Tag Archives: Motivation

Down? Do.

I got home from work and stood silently in my bedroom. It was a moment of decision. Was I going to ride or not? For the first time in awhile it wasn’t that I had something else to do, it was that I actually felt an aversion to putting on my gear and slogging out into the humidity… and for what?

I suited up.

When I first started out, it seemed that my fears were realized. My legs felt heavy and the air which was threatening rain was heavier around me. Mentally, I found myself staring at my stem and I was hardly out from my driveway.

Still, I decided to ride on. I know you will think it is silly, but I had joined the Strava climbing challenge and only had a few more days to get the meters necessary to claim the little virtual badge. An over and back of Paris Mountain would bring me about one ride away from the goal.

Down Wade Hampton and onto Chick Springs I rode. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t feeling very motivated, I wasn’t pushing hard. By the time I reached Rutherford Road, I was starting to at least feel that the ride would not be a waste of my time.

Dodging through the traffic at the Piney Mountain Road intersection, I gave a medium effort up the east side. Cresting the top, I was once again feeling down. The effort made me feel slow. It made me feel old. I was feeling sorry for myself.

Then I crossed State Park Road and headed up Altamont. Ahead I could see the blinking light of another rider. He looked an awful lot like a rabbit to me.

Suddenly my mind shifted away from myself to the target ahead. I didn’t take off after him, but I did settle into a pace that had me gaining. I figured I would catch him on The Wall.

Sure enough, I was on his wheel as we both came out of the saddle to keep our bikes moving up the short but steep grade. I noticed that he was wearing a full Strava kit. The jersey was green and the shorts black. Actually, it was a nice design. I’d wear one… if I didn’t have to pay for it.

We exchanged breathless hellos and I was going to go along with him, but he seemed to be hurting from the effort. I rolled easy for a bit, but then kept going as he lagged behind. It was getting late and the rain seemed eminent. I wanted to get home.

However, I had forgotten my morose thoughts. My muscles were now loose and the humidity didn’t seem so oppressive. Rather, it felt like it was playing a part in loosening my earlier tight and sore muscles.

I found myself turning off of Altamont onto Lake Circle. Here I was adding to my ride. I told myself it would help add extra meters to my climbing goal.

By the time I was reaching the last straight toward the Paris Mountain KOM, I was smiling to myself. I was feeling much stronger and the rhythm of my spinning legs was keeping time for each breath. My body was doing its own thing and my mind was just the passenger.

mojoreturn

Even Tower Road didn’t seem to bother me now. I stopped at the top and took a picture. Taking time to reflect on what had happened to this point, I thought to myself, “You suffer when you are not motivated so that when you are motivated you can better enjoy the ride.” Avoiding the bike when you don’t feel it, only sets you back for those times when you want to let it loose!

Descending the Furman side was a joy… if anything, it was cold! The sweat from the climbing effort was now a cooling agent with the lower mountain temperatures and wind from the descent. By the time I reached the bottom, I was ready to warm up again.

On the way down, I saw two riders nearing halfway. Farther down the road, I had passed three other riders. Those last three were just low enough on the climb to make me wonder if I might be able to join them.

I quickly sped to the finish and then turned to begin my ascent. My mind wasn’t on much of anything other than seeing if I could catch those guys. As I came around each bend in the road, I would look ahead to see if I could glimpse my herd of rabbits.

Finally, just after passing halfway, I could see a lone straggler from the group. I hoped I could perhaps catch him before the top. At first I gained on him, but I think he realized I was there and started to pick up his pace. I knew if he reached the final grunt to the end before me I would just have to let him go.

Sure enough, when I reached the base, I saw him about halfway ahead. He was standing and giving some effort toward the finish. “Not tonight,” I thought. No need to bury myself just to get around him.

As it was I reached the top just as the guys were regrouping. It wasn’t a great time for me (13:27), but I felt good about the climb. I waved as I came by them as they were turning to make a run down the road they just climbed.

I then made one more climb up Tower Road. At the top, I came upon the two cyclists that I initially saw on my descent. Approaching them I said, “Wow, it is humid out, isn’t it!” They affirmed my weather announcement. I then started to coast toward the road out.

“Hey,” came the voice behind me. “Are you Jonathan Pait?” I said I was. “I was just telling my son about a video you made of the climb up Paris Mountain, and wouldn’t you know it, here you are.” He went on to say he recognized my voice from the commentary.

We chatted some about segments and various riders in the area. Then he said something that made me feel a bit awkward. “Your videos got me from the mountain bike to the road bike.” I didn’t know how to respond to that and so I mumbled something about how I started out on mountain bikes as well.

We parted after a bit more chatting and I rolled away. I admit I write this blog for me even if no one else reads it. It scratches that writing itch I’ve had since junior high. However, to have someone tell me that this exercise was an encouragement to them was a real shot in the arm!

It was hard not to have a smile on my face as I sped toward home. It was no longer about motivation or a lack thereof. It was now all about the ride.

And it was good.

Back to the lair

I call my basement office the “Low Cadence Lair” (what it looked like back in 2009). Over the last several years, I would like to know how many miles I’ve ridden down there! I’m certain the whirring of the trainer has been heard for dozens of hours. Well, the sound returned last night for the first time in many months.

13 minutes in to the first trainer ride of the winter

13 minutes in to the first trainer ride of the winter

As I was groaning about to roll out of bed Thursday morning, the beautiful redhead whispered in my ear, “You need to exercise today.” Rather than hitting her with a pillow, I agreed. It wasn’t just for the physical benefits of it, but for the stress release as well. I determined I was going to get on the trainer that evening.

After a bit of delay due to the fact I couldn’t find the skewer for my trainer, I got the bike set up and climbed on board. I had the same feelings that I have at times when I’m about to set out on a ride that I know is going to be a long one… this wasn’t just the start of a trainer ride. It was the start of the new season!

I had a dread of 1) the boredom of an hour being spent going nowhere, and 2) the realization that this would reveal just how out of tune I am. To battle the first issue I started a  movie on my iPad. I figured I could avoid number 2 by spinning easy this first time and just letting my legs get back in the motion.

Wow! The basketball business was hurting! One thing this all has revealed is how desperately I need to cross train. My non-cycling muscles had all kinds of aches and pains going on. It was even affecting my stroke on my left side. Some tendon on the backside of my knee was tight and caused me to pedal blocks and swing my heel out with each revolution.

Those negative thoughts began to seep in… “I’m getting old.” “Most of the guys have been out doing long base mile rides. I’m so far behind, I don’t know if it is worth it.” “Do I really want to go through this again?”

The voices in my head got so loud that I even turned off the movie. I wasn’t paying much attention to it. I just silently spun for a moment being lulled into a trance by the rhythm of the spinning wheel. By this point I was starting to warm up and the pain and stiffness was leaving.

I raised my head and looked around the room. Right in front of me were jerseys covering the wall. Each one of them told a story… Assaults on Mount Mitchell, Challenge to Conquer Cancer rides, podium finish in the state criterium championship, and numerous charity events. There was that Greenville Spinners jersey from my first ever win.

All those memories started pushing against the negative thoughts. It has been a good ride over the last five years or so. Whatever the future holds, the bicycle has been good to me.

Perhaps where I have gotten off course is trying to be something I’m not. In my mind, I’ve always seen myself at the front. I’ve wanted to be one of the “fast men”. Early on, I was. However, as you move up it takes more and more commitment to stay at the front. It is a commitment that I now realize I can’t invest.

You know, that might sound like a negative thought. However, it is freeing. I’ve got a lot of great memories of success to hold onto. I’ve also got a lot of great opportunities and memories to make off the bike.

I looked down at the meter and saw my hour was nearly up. My legs were feeling pretty good (though that one push for a few seconds at around 750 watts reminded me I’ve got work to do before spring). Best of all, my mind was feeling pretty good.

Me and the bike are going to have a more mature relationship this year. I’m looking forward to it.

Love or Obligation

Last week I watched the page views for the blog tick pass 200,000. It gave me a moment to pause and go back to the beginning — back before LowCadence.com. It also caused me to take a time-out and reassess where I am today.

Since 2005, I have posted to either StackOfStuff.net, GreenvilleOnline.com, or LowCadence.com over 2000 times. Combined, the page views have exceeded 400,000. To be honest, I’m surprised that I have managed to continue for so long with only small breaks along the way.

That pretty much describes my relationship with the bicycle over that time as well. Actually, I would never have thought I would be doing the things I have done back on that day my wife encouraged me to get back on my mountain bike. It has been a time of love, hate, sweat, triumph, failure, elation, suffering, pain, confidence, questioning… and any other number of descriptors from life. Indeed, it is as though the bicycle gives you an opportunity to magnify both the weaknesses and strengths of “normal” life.

Something has changed inside me though. I look at my “numbers’ and they are as good or better than  ever. According to my coach I “have what it takes.” He follows that up by saying, “Now it is time to use it.” My problem is I don’t seem to have the same drive to “use it” as I once did.

Take last Thursday for instance. My numbers said I should have been right in the mix. However, I struggled mentally to find my place. That was compounded by watching my teammate go down right in front of me and then narrowly missing another crash.

I don’t ride with fear. It is amazing how you can ride through a near crash – or even crash – and then get right back at it. No, it is more of a calculated assessment.

I lined up for the 1-2-3 race right after the Masters race. My coach told me to do so. As I waited for the official to call the start, I thought ahead to the next 45 minutes.  Here were some fresh young guns including at least one continental pro. I was about to set myself up for suffering and potential pain — for what?

We started off and the fire never came to my belly. Ten minutes in and I could see my family sitting up on the top of a hill watching me race. Just sitting there watching me hanging out in the final third of the field.

We came around the final two sweeping turns of the course and I wound it up. Let’s see how long I could stay off the front and then call it a day. I quickly moved up toward the front and as I moved into the top 10 I could see a rider starting to attack on the opposite side of the field. We both broke through onto the front at the same time just as we passed the start line.

As we were doing so, Blair was yelling, “Prime on this lap! Prime on this lap!” Great. That was just what I needed about the time I was trying an attack. Still, I kept the hammer down.

The two of us soon caught two other riders who had attacked right off the bat. I didn’t slow and went right around them. As I passed, I could see they were reacting to get on our wheels.

About halfway, we started the little climb back onto the main track and I noticed a wheel coming up near me. As we crested, that wheel was joined by others. I had been caught. By the time we reached the chicane, the field was all together. Coming out of the turns, I have to admit, I glanced up to see my family and wanted to go home.

Some will say I should never pull out of a race – unless pulled off the course by the officials. Some will say that I just don’t have the competitor’s spirit. Some might say that I gave up too easily. Maybe all of that is true.

The question I have to ask myself at that point is does it really matter what “some” say? Paul Sherwen commented recently during the Tour coverage that the reason the professionals race their bikes is because they love it. Only love is what makes them go through the suffering.

Do I love the bike? I guess because I pause to answer the question that probably means I don’t. Perhaps right now I am more “in like” than “in love.” Or maybe it is all the structure of training and racing that has turned love into obligation.

I actually enjoy training. My coach tells me I am a hard worker. I like being given a goal and trying to meet it.

I love getting on my bike and exploring new roads. I love those times when I am riding the bike and don’t think about it. My mind is solving some problem or dreaming of a new idea while my legs automatically move me along.

I enjoy racing — when given freedom to try and fail. The thing that weighs most on my mind is not pulling my weight for the team or getting in the way. It was much easier when I was racing alone. I knew what to do and if I failed, I didn’t let anyone down but myself.

Still, one thing I have learned over the last six years: things change. Like a batter in a slump, sometimes you just have to keep swinging until you come out of it. Right now, I’m must looking for that one good hit.

Memories can revive a passion

Our brains must have a memory chip that is tied to our senses and emotions. I know this because yesterday I happened to go back and read through the experiences I had during the 2010 Ride for Mike. As the patterns of the words coursed into my brain; the smells, environment, and emotions were reawakened.

You can read it for yourself here, but I’m certain it won’t have the same affect on you. This is something I will hang onto for the rest of my life. Who knows, maybe someday my grand children will say, “Wow, grandpa, you did that?!”

It was also an encouragement to remind me that I can do hard things. It brought back to my mind that accomplishing hard things can bring a great amount of satisfaction. The only thing I will regret are those times when I look back and say, “I wonder…?”

This is true on the bicycle, but it is a lesson you can take into any aspect of your life. I tend to be a “safe” individual. It is easy to find yourself in a comfortable spot and settle in to let others take the lead. The problem is, there are lots of things in my mind that cry out to be accomplished. Not taking the risk only leads to a lot of “I wonder…?” moments.

I know I can do hard things. I know I can accomplish things that really matter. I just need to get out of the recliner of life, put down the remote control of watching others, and get to it.

Thanks, Ride for Mike. You are a gift that keeps on giving.

I just need some motivation

I just need some motivation.
I want to get back on a roll.
With no clear goals it will spell my doom.
Bicycle, come on, let’s get on the move.
Hey, bicycle, come on, let’s get in the groove.
If I don’t, I’ll be just another bike in the field.
If I don’t, I’ll be just another bike in the field.

Must… pull… myself… out…

It has been a hard week.  I started out the week pretty weak.  Saturday’s ride took a bit more out of me than I thought.  Probably it set the stage for what happened next.

Monday I did manage to pull myself onto the bike.  However, it wasn’t because I had the overwhelming desire to do it.  Tuesday I drove all the way to Donaldson Center and then sat arguing with myself whether I would ride or not.

I went out for a lap.  Normally when I don’t feel like riding and I get on the bike, my attitude changes.  That happened Monday night, but not Tuesday.  The desire to do all four laps at Donaldson just wasn’t there.

Ahhhhh, later Tuesday and Wednesday morning it became more apparent why I was feeling this way.  There is a change coming in the air and with it my sinus issues.  My head had that heavy feeling with the occasional ice-pick up the nose pains. I slept from about 2PM to 5PM that afternoon.

It isn’t like I’m sneezing or have a runny nose.  It is just this feeling of weight pushing in on my head with a slight dull ache.  Ever once in a while I get that sharp pain as well.  Mostly, I just catch myself stareing at the wall or computer screen with a blank mind.

My guess is that Saturday did weaken me and cause my body not to be able to fight it off.  Probably had I been fully recovered, I wouldn’t be having these issues.  All I know is that it has left me totally unmotivated.

Last night I thought I would just go out for a spin.  Even the thought of getting my equipment together caused my mind to rebell.  I ended up staying inside.

I have this feeling that I am sliding into a pit.  The longer I go without getting on the bike the more I slide.  Of course, no way could I lose fitness that fast!  I just realize that the season isn’t over for me – plus one month from today I leave on the ride to Austin.  I’ve got hundreds of miles still to go before November!

Hopefully, I’ll get some good rest this weekend and start the process of crawling out of my hole.  Must… not… succumb… must… pull… myself… out…

Isn’t the season over yet?

There are at least two races left on my calendar for the year.  Unfortunately, I’ll miss the September 24th POA event.  I should be there for the POA Fall Extravaganza as well as the Downtown Greenville Cycling Classic which is coming up during the Fall for Greenville festivities.  I know there are a few opportunities ahead, but my mind and body seems to have already closed down for the season.

Probably a lot of that has to do with the days starting to get shorter and the kids getting into their school schedules.  The fact that I was off the bike for a week and then the trouble with my knees also threw me off my rhythm.  It is as though I need to fade back in the pack for a bit and recover.

I think another part of it is I am a little gun shy.  With the crash in the State Road Race Championship, I don’t want to go through another one of those this year.  If I don’t race, then the chances of something like that happening are much less.

The funny thing is that one of my biggest tests of the year will be coming up once the racing is done.  October 18th is the beginning of this year’s RideForMike.com event – the Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride from Greenville to Austin.  I’ll be putting more miles in on the bike that week than I have put in during a month year to date!

So, I’m saying all this to give you a warning that my Twitter account may grow silent for a bit and this blog may not have as many posts as you might be used to seeing here.  Then again, I may go out on my Thursday night ride to find that my knees have no pain and that my fitness is still there.  Sometimes all it takes to get you back going is a good ride.

Guess I’ll just take it day by day.  Thanks for joining me for the ride so far.