By Alison Tetrick,
Pro cyclist, Entrepreneur, CTS Contributing Editor
Stop and smell the flowers. Literally. When was the last time you smelled a wild iris on your ride? Or noted that those purple lupines along the road smell like a wet dog? They do. I used to pick lupines for my Grandma and proudly present her with a bouquet. She always thanked me, but the flowers never stayed on the dinner table. She said they liked the view from outside better. I use the California poppy as a litmus test as to whether it is either too cold or too late for me to be riding. Those liquid gold flowers are like me – they like warm and sunny conditions. If their pedals start closing against a brisk or darkened evening, I need to be headed home so I don’t turn into a pumpkin, or a poppy, so I better keep pedaling. Pedal to the petal?
There is a time and place to pedal hard and efficiently, not letting off the gas until you reach your destination. But there is also time to define a great ride by capturing your vivid landscape in a photo, stopping for just one cookie at the secret bakery (or maybe two), or literally just smelling the flowers. I don’t recommend the lupines. Or try it. Once.
I am a treat-based athlete. I have talked in previous blogs quite a bit about life balance and how structured training can help you get stronger, while at the same time we also need to maintain the fun in sport. I like treats for that second part. The treat can be an iconic climb I have never done, a breathtaking view on the coast or, of course, that donut or oyster stop. Choose your treat. The world is your, well, oyster. Treats are also found in PRs and personal goals and exceeding your expectations at the event you have been training for. Don’t you just love that gold star? Me too.
My coach (Adam Pulford) knows me very well. He knows when I need to get down to business and he knows when I need a mental reprieve to just do whatever I want. When I am honest with my goals and my life stress, sometimes he is better at finding my balance than I am. Finding that balance of mental sanity while maintaining focus on performance is an art form. When he lets me loose, I might go ride all day eating nachos and chasing crowns, or I might leave my tires deflated and bottles empty and Zoom my life away so I can catch up with the rest of my world. At least one week a month, with the grace of Coach, I choose my own adventure.
A coach knows your training performance, and has insight on your general mental state, but only you truly know you. So how do you know when you need to pedal consistently and when you should turn into a petal and take all the time in the world?
Here is my advice:
- Claim your time, especially when it’s short. If you have to get back for a soccer game or conference call, just go grind it out and get it done. It is amazing how many kilojoules and watts you can church when you actually pedal your darn bike.
- Choose your training partners according to your ride plan. No one wants to be an Instagram husband or stop to smell every color rose in the rainbow if they didn’t sign up for that. And not everyone wants to ride two hours of Tempo at sunrise, but somebody probably does. Openly communicate your plan and find the training partner out there who is on the same page for that workout on that day.
- Remember your goal. What phase of training are you in? Full adventure mode? Go for it! But if you need to do actual race simulation or build a specific range of fitness, focus on that.
- Choose your treat. Riding is a treat no matter how you slice it. Pedaling full tilt all day is amazing, and hard, but I also love a 3 hour ride that takes 5 hours because tacos, and flowers.
Personally, I know when to get down to business and when I just need to clear the head and not look at the clock, watts, or calories. If you have the time, enjoy! If you don’t, take satisfaction from your stellar ability to manage your time wisely.
Flowers come and go in every season. Just remember there is a time for everything. Relish each moment. Make time for what matters the most. And what matters most is up to you. You are the wildflower. Grow all the places no one thought you could, even if that means stopping every now and then. I look forward to seeing those photos!