For bike racers and competitive cyclists, winter is the great equalizer. Then spring slaps us in the face.
During the winter, many "rides" happen indoors on a trainer, where you are as fast as your ego makes you think you are. Outdoor group rides are usually mellow, so the fast people, slow people, fat people, and skinny people all usually stay together for the majority of the ride. We obsess over our new outfits, new teams or teammates, new bikes, new wheels, and new training programs. The possibilities for the upcoming season are endless....race wins, category upgrades, offers to ride with the "good" teams the following year, the list goes on.
Despite the fact that most of us will hardly perform much differently than we did last year, winter is a time to ignore this reality and ponder the "what ifs"
Then spring comes. The social group rides become far less social, largely because everyone is gasping for air and physically unable talk for half of the ride. Then the first hard group ride leaves us wondering what everyone else did all winter that made them so fast. The first races in March/April also usually serve, for most of us, as cold, hard reality checks that maybe we won't be soaring through the ranks this year as we so boldly discussed during that one January group ride.
After about the second or third race of the year, most of us make some sort of pronouncement that we are "targeting" the later season races. That allows us to save face and provides an excuse for why we performed way below expectations in the spring races. When we bomb the late season races, we say that we are burnt out by the long season, but will come back strong for the fall cyclocross season. When that flops, it's already winter, and time to focus on how we will tear the legs off of everyone. Next season.
Two things, however, remain constant throughout this process.
1. It is a blast, because we would not be doing it if it wasn't.
2. Those who spend more time riding their bike than worrying about their clothes, accessories, or bling factor of their gear usually ride much faster than those who spend way too much time worrying about their clothes, accessories, or bling factor of their gear.