This article originally appeared in issue 12 of Mountain Bike for Her.
It’s that time of year, you know, the days are getting shorter, but we still have a reasonable amount of summer left, and of course, don’t forget fall (my favorite time of the year to ride my bike) It’s a beautiful sunny day outside, and yet you spend half of it procrastinating rather than riding your bike when trying to make decisions on what to ride, every trail suggested to you makes you go “meh”, “ugh” or just plain old “sigh”. When you look at your bike it just doesn’t give you butterflies the way it used to and you don’t spend every spare moment daydreaming about being outside riding it.
If you haven’t worked out what I’m talking about yet, maybe you have been lucky enough to never experience the feeling of being “burnt out” In so many areas of life we risk getting to this point, there are pages and pages of information on the internet about getting worn down from work or even your personal life, but not everyone realises that you can also get burnt out doing something you are passionate about.
The Warning Signs
Grumpy & snarky
You are exhausted and moody, you snap at others of silly little things and going for a ride just makes you tired, remember you should be buzzed at the end of the ride, if you are just tired and irritable every time you finish riding your bike something probably isn’t right.
For some people they sleep more than they usually do but they still wake up tired, every day. For me it’s the opposite, I can’t sleep, I’m restless, and when I do finally get to sleep I still wake up well before my alarm. As a trainer I know how important it is to get the sleep you need so your body can heal and recover.
I’m talking permanent body fatigue, you know that feeling, your legs are unusually heavy, it hurts to lift your arms, you cringe every time you have to walk up stairs (or avoid them all together and take the elevator) That feeling is totally fine if it’s the day after a rather big and adventurous ride or a huge workout in the gym, but if you are starting to feel like this day in and day out, I’d call that a pretty good warning sign
You’ve lost that loving feeling
Biking becomes something you have to do. You have to do that training ride because you need the miles for some race. You have to do the ride because you said you were going to ride 30 days in a row this year. If riding has become a chore and not something you are excited about then I’d say this is the final warning sign right there.
Now we’ve discussed the problems, what about solutions?
As a Personal Trainer and Mountain Bike coach I write programs for clients specifically designed to ensure that they are still stoked to get on their bike and go for a ride regardless of what they are training for (including multi day stage races which can be the biggest killer of bike stoke). I admit that I’m the biggest offender of not doing what I tell everyone else to do, and i am aware that anyone who knows me and is reading this is sniggering at me.
I spend over 180 days a year on my bike, between coaching, racing and riding for my own pleasure, and every year I hit a wall and depending on the timing, that can be okay too. Remember it’s okay to take time out from something you are passionate about. I used to ride all year round, all weather, but that wears you down. These days I prefer to not ride when it’s pouring rain or freezing cold outside. I take time off the bike over the winter to do other things. After a couple of months with almost no riding and as the weather starts changing I find myself getting truly excited to get back on my bike.
Keep the stoke alive
Realistically, if it’s still the middle of summer though we probably aren’t going to ditch our bike for a couple of months until we re-ignite our stoke, so we need to find other ways to deal.
Change it up
Ride with different people and/or ride different trails. No offense but riding the same trail with the same people every ride can get a little boring, try riding new trails, explore new areas, or rode your regular trails with different people. I personally always get excited when I’m getting to ride a trail for the first time, and even more so when it’s a whole new riding area. Also riding with different people can give you a new perspective on an old trail.
Do Something Else
You don’t have to take up a whole new sport, but spend a little bit of time not mountain biking. Go for a hike, some time on some sort of flotation device on a lake or river, give back to the trail network and do some maintenance. Basically don’t make mountain biking the only thing that you do.
Mountain biking is exercise, and like all physical activity it’s important to have rest days, sometimes depending on just how much you have been riding you may even need to have a rest week. It’s okay to have a nice sunny day or two off the bike doing nothing, let your body recover, eat good food and get lots of sleep.
When all else fails.
Don’t forget; Have fun! Before any other reason that we ride our bikes we did it to have fun and if you aren’t having fun on your bike any more then you are doing something wrong.