Riding without goals

Got out this evening for a nice hour-plus ride with David. I’m trying to ride every day this week, now that I have some time on my hands, so this was a good one. Temperatures are relatively mild — have to enjoy them while they last — and we’re not supposed to have any rain for a week or so.

The ride was interesting for another reason, too. David is letting me try out one of his spare saddles. He saw that I was questioning whether to keep the saddle I’ve been riding on since I bought my bike, or if the discomfort in my nether region might ease if I planted myself on a different perch. It’s a narrower saddle than the one I’ve been using, and feels pretty good. But I won’t be in a position to report on it until I’ve taken at least one long ride on it. In addition, I just put it on the bike this afternoon and rode. It needs a little fore and aft positioning and more attention to leveling to get it just right.

While enjoyable, this evening’s ride had something in common with the other rides I’ve taken lately. A feeling of no purpose. I mean, I’m always glad to get out there, and I know it does me some good (I’m already coming back from the weekend’s food binge). But I’m not shooting for anything.

This is part of the anticlimax I’m feeling now that the MS 150 (or 77) is over with. During the weeks prior to that ride, I knew that my pedaling was accomplishing something. It was preparing me to handle two days of long riding. But two weekends ago, a conflict forced me to miss the Armadillo Classic which I enjoyed so much last year, and I’m not preparing for any other major rides. There’s the Real Ale ride in two weeks, but I’m not sure I’ll be riding in that one. Then the summer is dry until the Waco Wild West Century in September — and I’m not sure I want to drive 100 miles to ride 100 miles (or even 100 kilometers).

So I’ve just been riding. Ho hum. I hope the summer doldrums I ran into last year aren’t returning early.

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9 thoughts on “Riding without goals

  1. I can relate to the need for a sense of motivation and purpose in your riding. A reason to get out there and push yourself. But try to take this opportunity to get out on your bike with no other purpose than to have fun. Just ride what feels good. Maybe explore new routes. It can be reinvigorating to ride with no pressure!

  2. I agree with Missy. Ride for the sake of exploration. Check out some new areas.

    I spend a lot of time looking at maps and trying to find new roads. Sometimes I’m surprised at how much there is to explore that’s just a little bit off my usual routes. Terrain View on Google Maps can be especially helpful so you can get an idea if you will be dealing with any big climbs.

    Another thing I like to do is think about some of my favorite scenery, and find ways of seeing it from different angles. There’s a gorge here and I often ride along the north side of it. So one day I went out and tried to find ways of viewing it from the south.

    You’ll have mixed results with these kinds of experiments. It doesn’t always work out, but chances are, you’ll find some great new areas to ride.

  3. I also agree with Missy: sometimes riding without a specific purpose in mind other than to just ride can be liberating.

    It’s a different kind of recovery.

  4. From here, I’d probably just take a week off and relax, just do slow little rides and only if you feel like it. Exploring new roads as the others mentioned is always fun. See a road you’ve never been down before? Take it, you never know what might be down there.

    After that, I’d train as if I was definitely going to do whatever rides you’re not sure you’re going to do. That way, you have a training goal in mind, and if it turns out that you do want to do those rides later, you’re already all trained. Also fitness is not a static thing–it either increases or decreases. Taking a break for a week or two won’t be detrimental for fitness at all, but keep training after that in order to keep fit.

    That’s just me, though. Finding what works for you is the most important thing.

  5. I haven’t been riding long, but the whole purpose for my start was the Frisco MS150. Now I don’t have a purpose other than enjoying the ride. When I run I have to have races lined up to keep myself motivated, but with cycling I enjoy it and I like just being on my bike.

  6. I can completely relate. When I started back in February, my goal was a 25-mile bike tour that is coming up this Saturday. As the day gets near, I am actually thinking of doing a 40-mile ride instead of the 25-mile original ride. After the ride is over, I have not decided what else to do. The rides after that are over 50 miles away driving distance and I don’t feel right driving a lot to ride a lot :)

  7. I like the advice that says explore new roads, see where that takes you (and take a cell phone in case you get lost!). Didn’t you mention you might do some time-trialing? That takes a lot of work!

  8. I ride my bike for the pure enjoyment of it. When I find myself in “training mode” for some ride or event, I feel like I need to be out there for a particular time or distance and begin to stress if I don’t think I’m ready for it (even though I’ve never had trouble completing one of those things). It’s way more fun for me to just ride because I can and let the mileage and time fall where it feels good. I guess in a lot of ways I’m not a “serious” cyclist like some of the hammers I encounter on the road, but at the end of the year I’ll have a whole bunch of miles under my tailbone!

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