ride when I was short on time or the weather was rough. By mid-summer I had pushed my average distance to 30 miles and had a great solo ride in Philadelphia of 35 miles. My only real issue was that I realized I should have bought a road bike as I was quickly leaving the trails behind. I was able to finish out my year with a few charity rides and my metric half century on Martha’s Vineyard. The ride was amazing and was the highlight of my cycling year.
Now I seem to have hit the wall. I just don’t feel the need to ride right now. I want to talk about cycling, I want to be involved with cycling causes and write about cycling. I just don’t want to climb onto the bike right now. I have managed set my goals for next year, and this time I think they will push me harder than this years set. I want to ride the metric century at the Martha’s Vineyard charity ride as well as a couple of solo century rides including one in Philadelphia. My amazing sister-in-law also challenged me to train for a two-day ride from Miami to Key West in Florida. It is a 165 mile ride over two days. I have all of this to train for, and yet I have managed to avoid the bike for almost a week after my last ride, and that was a few weeks removed from the ride before. The last ride I went on was a Thanksgiving Day social ride that I will write a ride review for a future post. I just can’t seem to get back on the bike right now, and worse, I can seem to figure out why. I want to ride and train, and I need to lose more weight, but I feel apathy towards getting back on the bike.
This is the first time I am attempting to train through the off-season. I have set my trainer up in front of my computer and cued up movies on Netflix, but I can’t seem to coax myself onto the bike. I know that part of my apathy is mental. I am still struggling to find a new job and that brings unique stresses to my life. Part of it may be bike fit. All year I have had trouble finding a seat that didn’t hurt after an hour or so. My local bike shop has spent a ton of time helping me and I think it might be that I am bent over too far forward to be comfortable on a hybrid. I have a riser handlebar on order to see if that helps. It is hard to be motivated to sit on a bike that is uncomfortable, but I know that it is an excuse as I have been on it all summer and fall.
Mostly I think that my extreme lack of motivation might have something to do with all of the easy goals are accomplished and the difficult ones seem so far away. I am in the winter doldrums and I am not sure how to snap out of them! I keep thinking that something will change or pass and I will feel that fire again, but I also know that it’s not going to happen until I force myself up onto the bike and get riding again. That’s why I have set the goals that I have, and why I have ordered the riser bar. I know that it would be too easy to wait until the days started getting longer and warmer before training again. I will be behind on the training with more ground to cover because it’s not like people eat less over the holidays.
I would love to know what other cyclists do to keep motivated over the off-season. Are there goals that you set to keep you on the bike over the winter, or do you take a couple of months off before coming back to the bike? Do other cyclists try to work off of the “work/reward” system to earn sweet holiday treats? Is it the constant threat of more ground to make up if you back off of training that keeps you going? What works best for you?