While we may be a strange breed that enjoys the 5am wake ups out of a starch-pressed Motel-6 bed, our masochist mentality can only be sustained so long. While it may seem worth it to starve ourselves of the divulgence of life such as the delicate brews and endless slices of pizza so we can climb with the Chris Horners in our races, there's a time of the year when we need a break. After a long, difficult season of racing on the road; it's time for a break. Your mind, your body, & your life needs a break.
Give your mind a break We all have the moments when we want to hang up the bike in the garage and just leave it there. Thats a good sign that you've fallen victim to one of the first signs of mental burnout. If you're looking at your rides as a chore rather than a reward you're getting there too. Save yourself from being “that guy” on the ride who complains about the rides being too difficult or being too hilly and give your mind some warranted rest.
Give your body a break You're at work and complaining that the room is too cold. Even with your down jacket, your hands are freezing. While mittens may seem like the perfect solution; typing becomes a bit burdensome. It's getting colder out and your 4% body fat isn't doing you much justice for staying warm nor is it doing much justice for your immune system. The racing season puts a huge chronic stress on your body. Going too far can be detrimental to your immune system, put you at high risk of injury, and put you at high risk of suffering from months of physical fatigue. Some time off will give your body time to catch up and repair itself. Much like your need for sleep at the end of each day; you need to take some rest at the end of the year.
Give your life a break With some free time & energy on your hands start looking to invest into other parts of your life. If you're fortunate enough to have a significant other; this is the perfect time to start putting money in the bank. If there's projects that you didn't have the time for during the racing season, this is the perfect time to catch up. For example, Ryan Johnson (Team Mike's Bikes) is using his free time to put together a garden in your back yard. It'd be safe to argue that the 80 races in the season didn't leave much free time. Catch up now so you can withdraw from the account later.
There's no question cycling has it's opportunity costs. That said, it also has it's rewards, which far outweigh the costs. Spend a minimum of 10 days off your bike; possibly up to 3 months off your bike. Feel free to engage in other activities. Run, swim, rock climb, hike, maybe even pick up horseback riding. If you've been racing your road bike all season and still want to get out there and shred banshee style, CX season is in full fledge.