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Crush - VecchioJo falters under the weight of his own expectations

It’s time to go for a ride, actually it was time to go for a ride about half an hour ago, but I’ve only now finished procrastinating. Just answered those e-mails, just done that little bit of washing up, had another coffee, just played with the cat, just taken the t-shirts off the washing line, folded socks, just checked e-mail, just, just, just…. Anything but ride.

I sit dressed and about to click my shoes on, but I stare at them with something that’s not quite revulsion, I’m slightly chilly with a thin miasma of nervous sweat, and my tummy feels awkward. I’m going for a ride on my own and I’m scared. It’s been like this since I can remember. I’m just going for a ride on my own and I’m dreading it.

Just a ride, no pressure, no training, no intervals, no targets, no timings, no placings, no podiums, no medals - just a ride. A bimble on my own, riding bikes is fun, no-one to see anything, no-one to judge, except me. This sticks me to the sofa feeling slightly sick.

It’s different to race nerves. Completely. In a race there’s probably going to be someone I can beat, and I can gracefully accept being beaten, as I will have done my best but they are simply better. Race nerves are the anticipatory worry of wondering if all that’s gone before has been enough. Pre-ride nerves are nothing but that anticipation, just that on its own. On a solo ride I only have myself to beat, all that time to wonder if I am enough. And in the same way I am happy to go riding with friends, some will be slower than me, some will be faster and better than I, and riding with the latter will punch me in the thighs and push me to ride my bike more.

Which is where I find myself now, motionless on the sofa, all dressed up and not wanting to go. I know that this dread feeling is usually gone by the first corner - I’m on my bike, I’ve settled into the saddle, it’s all fun. Lalalalalalalala. Sometimes it’s self-harming for an hour or so until my body has warmed up and my brain has calmed down, and I only feel relaxed and almost happy once I’ve climbed a hill to some satisfactory self-imposed standard or done a bit of up to par rouleuring. Once in a while it never leaves and the entire ride is an exercise in anxiety and loathing, when only trying to go faster and increasing the pain will slow the downward spiral enough and groveling up the last hill of the day is an demonstration of self-fulfilling prophecy.

It’s time to go for a ride against my toughest opponent.

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

18 comments

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
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Got to love Miasma.  4

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jameshaworth21 [11 posts] 4 years ago
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Spot on!

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Bigcog [21 posts] 4 years ago
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come on, stop whining and get suffering.  4

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veseunr [257 posts] 4 years ago
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It never gets any easier .... just quicker!  20

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Wookster [53 posts] 4 years ago
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 22 yep I know that feeling! Worse is the times you're buzzing all day to get out then..........you fell rubbish the whole way round! Stunning day though!

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malcolmclayton [38 posts] 4 years ago
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I did the same thing this morning and then went out for a stunning 80km ride in beautiful countryside, apart from a slight pink hue (beginning of a tan I think...), it was fantastic!

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lazyusername [101 posts] 4 years ago
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Oddly I'm doing the same, right now, that's why I'm here commenting. Stomach turning over nervously. It's all about the pain today

edit - it was very pleasant in the end today not at all pain inducing

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Max_Leonard [18 posts] 4 years ago
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Very true. Sometimes I have to force myself out, and remind myself that I've never, ever regretted the ride after leaving the house, and very often regretted not going.

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 4 years ago
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Same here. It's not the timing or the speed, I don't ride for that. It might be the effort - every road out of our village is hilly. It might be the weather - who knows if it's going to rain. But yep - by the end of the street I'm loving it.

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keith roberts [204 posts] 4 years ago
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always the same..roll bike out of shed..feel cold..roll down local streets shivering and wondering "WHY!" winter rides always the worst, but eventually all the turbo and low winter rides make some kind of sense...did a 20k tt on sunday,cold,foggy and didnt feel great,but posted a pb,so perhaps the cold,nerves and turbo suffering is worth it? I empathise with all cyclists and vecchiojo as we all feel like this at some time,better to get out there and do it.

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OldnSlo [135 posts] 4 years ago
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yup, recognise the pre (serious) ride puckerup
nerves. As austin would "spectacles, testicles,
wallet & watch..." and get the hell out there;
while we still have a hosepipe ban!.

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rbx [226 posts] 4 years ago
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One of those posts where I was nodding in agreement all the way through.

Then, smiling in even more agreement at Max_leonard's comment.

Then, noting for inspiration OldnSlo's quote  1

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wakou [80 posts] 4 years ago
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& I thought it was just me...
Sitting at the PC doing exactly that right now, sun is out, I have a destination, but still sat here...

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Jamespion [6 posts] 4 years ago
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did i write this, I thought I was just a big pansie ass but its actually a common thing! who would have thought it!? I am off for a ride this afternoon, will anyone come with me to hold my hand, just for the first bit!? anyone......

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Paulo [112 posts] 4 years ago
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Max_Leonard wrote:

Very true. Sometimes I have to force myself out, and remind myself that I've never, ever regretted the ride after leaving the house, and very often regretted not going.

How true it usually only takes 1km to star enjoying it!

...& I thought I was the only one  13

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PhilRuss [390 posts] 4 years ago
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There are more nutters driving fast cars faster than at any time in history, so having made the decision to go for a ride, I feel jumpy, trepidatious, and slightly queasy. But I also feel competitive, so here I go. See you up the road.
P.R.

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Mr Will [91 posts] 4 years ago
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There is a simple solution to this; "Just a ride, no pressure, no training, no intervals, no targets, no timings, no placings, no podiums, no medals" - So leave that damn computer at home!

Without the numbers in front of you, without the measurement and watching that goes with them, you'll be able to "just ride" and enjoy it for what it is - Freedom.

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VecchioJo [397 posts] 4 years ago
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it's not about the computer