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Work. Eat. Ride. Sleep

Work. Ride. Eat. Sleep.

That pretty much sums up my month of February. Without any races to report on, I can't help but get a little philosophical. Be forewarned.

Things have been a blur over the past two months, but it's times like these that really remind me of why I ride. I cherish my time on the bike even more and realize how much I actually need it. It's pretty easy to forget why I started riding in the first place, and how lucky I am to actually be able to pedal a bike for the sheer sake of pedaling a bike.

I think it's pretty common for people who work in the industry, and those who race professionally, to lose track of why we are all here in the first place. Working in the industry can be busy; and at the end of the day, bikes are the last things people want to think about, so the riding suffers. Sometimes racers get so caught up in training and take things so seriously that they forget to just go for a ride. Training is important but so is riding just for the sake of enjoyment.

During my precious moments on the bike this month, I have found myself thinking about why I ride. Sometimes it's a stretch to get out -- so much to do, too little time, too late, too dark, etc. Sometimes I just can't swing it, but when I do I am always glad I did. Riding is my release, my drug. It keeps me sane and takes the edge off practically anything. After a stressful day or week of work, sometimes I feel like I am ready to snap. That's when I need to ride the most. I have to burn off some steam and clear my head. Some people like to crack a few beers and watch some TV to unwind, but I need to thrash the pedals for a while, or bust out a quick skate ski, or even go for a run if I have to. I guess it's just how I am wired.

Once I'm out there I find myself wondering why I even got stressed out in the first place. I am selling bike stuff, it's not life or death: it's recreation. A recent work trip down to Moab really reminded me of all this. All the shops down there are so fired up to ride. "Hey where are you riding while you are here?", "Did you get a ride in?" and "Can you ride later?" are among the most common questions I get asked in stores.

After finishing up a my work in Moab, I was faced with the option of driving straight home to Salt Lake and getting in at a reasonable hour or going for a ride and getting in late. I ended up doing a killer road ride up to Dead Horse Point near Canyonlands National Park on empty off-season roads with amazing views. I remember thinking: "This is why I ride."

So take some time. Think about why you ride. Don't forget to make time to ride, and no matter what race you are preparing for, don't forget to just go for a ride sometimes.

Thanks for reading.

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Alex Grant, 31, is one of America's top endurance mountain bike racers. Sponsored by Cannondale Factory Racing in 2012, Grant juggles racing as a pro with managing an outdoor gear consignment business called Gear Rush, which he co-owns with fellow Utah cyclist and racer Bart Gillepsie. This season, look out for Grant on the podiums at major endurance and stage races. For variety, you may also see him on on the start line of some super Ds, cross countries and short tracks.

In 2011, Grant finished third at the Leadville 100 and eighth at the US cross country national championships while also logging top 10s at the super D and marathon nationals. He finished fifth in the Downieville Classic All Mountain Overall and seventh at La Ruta de los Conquistadores. For the third year in a row, he won the Park City Point 2 Point.

In 2010, Grant made headlines with his second place finish at La Ruta de los Conquistadores, the Breck Epic and the Trans-Sylvania Epic.

When not on his mountain bike, Grant enjoys backcountry skiing, snowboarding and hiking.

Grant is from Richmond, Vermont, and he presently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Follow his 2012 season in this blog on Cyclingnews.