I tend to be somewhat of an anxious guy. Attention to detail and thoroughness are the name of the game for me. I won't even send out a one-sentence email unless I proof it first. I've always been this way.
I recall my parents asking a worried little boy on his way to school what was wrong. If I would have had the vocabulary for it back then I'm sure I would have just responded with, "Ah, just a little stressed out is all."
Who knows, maybe all this exercise is keeping my head from just popping off? I hope so. Needless to say, I often have to remind myself why I ride. I have to take a step back and look at it all from a distance. While I'm debating the weight of my tires versus the odds of flatting in an ‘important’ gravel road race, I sometimes have to catch myself and say, "Hold on a second!" Like my wife tells me before every big race, "Remember, this is supposed to be FUN".
The thing of it is, it IS supposed to be fun. And, yes, that spiraling down the rabbit hole of details can kill it.
I always note the changing seasons as my cue to bring back the "FUN". The end of the training season is upon me and I feel energized. I'm excited to break out of the doldrums and into competition again. I'm also excited to put the focused training rides behind me.
I look at it this way. Once the race season is rolling, the training goes into maintenance mode or a state of "blissful spinning". The conversation in my head is something like this, "Dude, you expend so much energy in the races, you should really just take it easy during your training rides".
I love when I get to start thinking that way. The rides in between races are consciously slow, complete with a lot of breaks, pictures, and promises to stay out of the big ring. On these days, I sort it all out in my head. I try to appreciate all that I have, I dream of the places I want to go with and without my bike, and I feel like a little kid again. I know the idea of riding just for the "fun of it" is working when I feel a smile creep across my face.
A good friend, and someone I call a mentor in my world of cycling, once told me, "The rabbit hole is a good place to visit, but you DON'T want to live there". Best advice I've ever received.
My advice to you is this: It's not workin if you're not smiling. Don't ever forget why you started riding your bike. It's the most important part of all.