Single Bike Rider Seeks Long Term Motivation

January 30th, 2013

When the remote control is more attractive than the pedals, what moves you?

By Thomas Miller

When I was 29 years old I jumped on the Ironman band wagon.  Having never done a triathlon before, I signed up for Ironman Brazil with the goal of completing an Ironman before the age of thirty.  It was a ridiculous and terrible idea.  This may be hard to believe, but the body needs a little time to adapt to the training volume required to complete a long distance triathlon.  During that time I was constantly plagued by IT band issues, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, etc.  I bought an aluminum Motobecane that I ordered off the internet for $195 (huge mistake, by the way) and had the distinct honor of being the only person in the entire event to have downtube shifters on their bike.

Everything was shiny and new.  I was embarking on some madcap adventure half way across the planet, learning new things daily and making huge leaps in fitness.  For whatever reason I had decided to change my lifestyle and motivation was never a question.  My motivation was my utter ignorance of it all.

It’s now been six years since that race.  In that time I’ve done approximately a billion more triathlons, a decent number of road races, duathlons, cyclocross races, and even a few trail runs.  I’ve worked in bike shops for 5 ½ of those 6 years, and generally ride my bike daily.  Truly, this is my chosen career and I know for a fact that the bicycle has changed my life in many positive ways.

But I’m tired.

This winter I’ve been sick or traveling and spending more time on my Wii than on the road.  It’s cold and miserable and what the hell am I training for?  A mid-pack finish in another local race?  Geez, I’m finding a hard time getting out the door for that.  As Greg Lemond famously quipped, “It doesn’t get any easier, you just go faster.”  Training and racing are always terrifically painful, so why sign up for a mediocre result.

I’m too old. I started too late. I like beer a little too much.

Then I thought about the last time I rode by myself and how I figured out the secret of life, if just for a moment.  Then my friends suggested a training camp in Kerrville and that sounded fun.  Then I saw some maniac riding a double decker bike down Lamar and saw the Rapha Team Sky kit the very same day.  And finally, I remembered that I have the ability to define my experience.

Racing can be life consuming and uber serious, but cruising to East Side Pies can be life affirming and hilarious.  I wasn’t tired of cycling.  I’m just tired of the way I’ve been cycling recently.

So, here we go.  My advice, for what it’s worth.  If you’re having a tough time staying motivated this winter, just take a step back.  Think about when you first started cycling and all of the mistakes you’ve made along the way.  Think of the short cuts you’ve found and the great neighborhoods you’ve ridden through.  Think about those climbs that you used to fear and the way you attack them now.  The satisfaction of an early morning ride and how it just puts you in a better mood for the rest of the day.  Rent a mountain bike for a day, or ride without an agenda.  Try commuting to work or take a night ride through downtown.  Remember that this is supposed to be fun.

And if none of that works, watch this.