A while back, my good friend Bill, a member of BBC, stopped me before a race and asked me what motivated me to participate in this sport. It took a few seconds for me to process his question - I mean ... we just do it, don't we? But he pressed on, forcing me to think about what exactly DOES motivate me to make sacrifices in "real life" to play this silly sport. We talked a bit about it and he asked me to do a post about the subject. I promised I would - and the beginning of February seems like a good time to think about motivation, so here goes.
My motivation has been evolving. Initially, like many women in this sport, my motivation was a boy. Dating a man who races is pretty much like being single if you don't participate with him - he's gone every weekend, trains non-stop, especially when its nice outside, and trying to have a non-bike-related conversation with him is pointless.
Then I was motivated by what seemed like easy improvements. When you're starting out, just spending time in the saddle yields improved fitness, improved bike handling and a new-improved look in lycra. Since you're starting from scratch (very few other sports translate into cycling), you show progress by leaps and bounds ! The equation seemed simple - ride more, get better. Ride even more, get even-more-better. Yes, I know thats not proper grammar, just go with it.
With aforementioned improvement comes success - when you win your first bike race- that adrenaline is something indescribable. Who needs drugs or alcohol to get a high ? I found cycling - with tons of great side benefits (eat with reckless abandon ! Look good at the beach, if you ever take time out of racing to go to the beach). Prior success is another motivator to me - that got me through winter training (2006-2007). I wanted to take on the world !
Then came the 2007 season. Talk about testing motivation. I had coaching issues, which increased my training issues. Then I had mental issues (more than usual). Then I had confidence issues. So many times I thought of hanging it up, leaving races in utter despair, lamenting what I was doing wrong. I've said it before: its easy to do something when you're having success. The trick is sticking with it when you're struggling through. That shows true character, and allows you to feel true pride when you accomplish something.
So what motivated me last season ? My team. It was the first "real" team I had been a part of, and it opened a new world of cycling.... its different sport when you have a team that counts on you and that you know you can count them. When your teammates are also your friends, you never want to let them down. You want to give all that you can - even if its not as much as you'd like. And your teammates know that you're giving all you have. THAT'S motivation. My girls know they pulled me through 2007 - that we all helped to pull each other up another level.
With another few weeks of winter weather and a race season looming, the motivation you have now will be what you take to the line come March, April and May.... if you have a team like mine, you will have no trouble getting up and piling on the layers to make the 7am ride in sub-freezing temps. And when racing starts in another month or so, you'll be ready to play.