"You can never go down the drain." - Mr. Rogers
After my last post I realized that what I was feeling after the last couple of ‘cross weekends was nothing new, it was just my own version of Seasonal Affective Disorder kicking in a bit earlier than normal. In the same vein of being able to see my cycling ups and downs for what they are, I can look back across my career and see that pretty much every fall I hit a point where the remaining promise of what the calendar year could bring seems pretty low, and I’m just ready to move on. While it’s quite possible that it is actual SAD coming into play, I don’t quite fit the typical description in that I usually bounce back in January and February when other people are complaining about the terrible winter weather, and the SAD should be the worst. It’s not that I like winter weather, but’s it the time when everything still seems possible and there’s plenty of motivation put in the work that will hopefully make the following November a little less SAD.
Back in the summer, our team put on a cyclocross clinic where Arley Kemmerer gave the analogy of the big training build-up prior to the ‘cross season and subsequent backing off once racing begins as “draining the bathtub”. It feels like most years I never quite get my bathtub full enough and I’m left wet, naked, and shivering for the last 6-8 weeks of year until January gives me the opportunity to dry out and start filling the tub again. Looking back, I’m pretty sure my tub was already empty for the year as I sat and listened to her on July 30, but I just wasn’t ready to admit that yet.
This weekend I completed the MASS enduro series at the Raven Enduro just outside of State College. Even though the race is nearby, I had never ridden most of the trails for it until September. I had hoped to jam in enough practice sessions to gain some sort of home course advantage and actually do well after really struggling on unfamiliar enduro courses early in the season. I guess the Raven course just didn’t suit me, or I didn’t have enough time to learn the subtleties of the many unfamiliar rock gardens around the course. This lead to a very disappointing finish, despite my becoming the “series champion” based various technicalities including the fact that I paid $20 to be scored for the series when quite a few faster girls in my category did not.
I had typed up a much lengthier race report that detailed how things came apart, but it doesn’t really matter. I have already come to the logical conclusion that I always reach in these situations, which is that I have the choice to quit racing bikes or keep working to get better, as slow and frustrating as the progress is relative to that of other people sometimes. I think we all know by now that I never to end up choosing quit, at least not permanently. It’s going to take a while for my emotional self to catch up to that conclusion, though, so I still might have a few weeks of chilly bathtub moments ahead.
I guess the benefit to recognizing your old patterns from the past is that it gives you the opportunity to change them, although I’m not quite sure how yet. I guess for starters, can somebody hand me a towel?