I am learning some lessons about myself and about what motivates me. It’s other people. I thrive on competing with others. I feed off the energy of those around me. I work very hard to impress people. If you put a fast person in front of me on the trail, I will bomb down the hills, chasing them at speeds that are much faster than I’d ever go alone. When I can hear riders behind me in a group ride, I am challenged to keep one thought from going through their heads… “I wish this slow girl wasn’t in front of me.” It’s as if I thrive off chasing and being chased.
Herein the problem lies. What happens when I am riding alone? In all my Elite races last season, I quickly settled into a place just like this. The competitor ahead of me was out of sight, and I’d never real her in. The competitor behind me (if there was one) was also out of sight. The pressure of being chased was gone and the rabbit ahead of me was out of reach. I call it no man’s land. I may as well have been on a long training ride. If you looked at my Garmin stats, you’d see that I spent the entire rest of the race in Zone 4, just below what I’d like my race pace to be.
This whole scenario also played itself out last night on the Ceres group ride. I went from “I don’t feel like it” to “This is awesome!” to “I just feel like stopping” all in one night. I totally understand the reason for my yo-yo of emotions. It’s because I’m not in a training program yet, so unless I’m around other people, I have nothing to focus on. Riding for fun when I’m alone is something I can do on a sunny Saturday afternoon, but when I’m alone on a cold, dark night, I absolutely need a little help from my friends (and I don’t mean any illegal substances).
I started out the night in Full Blown Bikinator mode. I left work dressed to ride and ran into Action Wheels to drop off my Stumpy Hard Tail. The brakes were rubbing badly and I needed that bike for this weekend’s cross race.
My husband George was in the shop at the same time ironically. He was getting his bike assessed after his most recent crash. I descended in on them, left the bike, and gave a quick explanation of what was wrong.
“Gotta go. I’m riding tonight and the rain is coming!” I said.
So, I arrived at Ceres before anyone else got there. I briefly wondered if the ride was cancelled without my knowing. I set up my gear in the dark parking lot and tried to keep myself pumped up. It wasn’t working. Scott arrived and I felt a little better. I rode about 15 minutes by myself and then hooked up with the group.
Rob led out. We had the usual pause as people sorted themselves into riding positions. A super fast guy was second. I was prompted to go next. The others fell in behind me. I felt complimented to be invited in front of someone and I rose to the occasion. I was ON!
I rode fast, chasing the two in front of me. It was one of those magical moments where I did everything right. My eyes were like a hawk’s, finding the roots under the leaves, and unweighting my bike at just the right moment to keep from sliding or skidding. My legs felt powerful. I made it up a super steep hill I’d never gotten up before. It felt like a choreographed dance as the line of riders descended the hills, leaning and flowing.
In spite of this, I am still in touch with the feeling of being a new rider. I have a fear of getting dropped or looking slow. I am very prideful and I don’t want that to happen to me. I’m the Bikinator, after all.
There were moments when we slowed down for an obstacle or a bridge. As each rider slows down, the deceleration becomes more pronounced for each person down the line. This happened at a low-lying bridge, and I think some of the guys had to stop behind me and put their feet down. This is one of the reasons I really don’t like to be in the back.
It also happened as we approached the skinny that I’d fallen off of a month or so ago. I was third in line for it. As I was lining up to ride up the ramp, I could hear someone behind me starting to pass me. I think they were going to hop the logs that the skinny was built on. I was so nervous that my concentration would be messed up if I saw someone next to me while I was up on the narrow board that I stood up and pedaled hard. I sped up and crossed the thing before anyone came into my peripheral vision. I did not want another accident on that obstacle.
The ride seemed faster than normal. I not sure if my perception was accurate though. Instead, I think that I’m simply getting slower. In past Ceres night rides, I’d sprint with the group, and then wonder why we would stop for so many rests. This time, I really needed the rests. The average speed for these rides has been gradually diminishing since I’ve been doing them. This tells me that as a whole, the group is getting slower and that I’m losing fitness. This is going to change very soon because my training is about to begin. Lich heim! (I don’t know what that means. It just sounds German.)
We made our way to the Roller Coaster Trail. The group had previously discussed that it was too cold to cross the stream and chance getting our feet wet. I was very happy with this because I’d decided last week to boycott stream crossings for the rest of the winter. As we approached the end of the Roller Coaster, Rob didn’t turn us around. Instead we descended toward the stream. I knew what was about to happen. The lure of the trails on the other side was too strong for them.
They decided to cross under Rt 55 where it’s the shallowest. I watched the water douse their feet as they forged across. I turned my bike around and said, “I’m not crossing. I’ll see you when you come back.” I left them and climbed back up to the top of the Roller Coaster.
Suddenly I was done. It’s like someone pushed a button in my brain. I became unfocused, clumsy, and unmotivated. My back wheel spun out on roots of the climb. I awkwardly walked the bike the rest of the way up without dismounting. I rode the swoopy Roller Coaster pretty slowly. It’s not that I was tired. I just couldn’t see as well without someone to follow. There were no lights behind me illuminating my path and my lights had dimmed a bit as well.
The wind picked up and the temperature dropped. I could see a fine misting of water vapor in the air and I knew the rain was coming soon. I made my way back to the car and found that I couldn’t ride confidently. I overshot some turns and had to go back. I don’t really know my way around well enough to ride fast unless there is someone in front of me.
As I pulled into the parking lot, the rain began coming down a little harder and I knew I’d made the right decision. I’d only ridden for one hour, but I was fine with that. Soon, my coach will send me my training plan and I will have the drive to do what I have to do. It’s going to sound strange, but I’m kind of tired of riding for fun. I want structure and goals again. The last two months have been great, but it’s time for a new chapter in my biking. I’m ready to embrace it.
From an online search
Yiddish/Hebrew. Literally, to life. The toast you offer before drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages, used the way you would use "Cheers!" in English.
Oh, man! So, I'm spelling it wrong and it doesn't mean what I intend. Do you know what German words mean "Get your butt in gear, NOW, Do It! Move it! It would need to be two or three words that sound abrasive and strong. Picture me cracking the whip and making you ride your bike!
You are amazing! I accidentally stumbled on to your blog and have read every post in the last two days. It is like a book I couldn't put down. I also love mountain biking, but don't do enough. I'm in Australia and it's just coming into our summer, so hopefully I'll get more riding done. Keep up the posts.
Google Translate didn't give a decent translation for what you wanted. The generic "Mach schnell!" I'd often hear on "Hogan's Heroes" means "Hurry up!"; literally it's a command to "Do it quickly!" If you've never seen an episode of Hogan's Heroes, think of a prison guard barking orders to the prisoners as they get out of the barracks for roll call; if they dawdle the guard shortens it even further to a simple "Schnell!"
Oh, and the Yiddish/Hebrew spelling of L'Chayim may have variants when transliterated from Hebrew to the Roman alphabet - like how Ghadhafi's name is spelled many ways in English when transliterated from Arabic.
Onlykev, Thank you for your comment. What a compliment! I love writing the blog and will definitely keep it up. Glad to hear you'll be getting out there to enjoy your bike. Remember what they say.... "Work: the 8 hours per day that separates you from biking".
Mark, you are a knowledge bank! Seriously. Mach schnell fits what I'm looking for.
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