Sometimes absence really doth make the heart grow fonder.  Taking a break from riding can make riding your bike all that much better. (Contributed photo by Joel Austin.)

When I started biking in the mid ‘90’s, fatbikes didn’t exist. The group of people I rode with on the road didn’t have the gear you need to ride in cold much below 20 degrees. For years the winter meant the offseason. Sure, I might do the occasional outdoor ride when the weather was decent, but for the most part, after the last races of the fall in October, bike-riding (in those days riding meant training for races) was a low-key affair. Things started to ramp up and get serious in February or March but there was a very defined offseason that lasted for months.

In the winter of ‘03-’04 I was living in Fairbanks, Alaska where, if you were to put biking aside for the offseason you would hardly bike from September to May. I didn’t want to do that and fell in with a small group of dedicated winter bikers for which an offseason didn’t exist.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t ridden my bike in over a week — the weather has been fairly pleasant (aside from some hot weather), the trails and gravel roads are in good shape, but I just haven’t had the urge to get out there.

I’ve been thinking about it — why I haven’t really wanted to ride even when many of the stars that make for good riding are aligned? — and I realized that I haven’t really had a true offseason for many years. 

“I have commuted to work by bike every workday for the last eight years,” and “I rode my bike 365 days in 2018,” or “I rode 10,000 miles last year,” are certainly impressive, and perhaps even something to strive for, but they also set a very high bar and one that, especially for a beginner, is hard to match. I never set myself a goal of reaching X number of miles for a year but I have kept track of mileage and have gotten up to around 3,000. If I tried for 10,000 it would become drudgery. For the few people that can pull off 10,000 miles a year (that comes to about 192 miles a week or, to look at it another way: if you average 17 mph that’s 588 hours) and have a fun time doing it then, by all means, go for it.  

I guess what I’m getting at is to keep your riding fun. Cycling shouldn’t be drudgery, and if you find yourself tired, physically or mentally, and are having trouble motivating yourself, don’t go.  

The only problem with this plan is that in a few weeks I am going to be cycling with my soccer-playing, bike-riding, sports-obsessed teen nephews who are probably going to ride me into the ground.  

Until next time, keep the rubber side down.  

Joel Austin lives in Moquah with his wife and son, is a member of the North Coast Cycling Association and has been biking for more than 20 years. He keeps a blog at

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