I’m having complicated feelings about my bikes lately. After years of training and racing (tapering off a bit last year, but I still did lots of gravel rides and a huge 200-mile event), I find myself without a tribe and without motivation to ride other than to commute. I’m in a weird place where beginner friendly rides are not appealing because I have limited time and don’t want to spend 2 hours of a 3 hour ride stopped on the side of the road, and non-beginner friendly rides are generally too fast. I don’t want to have to do serious interval training just so I can hang on a “casual” group ride.
All this means that my recreational riding has dropped way off, and I feel slow and out of shape. I figure I can’t be the first person here to have faced this kind of dilemma. Tarck, how have you gotten back into riding when you’ve stepped away for whatever reason?
I’ve really felt that bimodal distribution of organized cycling too. There’s really no well-structured intermediate riding in the US, and it’s 100% what I want - people who know how to handle a bike and can cruise at a reasonable pace for a few hours at a time, but who are not ultra racing competitors.
I’ve gotten back in by sectioning cycling off into a hobby - something I do when I have time, and work on bike project when I have time and money, but I only do if I feel like it. this means that I sometimes miss events I’d like to do because I’m short a working bike or don’t want to ride with racers, but I’m pretty ok with that. I also started a more serious yoga practice a few years ago, and having a counterpoint activity to cycling has made getting on the bike in some rigorously structured way feel way less urgent.
I have some experience with the PDX scene, and it’s been my experience that there’s people out there who want to do that sort of recreational ride but that they’re nearly impossible to find because it’s either some newb shit show or as you noted, a hammerfest. So, mostly I just rode by muself and did whatever, like riding out to blue lake on my fixie and crushing a beer and a sandwich, and then getting sort of lost in gresham (the first and last time I did that) coming back a different way. However, I suspect that your intermediate level ride is a lot more riding than my intermediate level wandering around exploring with stops for beer.
I pretty much only rode bikes short distances or with kids for the last 5 years, and I’ve started commuting again, and it’s pretty great to be regularly back riding, so I hope you find something that works for you. The social aspect can be both great and a total bummer. You may need to be the change you want to see, and just reach out to a bunch of folx you know who might be interested in your kind of riding and just do it.
I also share your frustrations regarding group rides. For me, I hate sitting around getting cold while people are having an hour-long coffee stop, when we could be riding. I have accepted that I just ride bikes differntly than most people, so I go solo most of the time. That doesn’t do much for my motivation during the winter, though.
I found a no-drop ride that runs through the winter and does the Lake O loop every weekend. They do swing by La Provence, but it’s usually a 15-minute stop. If I ride to the start, I can get a solid 4 hrs in and still be back around lunchtime.
That ride, along with mountain biking, kept me going through last winter.
@jordanpattern I don’t know if you’re interested in hanging with WTF folks, but there’s a WTF slack and they all seem pretty cool. There’s a group that does regular coffee rides and seems like normal-ish people, a few folks who are planning a bikepacking trip together, etc. Might be worth checking out? lemme know and I can add you - there’s no good reason I’m on the portland slack except to lurk, but i’m always jealous of their hang out times.
I stopped thinking about going fast and started thinking about having fun.
Jordan, I’ve been kinda going through the same thing. I think it stems from my road teammates all deciding to race masters and not being old enough to join in on that fun. It’s cut back on my road racing because it usually means I’m travelling alone and that gets really old/expensive, really quick. If Bailey had weekends off, we could travel together, but those are few and far between. For me, it means that I’m less focused on “training” and that translates to “A” group rides are more of a bother. It’s really hard to get motivated to get dropped on a 5 mile climb every weekend. I’m fine for pretty much the rest of the ride, but the Red Rock loop climb gets me. I can put more effort into it, but I’m still gonna be off pace. I would rather find a group that just wants to go ride tempo for 4 hours than a 50 mile hammerfest.
MTB rides are better, but I still ride mtbs with mostly road racers and a lot of the time is spent trying to be fast over everything else. Need to get a daytrip to st george and a weekend out to Sedona and then get the guys to focus on “fun” vs fast.
CX is CX, but even then, with us throwing the races this season, it’s hard to to not be exhausted by the time I need to kit up.
We have a few younger guys on the team now that are starting to move through the ranks, so once they reach cat2, I will have people to race with. That, I hope, will help.
I feel the same way and its why I don’t do group rides for the most part here, either slow as fuck or 20+mph roadie hammerfests.
So what’s the solution here, if everyone is unhappy with how road stuff is organized? A ride with some competent capitaning - yelling at people when they start half-wheeling and trying to play at being Laurent Fignon? Set waypoints that you hit at specific times?
A lot of this seems to hinge on whether we can all get the bike racer bullshit out of our heads, or if not that then at least contain it in a specific class of rides.
I can’t believe Rapha doesn’t have a PDX clubhouse. It’s all hoity toity bullshit apparel, but the community is golden. It’s probably the most inviting women’s roadie community here in LA, for better or worse.
Ride boingy bikes in the woods.
Option 3. Do nitemoves with us. Fly to Prison Island, get a jerb here. Settle into a mundane work routine which deteriorates your mental health. Finish work at 5pm, jump on bike, ride 100 miles into the night. Sample some deep fried foods. Sleep in a bmx park. Wake up, get the train to work. Begin your ultra endurance sitting at a desk.
I try to only go on rides I think will be fun, which is harder than it sounds. That way I’m not riding with a negative narrative already going (my slow speed/low energy/former glory/etc).
The other side of the fun thing is not riding when I don’t want to. Then I can be open for when the feeling to ride pops up unexpectedly. I seem to be finding it more fun, more often, with less baggage.
The only times I’ve consistently ridden a lot is when I have had regular riding partners who I am friends with and are fun and also ride at the same level. Camaraderie and fun are the draws for me.
Without that I tend to get into other things. For me, that’s okay.
What is it about cycling that has kept you coming back? Figure that out and seek that out.
I used to race bikes. That was fun.
Then I moved to Madison with no car and commuted everywhere by bike (I think my only 10000 mile year). That was fun until it wasn’t, and I stopped riding entirely for four years.
I have been getting back into it this year and last year. The point about only going for rides that you think will be fun has helped. I don’t ever force myself to go out.
Mostly I ride by myself, but I like it that way just as well as riding with people. There are five or six people here who I always have fun riding with, but I like riding before work in the summer and they are largely not morning folx. I have given up on the idea of finding someone exactly my pace. Half my friends are faster than me, half are slower. The cool thing is that everybody but one has been biking for yeeears so there isn’t any dumb stuff. I don’t mind slowing down or waiting for people at the top of the hill, and I am working on getting over feeling bad when someone slows down or waits for me. It’s easier to feel ok about that when the ride itself is fun.
I have only MTB’d four times this year, but that is also a great way to go on fun rides. I don’t think the racing / suffering culture is as popular with MTBers as it is with roadies. The people I ride with are all about going your own pace and taking little breaks to regroup often. Randos on trail are also more open to becoming friends on the spot - great for meeting people. I haven’t done it recently since I’ve been shredding less than usual, but my roommates have picked up a few friends that way this year.
Thanks, everyone. Lots of good perspective and ideas here.
I’d love to find a no-drop group ride that’s not too fast. @yonderboy, are you talking about the Hammer Velo ride? Club Roule? Something else?
@capn_NOpants if you are able to add me to the Slack, that would be cool. I don’t often have time for full-fledged bikepacking adventures, but I do have the gear and can sometimes do weekend stuff (and coffee rides, etc. sound great).
@chazzwazzer I’m trying to get on the Only Fun Rides train, and yeah, it is hard. I’ve been trying to let myself NOT want to ride my bike and be okay with it, but what I’m finding is that means I’m just disconnected from the whole scene, and I don’t hear about fun stuff I might otherwise want to do. I guess maybe doing some more social stuff could help there…
The other complicating factor here is that I don’t drive. I’m (very slowly) working on getting a licence, but until I can drive, my ability to MTB or do any fun riding that doesn’t involve, like, 30 or 40 stressful junk miles, is pretty limited.
The ride I’m talking about is Club Roule’s Endless Summer. Last year, it ran from October to March. People come from all parts of town, so there’s usually someone you can pedal home with.
I have this innate drive to not want to take my car to go ride, so the Roule ride works pretty well for me.
I did one or two of those last year. The pace was a little challenging for me, honestly, but if I did it more regularly, I think it would be okay. I know Stacy, the woman who runs a lot of the Roule rides, which is nice as well.
In this boat too
I’ve spent 95% of my time working from home over last year
Lost all my commuting miles, gained a bunch of weight
Recently moved next to a decent mup and have been piddling around more
Can’t really commit a ton of time to recreational riding
But I do really miss it a lot
Are any of you in this loop:
Used to ride bikes
Want to ride bikes
When I do ride bikes I don’t perform the way I want but have fun because
Still want to ride bikes