When the rubber meets the road (or not): Tracy finally quits the bike and triathlon

Tracy on a country road holding her new time trial bike with the helmet slung over the handle bars in fall 2015. Caption reads
Me in fall 2015 when I was full of hope that the new TT bike might turn things around.

If anyone has been following the blog for awhile, they will know two things: Sam loves cycling big time, me (Tracy) not so much. But despite what I have described as debilitating anxiety that has gotten worse, not better, I have given it the good college try. I even bought a fancy new triathlon/TT bike (which I totally regret and is now for sale–message me if you’re interested).

I’ve teetered on the fence for quite awhile because, though I do not really like the bike, I do like triathlon. If that seems weird, maybe it is, but I’m not alone. I’ve blogged about loving triathlon without loving the bike.

I mean, you can get by on indoor training, which would solve the fear of the road issue. I definitely prefer indoor training to outdoor training. Like: it’s a lot better. At first, (two years ago when I started), I thought I’d found a solution to my “issues.” You can read about my indoor cycling “tour” here. I also talked about leaving the cocoon of indoor training.

Last week, when Sam said she was about to start her indoor training, the first thing I thought was “I am so glad I’m not doing that this year.” Yes, indoor training didn’t have the same anxiety for me as outdoor training. So that’s something in its favour. And yes, the novelty of it a couple of years ago kept me interested. But it’s not exactly enjoyable in itself. I mean, unless I’m getting ready to ride outside when the snow and ice melt I might as well just attend a spin class instead. Less lugging around of equipment and it’s already included in my Y membership.

I kind of made the decision to give up trying to like biking some time in the summer. But I haven’t been ready to blog about it because despite my attempts to feel okay about it, I’ve actually experienced a certain amount of self-recrimination over the whole thing. Like, what’s wrong with me? Everyone else seems to like cycling and even be good at it. But I’ve never been able to and I honestly don’t ever get any faster (I realize this has a lot to do with not training but I don’t think I would get faster even if I trained. Which is all irrelevant because that’s not about to happen anyway).

But I also felt ambivalent because giving up biking really does mean giving up triathlon. And that was a tougher call but one I decided to make, at least for now. It was a toss up between giving it one more summer (2017) or ending it effective immediately. My reasoning for possibly keeping things going for one more summer was that it’s really the last summer for a couple of years where I can train effectively. Starting summer 2018 I will be moving onto the sailboat for a year, so that rules out the 2018 and 2019 triathlon seasons.

I’m a big believer in doing what you love. In order to be consistent with my own convictions on this, I had to give up the bike. Since biking is a major part of triathlon–in fact, I’m usually on the bike for almost as long as I am in the water and pounding the pavement combined–it makes no sense for me to belabour things just because I feel like bailing makes me something of a failure.

I had my exciting turn as a triathlete, culminating in 2014 when I did four in one season, including two Olympic distances. Bracebridge and Lakeside. No one can take that away from me. And it was good fun and I trained (even on the bike!) for that season and felt a huge sense of accomplishment.

Do I feel a bit sad about it all? Not really. Mostly I’m experiencing relief. I sold my indoor trainer on the weekend. Next up: the bike itself (the road bike has already gone to Sarah) and the bike computer.  I’m hanging onto my commuter bike because I actually do enjoy  my leisurely commute on the pathway at my own pace with no training goals.

I’ll add too that I’m doing plenty of other things that I’m loving. I’m training for the Key West Half Marathon.  That means regular running, which I find energizing and I’ve got an awesome group of running peeps. My personal training, started about a year ago, is fantastic. I’m so much stronger than I used to be and I almost always look forward to my training sessions. I’ve reconnected with hot yoga.

I’m still hanging on to my Y membership even though I have not been making it our regularly to the pool. Swimming with the group is the next thing on the chopping block — I’m not signing up for the early morning slot for the winter triathlon session that starts in January. It’s a high demand program and I haven’t felt all that motivated to get out for a 6 a.m. swim. I’ll step aside and let a triathlete have my spot in this sold out training program. I’ll go back to swimming on my own again for now. All in all, I’ve got lots of happy-making stuff on the go these days.

So there you have it. No more tortured deliberations about what I should do about the bike. I quit!

What about you? Have you ever struggled to give up on something that you thought you should (for whatever reason) continue doing?

22 thoughts on “When the rubber meets the road (or not): Tracy finally quits the bike and triathlon

  1. Also gave up cycling. Though I lived cycling.

    I rode 200 mile a week commuting alone through London, with at least an extra 100 mile at weekends.

    Across 10 years I had two Specialized bikes, a Sirrus and a Langster. Neither bike cost more than £400.

    Eventually after 10 years of all that cycling my Langster got stolen, so I got a motorbike for the commute. Saved myself an hour a day of my time.

    A few years later I got a Foffa One bicycle to start cycling again. I hated it. I blamed fitness, the bike, motivation and time, but in all truth A. I couldn’t love another bike after the Langster and B. I just didn’t enjoy cycling anymore.

    That’s OK. I have some really good fond memories of my years cycling. The uplifting feeling you got when you had broken down and people kept stopping to ask if they could help. The day I cycled from London to Brighton. The day I went from the far west side of London to the far east then back again.

    I think whether you love something or hate it, there’s a time for you to move on from almost everything.

    Never tried indoors workouts. May be a gym membership on my Christmas list heh.

    1. Thanks for that. You’re right that sometimes we even end up moving on from what we like. There are all sorts of reasons. Things don’t stay the same. You sure did cover a lot of ground. Your Langster sounds as if it was a reliable companion! Let us know if you enjoy indoor cycling. I don’t think you get quite the servere winters that we do, so maybe it’s not as much a ‘thing’ in your part of the world.

      1. Winters is more a bad driving thing here in London. Unfortunately its vastly over populated too, so when someone crashes on the main exit roads, it can back up 10-15 mile. It’s either fast bad driving, or static pressed together cars.

        Few things are more miserable than riding a push bike or motorbike through grid locked or busy traffic through the miserable British rain for 40 mile a day heh.

        Oh and to add, you are not allowed to cycle on the pavements in the UK. There’s fines for it along with a lack of cycle paths.

        Winter in London is a miserable place to cycle unless you are really enthusiastic about cycling. 🙂

  2. Glad you’ve made a decision and this certainly sounds like the right one for you. Two corrections though neither of them matter at this point! Spin classes on gym bikes aren’t anywhere near as good as riding a real bike on the trainer, imo. And you would have gotten faster had you trained. It’s all about time on the bike.

    But you’ve got lots you love without riding and without triathlon. I get teary though at the thought of Kincardine without you!

    1. Awwww. There’s always the relay option, as Gabbi pointed out to me this morning. Do they do the duathlon as a relay? I would be more than happy to do the run legs and have someone else do the bike. Or even the swim and run legs of the triathlon and someone else do the bike. Something to think about.

      1. Triathlon relay only and you need a different person doing each leg. I did it once with Mallory swimming and Susan running. Fun!

      2. I would consider signing up for a triathlon relay, then, as the swimmer. And if it got changed to a duathlon I would be fine with that too, as the first runner.

  3. “I’m hanging onto my commuter bike because I actually do enjoy my leisurely commute on the pathway at my own pace with no training goals.”

    To me as a non-racing, non-dropped handlebar cyclist, this statement speaks volumes.

    We need to do things in an enjoyable way for longevity. The “training goal” can become a millstone around the neck. Just riding your heart along, is the best. 🙂

    Over 80% of my regular routes that I ride for work site, shopping and general fitness (to trainers, I guess it’s “recreational” speed. But who cares what you think.) in Calgary, previously also in Vancouver and Toronto for the past 25 years, have been on pathways and separated bike lanes.

    I encourage you all to beat me on the rides..because it won’t destroy my ride. I own and ride 5 bikes…and none of them are dropped handlebars. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jean. I’ve long admired your approach! Thank you for being such an active part of our community here at Fit Is a Feminist Issue. Your comments are always welcome and helpful.

  4. I gave up a career in music because of ever-worsening stage fright. I had wanted to be a professional musician since I was a teenager and playing flute drove my entire young adult life. I even taught at a university for a while. However, getting on stage got to be harder and harder, though I love sharing music with people. I gave up playing altogether in my early thirties, but twenty years later, have picked it up again. I now play casually with a pianist friend and we occasionally even do recitals. I’ve found happiness in music as an amateur that I never had as a professional. One of my teachers once said that there’s no shame in being an amateur–the word “amateur” has the Latin verb for “love” as its root, suggesting that amateurs do what they do for love rather than in pursuit of earning a living. It’s hard to give up something you’ve devoted a lot of time and energy to, but sometimes all you have to do is adjust your perspective and find a new place for it in your life.

    1. Thanks for this, Nicholle. So true. It’s that all or nothing thinking that kills us. This is why I still have a place in my world for my trusty commuter bike!

    1. We are big believers here in baby steps and starting where you are and enjoying what you choose to do. Thanks for your comment.

  5. I haven’t really given up on any training totally. But running is something I’ve struggled with, sometimes enjoying it, and often hating it but forcing myself to do it because I should. I haven’t run in over a year, long over a year actually, due to injury. My feet have been pain free now though and I’m medically cleared to give running a go again, but I’ve decided I’m not interesting in rushing back into that. Letting myself just do some weight training and swimming that I enjoy. I might go back to trying running in the future, but I’m not letting the feeling that I “should” run push me into it faster. (I sometimes feel like the only fitness that really counts to most folks is running, and I’m wasting my time if I can’t run.)

    1. There are so many things other than running! So many! Do what you love and resist the social pressure to feel badly about not loving what “they” say you “should!” Thanks for your honest comment. Enjoy!

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this – I really appreciated it. It’s the willingness to try new things that keeps us moving forward but you are right how we are slow to give them up when it’s not working for us – is it a fear of seeming to have failed? Perhaps for me. Running is what I gave up. Plodded for years because I thought it was the ultimate form of exercise and then one day embraced the fact that I’d rather do sprints than long distance- such a simple thing when I type it but took me ages to give up on the “so how far do you run?” question….now it’s “not far but I do it fast…”

  7. Thanks for the honest post about what was a hard decision to make. Life is short enough, so spending it moving the ways you want makes a lot of sense.

    I’ve given up squash. It was not an easy decision, but the main problems are: 1) playing squash requires access to squash courts, which means expensive memberships at clubs that have them. I joined a sports club expressly for the purpose of squash, and it was a lot of money and also not super convenient to my house; 2) I had to arrange matches with people (not totally difficult, but it’s more effort). 3) And finally I was playing on a women’s team, which I enjoyed in some ways, but found that I didn’t love. I played competitively in my 20s and adored it. In my 50s, not so much. I think this is because of a shift in what I want exercise to do for me. I’m happy to run around and push hard and sweat and grunt (I do this anyway in all sports!), but adding the competition just didn’t do it for me this time. 4) Shoulder injuries and wonky knees don’t mix well with squash. I felt beat up often after playing and it took time to recover.

    All this pointed to quitting squash. But I now have more time (and a little money) to spend on yoga, which I am loving. My local studio is an easy walk from my house, and I love the space, I like supporting the owner, and the vibe is mellow.

    p.s. and I may be buying a Brompton foldable bike; will be blogging about this soon.

    1. Thanks, Catherine. I appreciate hearing from other women whom I love and who have given up on something too. When they do it, it’s like “oh of course, makes sense!” It helps to reinforce my decision. Also, helps me feel less like a whiney quitter, which is sometimes where my head goes with this stuff. Looking forward to reading about your foldable bike.

  8. Tracy, you do what makes you feel good in your heart! We are too busy, too in demand, too old, and too over-taxed to do stuff that does not feed us. I realise more and more each year – each year that my career progresses, that my students require more, my colleagues require more, my research becomes more complex – that exercise and training needs to be about getting back to a state of nourishment and strength, not exhaustion. Do the things you love. And if you’d like to go out for a commuter ride, just for fun, you know I have one of those too! Big hugs.

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