The temptation

I was reading the Ed’s intro in the latest issue of Bikemag. It basically went like this:

Boy discovers riding. Riding was fun.

Boy becomes serious and then pro but when he turned pro, it became work… and not fun.

Boy, now Man lost interest in riding. Fun was gone.

Man stopped riding.

Recently, with new job Man rediscovered the fun bit.

Man now realises riding is about fun, nothing else.

Man’s having fun.

Last week, Lenny and I hit up Awaba. 20km of single track bliss, including some new trail I have not ridden before. It’s the first time since last December we’ve ridden it together and my first time since then I have been back to ride. It’s amiss of me but with work and the like, hitting up ST for most of this year has been a luxury, not a normality. Quite sad. It’s not that I have not been pushing pedals, I certainly have, just not in ways I want to.

A few weeks back, actually right after Interbike, I made a pact with myself to get out on good ST once a week. And when I mean good, I mean something worth riding. Most of the ‘stuff’ around Sydney is just not worth the effort (and I’ve spent too long riding it for it to be any fun anymore) and if I’m going to sit in a car for 40 or 50 minutes to go ride average, then I’ll push it out to 80 mins and go ride something ‘worth riding’. The downside of having become a ‘destination rider’ of course is that it takes time, so once a week is not a bad effort.

Anyhoo, so we spent a few hours riding and it seems the hours of dull pedal pushing and gym work have actually paid off, as the 20k’s seemed easy; we both could have done another round except both of us were nursing delicate backs and did not feel like tempting the back gods. It’s been a while since I’ve been anywhere near what I’d term as bike fit. There’s still a way to go, by ‘my’ standards, but being able to ride for 1.5 to 2 hours and not feel like you are about to expire is a nice feeling. Sure, the month and a bit that saw the move of house, studio, Interbike and one round of ‘fucked back’ saw a kilo creep back on me (hey, I like my food and drink!) but overall, the feeling of feeling good is…. good.

And there’s the temptation.

If being even this ‘bike fit’ makes life good, I know that more will be better. Welcome to the trap of ‘never enough’. With the MC hardtail built and ready to go, there are bigger street rides already planned and what now is a solid hour of riding 2-3 times a week will soon become around 2 hours twice a week plus – on an all carbon hardtail, it’s easy to bash out the k’s. Change the gym routine to aid this, watch what I stuff in my mouth and before I know it, I’m looking at serious land. The question is, do I want to go there?

It’s easy enough to fall into this trap. I already use a HRM to keep track of things, more to make sure not to over cook it. That HRM though can become a taskmaster very easily and what started as just keeping casual track soon becomes obsessive weekly monitoring. Having been there and done that, I know that once you tip, fun becomes work and work becomes boring. You can extrapolate from there. Having burnt out in the past by being obsessive, being surrounded by other obsessive types and dealing with the bike biz everyday, I vowed not to go there ever again. But like my own personal version of ‘my precious’, I can hear the murmuring trying to draw me back as all the cards line up and reasons not to are seemingly light compared to the reasons to.

But I think I’ve caught myself, like standing on the edge and making the choice to take that one step forward or backward. I have spent the weekend dwelling on it, thinking how easy it would be to go all serious. After all, I am at the apex of what I term ‘bike life’ and to be blistering on a bike would fit so well with my business card(s). It’s not going to happen though. I made the call. Sure, I’ll ride more. I’ll use the gym to help the process. But I am not going ‘there’ ever again. I made the call years ago and I walked away from it all (blew up physically and mentally?). Now, while I can see and feel the temptation, the mantra shall remain, ‘ride for fun’.

So if only riding 4 or 5 hours a week means I have to push the big bike up the one steep pinch, who the hell cares? Not me. On the scale of a 2 or 3 hour ride at a good pace, stepping off for a quick push is just not a big deal. It’s that ‘knowing it’s ok’ that means you don’t go and mentally beat yourself up over it. And that’s the difference between having a stupid grin on your mug after a ride, or a pissed off scowl.

And who rides a bike to scowl?