Are you tired yet?
For us roadie scum, these are the golden months. We have been beating our heads against the wall since January and now it’s time for a break. Two glorious months of beer, barbeque, beer and other debaucherous non-cycling activity lay ahead of you. If you have done right by your season (and done your season in right), you are ready to take that bull by the horns and enjoy a little time off.
So. With all those newly free hours (what is it, twenty-five each week, you animal?), what to do? Let’s take a little peek into the future.
If you are anything like me, by the time your season ends you have grand plans for September and October. You’re tired, sore, and probably still a little bitter about those near-miss races, which have no doubt multiplied in your memory. You don’t know how to step back from the sport when the time is right, so instead you raced “just one more” through your fatigue until the end of the Cal Cup, then you found yourself talked into racing the Mt. Tam Hillclimb (except this year, may the old girl get her beauty sleep and be back in full regalia for 2010). Then, suddenly, it’s October.
Beautiful, glorious October, batting her eyelashes at you from across the room.
Your two-month break has been shortened to one. What now? You don’t even want to think about your bike, so that’s out. You used up all your vacation time traveling around to race over the season, no Carribean vacation for you. Camping sounds nice, but it’s October and the weather is hit or miss this time of year. That’s okay, a little rest and relaxation at home will probably do you more good than any of those plans.
The first free day is like a dream. Nothing to do, no counting calories or steps lest you take too many and ruin your recovery. You meet your buddies for happy hour, scarf some wings and stumble home after ten knowing that you don’t have to get up at some ungodly hour to pound out a few intervals. Aaaah, that’s the life. The second day is much like the first, but a little blurry on account of the previous night’s activities.
By the third day you’re starting to itch. Your body is addicted to the exercise, it needs to move. Holding still, it feels like a junkie whose dealer went on vacation – shaky, unpredictable and nervous. Coach insists that you take a full week completely off. No cross-training, no nothing. “You’ve earned this,” he says, “just relax and enjoy it.”
Enjoy it my ass. You have got to do something or you just might burst. On the fifth or sixth day you dig around and find your running shoes and head out the door. You probably don’t ease yourself into it, rationalizing that you’re a trained athlete, you should be able to run for at least 30 minutes right off the bat, maybe more.
This, of course, leads to a few more days of complete rest, because you wake up the next morning to discover that the motion you usually call “walking” has been reduced to a painful shuffle. You will probably end up with the full week of rest your coach ordered, but it won’t be consecutive.
Two weeks into your break you are ready to be back in the saddle, but that first run taught you a lesson about rushing it. So you keep doing other stuff for a few more weeks. Swimming, running, hiking, the occasional pick-up game of something if the weather cooperates. Then just like that, it’s time to hunker down again and train in earnest.
And then, after a few months of long rides in the rain and cold, you find yourself daydreaming about next October.
Bike racing, she is a cruel and fickle mistress.
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