It figures that after very few posts, Drummroll and I were both inspired to write posts on the same day. It must be that time of year again. I'm four races into my season. All in all it's been a mediocre start to the season at best. I'm fairly certain that unless I get bitten by some sort of radioactive spider and gain some superpowers, I'm destined to remain a Cat 4 on the road. Frankly at this point, I'm fine with that. I have average genetics, a full time job, a wife that I enjoy hanging out with and two labs that require lots of hiking.
This time of year is always interesting. Most racers have a new lease on life. Their cycling life anyway. Everyone hopes that "this was the winter." This year I'm going to be the hammer instead of the nail! It's easy during the winter months to forget how much racing hurts. After my first race 4 weeks ago, I very seriously contemplated buying a new pair of running shoes. I rode all winter for THIS? To get dropped in the first 11 miles???
After a few days of reflection, I realized that I didn't ride all winter to be faster in spring. I rode all winter because I love riding my bike. If I really wanted to be faster, I would have ridden the trainer more and outside less. I'm not entirely sure that this post will make complete sense, but it's a blog, not a publication, so bear with me.
I'm going to reference some names, but keep in mind that I'm assuming they are thinking like this, and haven't spoken to any of them about it . . .
I'm sure there's some local Cat 5 or OCC member that would love to be as fast as I am, which is to say they'd be thrilled if they could simply hang in a Cat 4 race and not get dropped for a few laps. I on the other hand would love to be as fast as Tim O. or Wayne B. I'd assume that Tim and Wayne would love to be as fast as New England strongmen such as Justin Lindine or Roger Alpholm. Justin and Roger would probably love to be as fast as Jeremy Powers. Jeremy Powers would probably love to be as fast as Dave Zabriskie, and Dave Z would probably like to be as fast as Fabian Cancellara.
At the end of the day, the key is to love what you do and to work with the potential that you have. I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive to train better, eat better or collect more sweet cycling gear. I'm simply saying that very few of us has the potential to collect a decent paycheck based on our bike racing potential, so do it because you love the sport, love the lifestyle, love the people and love the bike.
You see a handful of racers move from a Cat 5 to Cat 3 overnight and then all of a sudden winning becomes a lot tougher. In a year or two, some of those guys get burned out and quit the sport. What came so easily early on became much tougher as they moved up and the playing field was leveled some. Maybe they loved the bike, and maybe they didn't, but ultimately misplaced expectations or ego drove them from the sport.
At the risk of sounding like I'm on my soap box, all I know is this . . . guys like Drummroll, Jason H. (aka Bob), Dave F. and I will be at this a long time and doing so for the love of the game. Hopefully everyone else will too. Cheers, and here's to everyone having the opportunity to be the hammer instead of the nail this season.