Off Season: Bang For The Buck

Consumerism and marketing sure is powerful when we spend more time chatting with our peers about buying lighter bikes, gear, and carbon bits rather than spending the money on training or better nutrition. I've been really convicted about this fact since we started this relationship with Parkview Sports Medicine. How easy it is for me to want to spend $1500 on a set of carbon wheels that may save me a pound of bike weight, but not want to pay for a monthly gym membership or personal training that could help me loose the 20-30 lbs I need to loose. Some of you may not have a bunch of weight to loose like I do, but I do know that you could benefit from coaching, nutritional advice, or even getting your bike fit dialed in to increase comfort and on-bike performance.

This is definitely not a guilt-shaming or anti-consumerism blog post if you have lots of bikes and sweet gear. Bikes should bring us joy and we most certainly need bike parts to keep them running effectively. We have incredible partners who keep us running and who we support fully. We also have some new TNL kits coming out soon that I'm hoping you all want to buy one or two of!

The point of the post is a reflection on the reality that I, and I think "we," often get more excited and determined to spend/save for new bike parts that promise performance advantages over doing the same for personal performance advantages. I picture a pile of parts that add up to an advantage of 3lbs of bike weight lost at a value of $2000, and me standing next to that pile of parts with 30lbs of body weight lost at a value of $2000. At the top of the ad it says, "which would you choose?" 

I realize I'm the biggest hypocrite when it comes to writing this post both personally and at TNL, which is why I'm writing it. My current bike stable is quite light, expensive, and about as nice as anyone in my demographic or financial background can have. I've got the carbon wheels, carbon bottle cages, and all the right bits on them to be in the "cool bike dudes" club. My kit game is strong and those new yellow Mavic shoes I picked up after Christmas on eBay sure are sweet. But, I find it hard to stay content very long because my brain quickly goes to wondering what it would be like to have carbon wheels on my 26lb mountain bike, or if I just had Zipp 303s instead of the Zipp 202s I already have. Or, those carbon bars or SRAMs Eagle 12-speed drivetrain instead of the XX1 11-speed I have. And, I definitely need another Giant cross bike so I can have a rad flat bar, single-speed bike that can do both cross and MTB. Seriously, it gets out of hand and I'm regularly catching myself mid conversation telling myself to "shut up, you're being silly."  

Team NL is also constantly developing new gear, accessories, and producing products that we hope you buy to support our organization. I've done my best at only creating things that I see folks buying regularly like socks, bottles, handlebar tape, etc. Things that riders have to replace on a regular basis as a way to give them the option to do a little good with their commerce. But, I sense we're fueling the perceived need to buy more stuff. Hear it from me today, we NEVER want you to spend money on our gear that you don't have, will cause problems at home, or in your mind perpetuates spending habits you have. Buy our gear with a clear and supportive position. 

This "Off Season" is as much a mental renewal process as it is a physical renewal initiative for myself. I'm trying to commit to spending my "bike" time and resources in 2017 on improving myself over improving my stuff with the full knowledge that the only thing that's holding me back from being the athlete or human I want to be is me. I want to spend money on being in the gym with a trainer, hiring a nutritionist to gain some clarity on becoming a healthier version of myself, and to spend more time doing the riding that brings joy and renewal to my soul and faith. 

I hope you'll consider joining me in reframing our relationship with stuff and cycling to be more about finding renewal and joy than being the coolest, fastest, or best. If you've been on this journey for awhile and have interesting things to share about what you've learned, let me know. Would love to hear from you. Also, I look forward to talking to you this year on our rides together about your life, work, family, passions, and more interesting stuff than tire pressure. I mean, I'll talk about stuff because I'm still a consumer and still really want those carbon MTB wheels because they're sweet, and if I can get a FS MTB to 25lbs, I'm all about it. Plus, I'll try to convince you to support our sponsors because I truly believe we've got the support of some of the best cycling brands out there. 

Training Update: Last week was a great week for training. The gym workouts were much better than last week, and I was able to get a few solid rides outdoors, which is always welcomed even with strong winter winds. However, I felt much more sore and fatigued as the weights and complexity of the workouts increased. Feeling stronger and can see the power translate on the bike rides I've been doing. Even though I'm not really focused on on-bike training yet, I can see that my base season miles are starting at a higher intensity/speed than in years past. I'm looking forward to week 3 of this 2nd training block.