Be Kind to Yourself

My commuter friend is a Very High Mileage rider, dedicated to riding any day it’s not raining (and sometimes even when it is). His personal commitment to cycling is inspirational. I have explored more boundaries by riding with him than any other cyclist – mostly because he doesn’t make excuses not to ride. The bike is there – just go ride it. He has a wealth of experience to tap into – and I regularly try to pick his brain to avoid mistakes as much as possible. That being said, everyone is different and I’ve been known to be bone-headed more than once.

The other day my commuter friend and I were grinding up the hill from the creek back to civilization and talking about the National Bike Challenge. He’s on a team with other Crazy High Mileage cyclists and they are doing very well in the challenge. Every member is out every single day, logging not just trips to the store or to work but serious miles. I can’t even comprehend being able to spin that many miles day in and day out without burn-out or loss of happiness. I know that I tend to lose interest in things and can burn myself out very quickly when something fun becomes an obligation – a chore – yet another thing that has to get done today that I will feel poorly about myself if I can’t accomplish.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep things in balance. I am constantly reminding myself that what I do already is totally awesome, I should be proud of my accomplishments and stop comparing myself to others who are in completely different situations. I am one of the few people I know with school-age kids who gets out for long rides on a regular basis. I have ridden over 1100 miles so far this year – more than the last two year’s mileage-to-date combined three times over – and had a lot of fun. I’ve ridden in heat, cold, rain, thunder, and sunshine. I’ve seen views that are so amazing your heart aches. I’ve seen skylines disappear on the horizon, lingering devastation from last year’s hurricane, and more animals than anyone could have thought to see in a metropolitan area.

The thrill of bicycle commuting is palpable – it is never easy to wake up early, but putting the feet to the pedal tends to clear up any lingering doubts about whether this is what you really want to do instead of sleep in. I remind myself that I am a bicycle commuter even though I only do it 2, sometimes 3 times each week. Because doing it even once a week is more than never. I feel like I occupy a weird space too: my commute is long enough to necessitate Lycra – which is what most “how to bicycle commute” articles indicate is not necessary – but most of our commuter “gang” are somewhat anomalies in that we commute 10 miles or more each way. If I lived closer to work, I would ride every day no question. If I didn’t have parental and relationship obligations in the evenings, I would ride every day no question. But I’m not just a Kick Ass Girl. I’m also a wife and a mom.

On the flip side, I have a regular life too. School is wrapping up for the kids so there are field trips, dances, and End Of The Year celebrations. The last five weekends had events and trips with my Girl Scout troop. We went camping and had a blast despite the damp and rainy weather. A few days ago we took the kids out for water ice at the local stand because the proceeds benefit our middle child’s school. This weekend we are planning a cook-out in our neighbors in our communal yard – last year was so wonderful with the kids running around catching fireflies and bugs in jars until it’s too dark to see. This is what life is all about!

Finding the balance isn’t easy and we should all support each other where we are. Keep it fun – riding your bicycle shouldn’t be a chore or just another item to check off at the end of the day. It should be integrated into your life seamlessly so that you have balance and honor your authentic life.

See you on the road!

Author: Laura

wife. mother. kick-ass girl. all mountain, all road adventurer by bike.

9 thoughts on “Be Kind to Yourself”

    1. Love it! Too often I find myself digging myself into a hole that saps my energy and enthusiasm. Last night I took my daughter to her school dance (parents had to attend) and ended up dancing the whole time much to her feigned chagrin but to my total happiness. I love dancing!

      1. I do too! I’d totes do exactly the same, no matter how tired. 🙂 I don’t get to dance enough!

  1. Because I’m a long distance cyclist, many of my friends say things like “Oh, I only went out for a three mile ride.” I almost always want to slap them and say “It WASN’T ‘ONLY’ three miles. It WAS three miles. And that’s great. Stop downplaying yourself.” I used to do that and it drives me crazy… Love yourself. Appreciate your time.

    Great post, Laura!


    1. Thanks – I realized the other day I haven’t done any shorter-but-faster (or shorter-and-slower) rides lately and it’s time to change that. Three miles is better than no miles! 🙂

  2. Lovely essay. I can see the fireflies and hear the children’s footsteps as they chase about in the dusk. Follow your heart.

    1. Thanks. My heart wants to ride. My heart also wants to not miss the beautiful moments that happen when I am with my family. I wish the two intersected more often but because they don’t, I need to make decisions.

  3. Ahhh … balance is always the key nod nods. And often one of the harder things to achieve…or so we tell ourselves.

    I think you are doing grandly. That you step back and see this is proof of that I think. Many, many, MANY things tug at us…and trying to fit them all in can lead to stress I know.

    Oh … I agree with what Sarah has said too … 3 miles is more than 0 miles … and even if we can’t do the long rides, so what? If we can live in the biking moments when we get them…then its a win *gentle smile*

    Isn’t it interesting how we are our own worst critics though? “I want to ride more, why can’t I make time?” or, “that took me longer than I thought it should have.” or, “I only rode x miles today” ….when in reality, we would never think that of other people. I know you don’t. I CLEARLY recall you telling me once, don’t worry about the amount of miles I ride in the season … some is better than none *smiles*

    I am rambling here in this comment … when I really just want to say I think you are doing well … and not just in the biking department.

    1. You are so right – we should never compare our behind-the-scenes to another’s highlights reel. It is hard not to – how often do we really get to see behind the scenes of someone else’s life? But it’s important to remember nonetheless!

      I went out with my commuter friend on Sunday for lunch and explained that it’s not that I feel pressured to ride – it’s that I want to but have to make decisions. What am I missing out on by choosing myself over my kids or my husband or just sleeping in and then reading all day? He totally gets it – his kids are older than mine so he naturally is in a different stage of parenting than I am. The incongruity gets to me sometimes but he always reminds me that it’s OK – just come ride bikes when I can. 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words!

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