Get comfortable, this is going to take a minute.....
Coming off of an injury, riding has changed a bit for me. Mid-summer I broke my foot and sprained my ankle. Now, this wasn't my best spring/summer of training, so it's not like I was throwing away a ton of fitness for 'cross season, but bikes aren't just for racing to me. You see, I commute by bike to a neighborhood that offers really no parking to be had in one of the most densely populated areas in one of the largest cities in the country.
With a broken foot I was forced into driving for weeks, fighting traffic, searching for parking. I wasn't pleased. Luckily I am finally back on the bike, albeit without any sort of fitness.
Being forced off of the bike for nearly 2 months changed the way I look at riding. I started riding based out of my love of competition and my passion for gear. For years I did commute by bike, but primarily to get the miles in on my training. Not having to deal with traffic on the highway or fight for parking was an added bonus, but my bikes were tools for racing.
Missing my first 'cross season in 5-6 years has me looking at my bike very differently. The last two weeks have found me searching for new routes not based on where I can get intervals in, but seeing new things. Exploring. Getting a bit more rad than normal.
Being off of the bike for a a couple of months reminded me what I could be doing with my weekend mornings. Pancakes with my kiddos, Saturday morning cartoons, taking those same little goons of mine to the park.
Racing my bike had become not-so-much fun. Sure, dropping friends on group rides was a great time when it happened, and spending time with good friends on bikes is great for your soul. But I had gotten so enthralled in racing that I was missing some balance in my life.
"It makes me sad when I see someone turn their hobby into something not fun."
When I heard that as I was getting back into riding a couple weeks ago it sunk in. Sure, I'll still probably go out to do some hammerfest-type rides. But for the first time in years I'm riding without a powermeter. Let me tell you, it feels great. Stopping to take pictures, turning around to check out spots I may have missed, more coffee breaks.
Now, rather than planning carpools for every Sunday to head out to a 'cross race for the day, I'll head out during the kids' nap time. I'm planning some adventure rides with friends, exploring new roads and trails.
No, I'm not as fast as I used to be, but I never was all that fast anyway. I haven't stood on a podium this year like I used to, but I'm quite fine with that.
These days, rather than checking my power numbers and planning intervals for tomorrow, I'm trying to remember where that trail head was that I saw last week, wondering where it leads.
Get rad, guys. Have fun on your bikes. If nailing a 20 min interval makes you tingly inside, do it up! Remember the thing that got you riding, remember why you do what you do. Being off of the bike for a while has reminded me why I love this sport.
photos and words by Brandon Elliott