The Mid Season Cycling Woes
If, like me, you like your men with butts made of steel and legs lacy with veins, you’re probably well aware of this time of year and the noises you’re starting to hear from your cyclist. June might be all about dusting off the BBQ and getting into the outdoor pool for some, but for partners of cyclists, now is the time for mid season cycling woes.
For the uninitiated who are looking confused and thinking, ‘but it just got warm??’ and ‘I just got my bike out’, your cycling enthusiast is already mid way into his or her seasonal ‘training’ and therefore his (or her) psychosis has a head start in gathering steam. Right around June your loving partner looks in the mirror/ heart rate monitor/ bike computer, reviews his or her performance and decides that the end of the world is nigh. Regardless of the length of the season, June seems to be the hot button month for the cyclist in your life to worry that they’re ‘not where they should be‘ for that 40m crit/ 100m race/ Tour De France and boy.. are they about to become unbearable.
If you’re a seasoned pro at managing this ‘special’ time of year, you have your coping strategies, but for newbies, let me explain what to watch out for and how you can best help your cycling love through the mid season blues.
NOTE: Before we get started, do NOT, I stress, NOT, assure your cyclist that they’re riding enough, looking great, seem really fast… this can backfire faster than a Boonen at the finish line.
Woes to watch out for
1. “I’m not riding enough’
This is the 101 of every cycling season and resonates across the land come June, regardless of rider, bike preference, age or competitive ability. June is month that every cyclist decides – even if they’ve just finished RAAM – that they’re not riding enough. Regardless of goal – hours in the saddle, race wins, elevation gains, downhill speeds or frequency of actual rides- by June, your cyclist hasn’t ridden enough and it drives. them. crazy.
- Why did they take that weekend off to attend that family wedding? Hell, they never liked their brother anyway and who the hell gets married in the UP?
- Why didn’t they use that day when they kind of felt flu-ey to get in a few hours on the bike instead of watching Law and Order episodes on TBS?
- Why didn’t they start riding in February instead of March? It wasn’t that cold and they make tires for snow y’know?
But since time travel still eludes us and (unless you live in Boulder), most of us have to commit some time to earning a living/ raising a family/sleep, there isn’t a way to really make up for those skipped rides and therefore this woe has no fix.
Your Job: Whatever you do, don’t join in on the remembrances of rides skipped (especially if it was due to his hangover) because no-one likes mean mommy (even if she’s right). The best you can do is sagely nod your head and mentally cancel his or her attendance any at evening or weekend event for the next 2 months. You are now officially widowed until Labor day. Deal with it.
2. “My bike/ wheels/ gearset sucks”
Typically the result of a bad ride, but sometimes due to the launch of a new $2000 something, gear frustration really hits a peak in June as your rider decides the reason they’re not riding enough (see #1) is because something on their bike (or their entire bike), sucks. Which means that until the offending item has been thoroughly researched, reviewed, considered, ordered and replaced.. you’re going to hear about how every ride is just torture/ a waste/ sucky. I’m sure that sometimes this woe has roots in actual fact (I know, my saddle sucks), but largely its an outlet for why more/ better/ faster riding isn’t happening. Its also a good reason to spend hours on the internet looking at cool gear and mentally deciding how much that extra gram of weigh is going to save you on that 42mph descent.
The following gear is likely to be postulated as reason to spend $1800 and/or requiring your approval
- New weird ratio’d gearset
- Brakes featuring some new composite that requires 17 hours of set up (and a lot of cursing)
- Wheelsets that are lighter than a dollar bill (and as strong as dried spaghetti)
- Forks that save 2 grams but have a ‘totally different angle’ which is going to propel your love to the front of the pack (real or imaginary)
- Shorts that cost more than your most expensive purse and shoes combined, that look exactly the same as all the other shorts he or she owns
Your Job: Since you don’t know anything about cycling (even if your name is Floyd Landis or you work for Trek), your job is to listen and nod. He (or she) needs to tell you all the reasons why what they have sucks, what the new investment will help him or her achieve, and therefore why its critical that you somehow give them a tacit ok on a purchase which costs the same as a trip to Hawaii. Even if you don’t get it, be warned that questioning the purchase will just result in the same information being stated again, slower and often with more detail. If you’re really lucky you might get a powerpoint to look at or be dragged in front of the laptop for more information. So, if you value your summer and don’t want to spend it learning about ratios, tensile strength or wind resistance, just remember it makes him or her happy and go with it. Your kids can always go to cosmetology school.
3. “I gotta lose some weight”
Hahahah. Just kidding. Actually you’ll rarely hear this from a cyclist since most of them weigh the same as your purse and despite thighs of Thor, have the arms of a noodle. There are some who have a body fat % in the single digits yet possess 1 inch of slightly soft flesh onto which they’ve projected all of their angst and mentally turned into the spare tire that is holding them back from the win.
There are some cyclists out there who love to eat as much as they love to ride (or who spend the winter eating their feelings about not riding), who may come home from a particularly painful day in the saddle proclaiming weight as the issue. But regardless of whether its true (your love has handles or not), you can expect woe #3 from some riders right around June as the BBQ’d pork starts to beckon.
Typically riders complaining about weight have powered through woe #1 and #2, now reach #3 as the probable reason for their lack of speed/ skill/stamina/ 1 sec slowdown on that final lap of the neighborhood. But again.. don’t be fooled.
Your Job: Again, on no account can you agree with your cyclist unless you want a really un-fun evening and no sex for the remainder of the summer. No matter your relationship, no cyclist needs to hear the words ‘lose some weight’ coming from you. He’s already pre-Subway Jared in his mind without you jumping in. The best you can do is buy some more greens and hide those Peppermint Patties in the back of the freezer under the kale. Since Trek, Specialized and the rest come out with new gear every week, in all likelihood this woe will fade away as he or she decides that actually, its not weight, but a new bit of gear they totally need… and you can tuck back into your cheeseburger without saying a word.
4. “I’m too old for this s@#$t”
Don’t be fooled. This isn’t the beginning of a new, balanced lifestyle for your cyclist. No.
This is actually an expression of woe looking for a compliment and/or some reassurance that his or her extended absence from all family events, trips or celebrations isn’t going to result in impending divorce/ dumping. Typically by June, your independent partners are taking up CrossFit, planning weekends away or getting used to being the full time kid care. Those who are new to the game are starting to realize that no, their summer isn’t going to be one of mid day drinks on the patio, ad hoc rafting trips or lazy mornings in bed with their cyclist. For some newbies, now is the time that questioning starts to occur. Is the butt of steel worth the hours in front of the TV/ on the bike/ on cyclingnews.com? Maybe football fans aren’t that bad? This mid season woe is aimed at the long suffering ‘single parent’ or the new girlfriend that implies, just ever so slightly, that this obsession might not be for ever because ‘they’re too old for this shit’.
Your Job: Do not, NOT, agree with this woe. He or she is never too old for this shit and they certainly don’t want or need you to weigh in on this fact. And even if you think this means they actually be considering doing less, ignore any inner feeling of hope. Any sign of tacit agreement means you’re in for a very bumpy evening so just mumble ‘nooooooo’ and shake your head a lot. The only time you can agree is when they’re too blind to see the road, too shaky to hold the handlebars or they can’t remember what a bicycle is. At which point you put them in a recumbent and attach a GPS.
So there you have it. A few watch out mid season woes for the new partner of a cyclist (or reminders for those of us who are just used to this shit). Just remember that June woes disappear in July as we all sit down to watch the Tour and figure out why they’re not winning.