Heavy & Light

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We’re getting to the point in the cyclocross (CX) season where we spend a bit more time reflecting on the journey until now in an effort to figure out how we’re going to end the season, because there are still several cold and dark weeks left until the season is truly over.

This season has felt particularly heavy for some teammates as life circumstances have sat on their shoulders and caused them to not be as engaged or competitive. The combination of outside forces that influence training schedules or even being able to participate at all with the internal responses that come with those make it hard to know where cycling even fits with the commitments that you either made or wish you could make. For others, entering new life phases with work, family, or other commitments took a priority and greatly reduced or eliminated the ability to even show up for races. If this is you, we see you and want you to extend the grace you need and encourage you to be honest with where you’re at and make the best call that allows you to focus on those life circumstances.

For others, this season has felt flat, just ok, or full of mental challenges that have been hard to reconcile to past years. Some had busier seasons then usual heading into CX, which left them drained and not as excited to race CX as in years past. Some hit that point where an honest question of whether CX or racing is even fun and worth the investment of resources. This is an important question and one we all need to ask regularly. We’re adult athletes that should not be investing in things that cause us to feel excess mental burden or great frustration. It’s supposed to be fun, renewing, and good for your soul. If this is you, we see you and want you to know that showing up is simply enough. If you race, great. If you help the team, great. If you show up and you need a hug, we got open arms.

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For me, I felt the pressure of finding personal and family balance with cycling as well as wanting to make sure I positioned myself to serve the growing TNLCX team this year. My goal from the beginning was to sit out the first month of racing to make sure I was available at events to serve/manage the team and then hit CX hard at the first of October through the end of the season. I picked up running to stay active and work in another goal of hitting a half marathon PR at the end of September. I hit my goal and had fun, but I just didn’t feel a return back to CX after hitting CX practices and a few early Oct races. So, I’ve kept running and completed my first marathon and will be doing a 50k trail run this week. While I’ve kept my commitment to the team this CX season and our local CX series, I’ve sensed my lack of racing and presence at some races has had an impact on team dynamics. I’ve been that friend that keeps showing up, but stops bringing his bike. On the positive side, my family has gotten to join me for more races and we’ve been having a blast both at events and locally with CX practices. This season has been helpful to see how I best fit in as a leader.

As heavy or flat as it’s felt for some, it’s felt extremely light and as exciting as ever for others. We’ve welcomed several new TNLCX members this year. They are having great seasons and loving being a part of the team. They’re hitting their training schedules, placing well in races, meeting new friends, and enjoying the season. If this is you, we see you and THANK YOU for keeping the fire lit and sharing your energy with the rest of us. We’ve needed it and we’re thrilled you have joined us this season.

With any time of reflection, I try to write down all the things that I think have went well and the things that went poorly. With those things that went poorly, I then spend time asking what went poorly and those things that are less objective, I ask the question, “what is true?” For instance, if I reflect on our fundraising aspects of this season, I could quickly get negative and think we’ve not done enough to raise money this season. While that may look to be true based on race day or in season fundraising, it’s not true overall. In fact, we’ve got nearly $20,000 waiting to be spent on furnaces through athlete and matching donations. We’re simply waiting for our HVAC partner, Masters Heating and Cooling, to work on estimates for the projects we have identified. TNL is as effective for us as ever.

If I have anything encouraging to offer to TNLCX, others who have felt a similar pulse personally or within their team, and to myself, is to step back and reflect on the bigger picture and spend time asking yourself “what is true” of the things that you feel a sense of tension with. Then, let the things you need to let go, and address the things you need to address head on and with grace. For TNLCX, I think year three has been a maturing year and as the novelty or newness of our effort wears off, we’re finding our groove as a tradition race team.

Finally, Grace. We could all benefit from extending our community and ourselves some grace. We don’t have to be anything more than who we are, especially when it comes to performance based metrics as an adult athlete. What we have to do, is be healthier versions of ourselves in order to build up others in our community. Adult athletic teams are about the community of people that is drawn together because of team ethos and priorities, not because of incentives, perks, or performance metrics. Those always fail, change, and rarely satisfy.

Here’s to acknowledging where we’re at and deciding how we’re going to finish the season.

Andrew Hoffman

TNL Director

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