Words by Jesper Grundahl
Pictures by Kristof Ramon
Road-fatique is something we all experience once in a while. Not only physically, even though it’s not Tour de France we are riding, but also mentally because as a cyclist you often immerse yourself entirely into the sport. Cycling can for many be a 24/7-thing, and can in the end leave you not feeling motivated at all to grab your bike and head-out.
As the season heads into the warmer summer months you will likely already have been riding since late-March. Counting the winter months you may even have gone on for longer. So far things have been great, but suddenly you can feel like you can’t stand the sight of your bike anymore, you can’t find your legs and you may find your entire cycling existence is a pain-in-the-rear.
I think we’ve all at some point felt like selling everything, hanging-up our cycling shoes and turn to Bowling instead. Or maybe not. The feeling is horrendous and everything is wrong. Your legs don’t work, you’re fed up with your bike (good excuse for buying a new one, there!) and you hate just about every plant you pass on your training routes.
Luckily it doesn’t last forever, and there is hope to be found in a few golden rules to have you back on the road again fit and happy.
By “Slow Down” I don’t mean hitting the breaks, and then speed up again immediately after. With “Slow Down” I mean you should slow your tempo right down. Forget about the kick-ass training regime your screaming coach insists you should do, and stop taking part in town-sprints. It’s just a sign anyway. In fact, skip all group rides for a while, find your own slow pace, perhaps even with a good friend, and just slowly head out on shorter rides. The importance is you keep the pace slow. Enjoy the easy spin, and find your legs again.
QUIT LOOKING AT YOUR CYCLING COMPUTER
If you’re a “Suffer Chamber”-fiend and consistently look at your watts, speed, how many calories you’ve burned and if “Today’s Match” has started on your cycling computer, it is time to stop staring at your screen and avoid looking at it for at least a week. Leave instead your cycling computer at home, pay attention to what is around you, and let numbers be numbers. Forget about stats and Strava, and go easy in the gears. Glide along in gentle fashion and your legs will feel like you’ve given them a Five Star VIP holiday. After a week of this your legs will gladly reward you again, and you may even have SEEN things around you instead of resembling Chris Froome staring at his stem.
Your body is your engine, and it needs taken care of. Some people don’t think too much about it, and just eat what they want, but others live on a strict diet-regime to look like a fit race-horse. Even a race horse can feel a bit lame and run out of energy at times. A proper diet is important if you want to reserve energy to ride your bike, but it doesn’t mean you have to eat like a super-model. Fats will not get you too far, and you’ll hate yourself on the climbs, but experts say you should at least get 60 percent of your calories from carbs. Eating a healthy diet of vegetables and organic whole food is also a far better choice than pasta and white bread.
CHANGE YOUR BIKE Doing the same thing over and over again becomes boring, and if your road bike is letting you down, by not motivating you, a good advice is to change your machinery for a while. If you are able to. If you haven’t got a Cross bike or Mountain Bike maybe you have a winter bike. Or just use your regular road bike and mount some wider tires on it, and head for the woods. Don’t worry, your carbon bike can stand a lot more than you think. Regard your ride as play, and do not under any circumstances regard it as a training ride. Experiment. Go on an adventure and find the fun in being on a bike again. Be a kid again.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS
If none of the above has helped, and you still haven’t found motivation, simply park your bike for a while and do something entirely different. Don’t just sit on the couch, but do something physical so you are active and keep your muscles intact. Run, walk the dog, do gardening, go sky-diving, but give your legs, and your head, a break from cycling and it will come back to you sooner than you think in a happier and stronger way.