Monday, September 24, 2012

Why do you race?

I recently read an article in Bicycling mag entitled: "Why so serious?" re: amateur bike racing in the US.  According to the article, amateur cyclists are taking "racing" much too serious.  I agree wholeheartedly.  Racing should be shouldn't be about the money/prize..since it's non-existent anyway.  For those of you that are lucky enough to reach the podium and cash a check, you'll see for yourself..that it hardly pays the gas bill getting to/from the race.  It always amazes me at how some racers take risks during races that not only jeopardize their health but the health of the peloton.  For who, for what?  It just never makes sense.  I think why some racers are "too serious" is because of their investment and I'm not talking about "monetary" investment, I'm talking about their time and effort preparing for races.  At least that's the reason why I used to take racing too seriously.  I spent a lot of time, sweat/heartache preparing for the racing season, and when I didn't perform- I WAS PISSED.  Everybody wants a return on investment (ROI).  So for me, it wasn't about the was about achieving/reaching goals that I had set up for myself and getting a ROI.

But, in the long run, it comes down to being fun.  If it's not fun anymore then- why race?  There's nothing that says you have to race if  you're a good/strong rider or aspire to be one.   However, having said that, for me racing is/was my reason for training hard.  It gave me a purpose for training hard over the Winter.  If I didn't race, I probably wouldn't train as hard over the Winter and I probably wouldn't be a very strong cyclist.   So, for me, it's kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of thing.  If I don't take it serious enough, then I won't train as hard.  If I don't train as hard, I won't perform as well.

I don't golf anymore because of two herniated discs in my back.  Back in the day, I played a LOT of golf.  I would venture to guess my wife would say I played too much golf.  If I wasn't playing, I was practicing EVERY day.  Yes, I had a golf club in my hand EVERY day of the week.  My handicap dropped into the single digits.  I was routinely shooting in the mid to high 70s.  I actually played my first par round of golf too..a solid 72 at a relatively difficult course (Upper Perkiomen Valley Golf Course).  I was also VERY competitive.  I was playing in tournaments at least once per week.  It was fun playing and winning.  If I didn't win, I'd at least be in the money.  It didn't matter whether it was an individual or team event.  The problem was, if I didn't shoot in the 70s (which happened occasionally) I was PISSED.  I'll never forget at the Olds Scramble National Championship in Orlando, FL in 1994.  We had an awesome team and I'd say I was the A-player of our team.  On tournament day, I just could NOT hit the ball well.  I didn't choke, I just didn't hit the ball well.  (If you're a golfer, you'll understand that some days you're just off- for whatever reason).  It was NOT fun.  I was miserable.  I was miserable then, and I was miserable when I returned home.  In fact, I was miserable for months afterwards.  I'll never forget my wife telling me, after putting up with my miserable ways..if it's NOT fun..why are you playing?  She was I quit golf for a year.  I just took a year off to relax, settle down, and convince's only a game and if it wasn't fun playing..then don't play.  I got back into golf, after a year off, but did not practice nearly half of what I did in the past.  I just didn't take the game as serious as I once did.  Although I wasn't shooting in the mid to high 70s anymore (I was playing in the low 80s), it was fun.  In fact, I was having more fun than what I ever did.  No, I wasn't cashing in any tournament winning checks anymore but I didn't care- I was having fun.  (Just like cycling, amateur golf tournament checks are not that much)

I'm not saying that all amateur cycling racers should quit the sport for a year and stop competing.  Only to say, if it's NOT fun anymore..then maybe you should take a year off from racing.  I'll bet when you get back into it, whether you decide to race again or not, it will be more fun.  Life is too short to be miserable.  Life is also too short to be taking cycling too seriously- especially as an amateur.   I tell ALL my athletes I coach before a race, BE SAFE and HAVE FUN!  Cause..that's what it's all about- being safe to ride another day and have fun.  If it's not fun, then maybe you're taking it too seriously.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

(Sorry for not posting in a while, but I've been going through a job change..and think I'm going to be changing jobs once again very soon)

Photo credit: Leo Espinosa