Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Not Having Fun. Or...burnout.

Ever since April, when 30 Days of Biking started, its been Go Go Go with bike stuff. Training and fundraising for the Unity Tour took up quite a lot of physical and mental effort. As soon as that was over, it was Go Go Go again with the Total 200 and various bike challenges & events that kept popping up. Who can ride the most amount of miles in June? Ride two miles a day to raise money for WABA! 100 miles in July!

The Total 200 was my breaking point. I agreed to do this ride on the heels of finishing the Unity Tour. My friend was really pushing us to do it--I agreed because she wanted it pretty badly. That was my first mistake. I should never have agreed to do something that I wasn't 100% behind. As the day of the ride got closer, I began to have doubts. The heat was rising & rising & it was seriously worrying me. Ever since a friend died of a heat-related illness, and my terrible experience with the heat doing the 50 States ride a few years ago, I am very gun-shy about riding in extreme heat. I even told my friend that if the heat index was over 100, I wasn't going to participate. I believe the word "Wuss" was tossed my way. That was my 2nd mistake. I let my ego, rather than common sense, dictate what I did.

The night before the ride, the Derecho hit. It left behind trees & debris everywhere, not to mention power outages--including traffic lights. I was surprised that they went ahead with the ride the next morning. I was feeling okay that morning, but I knew we had a very hot day ahead. I told my friend that as long as we took it slow & easy and stuck together, we would be fine. She agreed. That was my final mistake. I trusted her to stick to that agreement :-/

I don't have a cyclometer on my bike, so I didn't really have a way to gauge how fast I was going, but I know it was Way Too Fast. We ended up starting out with a bunch of carbon-framed roadies, and I kept trying to keep up with them--which is silly on a steel-framed touring bike. But I had no way to gauge how fast I should be going, and I was terrified of being dropped/left on my own since I am terrible with cue sheets. So I picked a group and stuck with them.

By the time we reached the first rest stop, I was feeling pretty drained & I couldn't figure out why. Then when I looked at the cue sheet and the mileage marker, I realized why: We probably were riding at least 18-22mph, when my comfort zone is about 15-18. Way too fast! I couldn't keep up that pace for 125 miles. Anyway, I was still riding with my friend & we both restocked our water bottles & grabbed some food. And then she left.

I was left staring at her, my bike still on the ground, a fig newton still half chewed in my mouth, while she rode on down the road. Without me.

I got on my bike and pushed off as fast as I could, but it was too late. She was too far ahead and I was gassing myself out trying to catch up to her. I tried not to panic. She couldn't have done it on purpose. But then the Black Thoughts started to creep in. I'm only doing this stupid ride because she wanted me to do it. She said we would stick together, but she left me in the dust the first chance she got.

I kept riding for another half an hour and I started seeing less & less riders.

My chest started to tighten & hitch. It suddenly became hard to breathe. The tears started to flow.

I'm out here all by myself and what if something happens and she has no idea? What if I miss a turn? I have no idea where I am.

I was hyperventilating. I tried to calm myself and reassure myself that it was going to be ok. But then one overwhelming thought kept flooding my mind.

I'm not having fun.

And if I'm not having fun, there's really no point for me doing the ride. Even at my most miserable point during the Unity Tour, I was still having fun. But not here. I really, really wasn't. And that's when I gave up. I pulled off at a closed service station & called The Boy in tears. I told him I wanted to go home and asked if he would come get me. He came to my rescue shortly after and I immediately felt 200% better. I knew it was the right thing to do, and I didn't regret not finishing at all. Later that week, some friends started sending me info on some other century rides that were coming up, but I knew that I wasn't going to do them. I was burned out.

I was beginning to dread getting on the bike. I resented having to make sure my GPS apps were on to track all my rides. I hate logging in to various websites to make sure my mileage was accounted for.  I was getting sick of riding simply to get X number of miles in because another big bike ride was coming up.

Work....well, its work. I was burned out there too. Tired of having to deal with cyclists that Just Don't Get It all day, every day. Yes, you have to stop at red lights. No, you can't go the wrong way on the one way street. Yes, it is actually your fault that you ran into that pedestrian. No, it wasn't a good idea to leave your bike unattended while you ran into the store for "just a minute".  Screaming at me because I slowed down at a stop sign and you weren't paying attention and ran into the back of me is Not Okay. It gets old.

Even when I was just out to ride for fun, I was tired of nearly getting run into by idiots on bikes. One day after nearly getting hit three times in one ride (one stop sign ignorer, one wrong-way rider, and one passer-on-the-right as I'm turning right!!), I just went home. Just simply turned around and went home.

It's a sad day when I'm more afraid of my fellow cyclists injuring me than I am of motorists. Unfortunately, days like that are becoming more and more common.

And I started to unravel a bit. It showed. I was starting to snap at people & became overly sarcastic. Everything & everyone was starting to annoy me. And the weather. Don't get me started on the heat. I am tired of walking outside and feeling like I am being suffocated in Satan's arm pit. I am sick, sick, sick of the heat & humidity.

So I gave myself permission to take a break. To Just Stop. I made a deal with myself that if I wasn't Having Fun, then I wasn't going to do it and I wasn't going to feel guilty about it. If I didn't want to ride everyday, then I wouldn't. If I didn't want to blog, I wouldn't (and didn't, obviously). If I wanted to sleep in every Friday rather than attend Friday Coffee Club, I would. And if I wanted to stay inside & enjoy the nice, cold A/C rather than feel like I was swimming in my own sweat outside, then I would just stay inside.

So, that's where I've been mostly. I still ride to get from point A to point B, but I haven't done any leisure riding and certainly no organized riding. And it's been wonderful. Just the break that I needed.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In a few weeks, I'll be off to the OBX for my annual vacation (hopefully it won't be ruined by another hurricane AGAIN) & I'll be riding down there. Autumn is on the way, even if it doesn't quite feel like it yet. The weather will get cooler, and the urge to get on my bike & ride will return. I've got a bunch of fun things coming up that I want to share with you all. There are a couple of rides coming up that my friends are interested in, and I may sign up for one or two. Or I might not. Either way, I'm done with doing things because I think I should, instead of because its something I want.

I want to ride...but I don't have to.


  1. I don't know if you've heard of a bicycle philosopher who wrote under the name Velocio, he's a fascinating person to read about (wiki). Among other things, he wrote 7 Rules for Cyclists, and my fave is #6, Always ride within yourself.

    IOW, don't ride your friend's pace; don't ride your friend's events; don't ride when it's not fun. Ride your way, when you want to - and change things when it's not.

    I think you have found a Great Truth: if it isn't fun, knock it off. Cheers, V.

  2. KC

    The same feeling of overwhelming burn out hit me on a bike tour. My rear tire split, I was out of spare tubes, it was raining, I was sick. It was the middle of nowhere in western PA. And I just said, "Screw this." I called my wife and she came and got me.

    Lesson learned big time. I always take a day completely off the bike every week or so. Even Sunday when it was so nice out. After 111 miles of biking and beer, I was fried mentally. I feel fine now.

    I hope to see you at one of the fall rides, though. Maybe somewhere near the top of Alabama Avenue.

  3. Wow, sounds like a real betrayal. I hope you can make up with your "friend". If not, more power to you to become yourself, within your boundaries. Oh, and on behalf of all the rest of the jerk cyclists, I apologize. :D.
    Now, get out of the devilish arm pit before you suffocate!!
    /carry on.

  4. Kate, sounds like you did a lot of intense riding in earlier in the year and that it's a good time to take a break. It's no good when your fun/recreation starts to feel like a chore.

    Also, I can't wait for AUTUMN!!!

  5. For me it start if I'm starts to dread, burnt out then that was the time I feel I'm not having fun.

    biking Philippines

  6. *compassion* Recently read Lovely Bicycle's post on the same topic. Might find it of interest - http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2012/08/burnout.html

  7. Good for you. Biking outside of pure transportation should be fun and if it's not, it's totally time to take a break. That's one of the things I love about biking compared to sports I had done previously. I'm almost always happy on the bike, whereas occasional moments of fun were the best I ever did running or rowing.