If I don’t race, everyone else will be getting faster

Some years ago, when people asked me what “I do”, I would tell them that I ride my bike. Then I would add, “oh, I have a job too.”

That’s what it felt like. Even when racing at an amateur level, bike racing has a tendency to dominate your life. Just to be a decent local-level racer requires a pretty big time commitment. You’re always thinking about getting the training session in, or obsessing about not being able to train.

I think that is one reason why it’s tough for young racers to stay with the sport. The sheer amount of time is overwhelming.

If I wanted to concentrate on running, I think I could be pretty competitive on about 1/2 the time required for bike racing.

And then there is all the driving to races week after week. Once the racing season starts, I feel compelled to race every week if at all possible. That’s another oddity with bike racing: if you don’t race every week (or multiple times in a week), you feel like your competition is leaving you behind.

It all adds up to a lot of compulsive behavior. Last year, for me, it was over-the-top. Lots of volume early in the year, lots of races, and a focus on doing well at Masters Nationals. And not enough rest. That ended up being a disappointment.

I told myself that this year I was not going to be so neurotic, and would try to simply enjoy riding, training, and racing. I wasn’t going to feel like I needed to keep this crazy schedule.

But I notice that I’m already getting that “I need to race every weekend” feeling.

So when the weather forecast for today was not looking too promising, I decided to pass on the two racing opportunities that were available. Instead, I went for a thoroughly enjoyable, hard after-work ride on Friday followed by wine and pizza (would never do that the day before racing). Then I was blessed with a weather-gift today. And I didn’t have to spend 7 hours in a car, $40 in gas, and $35 in entry fees.

And my house has been cleaned, laundry has been washed, groceries have been bought.

Now I just need to lose the “everyone else got faster today” feeling.


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2 responses to “If I don’t race, everyone else will be getting faster

  1. Bill Marut

    I totally agree. For myself I like to split the season into thirds though. The first third is the Spring races, Ratl, Valley, Chippewa,which I may only race five or six races. In June, triathlon season starts (my real passion) where there is actually more training than racing, due to the high entry fees and triathlon burnout, you cant race tri every week but you can have fun with group and solo training and stay fit especially with all the running. Typically I do eight to ten tri’s per season. The last third is cyclocross where I do the full schedule which is every weekend and has a tendency to sometimes be a bit overwhelming especially when your travelling to different states and doing the State Championship race.
    All in all I do about 35 combined races per year, which is still alot but not compared to some that feel like they have to race sometimes 3 times per week. Besides I don’t know if my body could hold up to all that volume anymore.

  2. Brian

    I don’t know how many races I did last year, but from March – August it was a lot. The racing volume itself wasn’t a problem, it’s all the stuff that goes with it — the driving and all that. If we had races every week within an hour’s drive I think I’d feel differently.

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