Idiot Riding

 I almost didn't ride today. It would have been easy to shrug off the unceremonious 60-minute endurance ride that kicked off my 2022 BaseCamp winter training, but I didn't; mainly because I needed something brainless to accomplish today, and I knew all I had to do was get that crankarm turning and the ERG mode on Zwift would take care of the rest.

It has been 11 weeks since racing Rebecca's Private Idaho, a 100-mile gravel race that took me 8 hours to complete and was easily my best day on a bike. Since then, I have kept riding, but not regularly. This recent interval between training cycles was really a period of regression and withdrawal, my first such period in over a year. But despite the doldrums, this has not necessarily been a time without growth. The euphoria and struggle that accompany pursuit of a specific goal teaches us a lot about ourselves, but I also gained insight during this rudderless period as well.

As I struggled to stay motivated in the wake of my epic ride, I wondered why my disappointing finish (I was hoping to finish closer to 7 hours) wasn't lighting a fire under my ass. I thought I should be strategizing for the 2022 race: I probably needed to pay closer attention to my diet, maybe do more dedicated gravel rides, or even participate in some other races to get more accustomed to pushing myself. My therapist (who always warns me about the word "should") helped shift my perspective by explaining that I am made of "parts", and this was a time when the part of me that didn't care about riding needed some attention. Recognizing and accepting that "lazy part" of me was difficult, especially when I have a constant fear of gaining too much weight, but taking a break from being laser-focused on a goal, like a bike race that had been on my mind for over a year, helped me know myself—even after 45 years—and appreciate the arc of my progress even more.

Which brings me to today as I embark on the 16-week journey that is BaseCamp, a structured, off-season cycling program that I did last year and which partially distracted me from the horrendous ski season we had to endure in the Wasatch. BaseCamp cycling workouts are built with a great deal of specificity in effort—ride x minutes at level y, then x minutes at level z, etc.—so it's best to have a power meter on your bike. For someone with a fetish for statistics and a love gadgets, it wasn't hard to justify the purchase of more toys for my bikes, but in reality, as much as riding in my basement gets monotonous, my trainer gives me the best bang for the buck. No stopping, no coasting, no overexertion, just constant pedaling. Once I load the workout and set my trainer to ERG mode, Zwift controls the resistance on my trainer and never lets me deviate from the prescribed watts. I call it idiot-mode riding because I just turn the crank and let the screen yell at me when my cadence drops. That's what I needed today: brainless riding. Makes it so much easier to hop on the bike after work when you know that's all you have to do.


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