I love and hate the offseason. Lining up for the last race of the year feels the same as a prisoner being released from jail, finally pushing through previously locked doors that slowly open until that last lock pops open and only freedom and blue skies remain in front of you. Not that I have ever been released from jail but you get the picture. It’s exhilarating. Gone are the shackles of training, the chains of healthy eating and the oppression of kilojoules, watts, and power curves. For a few weeks, the offseason gives cyclists the chance to be ‘normal people’. And that is where the fallacy begins.
The lie is that ‘others’, the non-cyclists, enjoy an eternal offseason. It’s the same lie that the adolescent Amish boys and girls face during Rumspringa. A popular subject for National Geographic TV, this is when young Amish boys and girls leave their families and venture into ‘the real world’. Eager to make up for lost time, they party hard, stay up late, wake up even later, eat whatever their tastebuds crave, and play basketball or football until they are so sore, moving from a prone position to a seated one is a chore. Sound familiar?
Many of these kids are so overwhelmed by it all, they return to being Amish and live happily ever after. Cyclists, unlike the Amish, need a yearly reminder. But the lie is the same: the offseason is not normal life. And the lie serves its purpose well. It scares us. It rekindles that desire to once again follow a training plan, establish a diet, and get back in the traces for 10 more months.
Suddenly, the offseason that you were looking forward to is horrible. When will it be over? The first race day is like being released from jail, finally pushing through previously locked doors that slowly open until that last lock pops open, the whistle blows, and the open road and the new season remain in front of you.