In the middle of the season, my mind starts to drift away from training and racing. It’s been about 3 months since my first race of the season and much longer since I started training. Plus lately, I’ve been working on my van in all my free time to set it up as a camper, and right now, that massive project feels a whole lot more compelling than my long-term racing goals. It’s easy to lose focus.
But as hard as training seems right now, not training is worse. I’ve learned that I’m happiest when I give racing everything I have. All I need to do is try.
When I start to fumble in my life, bike-related or otherwise, I tell myself the same things I tell myself in race stages. Look ahead. Breathe. Stay consistent. The things I learn from racing carry me through my day-to-day life. Racing has given me reliable mental tools and a whole lot of grit. It goes the other way, too: When my riding progression helps me in my life, it inspires me to keep riding. The feeling of moving forward makes me motivated, and I believe that capturing that feeling is the key to beating the mid-season doldrums.
After each race, I write what I learned and anything else that’s memorable on the back of my number plate. I don’t keep all the plates, but I keep the ones that feel significant. I believe that this reflection ritual, even if I just scribble a few notes, helps me track my growth as a rider and keeps me motivated to improve at the next race. Also, flipping through them occasionally is both fun and entertaining for someone as nostalgic as I am.
Photo: Alex Taylor Kim
Thinking back, most of my favorite memories have been with my bike. Riding has been my lifeline on bad days and a way of celebrating the good days. It’s a huge part of who I am. As I progress in my riding, I progress as a person.
Even on the days when I don’t really want to ride, I know it’ll be worthwhile. Each ride makes me stronger, physically and mentally, and a lot happier. Through years of riding and racing, I’ve never regretted a ride, and I don’t think that’ll change anytime soon.
So although I don’t feel like riding today, I’ll put on my shoes and start moving. I’ll likely catch a good sunset, and I’ll definitely find some rocks to hop over and some trees to dodge. I know I’ll finish the ride happier than when I started, and it will make me want to get up tomorrow and do it again.