Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Cycling is too Win-Centric
This is a topic I've been spouting off with my buddies for some time now. Road Cycling puts far too much weight on achieving 1st place. Why am I on this thought? Let's start here: it is late in the season, and I'm seeing race registrations on many categories boil down to a few 'core' riders, and riders who SPECIALIZE on the type of course being raced on the day. If you put that in contrast to spring and early summer-time races, you will see a huge difference; full fields, chock full of racers who might not have a great shot at placing high. Here is where I am disappointing in my fellow roadies: so many get tired of being beat in the early season, that when the days are dog hot and the courses are dominated by little birdie-sized men, a good chunk of the spring-bloomers decide to stop showing up for races. I'm sure there are plenty of logical reasons for shutting down the race schedule (financial/time/too many weekends spent riding bikes), but I can't help but think that there is a mental attrition going on. Just how many times do you expect you can drive for hours, ride your heat out, and get STOMPED on by faster guys/gals? I had a heated discussion with a family member about my attendance at races where I have absolutely zero chance at doing well, and a low chance of even finishing the distance. "Why would you waste your time? Why would you waste your energy? I don't know any dogs who are good cats." My answer was immediate. I didn't even have to think. Just as I love the thrill of making a winning break, or surprising people in a sprint, I get a huge amount of satisfaction in the PERSONAL achievement in finishing or even contesting a race that is massively difficult for me. I feel like being a no-show to the difficult summer races we have on our calendar would not only hurt our local race promoters' bank accounts, but I'd also feel like a kid who started getting beat in a game of HORSE and runs home, taking the ball with him. Being an athlete means working hard and striving for success, but it also means TAKING YOUR ASS KICKINGS, AND TAKING THEM WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT FOR THOSE WHO SERVED YOU THAT SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE. With the attitude of so many cycle racers, I'm not sure if other people notice when I'm out there trying in total futility, but still giving it my all, but I'd like to think there are some. I, for one, definitely notice you if you are gutting it out like I do at so many of these shindigs. At the end of the day, winning a bike race won't get you any more QUALITY friends or TRUE respect than being DFL, but riding your heart out, and going until the officials pull you from the course, kicking and screaming to be allowed to complete another lap. In short, I do the bike racing thing to COMPETE, not WIN. Winning is fun, awesome, thrilling, etc, but the thrill never sticks with me for very long. In my first year of racing, I won a bunch of races, usually on Sunday (because I had to work Saturdays). By Tuesday afternoon (the time of my local group ride), the satisfaction from the win was gone, and I was already antsy about re-proving myself at the next race, or looking towards another challenge.