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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    Changing the meaning of riding in your life

    I came to cycling (road and MTB) as a way to get active, be healthy, lose weight, and have fun. Over time that morphed into a strong interest in formal racing (XC, endurance, road, 'cross, all of it). Along with that trajectory, I've found that I have the most fun when I'm riding hard, and fit enough to ride a hard tempo (make it hurt for a long time). It is an extremely gratifying feeling.

    My wife and I have had the great fortune have having a little baby girl. It's the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life, and I am welcoming all of the changes it has brought to our lives.

    One of those changes is the realization that cycling is going to become a recreational activity for me rather than a competitive activity, at least for the time being. Moreover, to the extent that I've trained hard in the past, as of now I have a strong view that I only want to compete if I feel I've been able to train hard and do it the way I want. With our little girl, well, I'd rather spend time with her.

    My wife and daughter are out of town this weekend and I took the chance to hit the trails with some buddies after being off the bike for some time. The best way to describe it is that my body was "confused". My brain remembered being fit, but the legs weren't there.

    I had a fun time feeling the flow of the trails and being outside, but realized that I need to "recalibrate" my ideas of what cycling means in my life.

    I'm sure that many long-time riders on this forum have had similar experiences (getting into racing, getting out of racing). How have y'all weathered it? Any tips on coming to accept cycling on the terms of it giving back to you what you give to it (in terms of time)? Learning to appreciate it for other things (just getting outside, camaraderie, etc) than the sensation of feeling 'fast'?

    I should note that I had a great season this year accomplishing many goals. I could "retire" from racing a happy man, satisfied with how I spent my time training and competing for a few years. That said, I feel that I need some behavior modification of some sort to approach riding in terms that will allow me maximal enjoyment when I do get the chance to go out (and not experience the legs I once had).

    Post-post script: Having a child has already been the greatest thing that's ever happened in my life, followed a close second by my wedding day. I don't conceive of being a father and riding as in opposition in a philosophic sense. I know what choice I am making and want to make. I'm talking here about bringing the rest of my feelings / thoughts along.
    Last edited by jared_j; 11-24-2012 at 04:38 PM.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Same thing is happening to me. Right now now my main focus is completing and defending my masters thesis. I used to ride 4 times a week, each time for 3 hours or so. Now, if I am lucky, I only ride one time a week for four hours. The XC loop of 3.5 miles, that I used to do finish in 30 minutes or so, now I finish it in 45 minutes.

    Most of the times I went on solo rides. In the past, if I saw a group riding, I would tag along and was at their same pace. Last time I tried this, I almost passed out at the end of the loop. In the present, I only ride the XC loop two times instead of the 4 times I used to. Now what I do, is ride with my wife and friends that just do it for fun; the ones that are in training mode for races, I don't even bother calling them.

    I changed my light XC hard tail for a heavy full suspension. Riding is more fun and less brutal on my body. I steer away from the XC trails and go to old jeep roads, to ride/explore.

    PS english not my first language.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SenorSerioso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    I think this change out of necessity will bring about those feelings automatically. I just graduated, got married, and have my first full time professional job all at the same time. Because of this I can't go out and ride with the guys all the time and participate in those late night night-rides anymore (my choice, I know you know this feeling).

    I bought a rigid 29er and have found myself getting a lot of satisfaction out of the sightseeing now. Where can I go now? What can I see today? Sort of like touring, I'm in it for the experience of being outside and use the time for reflection and thought.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Thanks guys (gals?) this is good inspiration and very valuable coming from folks in similar situation(s). I am looking forward to appreciating the scenery and surroundings in a deeper way than I did before when I was focused on speed. Cycling offers much to the person who is willing to take notice, and I think focusing on taking notice of the small things will spawn a new appreciation.

  5. #5
    Cow Clicker
    Reputation: wmac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    I've gone in and out of hobbies, competitive and recreational, for the past 25+ years. As priorities in life change, so will your hobbies. Realize they are what they are - something to do - and don't take them too seriously. Balance your home, social, religious, work and charitable lives and you'll be fine.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: The Highlander's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    SAme here. We had my son 11 years ago. For many years, because of all the things that come along with kids, i just didnt have the time to ride. Once he got big enough i started riding with him and the wife on very family friendly trails. Even though they are riding now, neither wants to go into more advanced trails, but what it has done for me is bring back the need to ride !! I get out almost every weekend now with the guys to ride and when the family wants to ride i go to the local family trails with them. the competion is gone, but the fun is back..
    2008 Specialized Stumpjumper fsr comp
    1998 Specialized Stumpjumper S2(Metal Matrix)

  7. #7
    Reputation: sgltrak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Congrats on the kid! I rode tons before our first child was born, and the time commitment of being a parent took some adjusting to.

    We bought a Burley trailer before our daughter was born and started her in her car seat in the trailer at about 8 weeks. While not mountain biking in the beginning, our daily rides with her in the Burley allowed me to maintain some kind of conditioning for the days when I did ride with my buddies, and gave my wife some alone time too. Eventually I would haul our daughter on fire roads and wider single track, and then when she was older I would take her on single track on her tag-a-long. Climbing hills with a trailer and kid is a good way to maintain some conditioning.

    Other thoughts:
    • I have found that riding my over-geared SS or my over-geared klunker on the same trails on which I am used to riding my XC bike gives me a whole different perspective and makes me take my rides less seriously (but often ends up giving me a good workout).
    • In the summer, I ride one night a week with a local club whose membership is made up primarily of recreational riders. They don't push it like my normal group, so it is fun and friendly.
    • When I take a regular camera and/or GoPro with me on rides, I tend to spend more time looking around for a good shot and enjoying the scenery than I spend trying to go fast.

    As cliche' as it may sound, most of all enjoy these times because they will be gone quickly. My baby is applying for scholarships right now and is headed off to school in less than a year.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: jugdish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Riding a SS at night have kept me sane and fairly fit since my kids were born.
    Gone are the days we stopped to decide,
    Where we should go,
    We just ride...

  9. #9
    Glorified Hybrid Owner
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Priorities change, but that doesn't make you miss riding in any way. Finding time to ride with kids and a professional job is more than tough. There is a balance, I just haven't found it yet.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: crossracer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Just finishing my 24th year riding, yep things change. But change is hard and I understand where you are coming from.

    For me I just enjoy riding now, mtn, road,cross, commuting. Anything on a bike is awesome.

    The bike has seen me thru so many things, marriage, divorce, mental illness, plus so much more. I may not be as fast as I was 20 years ago, but my happiness level is at an all time high.

    Enjoy your time on your bike when you get it, your bike will always be there, but your time with kids is so very short and will be over before you know it. Enjoy that, and figure out how to fit in cycling around your new life


  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Badmeat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by rockhound View Post
    Priorities change, but that doesn't make you miss riding in any way. Finding time to ride with kids and a professional job is more than tough. There is a balance, I just haven't found it yet.
    I'm working on the same issue myself

  12. #12
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    First you need to find the time to ride. 1 4 hour ride per week vs. 3 1.5 hour rides per week. Which locations fit into that. Then you need to see what it is in those rides that you enjoy. You will adapt.

    From where you are standing now it can look pretty dismal. So what? Deal. Go ride your bike. Keep in mind that the transition can be awkward and take months but it will happen unless you just want to climb off of the bike.
    I don't rattle.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: dwnhlldav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    I totally understand where you're coming from. While I was never a super competative racer, I always maintained enough fitness that I could go out on an all day epic any time I was presented the opportunuty and not suffer too badly. I made the happy decision that I'd rather spend the time with my kids than out riding and I've got pretty out of shape since my kids were born. I have a 6 year old daughter and an 18 month old son. But I've had to remember that being the best Dad I can be means being healthy so I can be around as long as possible. I don't get to go for many all day epics anymore, but I do make a point to still ride 3-4 days a week. Most of that is commuting to work. Yes, it's time away from the kids, but hopefully it means being around longer.

    Once she's old enough, get your daughter out in a trailer, then a tag a long. We used to ride around town for 45 minutes to an hour with my daughter in the trailer before I dropped her at daycare 2-3 days a week. We've moved on to the tag a long. She loves going to the state park to "mountain bike" on the double track, and towing that tag-a-long is a great workout.

    Next summer she's going to have to tackle loosing the training wheels because my son will be in the trailer. I'm also planning on taking my son to the BMX track so he can race in the strider races. Once he's old enough to be riding a bike there I plan to get a cruiser and ride with him.

    I love mountain biking, and can still hang with my riding buddies for a couple hours when I get out every couple of weeks. That's fine for now. Hopefully my kids will join me when I'm older, but I would rather be with them then out riding by myself.
    Disclaimer: I no longer fix bikes for a living.
    National Ski Patroller to feed my winter habit.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Been there 2 kids, it will get better an then worse I am afraid to say, they will get easy pretty quick and you can sneak out more often without it taking a tole on anyone, then when they get 5-6 they start having their own stuff to do, sports, lessons, b day parties.

    I recently picked up a fatbike to help me get out more, now I can get out regardless of trail/weather conditions, can ride where there are no trails and get a crazy workout because the thing weighs so much, and its a fully ridgid so it's a grab and go kinda bike, and there are a growing number of winter races, helps spread it out so I can still get in a lower but more steady amount of biking.

  15. #15
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    My riding has waxed and waned with different interests and commitments. With school, I can pretty much anticipate my fitness tanking in the Fall. But you don't need to turn the dial all the way to "weekend warrior." Shoehorn in a couple rides midweek, even pretty short ones, and you'll maintain a lot better, I think. One of my favorite things about commuting by bike is that it keeps my engine ticking over even when everything else I have going on torpedoes my training time.

    You don't necessarily even have to put aside racing. The thing that makes it hard for me to go to races and stay on top of everything else I'm doing is that they're often far and they're often on the weekend. My favorite racing series a couple years ago was a weekday evening series; I was sad when it closed down. This year, I tried track racing and had tons of fun with it. That was on weekday evenings. So instead of having "my" thing that my fiancee really doesn't share and everybody else cares about even less but torpedoes a whole weekend day, I have "my" thing that I do that takes a weekday evening. I wasn't going to do much with that evening anyway. If you have a midweek practice crit, have that be your place to go and be competitive.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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