I haven't touched my bike in 49 days. And the truth is this: I don't care.
Before you take that out of context let me explain. It's not that I don't miss riding my bike, I DO, every day. It's not that I don't want to ride my bike, I DO, every day. I cannot wait to ride my bike again. But my world is not shattered that I can't. Why? Because there are so many other things to do. Why else? Well because, there is no point in being upset that I can't ride. It's my own damn fault anyway. But most of all, it's because I needed the break, and even though it was forced upon me, I am grateful for the downtime, and conscious of how it's helped me.
Truth be told, had I not gotten hurt, I probably wouldn't have taken any time away from my bike this fall. I would have kept up a heavy riding schedule, I would have gone to a couple more races, I would be having a blast, but I would be so unbelievable tired. Then winter would roll around, and I would find myself zipping back and forth between Sedona and Flag numerous times a week to ride. In the great state of Arizona, the fun never has to end. But fun comes with a price, right? For me that price is mental stability.
You can turn the intensity down, you can turn the mileage down, but you can't turn your mentality down. You always have to be conscious of what you're doing when you're riding, otherwise you'll find yourself ass in the dirt, hurt. Physically you can be fit and healthy, but if you're mentally burnt out, it's game over. I have a tendency to go-go-go until I reach that point of no return, the point where I find myself dragging so much there's nothing I can do except to do just that: nothing.
This often happens to me at a critical point in the year, the spring, when I should be starting to ramp things up and getting ready for the season. Instead, I'm usually avoiding all things bike and training related, all because I didn't have the wisdom and foresight to let my mind and body heal at an earlier, better, and more convenient time. Stupidly, I'm fully aware of this, and I do it anyway. Maybe it's because I have serious FOMO, and don't want to miss out on any fun times ever. Maybe it's because I think "it won't happen this year." Maybe it's because I'm competitive, and driven, and motivated, and want to succeed. Who knows.
Focus is an incredibly important part of success, but focusing on one thing too intently leaves all the periphery blurry. When you're marching straight ahead towards a goal, you miss a lot of the other wonderful things off to the side. It's a double edge sword. When you're hurt, the focus is most often pointed at recovery: recovering as quickly and as well as possible, getting back to sport and getting strong. But for me, the focus is on slowing down. I know my body will heal, I know I'm strong, I know I'll be fast on my bike again, but I'm not trying to rush it. Even though being hurt sucks, and it's far from ideal, there is a silver lining. And that is that you get the time to reset.
Even though I've been recovering from an injury, I've been feeling far more balanced than I have in a long time. Maybe it's all the time I've had for reflection, or maybe it's the fact that I've gotten back to doing exactly what I like to do: whatever I want, whenever I want (except ride, of course). Hike, run, gym, write, take pictures, read, relax... Whatever it may be, there is no stress surrounding it, no goal to be met other than achieving countless smiles and moments of gratitude.
I'll be back on my bike soon, and I have no doubt that the drive to get back to form quickly will be there. But in an effort to not get burnt out again by April, I am vowing to spend less time on my bike this winter, and more time doing my forever favorite thing: skiing. And hiking, and doing yoga, and hopefully going to a water ski camp, and maybe learning something totally new like how to box or kick box or something like that.
So here's a reminder to myself, and whomever else may feel like they need it: do things because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. Don't focus so much you become blind to everything but what's right in front of you. Take a day off, take a mental health day, switch things up often, learn new things, don't define yourself by one thing, and always make sure it fun.
Writing is something I have always been passionate about. I love sharing my stories, my thoughts, my advice, but mostly, I write to record memories and express myself. So here are a few of my fondest memories, best and worst moments, my most profound and boisterous thoughts, and riskiest advice. Enjoy!