On Sunday morning, we went out for a ride with friends: early morning laps of Richmond Park, followed by an excellent brunch at the Dynamo cycle café in Putney. Sure, it was a bit blustery and cool; and sure, it was a bit tiresome to slog up Sawyer’s Hill with a strong headwind and sideways gusts. But it was a good morning: cycling, friends, coffee and breakfast is a great way to start the day. So why did I get so blue as we set off home?
How is it possible to end up so depressed on the bike ride you’ve been looking forward to all week?
Riding through Sheen, I could have cried. You know that feeling, when it seems as though a dark cloud has just parked itself directly over your head? Every gust of wind made me crosser and sadder still, until I pulled over and told Matt I wanted to catch the train home from Richmond.
He looked at me, and said nothing.
I felt pretty pathetic. It was only 10 miles home – why did it seem like such a huge struggle? I knew that I needed to just suck it up and get pedalling, but there was absolutely zero enjoyment. I felt really anxious about the crosswinds with my new deeper rims, and I felt worn out by the headwind. I just desperately wanted to be at home with a cup of coffee. How is it possible to end up so depressed on the bike ride you’ve been looking forward to all week?
Had Matt agreed with me that it was a shitty ride and we should just call it a day, I would have been only too glad to head down to the station and catch the train home. But he stayed quiet and I knew that I was being a wuss, and that it was probably hormones on the rampage and that my mood would probably improve.
Bottom lip trembling, I clipped in and pushed off again. For the next three miles I just wanted to cry.
So, bottom lip trembling, I clipped in and pushed off again. For the next three miles I just wanted to cry, despite knowing that I was only a few miles from home on a route I know like the back of my hand. Then, suddenly, the clouds parted – both literally and metaphorically – and, simultaneously, my mood lifted. At the next set of traffic lights, I apologised to Matt for being utterly tragic, and resolved to not grumble the rest of the way home. We stopped off in Bushy Park and sat on a bench in the sunshine, and chatted about how state of mind can really get in the way of cycling. Whether it’s a case of hormones going mental (which in my case, I think it often is), or a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or a horrid headwind making it an uphill struggle, or the stresses of the week that lies ahead – there are so many things that can get in the way of just enjoying the ride. It’s my number one reason to cycle with other people. Left to my own devices I find it really hard to push on through those gloomy periods.
What are your tactics for dealing with demons when you’re out riding? What keeps you moving when you’ve just had enough and want to go home? And – am I the only one whose mood instantaneously brightens as the sun comes out from behind a cloud, and darkens the second it goes away?