Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cyclists' block

I am in need of some serious motivation. Like Matt Foley kick-down-your-door-and-enlighten-you-about-your-future-in-a-van-down-by-the-river-type motivation. I have a serious case of cyclists' block, and I'm not sure how to get through it.

It was so easy in the winter. Basically, I had a plan to do this frozen-tundra century that was so overwhelmingly terrifying that everything (and I mean everything) seemed pleasant in contrast. Now I'm facing decidedly easier conditions. Sure, the "paved" roads are so riddled with frost heaves that I can get some serious (and I mean serious) air on my road bike. And sure, a fierce west wind coupled with 25-degree temps dropped the wind chill down to single digits today. And sure, the slow-moving spring break-up causes all (and I mean all) surfaces to turn to soup. But still, there's no excuse for my inability to get out and ride.

This morning I woke up, dressed in some cycling gear, went downstairs and stared at my bikes. Just stared at them, for several minutes. Then, almost inexplicably, I went back upstairs, grabbed my gym outfit and keys, and left for work in my car. I can't explain why I didn't want to ride this morning. I just couldn't face it. Then, after I left work, I had this idea to pick up where I left off and go for an evening ride. But once outside, the wind hit me like a blast of freezer burn. I grabbed my iPod and high-tailed it to the climate-controlled elliptical trainer.

As I turned the hamster wheel and browsed a great article about Edward R. Murrow, I thought about writers block and the way it can feel like it's never going to end. I'm starting to think that maybe cyclists experience the same thing. It's frustrating, after a full-steam winter, to suddenly hit a wall. It's even more frustrating because summer, the actual bicycling "season," is just about to begin. But I'm still holding out hope that my cyclist's block ... much like the ice-choked Tenana River ... will soon collapse under pressure from the relentless Arctic sun and melt into the even flow of summer.

Where's the inspiration? Where's the passion? Where's Chris Farley when you need him?


  1. Take a break from cycling.

    You certainly deserve one, even if it's for a week.

    Everyone loses motivation once and awhile....

  2. I agree with george. Take the week off. Hurry, or you'll miss the good stuff...

  3. sounds like you've discovered emperically why time off the bike is critical for being productive on the bike...

    burnout - everyone hits that wall at somepoint... the balance between it all is challenging!

    Good luck, and also, don't overlook just flat out rest. Take an entire week off from the gym the hamster miles and what not... give your body a rest, time to repair and recover. Its always amazing how much it can help!

  4. #1, living in a van, down by the river is not so bad.

    #2, ride almost every day? you will eventually need a break from it.

    #3, things go good in threes

  5. Take a break from riding? Who are these people? ;)

    What you need to do is get yourself a totally different type of bike and just go out and have fun. No cyclometer allowed. Get a fixie and practice trackstanding. Go BMX and hop around. Get a dang unicycle. But stop riding? That's just crazy-talk!


  6. I'd have to disagree with Nathan, sorry dude! Whenever I have a lack of motivation, I can usually trace it to burnout. Give yourself permission to take some time off.

  7. i commute everyday, on a bike, and find myself taking the weekend off - or i get busy and don't get out for the ride...

    missin an opportunity every now and then keeps it fresh...

    taking time off makes it totally real...

  8. To me, the worst of all weather conditions for outdoor exercising is wind. My motivation drops to the negative figures when it's windy. Theoretically, a windy day with a warmish temperature should still be preferable than mid-winter bone-chilling cold. Theoretically, a snoy or a rainy day should be tougher. But my body doesn't see it that way. give yourself a break. Take a wind day.

  9. Nothing wrong with a breather! Remember, for you cycling is supposed to be oplaytime. If ya get too serious, you will lose what you love about cycling. It's the journey, not the destination, so yes, you have time to take some out of the saddle time to regenerate mentally!

  10. days off can be as important as days on....
    there are times when you need to just ride through it
    get on the bike

    there are always excuses not to ride

    it is tough to block them out
    you need to block out the excuses and ride

    that said...

    it is like 75 degrees out today
    zero humitity
    no bugs
    and well
    I am at work

  11. I swam as my cross training this winter instead of spending my time on the rollers. I rode all winter last year, and by the time the August races came around, I was so burned out I didn't bother training for them and performed fairly poorly.

    You're not paid to ride, and if it isn't fun, don't do it. Come back in a few weeks when it IS fun. Even cycling has to be done in moderation.

  12. Ok --

    Jill -- just don't ride -- ya got ten people all to say - "heck -- take a nap -- sit on your tush or taking some time off is okay". I am with Nathan. Ride. Ride anything. Tour out for lunch.

    I haven't felt much like riding since the 110k on Saturday. But today, despite all the pressure to do other stuff, I went out for a short ride. It felt pretty good. Tomorrow maybe I'll ride to work.

  13. Last spring I put in about 4000 mile son my road bike preparing for a three month long tour. Medical reasons prevented me from finishing, and when I got back my desire to ride was gone. Partially from the diappointment, but also from riding non stop because I knew I needed to all spring. I didn't ride more than half a dozen time the entire rest of the spring and fall. I ran and hiked and stuff, but I just needed a mental break from biking. The same thing happened to me with running after I had trained for three months for a race. Running, which is one of my fave activities, just stopped being fun right near the race, and afterwards I just needed a break from it. When you atart training for something, it tends to become what you have to to do prepare, not what you want to do. In a lot of cases they are one in the same, but the fact that you have to do it, is still there even if you want to also. Letting your mind take a break for a little while, and focusing on something else, might help you get back into it with excitement.


Feedback is always appreciated!