Well the plan went to pot last week… I love riding in snow – when I ride in it I look like a big kid on his bike bouncing round in the snow! What I cannot ride in is ice! Weather here in the North West of the UK last week was in no shape or form riding weather – more so at 5:30am when no gritters have been out, the temperature is still well below freezing and no sunlight to soften the ice. Wednesday morning awoken to a light dusting of snow with an under belly of ice – no ride. Thursday was worse all that snow had began to melt and left a bed of ice where roads should be! Driving a car on this for some was bad enough – trying to tackle this on a two wheeled 29er was a no go for me! As I said to a friend about it…. I do no bounce as well as I once did in my 20s! Not wanting to land myself in A&E with broken bones and cuts to contend with – opted to not ride! Obviously this made my target of riding 4 of the 5 working days to work impossible – so I have some catching up to do! As it stands I am 329 mi behind pace – something I hope to make up come Springtime when the air is fresh and the sun makes an appearance! This however does not stop me feeling a little dismayed that I am this far behind at this point I was hoping to be ahead of goal allowing myself a little bit of slack, however I need to put this to one side – remembering that promise I made myself not to get bogged down in the stats and figures and just enjoy being on the bike again.
See part of my condition is that I am constantly in battle with my own mind, doubt, self analysis and a lot of remuneration over every choice, decision and action. When it comes to my cycling this is triggered a lot by stats for me, I can get so bogged down in miles done, speed averages and heart rates that I forget to just enjoy the ride. The unusual thing for me is cycling was an escape from my mental health, it is the only time my head is not racing with thoughts and compulsions and yet somehow over the years it go too much about being less having fun with a side of friendly competition to being all about how I have failed to set a PR or my heart rate was not where I wanted it to be etc etc. I combat this issue by at times or even for a few weeks by not having my Garmin 1030 with me on rides, as the plethora of data it provides can be distracting mid ride! This can help, I also at times will not try to read to much into the Strava and Veloviewer stats post ride in a bid to combat negative impacts to my cycling, and as a knock on effect my mental health.
This is the same when it comes to planning rides,some of the best rides I have ever done have always been the ones that you don’t over plan, hard for someone who suffers from anxiety to do in reality the nerves leading up to one of these rides can be excruciating, but once on the ride and just literally taking the bike for a spin and deciding on the go where to turn, or where to stop and for how long can be one of the most liberating and “feel good factor” rides. Being completely at the will of your own imagination, and no stats to be focusing on, no PRs to be aiming for and not even worrying about how far or how long you are out is a feeling of freedom, not something that can be taken for granted, nor easy to explain to anyone that does not understand the stress that is endured by people with anxiety of the build up to this. I think I am trying and failing at explaining this to you all! In a nutshell – My anxiety can become very intense if I am due to take part in an event outside my normal routine so sticking with cycling, If I was to be going on a bike ride with friends on a Saturday morning and I had not planned the event so did not know exactly where we were going, where we were stopping and the exact route we were taking and had planned this into my day so I knew where I would be, how I was getting there and how long I expected to be – this would cause my anxiety to peak – and 9/10 times would mean I would end up dropping out of the ride, despite all this on the rare occasion that I have taken a ride that is not planned like this – it has resulted in a very liberating experience and an enjoyable ride.
Trying to reason with yourself that you enjoy the ride, and that not ever ride needs to be planned to within an inch of its life, is not as easy as it sounds, and trust me if I understood how my brain cannot see this I would be over the moon!
Cycling is my escape – but it is a finely balanced act for me, getting too bogged down in stats and planning rides can make them less enjoyable, too little planning can make rides stressful so it’s all about getting the balance right. This week I have set a “loose” goal – if I manage to ride in to work every day I will have reached my goal – if I do not I have decided not to give myself such a hard time about it, but my main goal is to just focus on letting the ride be fun – switching off from home and work life and just enjoy being out in the fresh air and letting the world speed by at it’s own pace. With some time off booked next week as well I might even try to get a trip up the local canal paths on one of these days to take in some nature and even more fresh air, it’s always good for the soul!
You can read more of my journey battling mental health and my mission by clicking here! One Velo is sponsored by Cool Hammocks – Suppliers of the UK’s best quality hammocks and hanging chairs.