This list is growing by the week but here are my top four aspects of bike life that I used to dislike and now enjoy and appreciate.
# 1: The recovery day. Or week.
I hated these days/weeks from the start. Keeping under zone 1 for an hour seemed nearly impossible to me and I felt like I was going SO slowly! “Why do I need to do this? Everyone else is training harder than I am today.”
That was my voice a couple of years ago. Now, when I get a recovery day, I embrace it and make it count. Recovery days are when you build on everything you just worked for during that week and when your muscles make adaptations. I enjoy going slowly and taking the time to notice things around me that I haven’t before. I like picking something to focus on-fall decorations, houses I haven’t seen before, views I haven’t appreciated-there is always something new to find on a recovery ride if you look hard enough.
They are also great opportunities to process thoughts that have been occupying space in your mind dung the week. I like to spin some ideas (get it? spin? =o) around in my head or take some time to reflect on life during these rides. It is like a meditation session and a recovery session all in one!
#2: Nervousness before races.
Who enjoys being nervous?! Certainly not me until recently. When I was racing track and field in high school, I would get nervous for some meets a week in advance. The problem was that I had 2–3 meets per week, so I’d be nervous for the event two events from the one I was racing that night-silly, huh?
People vary naturally in their nervousness levels and their ability to handle it. I’ve never been good at it and I tend to fret at the slightest of things regarding races. “That descent is too steep. So-and-so showed up…so this race is going to be super fast and hard. My friend is watching-what if I don’t do well?” I used to view all of these thoughts and situations as things I had to overcome. With time and reframing (and help from mentors and coaches, etc.) it is easier for me to enjoy the process and view them as part of the ride and as things to enjoy instead of just things to “get through.”
#3: Going to races alone.
Don’t get me wrong-I love racing with my teammates! But sometimes going to a race alone is inevitable (especially when you live in a different state than most of your teammates and work more flexible hours than they do).
If going to races solo is part of the deal, then I might as well find a way to enjoy it, right? I get to ride around cities and explore on my own, walk around new places aimlessly, interact with other teams and meet awesome people before and after races, and eat wherever I feel like eating. Would I enjoy being at a team dinner or being able to talk about how the race went with my team? Of course! But if that isn’t an option, I’m going to enjoy it on my own.
#4: Riding alone.
When I first started riding in Rochester, NY, I refused to ride alone. I felt like it was not safe to ride alone and I could barely get anywhere without a GPS. Sometimes I would get lost while using multiple GPS systems…you might say I am directionally challenged. Once I started feeling comfortable riding on my own, it took me some time to start enjoying the solo hours on the bike. While I certainly love a good group ride or a chance to catch up with a friend on a long ride day, there is something special about being out on a ride alone with nothing but your thoughts, some music (if you like to ride with music), and nature to keep you company.