July 11, 2007

"Are you considering retiring from bike racing? Seriously?"

From the comments section of my last post:

Are you considering retiring from bike racing? Seriously?

First, let me clarify something - I use the term "retirement" tongue-in-cheek. Lets be honest here - I'm a bike racer that has been racing at the Cat 4 level for a few years now and my goal for every bike race still remains the same...do not get dropped (and I've only been successful a handful of times). What would I really be retiring from?

To get to your question, am I considering it? Yes. But I started considering "retirement" the moment I finished my very first humiliating road race. However, for the past few months, I have started to seriously consider it. I recently told a friend that I feel like I either need to start really training and try to upgrade, or I just need to stop racing and stick to riding just for fun. My reasoning is just that it's difficult to do this sport half-ass. And I'm sure there are a few people who are thinking "then quit already and shut the hell up". My problem is that I just wouldn't be happy doing either of those things (training hard or quitting bike racing altogether) - which is why I just need to learn to be happy with where I'm at (i.e. Cat 4) and stop my whining.

Don't get me wrong, I've been enjoying cycling in general a lot more this year. But it's because I've made a concerted effort to (1) not burn myself out by racing too much, (2) only do the bike races I really enjoy (which is why I've skipped the road races), (3) do fun rides with friends, and (4) avoid weeknight cycling stresses (e.g. Opus, Black Dog, track, etc.) when I have too many other things going on . Which reminds me - I really miss racing at the track. And I've gotten a lot of shit for not racing there lately....trackies really take it personally (I know because I've been begging others to race there for years). Bob Williams likes to tell me that I work too hard (at my day job). But the reality is that I don't work any harder than any other racer who works full-time, and I like my job, and it pays for all things cycling. And when you're required to bill every six minutes of your time, it gets a little difficult to work less than 50 hrs just to bill 40 hrs. So leaving work early a few times every week for weeknight races all spring and summer really starts to dig in to my comp/vacation time. In the past (when I had a ton of comp time), I was okay with that. This year I'm not okay with it.

So, to summarize, I'm not "retiring" just yet. In fact, I'm suddenly excited about bike racing again - maybe it's because I recently spent a night drinking wine with a very inspirational group of women cyclists or maybe it's because I finally did well at a race or maybe I just needed a good break and now I'm ready again - I don't know. But I'm not going to worry about it (for real this time). Of course, chances are good that I'll return from Superweek ready to "retire" again.

All I know is that when next Tuesday night rolls around and I'd love to leave work early so that I can be at Dakota Tech and ready to race by 5:30, I'll be heading to my nephew's soccer game instead...and the smile on his face when he sees me will remind me that there are much more important things in life than a bike race.


p.s. Julia, this long post was for you!


Sascha said...

You can half ass it all you want baby! There IS more to life than bikes although most of us don't notice it most of the time and you don't have to bike race to the exclusion of everything else. You can do as much or as little as you want and still race when you feel like it. It's all your choice and screw people who make you feel guilty for not doing more. You don't have to upgrade either. You can cat4 forever if you want. There are guys who never upgrade from 4. There's nothing wrong with recreational racing.

Anonymous said...

I read it twice. May read it again:) I think we need to ride soon and have coffee/beer before during and after the ride.
Or maybe just skip the ride all together:)
Hope to see you soon,

Becca said...

Hey there - glad to see that you are finding the time (and balance!) to enjoy gardening, nephews, and riding your bike! Because life's not about packing so much stuff in that it stresses you out, but doing the stuff you like in the right amounts so it makes you a happier person (I hope).

Eclectchick said...

More power to you, finding that balance for yourself. It's all about what YOU want it to be, 'n that's all folks. :-D