Before a race people often say to me, “Have fun!” and “Good luck!” Sometimes the same person will say both. Although I’ve never, ever, ever told someone to have fun at a bike race, I do sometimes wish them good luck, which is stupid and insulting and absurd.
Bike racing isn’t fun
The theory of bike racing, however, is. A bunch of people get together on the weekend. They generally know each other as they all attend the same races, so it’s fun to see friends. They enjoy healthy competition doing what they love, i.e. racing bikes. They enjoy friendly banter beforehand, and discuss the post-race over a friendly beer. They leave satisfied, exercised, and ready to get on with the rest of their weekend.
The reality of bike racing is different.
Before the race you’re tense and focused if you plan on winning. Pre-race small talk is for losers. Show the game face. Smile out of politeness if you must, but be sure and show the fangs.
Pre-race encounters are of three types:
- Encounters with teammates. Seriously discuss some faux plan that no one will stick to while you try to gain confidence from the similarity in uniforms.
- Encounters with other entrants in your race. Show a steely mien or curtly nod at them. This is more serious than death and taxes combined.
- Encounters with everyone else. Ignore their fucking existence. If you wanted to talk to friends you’d go to a bar.
Bike racing still isn’t fun
So you can see that there’s nothing fun about the pre-race if you’re planning to win, but there’s nothing fun about it if you’re planning to lose, either. The entire time you’re wondering, “Why the fuck am I here?” and “What a colossal waste of time and money,” and “I hope I don’t die or break my dick in four places.”
Post-race is no fun, either. If you win, everyone hates your stinking guts, especially the people who bother to congratulate you. If you lose, which you will, you will be plunged into depression, anger, or amazement that you did this of your own free will. The fun post-race analysis with “friends” will be a series of bitter recriminations and accusations.
- Why the fuck did you attack me after I towed you for six laps, you douchenozzle?
- You chopped my wheel, you stinktard.
- Those guys are all dopers.
You can forget “enjoying the race atmosphere,” too. What’s to enjoy when you’re consumed with anxiety, filled with despair, riven with regret, despised by everyone, or covered with road rash?
Don’t you ever, ever, ever fucking wish me good luck
Luck is what you find in casinos, and it’s uniformly bad. Sure, every once in a while someone will stupid into a million dollars or win a lottery ticket or learn that they’ve inherited something they neither deserved nor knew about.
That shit is luck.
Luck is a serial non-attendee at bike races. “Huhhhh?” you wail. “There’s all kinds of unlucky stuff happens at bike races!”
Before you list them, let me preempt this loser line of discussion.
- If you crash it’s your fault. What’s that? You were crashed out by a dork? Then what the fuck were you doing riding near him or in his category, you sandbagger.
- If you crash often it’s because you aren’t a very good bike rider. That isn’t luck. It’s lack of skill.
- If you roll a tire it’s because you didn’t glue it on properly.
- If you have a mechanical it’s because your equipment wasn’t cleaned, checked, and in excellent condition before the race started.
- If you flat and get dropped out of the break it’s because you didn’t put a spare in the follow car or were too weak to bridge after the wheel change.
- If you miss the break it’s because you’re too weak to bridge, or you were inattentive, or your positioning sucked.
- If you get hacked in the sprunt it’s because you’re following the wrong wheel.
There’s another reason luck has nothing to do with it, and it’s this: The same people win all the time. They’re not “lucky.” They’re better than you. It’s the same reason that any fool can win at slots, but no fool ever beat a grand master at chess. Luck doesn’t live there any more, and really, never did.
Which leads to the obvious question…
If it’s joyless and there’s a mathematical certainty that you’ll lose, why the fuck are you doing it?
Because it’s fun, and with a little luck, I just might win.