Your expiration date

Everybody quits racing eventually. I know I will. Like Keith Richards, who seems to have the expiration date of irradiated food, THOG is still racing, but he’s gonna quit banging bars one day, just like Richards is going to quit banging bars on the neck of his guitar.

Most bike racing quitters wake up one day and say, “Fuck this, I’m done.” All of the facts that were so obvious to the rest of the world for so many years suddenly become obvious to them. The scales fall from their eyes. The blind see.

Bike racing travels the arc of the human relationship, which studies show is this:

  1. Wow, she is hot.
  2. Wow, I want to spend all my time with her.
  3. Wow, let’s move in.
  4. Wow, my life is now complete.
  5. Wow, I wish she wouldn’t complain so much.
  6. Wow, how come she has cellulite?
  7. Wow, I guess we’re just not right for each other.
  8. Wow, I’m so done with you can I stay here until June because I can’t afford the security deposit on a new place yet and will you take the dog?

When you quit bike racing it usually starts with money or doping or existential angst or a big crash or all four, to wit:

  1. I can’t believe I paid $130 to race San Dimas, spent three days away from home, tacoed a $1,500 wheel, had my 45-minute “race” shortened to 35 minutes, and watched Konsmo win the overall, the TT, the road race, the KOM, and the green jersey still fail to cover his entry fee.
  2. Everyone is on drugs except me, and I am, too.
  3. I’m a grandfather now and my legacy is going to be … 42nd at Castaic Road Race in the leaky prostate 50+ category?
  4. I won’t be able to walk again until November after going down in the sprunt for 12th. WTF am I doing?

Unlike the Rolling Stones, though, who do a farewell tour every few years, or the Eagles, who retire by dying, bicycle racing quitters quietly sell their excess baggage on eBay and slink away. It’s a lot like retiring from the porn industry. One day you’re swimming in three bodily fluids at once, shimmering on everyone’s cell phone, and the next day you’re wearing baggy faded jeans, a floppy hat, and joining the Sunday birding walk over at the botanical garden. You’re fucking done, or more literally, you’re done fucking.

Me, I see the handwriting on the wall. I’m never going to win a big race, and even if I did, at age 52 THERE ARE NO BIG RACES. I might win a really tiny, little, itsy-bitsy race if I can get Nick Brandt-Sorenson to make me some of his really “custom” bibs and maybe get me on a program of “ultra-custom” jerseys.

But before I quit I’m gonna do just one more race. Yeah, that’s it. Just one more.

END

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45 thoughts on “Your expiration date”

  1. Just one more– good! Sneak away quietly, get rid of the stuff that lets you race, for money– if only the nickel deposit on the bottle? Excellent!

    But whatever you do, NEVER EVER announce your retirement. Ever ever ever.
    I’m not even gonna say why and I’d rather you didn’t guess, too.
    Just don’t, OK?

  2. I prefer the European fondo/epic climbs for my bucket list farewell tour. @55, this could continue for another 25 years.

  3. The people that truly love you could care less if you race, and by the way, pinning a number on you back on that life race you won riding across Germany with your son would look silly.

      1. East Coast baby seal

        You don’t win the life race by finding the starting line. You win by NOT finding the finish line!

  4. First it was all love. Then half love/half hate. Now it’s all hate……..Oh my….not cycling. I’m talking about running…..I promise NEVER to run another 10K…..

    1. After so many decades it really is love, which is a multi-hued thing shot through with white, marbled fat.

  5. have you seen the Keith Richards documentary? Ok, stupid question. I’ll tell you about it. The abundance of joy he has for what he is doing is undeniable. Therefore no reason to quit. See, life is like a conveyor belt. People get loaded on and eventually they fall off. Perspective changes along the way. I hate when it is said that “life is too short to blah blah blah” because we really don’t know how long or short life is. Certainly life as we know it is finite and if you have the luxury of not wasting any of it on things that don’t bring joy, don’t.

    1. And could you flesh out the “conveyor belt” concept? I would like to write about that. Maybe throw in a historical reference?

      1. Some dude took a year and four weeks to get around from east coast to west only to sink two miles short of his destination.

        Conveyor belt. Life.

        Don’t waste time drinking bad beer.

        The end.

  6. I believe everything I read here… this is because of the whole TCR / Cannondale / seat post bolt thing, isn’t it?

  7. My guess, this is the comeback / training year, and you sprunt it out as a 53 year old, only 2 years until 55 masters… National Jersey….

  8. Screw that damn conveyor belt. Im gonna keep crawling and scratching the other way….

  9. “Just one more” & you can quite any time you want… Won’t believe it until “No Bike Race Today” is written on your forearm. 😉

  10. The retirees I know are such assholes. They’re so smug about it. Very much like vegans. “I found a higher purpose in cycling and I pity you with your empty hill repeats.” and “When I was racing I raced the important races unlike your unimportant ones.”
    Then again I might just have super douchey “friends” 🙂

    1. Which encapsulates the silliness of masters nationals. Roll was right, get ride of them.

  11. Wait, you can’t quit cycling, people pay $2.99/month to read your observations from deep inside the peloton. You can’t let your brand just fade. hire a consultant to facilitate succession planning.

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