I took it as a cautionary tale, delivered by text. My friend John is a recent convert to the church of two wheels and a hell of a strong rider. In very short order he has gone from hybrid-riding dilettante to century-crushing lycra warrior. I have seldom seen anyone go from coffee-fetching to group riding, pace-line riding, Strava obsessive so quickly.
But on Saturday, something went wrong.
Out for a ride with some of his usual companions, the cycling social contract was broken. At roll out, they’d decided it was a social ride, chatting pace, easy miles, but someone’s ego flared, and then another, and before John knew it, he was in a fight to hold wheels, right at the edge of his power, and not having any fun.
Disillusionment blossomed as quickly stoke had surged. He texted me, as he often does, to check in on the cycling experience. In brief spasms of words he talked about pulling the computer off his bike, of dumping his riding buddies. He was angry, but simultaneously couldn’t quite grasp why he’d continued to hammer himself. This needed fixing.
I made dumb suggestions, as I do. Unplug. Ride in gym shorts. Get a mountain bike. This stuff is supposed to be fun, and while type 2 fun is real, it can’t be the only kind you allow yourself.
“The stoke is everything,” I said at one point. That’s probably when he got as tired of my platitudes as he was of his hammer crew, and signed off.
As a guy who’s been riding all types of bikes for all sorts of years now, I have been through this process countless times. Sometimes, when I’m in no mood for type 2 fun, I wonder if I’m even really a cyclist anymore, except that I find myself on a bike so often. The stoke is still out there, and sometimes you just have to pedal around long enough to find it again.
This week’s Group Ride asks, have you ever burned out on the bike? What did it look like? What caused it? And how did you get back?