Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Striking a balance

Posted by Matt | January 27, 2010 | 5 comments so far

Perhaps more than most things, riding a bike is about striking a balance. Not, you understand, in the literal sense. That’s pretty much a given or else you’ll just end up sitting around in a cafe somewhere talking about how cool your fixie is. What I’m going on about is how difficult it is to ride a bike when other things get in the way.

We all know the drill. We plan a ride. We let other halves know we’re riding and we organise whatever else we need to do around it. But then, something comes up that throws all those plans into disarray.

For me recently I’ve had a combination of too many late nights (did I mention I’ve just rebuilt the Cycleworks website?), a sick child the night before a planned Friday commute, cold weather, lethargy and just plan ol’ life getting in the way. The upshot is still over 120 off-road miles for January but I’ve barely ridden for the past two weeks.

OK, that’s no big deal but it’s the mental aspect that starts to affect your committment. No exercise equals no motivation to exercise in my book and judging by some of the moles I’m not alone. I end up feeling unfit which is really a psychological effect more than anything. The more I’m off the bike the more I feel I should be riding, which is a whole world of guilt for me.

That’s why I think regular bike riding is about striking a balance. I’m full of admiration for, and slightly nervous of, those chaps who can grind out big miles week after week. The mental effort involved in fighting the boredom in order to do that is impressive. But it’s clearly not sane or balanced. Don’t they have homes to go to?

The more I do this sort of thing, the more I realise you can’t ride all the time so you just have to do what you can, when you can. I commute regularly but it takes it’s toll physically and mentally when you have to drag yourself out of bed at 6:00AM for a cold solo ride. I much prefer people’s company to take my mind off the pain of all those climbs!

The riding gland is an unpredictable thing though so my advice is don’t sweat things too much. Try and have a plan to ride and follow it when you can. Like having a holiday to look forward to it’s good to have the prospect of your next ride ahead of you, particularly if you’ve committed to riding with others.

But accept you can’t always ride and strike a balance or, if you ride fixie; strike a pose!


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 5 comments on ‘Striking a balance’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

If you haven't had a chance yet, jump to our comments form if you have something to say.

  1. Barrie says:

    Hi Matt

    Tell me about it!.. Striking a balance is important when you have so many aspects going on in your life. You should not feel too guilty about not getting out if the pressure is on, which is why I have recently been absent, new baby, work etc etc do take priority but I am looking forward to getting back out when I can, which does make it seem sweeter when you do get back out and meet up with everyone. The fitness side well you have been out a lot so you should hold a good foundation when you jump back on your bike, the zippiness may not be there but the brain and muscles will still retain memory. When you do go out on the bike It is a great way to escape from everything and if you are meeting others, what a great chance to have a laugh at the same time, it’s also a great leveller, as it does not matter whether you are a lawyer, doctor, bin man or on the dole, it does not discriminate. If out in the winter or bad weather it certainly makes me appreciate my home comforts when I get back and the break from the family makes me look forward to seeing them and spending time again with them. Gone are the days years ago when I was racing, single no mortgage and the only thing that mattered was going out on the bike training, racing and no weather, illness or work would stop me from doing that. Now I am just a softy!……

  2. Muddymoles says:

    Ride report: Wednesday 27 January – muddy hell!

    A typical UK winter ride with mud, clay and chalk. All in all, a great night ride!

  3. James says:

    Matt, this is very deep, if I rode 50 miles a day I would still struggle to keep up with you;0) I just like eating pies!!!


  4. Andy C says:

    Do what you enjoy, and do what you think is right. Once you’ve done it, don’t agonise about all the other things you could have done.

    As a slightly more ‘experienced’ rider (i.e. getting on a bit), I too have struggled with the whole work/family/sport balance thing. I gave up playing rugby when I was not around to train mid-week and could only commit to playing once every 3 weeks due to work/family. As a consequence I found myself playing with the lower teams and found that although the cameraderie was just as strong, I was not able to gain the satisfaction from the synergy of a all working to achieve a result that was greater than the sum of the individuals playing. Also, it hurts more when you play a game like rugby only once every 2-3 weeks!

    When I was in serious training for the London Marathon in 2003, most of Saturday was written off because of the weekly 15-20 mile run and recovery. The better half has to share and support your goal otherwise it leads to conflict (and eventual divorce, I guess).

    I’m weakly paraphrasing, but a remark I heard recently sums it up for me:

    Happiness is enjoying what you have, not lusting after what you don’t have.

    That’s not to say don’t have ambitions, and I really envy those that can fit in training for an Ironman Triathlon around work and family. In reality, at least one of those three aspects will suffer if you pursue one of the others to an extreme.

    For those with young families, believe me it does get easier – says he just back from ski-ing in Canada without the family 😉

    These days, however, instead of worrying about children I now have to worry about parents. Meanwhile, get out and ride and enjoy it when you can.

    See you Sunday.

  5. Related: Ride report: Wednesday 27 January - muddy hell! | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Leave a comment…

Have your say – we'd love to hear what you think.

If you have something to add, just complete this comment form (we will not publish your email address).

*Required information.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.