Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In This At Least, You're Just Like Me.

My coach, who I still call my coach, despite not being officially on his books for months now, was down at the track the other day. I went up to say hi and he asked me how I was feeling. He'd seen my name in the results and was wondering where my head was at. "Just mucking about at the moment," I told him, "I'm going to see how it goes for the next month or so, and if the body holds up, I'll think about getting back into it."

A month! I've been off the bike six months, battling this fatigue for more than twelve, and I'm considering stepping back up to those twenty hour weeks, those sessions in the gym, those long hours on the road, those ergos after only a month back? That's kind of crazy. But really, when I look back on my approach to cycling, I've always wanted it all, and wanted it now. When I was a D grader on a Tuesday night I was always thinking about making it up to A grade. And when I was an A grader on a Tuesday night I was always thinking about being an A grader at Opens. And riding off scratch in Handicaps. And winning road races. And racing the NRS. I didn't achieve all of those things, and probably never will now, but I certainly had the drive and desire to do so. How I thought all that'd be possible is beyond me now. Bodies simply don't work that way - you can't just throw everything at them at once. You need to build slowly, over a period not of months, but of years. Sometimes I forget this, start thinking that my body can handle anything. But then, while reading an advance copy of Molly's new book, I stumble upon this quote from cyclocrosser Mo Bruno Roy:

“There seems to be a time warp in people’s minds. For the amount of work they’ve been putting in, they seem to want results to be so much more than they are. This is my tenth year racing a bike and I feel like in the last two years, my body is finally getting it."

Talk about hitting the nail on the head. I know that time warp well. Sure, I can occasionally try to convince myself that I'm going to take it easy, just race for fun, see if I get fitter by osmosis. But as soon as I roll out onto the track I know that this is exactly what I want to be doing, and that I would do anything to do it better, that I want to be there, at that end point, right now. But if I get carried away with this kind of thinking - and I'll be the first to admit that I often do - I'll end up doing myself more harm than good. I gotta slow down, enjoy the feeling of getting fitter again, fall in love with riding bikes all over again, notice the changes happening with my body and feel the strength come back into my legs. That's not easy for an impatient guy like me. But the times that I do manage to slow myself down a little, when I can somehow stop my brain from rushing ahead, are the times that I love riding my bike the most. 

Slow down, I hear the voice saying. Enjoy this early stuff. 

It ain't easy. But when it happens, it feels pretty damn good.

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