Simply put, the binary point is reaching the point of switching off, akin to binary computer code that is either on or off; no in between. So, if you over train and don’t have moderation in your cycling life you potentially can burn out and just totally walk away.
In order to stay race ready during winter Raul recommends just long rides on the weekend and a few weekday rides at strong, short intervals. ‘You don’t need to ride every single day. Just keep your fitness up.
A long ride on the weekend should be enough until the new season starts. You should not be training 6 to 7 days a week, only riding 3 to 4 times a week. This will give you more time to relax. It’s good for your body and good for your mind. And you’ll actually enjoy riding again.
I think that’s what’s important; to enjoy riding. That’s why we’re all out there after all; to have a good time.’
Raul Ranca ‘I think, unless you’re a professional rider, you shouldn’t be doing it every day, seven days a week.’
And with his own advice in mind, Raul had just completed a leisurely ride, sitting in between 25-30kms per hour. ‘It was nice and relaxing. I got to enjoy talking to people, enjoy the scenery.’
Normally, many riders just train, train and train some more in order to keep their numbers up and it’s important to not burn out and to remember to have an off season. If you want to do something else, try running or going for a swim and keep the bulk of the riding for the summer season.
For Annie Mollison, finding more balance also meant a renewed enjoyment of cycling. ‘I’m enjoying cycling more and exploring other aspects of cycling. I might get back into mountain biking, I’ve already done a coaching course, it’s opening up other areas of cycling rather than just being focused on racing and being at my peak fitness all the time.’
Annie usually trained hard, all the time. ‘I was short on time so I rode hard and fast all the time but I think I’m at the point where my body is screaming out for a rest. I just wasn’t keeping up anymore so it was definitely time to listen to my body and have a rest for a while. If I’d tried to keep up that pace I probably would have got to the point where I would have just hung up the bike. Mentally, it’s exhausting and you get to where you just don’t want to go out and ride anymore.’
Reaching binary – pushing the engine too hard
The bi-annual Pack 1/20 time trail circa 2007
Daniel Keane started riding back in 2005 after a long term relationship ended and he turned to cycling for a new focus in his life.
Living Bayside in Melbourne, and close to the famous Beach Rd, Daniel was riding 7 days a week, “Having a single track mind, it was all or nothing”.
From there Dan climbed the racing ladder at an exceptional pace, not bad for a 30 year old reaching B Grade (Local Club racing) within 12-14 months and A Grade within 18-24 months.
“Cycling was a huge part of my life, it was difficult to extricate my life and cycling personality, over time, whenever I was in a social situation, like a BBQ when someone was talking about what I did, I said I worked in IT but I am a cyclist”.
This progressed to completing the Melbourne to Warrnambool Road race; just under 300kms in one of the toughest one day racers in the world.
Most amazingly, Daniel stayed with the lead bunch until halfway through the race.
With the enthusiasm from his local riding mates, it was all about “train, train, train”, which involved back-to-back rides to Sorrento on the weekends (400kms) over a 10 week period.
This followed a moved to Yarra Glen (regional Victoria) which involved a very long commute by bike 3 days per week which he incorporated into his hectic training regime.
Eventually this wore Daniel down and he become less connected with the local cycling community and became less focused with his training and a shift in mind set. Once the passion was lost for the high level, Daniel lost the passion for cycling as a whole.
On a positive note, after 4 years Dan is now back on the bike and just focusing on commuter cycling and has “Found cycling again”.
Some strategies to avoid Binary
As with everything in life, moderation is the key. Create a cycling plan and stick to it. At the end of the day you need to remember the enjoyment of riding and the reason that you started in the first place. Don’t reach that binary point where you feel like your only option is to give it all up. Slower, more social rides during the off season will see your fitness maintained until the new season kicks off.
Sometimes we can easily forget why we started riding in the first place, the social aspects and commaraderie so its important that we keep focused so we never lose site of why we love this amazing sport.