A rest period in the middle of the season presents a mental minefield to a bike racer. From the early relief of the first couple of days, one’s feelings soon swing towards doubt and guilt as one returns home from yet another easy spin.
As cyclists, we take pride in the work that we do on our bicycles; long, hard days of racing and training build our fitness and feed our egos as we learn to handle higher and higher workloads. Our confidence comes from the satisfaction of our feats; to not push our bodies feels like a cop-out.
At a certain point however, the body breaks down and continued work becomes regressive. The rational mind knows this, past experience and physiological science have proven it, but still, something inside prompts us to push; if we can’t ride hard, what are we worth?
Overcoming this instinct and taking time off to heal and to rest takes real discipline and real trust in one’s body. The truth is that one needs to be healthy and fresh to be at one’s best; fitness will not diminish significantly in the course of ten days.
If we heed our inclination, it is easy to come back before our bodies are ready; if our self-belief begins to dwindle, we feel compelled to stoke it with work. With perspective however, we can keep the fire of confidence burning as we rest.
Times of repose are necessary to sustain one’s self through a season of cycling; often, that rest is the key to one’s best performances.