In An Abusive Relationship
I think that when you average over 5,000 miles per year there should be a government fund from which you can draw a small stipend. Ignoring cycling essentials like inner tubes, energy gels and Dura Ace, this fund is mostly to cover the costs associated with your shrink. Cycling makes you need one.
Riding bikes is surprisingly challenging. I say surprisingly not because it is somewhat peculiar that riding a bike a long way up a big hill at a high speed is difficult. I say this because gradually, one by one, it is possible to overcome these challenges. One gets stronger, one gets faster, one gets more experienced. Then, the incredible happens. You discover a whole load of other stuff to suck at. It’s like you just can’t please the cruel mistress that is cycling.
Irrespective of the ongoing challenges associated with racing bikes, which I suppose is the reason to persist- to challenge oneself- one of the hardest things to deal with mentally is loss of fitness. We have all tried it. When we are feeling good and on form, one more race; don’t worry about the rest day; let’s hit another group ride. Before you know it, for some reason you get bored and can’t be bothered. Also, you are not improving. You burned out. It’s totally unavoidable- you can’t be at your best all the time. You have to take a break. If nothing else, sometimes you take a break because of life (jobs can be like that). For whatever reason, you don’t stay as good as you want to be. That brings me to right now, the part of year where you made some sort of assessment of your fitness and it was less than the last time you tested. You got less good.
Before the Mt. Tamalpais Hill Climb I did a fitness test up a local climb. For the ~22:30 I averaged almost 350 w. The other morning I did the same thing, but in this instance I averaged a measly 301 w (and a couple of minutes slower). Balls- thats a drop of somewhere like 15%. Sad times. Of course, I wasn’t super motivated the other morning as I didn’t have a race three days later. Also, my average heart rate wasn’t as high as the test before Mt. Tam: I clearly wasn’t trying as much. But, nonetheless it was a reminder that I am less good now than I was back then. It’s hard to do something and not continually improve. It’s mentally challenging (hence why I argue for the psychiatrist stipend). I suppose it has a plus side in that if you were always really good you’d never improve, this way you can have periods where you get better every year. That’s motivating, I suppose…