‘’You’re tired, whatever.’’
As most cyclists know, this is probably the most common phrase heard from our other halves in response to whatever moody utterance we have made post ride. Queue: World War Ten only, without the physical violence please as I’m too weak to get up…
”How best are we to deal with this…?”
The question for the floor, then: how best are we to deal with this? Do we fly off in apocalyptic rage? Do we crawl back into our box to extend our misery to both mental as well as physical fatigue? Do we simply stop being such grumpy buggers?
Let’s start out with context. As a full time rider (still not pro, just an idiot abroad with a dream) I typically train between four to five hours each day in heats often exceeding 30°C. Normally I won’t stop and I’ll be burning through between 3000-4000kcal per ride. For the normal human being (and therefore someone more sensible and not a lunatic) they will do one or two of these rides a week, normally at the weekend and peppered with the occasional café stop.
”Rides of this duration and length are taxing…”
Add in to this that often these rides exceed 130km (or 80 miles if you are that way inclined), over rather lumpy terrain and that you’re usually pushing yourself quite hard. Rides of this duration and length are taxing, regardless of ones fitness; LeMond was right, after all. Doing these alone just adds boredom to the mix as our brains start to wander and we begin questioning why we didn’t pick up other, less arduous, hobbies. One some really special occasions, you end up talking to yourself, right…?
It’s fair to say then that we will be drained, both mentally and physically, and that our nerves will be somewhat raw. Legs will stop working having given up sensation a couple of hours before, backsides ache and eyeballs bleed. Sometimes a lung will be trying to make its way back inside, having been blown out an orifice you normally don’t breath from.
Are we allowed to be a bit short, given the circumstances?
”We did this to ourselves”
Points to the contrary: One, we chose to do this. No one made us get up and ride that far (unless you’re a pro, then you have good reason). We did this to ourselves. Two, suck it up, Princess. Others have it worse and still smile. Pick a new sport if this one is too hard.
”…this is a by-product of that hard work”
In answer: Yes, we do choose to do this. In my particular case, I want to be a pro. I am just not one yet. So I have to do these training rides as otherwise I will never make it. You can argue this is a by-product of that hard work. Most labourers can kick back with a beer and relax but as a cyclist, beer is junk; a highly calorific drink and we poor petals worry too much about our waistline. The geniuses we are, we pick coffee instead so we are just more concentrated in our surliness.
”Picking a new sport would be ridiculous…”
If we didn’t do these rides we wouldn’t be doing what we enjoy. Wouldn’t that be worse? We are masochistic and relish the pain we inflict on ourselves. We even enjoy the zombie-like state we reach after – so long as there is something nearby we can eat. We love to be grumpy. Picking a new sport would be ridiculous and we’d probably pick an even more extreme form of suffering. Tiddlywinks just doesn’t bring the same kudos, I am afraid.
As you can imagine, this was written in the aftermath of one particular skirmish. Having being told to read ‘The Chimp Paradox’ I always reflect on these moments and look to work out the whys and wherefores and see how to improve if the same situation occurs again.
What then is the solution?
I am not sure it is always fair to be dismissive of us after a ride. Not always are we grumpy or even mildly cantankerous. What if the stereotype gets hijacked when we are innocent?
I have an incredibly supportive girlfriend and for that I am thankful. She will make lunch for both of us, so when I get home I do not have to try and concoct a meal utilising the remaining brain cell. She cheers me up when I get down, she brings me down when I get too full of myself. She got me to start writing these blog posts.
”…patience is required in dealing with this man-sized toddler…”
I know a lot of patience is required in dealing with this man-sized toddler in the hours following a hard training session and I do work hard to limit the damages. However humans are humans and we love to bait each other.
”I propose a sort of truce…”
What I propose is a sort of truce whereby for an hour or two after a ride, a white flag is raised. Any grumpiness or frustrations can be aired, all baiting is banned and neither party is allowed to be insulted or over-sensitive. But when that time is up, it’s business as usual and we go back to being positive and supportive little rays of sunshine. In short, I will try to be less grumpy and she will try to be less sensitive.
In the end, we compromised. I am going to be less grumpy.
P.S. (Ana is always right).