At 16 years old, I used my entire savings to buy my first road bike. It was a beautiful, hardly ridden, red Trek 1500. I grew up in Ontario so I rode that bike every day from Spring until Fall. I rode it to and from school and to my part time job as a lifeguard. On the weekends, I would explore old farm roads, challenging myself to ride further each week.
When I moved to Whistler I switched up the road bike for a mountain bike but I still rode as much as I could.
Now between the two bikes, the only thing that stops me from riding is work or illness. Even after this many years of riding I still love my bikes more than any other sport I have tried.
So the question was, “How do you feel when you miss a ride?”
When I was younger and less wise, missing a ride would drop me immediately into a pit of despair. I would feel like the strength and power in my cycling legs was seeping away with every second that I wasn’t on my bike. I would swear to my friends that I must have gained five pounds overnight. If I missed a workout I would feel guilty for days as I obsessed about it, thinking that everyone else must be riding and getting faster when I wasn’t.
But after this many years, I have realized some very valuable lessons that have helped me overcome these thoughts.
The first thing I realized is that riding is my life and a lifestyle. There is no finish line. My training will ebb and flow with whatever else is happening in my life but the bike will always be there. That is reassuring.
The second lesson I learned is to have patience. We all want to be fast in one season but that doesn’t happen on the bike, especially if you want to be an endurance rider, completing a century or fondo. It takes years of training to make riding 160km feel comfortable. Missing one or two days of riding in a season is not going to make or break your training or fitness level.
Sometimes missing a training session can even make you faster. If you haven’t recovered from your last workout yet or you are getting run down or sick, taking a day off will do you more good than beating yourself up on the bike in this state.
The key is not to let missing workouts become a habit but also not to beat yourself up for it. Once you have missed a workout, don’t try to compensate by going harder on the next one. Simply put it behind you and stick to the program.
If you don’t have a program, then you need to get one. A program allows you to schedule your workouts around your other commitments and helps prevent you from putting in a lot of junk miles. Riding every day at the same speed is a great way to build a solid base, which is an important phase of the training program. But once you have moved beyond that, you aren’t going to get faster training this way. A good training program should have variety which includes some hard rides, some easy rides and an endurance ride within each week.
If it is an injury or work that is keeping you off the bike for an extended period of time, I have learned to use this time wisely. The first thing I do is clean up my diet. When you are riding for four to six hours in one weekend, it is necessary to eat high calorie foods to replace the lost glycogen stores. If I’m not on my bike, these foods quickly get eliminated.
The second thing I do is try to focus on what is keeping me off the bike so I can get back on again as soon as possible. If it is an injury I spend my lost cycling time on my rehab exercises. If it is work, I create a deadline so I know when I can get back on my bike again and then I adjust my program or goals accordingly.
Head Coach and Owner of Kits Energy