Background: I trained from October of 2018 - June of 2019 for my “A” race series in June, using a coach the entire time. I made some really solid FTP improvements and had some good results in the early road season, but crashed out of several races (just really nasty road rash but nothing very serious) including one of the first races of my A race series. I ended up missing most of my A race. After the last crash, a switch basically flipped in my head that completely turned me away from road cycling. I decided the risk-reward factor wasn’t worth it for me anymore and wanted nothing to do with crits or road races.
Ever since then, I’ve been struggling to find an event and/or sport to focus on (triathlon, MTB, cross, running, weight lifting???) that ignited the same level of passion that road cycling did. I feel very directionless and like I can’t consistently workout or train without a clear end goal/event or focus in mind. My end-goal seems to change almost daily or weekly too because I haven’t committed to anything. I’ve discussed this all with my coach as well, who has suggested to “find what you are as passionate about as you were about road cycling.” I feel like I have not been able to do that and am sort of at a loss here, so I’m looking for any other anecdotes or advice on how you’ve gotten out of a mental rut like this.
I focus on cyclocross mainly but there are a couple of sportives that I do most years and I just aim to improve my time every year. Most importantly, I do them because I enjoy them. I’m absolutely useless at cyclocross but find myself going back year after year.
Admittedly, that could change for me if I’d sustained some nasty injuries, so I sympathise with you.
Thanks for the reply. I think your questions are a good starting point.
The fitness gains and measurable, objective progress were the best part for me. I’ve always liked competing against myself and the environment. The “cutthroatness” and recklessness of competition, especially in some of the bigger races, is what killed it for me I think.
Well, I’ve had a series of injuries in the last few years:
2015: passed out getting up from bed too quickly at night and then taking a pee. Fractured my maxilla, nasal bone, and pterygoid plate. Had facial surgery. Missed three weeks (one prior to surgery, two weeks after per doctors orders). Got back on the rollers and was outside after six weeks.
Four months later, got hit by a car. Missed two months.
2017: had a pedal separate from the axle while I was doing a sprint. Concussion, broken ribs, off the bike for a couple of weeks then back on the trainer.
2019: caught two different viruses as bugs cut swathes through my school in Feb-March. Month off the bike.
The main thing for me is just getting on the bike to get on the bike every day. Part of this is having done it for 38 of my 53 years – it’s just ingrained now, and I see it as an intrinsic good. I ride my bike; that’s what I do – the focus is breaking a sweat and feeling alive in the way that only a workout can do, even if it’s just a recovery session. The daily ride is the goal, and the goal is the daily ride. There are three races I’m fond of, but they aren’t goals or foci. I figure if I do the daily work, the results will take care of themselves.
Make each day the focus. Follow a general but not micromanaged structure. Ride because you like to ride. If you don’t like to ride, sell your bike.
Excellent - definitely changes what I’d recommend.
It sounds like you’d get a lot of enjoyment out of events where you’re competing against yourself, or the clock but that still require significant fitness focus.
On the bike this seems most like gravel or gran fondo type events. These can be extremely competitive/cutthroat but can also be time based and more focused on your abilities as opposed to your competition’s abilities
It also could be open TT events where you’re out on the road alone. These have the advantage of a bit of mental and gear based optimization that can take a bunch of your competitive energy and direct it towards something event related but not training
Perhaps for the non-cycling possibilities I’d consider running as those events have a much lower crash chance and are almost exclusively competing against the clock, not a pack of other racers
Mostly I’d suggest you find something you like doing and build off of that. If you’re a social animal find a group ride and hang out afterwards and have a few beers/coffees/whatevers with the group. Experiment until you find the thing that makes you look forward to being out there doing whatever.
View this as an opportunity to try new things and try not to assign urgency to it. You’re looking for a new hobby - let that be your focus for a while
Sounds like triathlon or TT would be a great fit for you, as they’re fitness sports with measurable gains, but with much less chance of being wiped out by a competitor. Occasionally seems like somebody is trying to drown you in triathlon, but I’m fairly sure it’s nothing personal…
Road racing is also pretty varied, crits and flat races can involve a lot of carnage but I generally find the longer and hillier the event the more sensibly everybody rides it.
I’ve enjoyed doing my own time trials, and created a local 15 mile Strava segment that I use to measure progress. Nearby there is a popular 10 mile TT route along a canal (no traffic!). The mountains are nearby, so I also like doing long climbs. My focus is on raising FTP and the muscular endurance to support doing 40-min to 2+ hour hard efforts. Had fun at my first 3 crits this year, although the last one was dangerous because of newbie riders having trouble riding a straight line. Our local Wed night group ride is like a crit, but with only 5-10 safe riders just looking for a great workout.
Taking time off from structured training is important for me. I have one more event in a month, I’m looking forward to it, and I’m also looking forward to releasing the grip of my scheduled work outs. I raced endurance and ultra endurance mountain biking events for years before I got honest with myself: I’m not very good at it. Once I shifted to shorter events, XC in length, I started to really enjoy racing again and actually found some good results. I was so used to finishing in the mid-pack that when I started getting podiums on the short courses I knew I would just shift my focus to them. Those shorter races have since gotten more competitive in my area so I now just race the master class and I can usually muster a top 10 over all. I don’t know, you have to enjoy the process of training, but if there is no end goal I couldn’t find the motivation to train.
I did do a gravel race this past week and it was interesting to see how some of the race was based on tactics. If I was a “recovering” road racer, I’d be doing that I think. I find them to be a mix of mountain bike solo racing and road tactics. I plan on doing more with a better plan moving forward. Racing it like a mountain biker only helped me on the descents!
All this. My doc has sidelined me from competition for what could be the better part of two years (awesome, right?). The first 2-3 months were very tough for the exact reason you mention – struggling to find an event and/or sport to focus on that ignited the same level of passion that road cycling. It’s taken me about 6 months to calm down to a post-sport level where I can be reasonable about how cycling fits into my life. My ‘A Race’ is now ‘Overall Health’ and I structure and use cycling to help me achieve my health goals. Thing is, and maybe this is your case as well, I had trained myself to train and compete, so even now when I’m out doing long easy rides (or deciding to sleep in and not do that long ride), I have to consistently remind myself of what my apex goal is, what it is I’m actually “training” for.
Your crash-triggered switch took you out of crit/road racing in an acute manner, but your mind and body are still chronically in the game. Give them time to detrain and align with the rest of your self. Maybe Zwift is your answer while you explore other options. I’m very slowly (cuz I hate running) considering trail running as a way to fulfill what has been lost in the bike world. It’s something new and will provide new challenges rather than consistent focus on what I cannot do.
Yes on part one…not so fast on part two.
After training for and completing my 2018 A race goal, I was totally ready to sell all my bike stuff simply because I was done with it. I only kept riding because I felt I had to because I had bought all of it. That was definitely the wrong thing to do. I took a whole month off the bike and then joined TR (you may or may not know my trials and tribulations from there). A year later and I’m 180-degrees from where I planned on being, but I keep riding because I have found that, yes, I do actually like to ride, even if I can’t ride the full spectrum of my abilities. Hang up the wheels for a while if you have to, take some refresh time before considering a final sale.
Thank you for the thoughtful response. I’d say I’m still trying to reprogram myself into the “overall health” goal instead of only training if I am competing (and vice versa).
I’ve actually had the “sell all your bike stuff” thought many times over the last few months. My solution so far has been to cull the herd down to the bikes I’ve always really enjoyed riding and use(d) frequently (my road and fat bike).
One of the other posters mentioned re-framed it as “looking for a new hobby,” which is a great and new way to look at it in my opinion. I’m looking for sustainable hobby that I can do for the rest of my life to be healthy, whether it’s under the umbrella of cycling or not; unfortunately, road racing didn’t fit the mold for me.
I stopped riding and sold off a bunch of my cycling stuff, including a couple of bikes, due to a stress related health issue that I was dealing with. Now retired, I realize that that was a mistake, I enjoy the training and riding, no plans to pin on a number and race again. If I had kept riding even a couple of times/week, my struggle to regain fitness would be much less. In the interim I hiked, swam and lifted. I recommend time trialing.
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