2017 was my first year competing in the Red Hook Crit fixed gear race series in its entirety and having just got back from the final round in Milan, I feel slightly deflated. Racing bikes is nothing short of a high so with the season all wrapped up and no more fixed crits until next April I'm feeling something akin to withdrawal.
We all know about the ‘feel good hormones’ boosted by cycling and outdoor activity. Studies show that depression, stress and anxiety are lower in those who undertake regular exercise and I can personally vouch for that being the case – I see a direct correlation between how much cycling I do and how good I feel.
With the leaves turning it’s a beautiful time of year to stop, breathe and take stock of the world rather than madly rush through it
But what I wasn’t aware of when I took up bike racing was just how hooked you can get on the sensations generated when you push yourself to the edge and beyond.
I’ve become an adrenalin junkie in the truest sense but like any addict it now takes more than ever before to get me ‘high.’
I’ve thrown myself wholeheartedly into racing, arranging my entire life and year around it, along with my bike-racing husband. Our social activities include bike racing, training and recovering from bike racing and training.
If there’s a gap between races we scour the Internet for something, anything that we can travel to. Never wanting to stop, I race every kind of bike in most kinds of events. I spend every penny on fulfilling my desire to race. I love it but it’s tough on the body and mind sometimes.
Realising I cannot spend my life with permanently raised levels of cortisol, painful legs and a complete inability to slow down, now that race season if over I’ve decided to take a couple of weeks off training to relax, rest and reset.
I imagine what I’m feeling is a bit like caffeine withdrawal but I can’t be sure, as I don’t drink coffee.
But the annoying thing is that whilst I was looking forward to this moment when struggling through another painful interval session on my turbo trainer this summer, now that it’s here, I don’t like it! And even though I’d only planned two weeks off (and not even two complete weeks – I’m racing a local crit and a track event this weekend) I can hardly deal with it.
I imagine what I’m feeling is a bit like caffeine withdrawal but I can’t be sure, as I don’t drink coffee. I just feel agitated. Well, tired and agitated. And that’s what makes me think that I need to do this. I need to slow down and go on coffee shop rides, put away the training diary and put my feet up a bit.
I need to figure out how to enjoy unwinding, take a moment to breathe, appreciate the things in life outside racing. Because there are things outside bike racing, right?
It was sport (snowboarding and cycling) that showed me what a big and exciting world there is out there so I want to enjoy every aspect of that. Much as I love training and competing, sometimes such a narrow focus can mean missing the things that are going on around you.
With the leaves turning it’s a beautiful time of year to stop, breathe and take stock of the world rather than madly rush through it. So I’ll take these two weeks to regain some serenity, stop fretting about training, take plenty of stops for hot chocolate and flapjack and remember to enjoy the ride.
Bring out your inner racer!
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