Self loathe

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  • Self loathe
  • Premier Icon st colin

    I’m a long term sufferer of depression. Lately I have found it increasingly difficult to get up and do things. Notably, getting out on my bike. The problem lies with what I expect from myself when I do ride. I think there’s no point in going out becuase I’ll not be able to hit the runs as fast as possible, or be at the front of the group. I have this huge want to be the very best, totally unrealistic of course. I raced last year and left every round in a depressed state. I know I’m not the best rider by far – simply making up the numbers in the middle of the pack – but I expect to be in my head. I know it’s ridiculous to think that I should only ride if I can be the best I can be, so how can I get out of that train of thought. Cue the usual STW responses, though I would appreciate some humanity in the replies πŸ™‚




    Think of the long game – takes years to build up pack-leading fitness.

    Focus on small improvements. Try also to relax and just enjoy being on the ride.

    No idea if that will help, plenty self-help books around for the depressed around which are worth a look.

    Premier Icon st colin

    Cheers al. It’s more a case of understanding why I think that way. Why do I think I need to be at the front, or only going out if I can perfect every line every time etc. Looking for acceptance maybe? Need to prove myself?

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    My advice;

    1) ride on your own

    2) don’t use Strava

    3) don’t have regular routes you can pace yourself on

    4) make a point of stopping regularly on rides and taking in the view, having a snack or a cup of tea from a thermos.

    5) stop and take photo’s if you see something interesting.

    basically, take the pressure to perform off yourself and give your rides a focus beyond being ‘fast’. Try and enjoy the actual experience not the afterglow of being first to the top of the hill.

    [edit] are you like this in all areas of your life? Are you compensating for areas that are out of your control by focusing on cycling (where you feel like it’s all down to you)?

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    Sounds like you may need to look at some talking therapy, you’ll need a GP referral for this normally. Until it all gets rewired you’ll probably be better off as a billy-no-mates cyclist. Try some tunes when on the trails to distract you from the surging testosterone, keep the bpm and beat intensity low though as you want to relax not get wound up.
    Don’t expect a quick-fix as this is going to take time.

    All the best


    Why do I think I need to be at the front

    probably because you keep reading on here about how sick rad gnarrrrr everyone else is. (which 99% of them aren’t).

    and start riding on your own, it will help you remember why you ride.


    I trained fairly hard to come just below mid table in a race a few months back. Also spent quite a bit on getting the bike right for it, all to be just below average. “it’s just the taking part” I was told….no it isn’t, nothing will be achieved with that attitude. But there’s the rub…how to be determined but then not be crushed to finish mid table.

    My advice – take some time off racing and enjoy riding. Only go back to racing when you feel ready.


    Have you tried riding with some new people who are at your level or lower? All the advice here about talking to someone is valid btw.

    In a scale nowhere near as serious as yours, I used to get down about being the guy at the back on a lot of our rides – back when I started. Also got a lot of ribbing for not knowing much about the bike, needing help out on the trail etc.

    Apart from getting better by keeping at it – so I got fitter, faster, more skilled at punctures etc – I also started riding with more people, and it was nice because in some cases, I’d be one of the best riders there. Not so much for the ego boost, but because it helped me realise how subjective and unhelpful it is to constantly hold myself to a standard that doesn’t really exist. And when people ask your advice, it feels good.

    Keep riding though mate, in the way that seems most fun to you. It’s good medicine.

    Premier Icon st colin

    Thanks for the replies so far. I’m usually fine on the outside when I’m riding but then experience a massive low afterwards. I’ve got goals in my head for next year, though as to how realistic they are, I don’t really know.

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    I’ve got goals in my head for next year

    maybe try and drop these? It might be good to not set yourself targets you’re uncertain of achieving – it’s just perpetuating the current problem isn;t it?

    Premier Icon Nobby

    As I posted in the “Whate makes a good rider? thread:

    Folk who just ride.

    Not for the speed, distance, up, down, gnarr, time, result, strava, fitness, commute etc, just because they want to, just because it makes ’em smile.

    All riding’s good.

    Premier Icon st colin

    Yea, that’s what I’m thinking at this point. I’m almost embarrassed to admit what my goals are, even though I want to achieve them.

    Premier Icon binners

    simply making up the numbers in the middle of the pack

    That makes you approximately 20x faster than me. I have the opposite. I sometimes watch these daft 40 year old blokes beasting themselves senseless at events, and races, in order to achieve what? I’m never really quite sure? Something I don’t understand, that’s for sure.

    Why not relax a bit and take a different type of enjoyment out of it? As age tends to dictate that a constant need to win would put you n a permanently downward spiral, in the enjoyment stakes?

    Another vote for riding on your own from time to time. I went out the other week on my own, which I hadn’t done for a while. It was great!

    When I’m out with my mates, I’m always at the back. I don’t care. And they get a break at the top of the climbs while they wait for me. It can actually make you quite popular that. Though few will actually tell you that πŸ˜€


    how to be determined but then not be crushed to finish mid table.

    IME improvement. I’m never gonna win but an improvement from mid table to top third is great in my eyes.


    I’m with binners (or I would be if I was on a ride with him). There’s far, far too much emphasis on racing, be that in an actual event or with your mates. It’s taking all the fun out of cycling.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    come for a ride with me. Thhen you can be at the front on every climb


    Counselling/psychotherpay? If you’re a long term depression sufferer and this is linked to your riding/competitive woes – which I suspect it may well be – then you could do worse than some proper help. I think a lot of racers – in this and other sports – probably have similar things going on if they’re honest with themselves. Driven by results to the point where all the fun and enjoyment is gone.

    Premier Icon cheese@4p

    Manage your expectations?
    Contentment comes not from great wealth, but from few wants.
    If you set goals too high you will never be happy

    Ride lots.

    I find the more I ride, I don’t percieve myself getting better, but then I’ll go out with a group and suddenly i’llhave gone from yo-yoing off the back to cruising allong at the front waiting for people (it doesnt get easier, it just gets faster). I actualy prefer sitting in groups that are uncomfortably faster than I’d like because it means I’m always pushing myslef to improve, even on slow rides I’ll sometimes hang back to the end of the group then see how far I can get back before the top of the hill/end of the trail.

    Goal setting’s a funny business. Some people like small achievable goals, I prefer to set big ones and fail. E.g ride in the fast group by Christmas. There was a pathway to doing this, I’m not going to manage it due to a few reasons, but I’ll still be happy with my progress as I’m more motivated by the riding and getting quicker than actualy meeting the goal, and the fast group will still be there next year.

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl

    OK, I can relate to some of this so here’s my two penny-worth.

    Firstly get yourself some high dose Vitamin D (around 5,000iu), this is available cheaply online. High Street stuff is a rip-off.

    Secondly, get a notebook and pen and write down each and every symptom.

    Thirdly, place your bike in your face be that kitchen, bedroom, lounge. Make sure everything is working, tyres pumped etc. You need to see it daily.

    Next get an OS map – you’re not going riding, you’re going exploring. Two different things. Investigate bridleways that you didn’t know were there. You’ve not ridden them before so you can’t force yourself to ride in a particular gear. Take a flask with you, take in the view.

    Repeat and repeat and repeat.

    Take another look at that list – anything that can be crossed off? You can’t compare yourself to anyone else, you’re you.

    You need to re-program your mind, it’s not easy but can be done.

    Finally, you need to recognise your achievement because it IS an achievement.

    Small steps all the time.

    Good luck!


    Shame yer in Belfast Col, you could have come out for a spin with us lads then you would have been at the front of the group! ;0)


    The best advice I can give you is to stop being goal oriented. Depression is rather ruthless in this respect as you wind up setting goals for yourself that your motivation cannot possibly match. Go back to basics, ride the stuff you love to ride rather than the stuff you think you ought to ride.

    And make sure you reward yourself for getting on the bike.

    And good luck!


    Think you probably need to feel good enough without doing really well on the MTB.

    You can talk to somebody free through the charity called Mind, I spoke to somebody at my local Mind place and it honestly changed my life for the better.

    You might not need to, but it’s always there as an option, don’t be afraid of it as one. :~)

    Best of luck,

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable

    You need to separate what’s going on in your head and what you actually want to do. Depression isn’t necessarily caused by failure to achieve your goals, nor will it necessarily go away if you do achieve them. But from talking to sufferers I know, if you keep doing stuff, it helps.

    Premier Icon st colin

    Really appreciate the replies so far folks. I have very recently called Lifeline and I have been on the Mind website numerous times. This train of thought is across many areas of my life.


    From my experience, i’d say go and talk to a nice person at Mind, but obviously it’s down to you.

    You can stop going if/whenever you want.


    All good advice.. R.e. Talking to someone, yes there are groups out there, but the best thing you can do is grab a friend, colleague, or just someone you know and talk to tjem about a tiny bit of how your feeling (it can build over time). Just keep in mind they wont reacy like you expect them.. You’ll probably expect the same unreal standards from them, but just take what you can.

    Re. Riding: the guys above have got it right, by yourself or with people, cycle for a bit the have a break, chat, enjoy the view! Also, stop racing – use the money for cake stops, or if you’d rather continue find what it is in racing that you love.. For me its just finishing, crawling round the circuit with cramp everywhere being passed,by people who just offer encouragment, the sheer daftness.

    Lastly, but far from least, convert to a single speed maybe? πŸ™‚ stops you pushing yourself too much, encourages just pleasuring the ride – and nothing to go wrong (often the state of your bike can reflect/worsen your own state eg. Itd something else that ends up being finely tuned, needs care and attention, isnt quite rigjt etc).

    Lastly, but far from least, convert to a single speed maybe?

    We all know singlespeeders are better people, but it’s not prozac!

    On the other hand it is a nice way of removing outside influences from a ride. The bike will always* be in perfect** working*** order, you can flog yourself uphill then relax and concentrate on other things the rest of the time.

    Ohhh, and on the training/raceing conversational thread, have you been taking enough rest/recovery? 3 weeks on, 1 week off kinda stuff? I find if I ride regulalry for 4 weeks in a row (not trainng, but I do push myself) then i stop improving and go backwards, get tired quickly, make mistakes, crash a lot and generalyu get fed up with bikes. A week off and I’m faster in every way.

    *unless something else breaks


    i have been in a similar situation to you for a long time also (i don’t race though).
    have suffered with depression/anger issues for a long time,and have barely ridden my duster for a long time also (only to do shopping e.t.c).

    for years now i haven’t ridden my bike very often,and have just been staring at the walls not wanting to do anything (i am trying to get some help about it again). i haven’t even seen any of my friends for 4 odd months 😳 (an just glad i have these forums to have some human contact with 😳

    the light at the end of the tunnel though,is that i have just got myself a road bike (have wanted one for a long time).i really want to start riding it (and trying to get some fitness back again πŸ˜‰

    i think with depression,you have to try and reprogram your mindset,because it loves to keep you in a perpetual downward spiral of self loathing e.t.c/well in my case anyhoo).

    at the end of the day you obviously seem to love riding your bike.
    why don’t you just go out for a pootle on your bike next time.forget everything about trying to beat your best time e.t.c.just completely focus on riding your bike and taking in the scenery/wildlife e.t.c. enjoy the reason that you got into riding your bike in the first place again.
    like most people on here cycling was my first true sense of freedom.i could just go where i pleased/at the speed i wanted to. no pesky adults to tell me what to do πŸ˜‰

    i hope this was of some help (and apologies for the droning on 😳

    good luck πŸ™‚

    Premier Icon st colin

    Hats off to everyone for the replies, not once have you dropped your standards – even the singlespeed comment πŸ˜‰

    I’ve tried various methods of re-programming my mind. I’ll admit, it’s the hardest single thing in the world, this ‘thing’ that has control over you 99% of the time. I do think I have lost the joy of riding, and that really needs to change. I don’t want to stop competing, I’ve really enjoyed the race atmoshpere and meeting new people, and the enduro format really works for me.

    Premier Icon franksinatra

    remember that feeling that you used to have as a kid? Just mucking around on the bike because it was fun. No times, speeds, targets, positioning in group. No latest gear, decisions about tyres or wheel size, no competition or pressure. Just riding because it is fun.

    That is the reason you ride…

    Premier Icon binners

    franksinatra +1

    I view going out for a 2-3 hour night ride with my mates, in pretty much much the same way as I viewed mucking around with my mates on our BMX’s, after school, when we were 15. Only now we’ve all got really nice bikes, and we’re allowed in the pub afterwards, to talk shite and take the piss out of each others riding. So its even betterer!

    This is a healthy way to view riding bikes πŸ˜€

    Premier Icon monkeysfeet

    @st Colin, hi mate. Sorry to hear you suffer with depression, but if I may offer some advice. I used to race (6yrs ago now) and have always been fit, but I hated racing, and looking back now I can see why. It ruined why I started mtb ing in the first place, it wasn’t social and very elitist.
    The advice from the other posts is great, concentrate on just riding, getting out and having fun. See if you can get involved in club/pub rides. After a ride look at what went well, try and focus on the positives ie. Wow, I’ve never managed to ride up that section before….


    I know it sounds trite but someone explained to me: unrealistic expectations are resentments waiting to happen. Nothing wrong with goals but they have to be credible. And if your self worth is tied up with riding performances then I can see why you are struggling.

    So I think three things: realise that you are a valuable decent person regardless; talking therapies can help you with this. Secondly set realistic measurable performance goals for training. Finally, think about riding for fun at the back sometimes, with friends because social contact is an important defence against low mood.

    Good luck.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    I sometimes watch these daft 40 year old blokes beasting themselves senseless at events, and races, in order to achieve what?


    OP – have you tried applying yourself properly to training?

    Sometimes a project is what’s needed – as was suggested on the other depression thread recently.


    Read ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Steve Peters. Great book and may help you understand your feelings.
    Good luck fella.

    Premier Icon st colin

    Thanks again for all the replies, great advice. Molgrips, I don’t have a training schedule as such, perhaps that is an issue. I ride everyday to and from work, only really push myself on the way back, approx 4.5 miles each way. Not a lot, but better than not especially in winter. I push myself on the weekend rides.

    There are a lot of books and online inof, it can be very difficult to spend time and get the right stuff for me.

    This has to help πŸ™‚
    You’re the best

    Premier Icon catfishsalesco

    I know what ya mean mate, I find myself in a similar frame of mind at times, if you are the ST colin that is local to myself, feel free to drop me a line if you fancy heading out out for a no pressure bimble around the local spots, or just want to vent I’m usually about. I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to get out of that frame of mind, but it is possible.

    Premier Icon lungman

    Mate, I think a lot of us know what your going through or at least can understand. I found with depression that any competition or challenge is greatly magnified and its all too easy to get caught up in the feeling that everyone else is better than you.


    1 As already suggested refocus biking back to fun learn to wheelie, bunny hop etc anything which makes it fun again. use you bike as a tool to explore rather than challenge yourself.

    2 Give it up for a while and try something new.

    3 If you cant do either seek advice on specific training to improve, approach it in a more measured and achieveable manner. Consider Taking bike coaching to improve. If you must set goals etc make them small steps and realistic otherwise it bound to overwelm you.

    4, Get refered to a specalist about your depression, it can make a huge difference.

    hope this helps, and keep posting

    Best of Luck


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