It’s come. No, not the winter and its interminably dreary weather. The pre-winter season, in which shorter days and slightly cooler climes, begins to corrode any sense of discipline you might have developed over the year. In Chengdu it settles in, a flat damp shade of grey, and despite not being too awful of a condition for riding, also fails to inspire confidence.

I knew this was the case when I looked back on my recent riding history. Those quick, spontaneous jaunts have disappeared from the ride log. The longer, half-day epics become half sized and more closely resemble a ride barely longer than a quick jaunt. I also noticed that the thought of getting out to ride left me filled with a sensation of suck. The well of inspiration is tapped out.

Gone are the excess of fair-weather friends. And in Chengdu, this generally means anyone else to ride with. It’s back to the grind. Pick a time and a place and plan to spend it solo. I managed to get out with another this past weekend, and as he donned his thermals and shoe covers, he said “It’s that time of year. This might just be it for now.” It referring to us. I was happy with that. I’m accustomed to staring down the dread of a long, grey, lonely offseason and wondering what’s to enjoy while riding like this, so this was a small victory.

Needless to say, there’s a few quick ways to hit it head on. To start with, who gives a fuck? Everyone’s got to ease up at some point, so if you’re not hitting your targets, then the important thing to consider is that you’re still shooting. Make sure you get out, despite yourself. It’s the easiest win.

Next, don’t be so hard on yourself. You aren’t going to (comfortably) bag the same weekly riding goals (speed, distance, elevation). Nor are you going to want to. Why? Because getting out the door eats up 90% of your motivation. It just vanishes. Granted once you get your legs moving, the mind follows, but it’s still a sizable uphill battle.

Finally, simply doing it counts. Sure. This may well be a Tony Robinson motivational, but part of cycling is the discipline of it. Any rewarding pursuit requires eating a little bitter (吃苦), and riding your bike is no different. The roughest part of #offseason is being for lack of motivation and allowing yourself to lapse on the discipline of it, keeling over bit-by-bit, until you really aren’t able to ride (holidaze, freezing-ass weather, etc.) Just get out and ride, even if it feels like pulling teeth.

Those are the easiest suggestions for bearing out the #offseason. Honestly, it’s ok to meet the year’s end with disappointment. It’s unintentional and generally can be linked with a whole set of contributing factors that are universal. You’re not alone. Coming into the winter months makes the whole lot harder, but you can reflect back on what you did do right, and build on that to inform the next season’s objectives. Except for those in the southern hemisphere. I still can’t figure out how they do it.

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