Those who "ghosted" cycling

Have any of you caught up with someone who just disappeared off the local cycling scene cold turkey? What was their reason for leaving?

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Personal Story. Was racing NorCal Masters in my mid-50’s, y pack finish, occasional top 10. At the time was doing a very high stress job. Developed a stress-related medical illness that threatened to derail my career. Stopped racing and riding cold turkey. My exercise in those days consisted of weight lifting and hiking in the Sierra’s. I’ve since retired, and again taken up the bike. Much older and slower.

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Thanks for sharing. How did you feel when you stopped cold turkey, if you don’t mind my asking, did you feel like you lost a large part of your identity?

Yeah i suddenly gave up cycling: M50, been cycling for about 5 years, 4.3 w/kg, a bit of local racing, I was fast enough to find it fun. Rode about 6 or 7 hours per week. I was fully into the culture and followed the races: i knew who was who in the Spring Classics and when the Giro was… that sort of thing.

I suddenly had to give up cycling due to getting pudendal neuralgia and not being able to sit on a bike, or sit down full stop actually, and I stayed off it for 6 months. During this time cycling just evaporated from my life. All summer i didn’t watch a single minute of racing or pay any attention to that sport. Cycling didn’t exist. I still ran about 30 -40 miles per week so stayed fairly fit but it’s less 3 dimensional as a sport. There was something missing.

Then as the 6 months time approached i thought about having a go on the trainer again. I one day gave it a go and could wheeze out 230W. The 2nd time i enjoyed it, the 3rd time i enjoyed the feeling of steady (small) watts again and now i’m fully back into it, i’m back to 4.1w/kg and I love it again… Ironically i’ve now stopped running entirely because of a sore IT Band so i’m going to take up swimming again as “just cycling” doesn’t seem enough…

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Yes, it was a pretty tough period in my life. It was a perfect storm that set it off, the death of my father and problems at work. I picked up the bike again just before retirement. Started trying to get back into shape, mostly to keep up on group rides and get that “in shape” feeling. Did a cross-country trip this past summer. Mostly just to maximize fitness and health as the years march by. Currently 67

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I quit when spending 15 hours a week for mid pack finishes got old after 3 years.

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I like this topic.

I’ve seen friends and acquaintances come and go through cycling. A lot of them got better than me quickly, and that was a little hard for me to experience. Now I’m still here, and they’re doing motorsports or focusing fully on a career or raising kids.

The prevailing theme to them leaving the sport was that they only wanted to participate in it with 100% commitment, and once that wasn’t possible for them, they stopped enjoying it. As sad as that seems to me, I try to understand that position as I tend to be an all or nothing person as well. I’m just glad I’ve been able to adjust my expectation with cycling over the years as a recreational rider turned very competitive amateur racer, turned back into a more casual rider now focused primarily on the longevity of my participation in cycling in one form or another.

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Wow, ok this resonates with me. Up until this last month, my days were filled with cycling podcasts, cycling YouTube channels, Strava feeds, the TR forum :stuck_out_tongue: , and other cycling-related things. In the last couple of weeks I’ve rarely listened to anything cycling related and I’m wondering why. Perhaps it’s because I know I can’t commit any more time/effort to getting better on the bike.

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I didn’t quit cycling, but I quit motorcycle racing. And yes, it was very hard. I only rode a motorcycle a handful of times over the next near decade and it felt like I was going back home every time.

I imagine I will/would feel the same if I quit riding my MTB.

I picked up a motorcycle for track riding last year, but for track only without racing. It is a little peaceful going out there and riding only for you with no one else caring, and I look forward to that feeling when I quit MTB racing and just ride for pleasure only.

I will just be slower without the dedication. In both sports.

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How long have you been riding? I just realized it’s been 20 years for me! Holy shit. I’ve had many iterations of myself and many iterations of myself through cycling. Dirt bag mountain biker turned almost full road, back to dirt bag mountain biker now having a more blended approach, and now I just like riding bikes. I had to take a break over this winter just because I knew from experience that I was facing emotional burn-out from riding and training, and pushing through it will only make me hate it in the long run.

Like you, I’ve gone through phases with following the sport too. I used to listen to the TR podcast like religion, I used to follow all the road racing, all the XCO and DH racing I could get my hands on. Now I’m going through a phase where I’d rather read, listen and learn about deeper and/or different topics, but I’m sure I’ll come back to it all. Funny, I still enjoy the forum almost daily, but I suspect it’s because of the interactive nature to it.

I rediscovered my love of music this year, I’m trying running again for the first time in a long while, and I’m managing a new relationship that is turning out to be the most fulfilling I’ve ever had. I have many home improvement projects that I’ve put on pause because of my historical relationship to riding and training; it occurred to me that I was out of balance with life and while I love training, I realized I needed to put that on pause until some other aspects of my life are sorted out. When I go back to it, my hope is that I’ll be able to approach it with renewed vigor.

Cycling is just a life lesson. It’s a sport that we have the capacity to experience for a lifetime (if luck allows, of course). Let yourself pursue other ventures and put some thought into what cycling really gives you. No one cares about our race results but us. And I appreciate the sentiment offered by the TR team that the process can be more fulfilling than the outcome, but even then, most of us need a break and variety in this life. Hopefully some of this is helpful. It really is an interesting topic for me, thanks for starting it!

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I’ve been riding for 17 years with 2 x 6 months ‘breaks’ where I basically disappeared. Both were primarily due to work stress / burnout. I just came home one day and was tired / stressed and didn’t ride. And the next day. That turned into a week and then a month. Both times I decided not to force myself to ride, I’d just start riding again when I felt the urge.

This reminds of me bit of when I stopped playing Euphonium. I was very into it in high school and would practice 1-2hrs almost every day. I loved making music by myself, improving my technique / musicality, and sharing those experiences with others. When I went to college I majored in Computer Science but auditioned and got into the Wind Ensemble for fun. Well the conductor / teacher was ‘abrasive’ and frequently made even the male Seniors cry by publicly berating them during practice. It turned something I loved and did for fun into a huge source of stress and when the year ended I didn’t pick up my instrument again and just disappeared from the music department. Well, I did try getting back into it 5-6 years after school ended, but I wasn’t consistent and it was tainted from the bad experiences.

A key for me in the 6 years since my last cycling ‘break’ is balance. Balancing life, work, personal relationships, and cycling to keep a high quality of life and not let it all become unbalanced. Fun and enjoyment are the highest priority, if I feel like I have to ride or there is stress associated with riding I’m doing it wrong and need to make some changes.

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For me, that’s always the case. The journey is far more interesting (and rewarding) than the destination.

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I’m 55 now and have been a serious roadie since I was 13 when I got my first good bike. My commitment has been on and off over the years but I’ve always considered myself a serious cyclist.

In my mid-late 20s I raced for 7 years and then quit after I was burned out. Spending 10 hours per week training, getting the occasional top 10 in cat 4 and then spending another 5+ hours per week driving to races just all seemed pointless.

After I stopped racing I always felt like an “athlete” even though I wasn’t training. It’s weird.

I really wish I had transitioned to staying very fit but not racing. Just do some club rides and a fondo or century and call it good.

I always found it hard to have been at a high level and then go back to riding, even consistently, at a much lower level.

Now, I’m 56 and around 6 years ago I got the bug again to train. I just wanted to see how fast I could get again. It’s been a challenge and seriously depressing at times because I’m not exceptionally fast. I’m decently fast because I train but there are guys in my club that are really fast. They are often the former cat 1s that still ride a ton, race occasionally but don’t take it that seriously. But they have so much natural talent and have basically never stopped riding that they are still really fast. It’s frustrating that I’ll never catch them no matter how much structured training or optimization I do. On top of it, at 56, I’m riding with young guys that ride 4-5 hours per week and are pretty fast. I put in 8-10-12 hours per week and I don’t get faster than them. The young guys in my club also do it all “wrong”. I see them on Strava doing an hour of sweet spot on Zwift a few times a week - that’s it - no SIT, VO2max, or FTP progressions.

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I’m like you though…just flummoxed on how these young guys can just do an extra ride or two now and again and they’re so effing FAST! :joy: Then there’s some that are fast and they outwork everyone else…just on another level. Whew.

I always think my friends viewed me in this light (no matter how much they practiced, they could never reach my level…in basketball) so I’ve seen both sides now I guess.

It is what it is. Someone’s gotta be mostly last place. Im not special so it may as well be me.

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One of the guys I ride with was a low level domestic pro a long time ago. He’s my age. He tried out for the national jr. team (during the Armstrong/Hincapie era) and didn’t make it. He might have made the B team but Carmichael disbanded the B team so he could focus on the A team.

He rides much less than I do. He doesn’t do any structured training. He doesn’t even ride hard in the winter. I see him putting around doing 150 watts for an hour on Zwift a few times per week. He’ll start group riding in the spring, do a few 50 milers and magically be in great shape. Maybe this is not the level he used to be at but he’s hanging with the A group on this minimal, low intensity winter training non-plan. That is super frustrating!. I work 3x as hard just to barely hang with him.

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I would’ve quit the job. :rofl:

I was an avid roadie from 2012-2019, never missed a club ride, did lots of fondos, rode outside no matter the weather all year round, did at least one 150km ride/week, usually rode 300km/week and even more in summer. Then i got introduced to mtn biking in summer 2019 and that’s all I’ve done ever since! I even quit TR at that time and sold the trainer. I completely stopped road biking and don’t miss it at all, tho i do miss the outstanding fitness acquired from long rides and big volume. I have discovered mtb fitness is just not the same as roadie fitness, lol. So, several months ago i again bought a trainer and re-started my TR subscription - i had forgotten how much i enjoy suffering on the trainer and I’m pleased to say I’m regaining my old fitness level - yeah! No plans to start road riding outside but i am looking forward to buying another mtn bike this year :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:.

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I quit 2 or 3X, and always completely shut off. Less visible to others now that I don’t bother with Strava.

Got fed up and stressed about not progressing or regressing, putting in work and going nowhere. Basically burning out, mentally, and frustrated.

Other time was injury and just lost interest after doing other things.

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Why are you not going to road ride outside anymore? Is it because of traffic and drivers?

I’ve had one too many close passes and aggro situations ruin an otherwise fun, fast solo ride. I am happy to never take my bike onto another road again… Unless there is another full lockdown…

That’s a lesson I’ve had to learn and re-learn. Something that was helpful for me was actually realizing some outcome goals in the last few years - basically just getting to stand on a local podium now and then, I never had a huge race goal really, I just wanted to recognize myself as a strong local rider as I knew I didn’t have the talent to pursue anything much further. After you stand on a few local race podiums you get the gist of it; no one fucking cares, it’s rewarding only in a very temporary way, it’s a wonderful albeit shallow reward for some hard work, and it’s almost as if it’s something that I could tick off a list. Circling back, I absolutely agree with you, it’s the process of preparation that is the most rewarding and non-competitive people miss that aspect I think. There’s a lot of beauty that goes into friendly competition, and I’ve had to learn to shut down negative thinking that I had surrounding racing. Being happy for friends who were able to perform at a higher level than myself even after riding for a much shorter time than myself, stopping myself from tying my self-worth as a person and cyclist into my results. Now I’m more open to chasing different goals with a lot less concern about outcome.

Yep. It’s hard looking back 7-8 years to my fitness peak sometimes, but I just try to find different areas where I can improve still, like bike handling and pacing. Another fitness peak is still not out of the question for me if I can train 10 hours or more a week again at some point in my life, but even then it would be a stretch. At some point, I’ll need to fully come to terms with that. I’m 43 and have been dealing with plenty of midlife thoughts in the last few years.

Oh yeah. I don’t have natural talent, so any speed I’ve developed is very much earned. It is hard watching folks with a much higher base-line fitness ride for 2 hours and get fast.

Ain’t that the truth. I’ve had my hopes dashed after long blocks of road riding only to have them dashed 15 minutes into a mountain bike ride. Specificity is a funny thing! I love riding road for many reasons but I’ve gotten much more picky on who and where I ride with. No more big group rides or busy roads. And when the weather turns a bit warmer and trails improve I have no issues becoming a 100% dirt rider.

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