More Selfish, Less Social
It’s an interesting thing, continuing to push yourself to bigger goals and achievements in cycling. I’m realizing that it’s not been energy or ability to train more that’s kept me away from my goals - rather social lifestyle and other interests (vs. passions). Working with my new coach (Zack from Source Endurance) I’ve really been putting in solid work the last two months. And surprisingly doing the workouts has not been the hard part - that part is a blast because I get to just “do” and not have to try and figure things out.
The hard part has been the relational and lifestyle changes I’ve had to transition to make the workouts possible. A lot of us gear our cycling pursuits in parallel with our social lifestyle - there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It’s both fun training and social interaction to join group rides through the week. But as you start to go after something bigger you quickly realize that the group rides aren’t effective training at all. OR as you increase the volume of your riding (I’m averaging 12–20 hours more per month) the scheduling and timing of your rides has to change to make sure you can value the key relationships in your life.
Yes, you literally need to sacrifice some relationships and social experiences to pursue big challenges in cycling. I would describe it as your riding needs to become much more selfish. If you need 4 hours on the bike but the start time of your favorite group rides makes it such that you aren’t really going to see your family all day - let the group ride go. Ride early solo and be with your family.
Will members of your team start to wonder where you’ve gone? Yep.
Will you have to experience going to those same group rides and realizing their pace and structure really aren’t helpful for someone aiming to race? Yep.
Will group rides start to feel more like babysitting? Yep.
Will you need to stop using discomfort as an excuse for not using the trainer in training? In my experience, Yep.
I finally understand why I’ve always seen the higher elite guys in my area only ever riding in groups of 2–4 guys at a time. It’s not “eliteism” on their part - it’s more simple then that. They just want to be able to ride without someone dropping off the back the whole time. To keep a pace that keeps their huge goals on schedule - like 80–100 mile road races and the incredible efforts they will need to be able to dish out in the Spring and Summer.
Practically, I am finding that being willing to do more training solo and utilizing time on the trainer as the two biggest positive changes in approach for me this year. It’s not that I’m all business and won’t be riding with people this year - it’s just that when I do it’s got to be when the pressure is off because I’ve done the training at other times. That way I can relax in a group and simply enjoy the experience.
I also realize that my approach has to be more focused then a lot of guys looking to race at this level. I’m an owner in a fast growing business, the father of four amazing children and dedicated to my wife. I’m not willing to sacrifice those foundational things for racing bikes. But 3–4 group rides a week, social pressures, alcohol, cheeseburgers, Hulu, lazy mornings, and more - I am willing to sacrifice for the goals I have in racing. It’s just taken up’ing the pressure in my training to force the decision.
What are you willing to give up for your goals?