TCI Friday

Some days I just can’t even, especially towards the end of any season (see last week’s TCIF for an elaboration). I sit at the bottom of the basement stairs, the bike rack off to my right, bike shoes and helmets on a shelf right in front of me. I begin to go through the rig-a-ma-roll. Shoes on. Find gloves. Helmet on. Do I need glasses? Where did I put my water bottles? Readjust shoes. Roll bike out door. Bounce bike to listen for unexpected rattles. Check tires. Check chain. Go back in for water bottles. Make sure I have a pump of some sort. Fasten helmet. Take glasses off. Put glasses back on. Throw a leg over.

Somedays it just seems like much too much.

It’s like the last lap in a 24 hour race. Yeah. I get it. We put all this stuff on, and we ride around until we’re exhausted. Then we go home and wash all this stuff, so we can do it again. By the end of any one season, I’m so sick of the clothes I’ve been pulling onto my exhausted body that I briefly consider burning them in some sort of sacrificial rite. All this stuff is too expensive for pyrrhic catharsis.

Here in the end of summer (if it ever really ends), I’ve sweated through the same bib-shorts and jerseys too many times. I’m a fastidious launderer, but there is something spiritually draining in the practice. All the sublimations are getting more and more sublimated, which is not to say sublime.

Let’s flip this. Let’s acknowledge the positive truth, that through patience and consistency we receive the gifts that cycling has to offer. I don’t achieve the flow every time I go out, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I get to that transcendent place, the wheels spinning, the bike riding itself. And then sometimes I’m just hanging with friends, talking things over, airing problems, making fart jokes (no pun). This too is necessary in life’s grand processional.

I like to say think dignity is like an iceberg, the shimmering, shiny bit above the surface, the indignity beneath, and the greater part of the whole. This is where cycling takes me, deep down into myself, day-by-day, until I am sick of me sometimes, and I sit at the bottom of those basement stairs and wonder what I’m still doing.

But then I get over myself a ride my bike.

This week’s TCI Friday asks, do you ever get sick of riding bikes? Do you ever think you’ve done it all and don’t need to do it again? I recognize, even within my own experience, the rise and fall of motivation, the wax and wane of passion. Part of the reason I push onward in those moments is that I know it all comes around again eventually. Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes you just need to keep pedaling.

Join the conversation
  1. tcfrog says

    I definitely get sick of it, but I find that weather, together with hunting, often forces a break in the fall which serves as a soft reset for my cycling willingness. I have also noticed that each year tends to have a slightly different focus. Last year was very road heavy whereas this year has been mostly gravel and singletrack with some road tides thrown in. I think the slight variety is just enough from me taking a full break from biking, but who knows what the future has in store.

  2. Jeff vdD says

    I may have a day or two when I’m not interested in riding, but very rarely more than that. So, never sick of it.

  3. alanm9 says

    Sometimes on those darkest, coldest winter mornings I’ll say screw it and jump in the car. And instantly regret it. But I never regret that first pedal stroke.

  4. DaveinME says

    I too run into those moments where the motivation just isn’t there, but almost always once I start getting ready, I get psyched to go. Sometimes I take some small breaks for recovery and to rediscover my love of riding when it lags.

  5. jlaudolff says

    This year, I had a crash in July (mm from a hit-and-run, had the run part but not the hit) and didn’t ride for awhile with broken ribs. It was an interesting perspective on summer, sitting out the hot and sweaty part of the season. I’m pretty motivated for the late summer and fall and keep signing up for rides I am normally not the least interested in.

  6. Dan Murphy says

    August is tough.
    First, the heat. I hate heat.
    Then, I have a bit of a peak around July after getting back in shape and going gangbusters in June into July. By August, I’m sick of the heat and motivation is lower.
    I’ve learned, though, that if I can get myself out the door, the rest is gravy.
    Mixing it up is good, too. Go someplace new to ride, maybe for a weekend or longer. Ride gravel, road, mtb, and just enjoy the ride.

  7. TominAlbany says

    I don’t stop likng biking. But, I get bored. I want other stuff. Winter helps with that. Skis. Snowshoes. General coldness and darkness. They all conspire to get me looking elsewhere. But, by March, I miss riding my bike, even if I’ve ridden some in the winter – in or out. It’s not the same.

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