Wintertime Blues

Winter can be a tough time to be a bike racer. Yeah, it’s cold and the weather is crap and all that. But the bit about not racing is the worst. Not that the racing season isn’t long enough. Last year, begrudging start line speeches from USA Cycling officials started at the beginning of March.  By July, I was so fried that top-20 finishes excited me. So when I was still racing in September, October’s rest month seemed like it would be an extended stay in a 5-star hotel. And it was. Riding only when it sounded fun. Alcohol whenever the mood struck – even if it was on the way to the ride. Whatever. Damn. Food. I. Wanted. And November’s training wasn’t all death marches to drum beats. A few hours a day. An interval or two here and there for good measure. Some gym work to feel all Manly ‘n Shit. A winter of this? Awesome.

Except not.

Time away from competition is like trying to replicate evolution by taking an eel out of the ocean and telling it to grow legs. And lungs. Then build a house. I’ve been managing, I suppose, but it’s more by way of distraction than anything else. Training is synonymous with relative performance: when I clamp the bike to the trainer, I wonder if I’m doing enough. Am I working hard enough? Am I doing enough hard work? Am I resting enough? Did that second coke go to my cankles? Did I eat enough to make sure the effort didn’t go to waste? Who ate better? Who trained better?

I am a carnival of insecurity. So much for Manly ‘n Shit.

No sin is safe and no good deed goes unpunished. In April, I will know where I stand. I will have found my way to finish lines with hundreds of other racers and done well or not. But in February, it’s all anxiety and nerves and second guessing.

And so I’ve been filling my time with Other Things. There are things Out There that are interesting and aren’t bike racing. Who knew? I now own a Triumph motorcycle, which is like earning a degree in electrical engineering every day. And I fixed up my Suzuki so that I have a motorcycle to ride. I started a blog. And I’ve been exploring some of the, previously wholly unbeknownest to me, finer establishments the area has to offer. And some of the not-so-fine. And I have a renewed interest in cars. Of all things… cars? The last time I was interested in a nice car was. Erm. I got my motorcycle license in… 2004? The Lady is even helping with my wardrobe.

Shut up. At least I know I can’t dress myself.

It almost resembles balance. And I’ve heard that balance is a pretty healthy thing. That should make me faster, right? Black Hills is March 25th. Then I can start beating myself up for not having sprinted harder or for letting that gap open. But at least if will be something I can process. And maybe I’ll hang on to a couple of these other neat discoveries.