June 8, 2017 § 16 Comments
I was out flogging this morning with Josh Dorfman, Mike Hines, and Kristie Fox, and in between smashes we got to talking about cycling longevity. The question was along the lines of “How do people keep racing not just for years but for decades? How do you keep from burning out?”
I had to think fast because we only had a couple of minutes’ rest in between Flog intervals, but here’s what I came up with. Your results probably vary.
- Every day you have to win the pillow battle. If you can get up at 5:00 AM every day no matter what, you will get enough control of your day to ride.
- Don’t chill, rest. Bike people are generally hard-nosed and competitive. You can’t change that and “chill” or become a “relaxed chick.” But if you don’t give it a rest every now and then you will burn out. How much rest? I don’t know.
- Variety. People who race for decades change stuff up. Kevin Phillips has raced road, crit, pursuit, Madison, team time trials … and he always seems to find something new.
- Look down as well as up. People who eventually get frustrated with racing are typically looking up too much, focusing on all the people who are better than they are. You have to also look down sometimes. If you got 22nd out of 45 riders, you beat half the field.
- Race clean. Dopers eventually quit, regardless of whether they get caught, because their results depend on the drugs, and taking drugs over decades is an almost impossible regimen to continue–cost, routine, fear of exposure, and side effects eventually take their toll.
- Accept the fact that you suck, but enjoy the battle. Hardly anyone is a consistent winner in cycling and most people never get on a podium, as in “never.” But where else in life can you compete so intensely, so all-in, no matter how old you are? Treasure the opportunity to pin on a number. It’s a privilege and a gift.
- Pass it on. No matter how much you suck, most people suck waaaaay more. Teach what little you know. Help people whoask for it. Gratitude is a tremendous motivator and esteem builder.
- Smash. Resist the temptation to only “ride for fun” or “ride for enjoyment.” There’s a crucial element to cycling that involves unvarnished misery and the taste of your own puke. Make sure that no matter how you ride, you always save time for the nausea cage.
- Quit buying stuff. Stuff isn’t the answer. Pedaling is.
- Race. You can’t be a racer unless you race yer fuggin’ bike. And racing will keep the delusions at bay like nothing else ever invented by man.
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All good points Seth, for me the key thing is to ride because you enjoy being on your bike. Racing is the motivator to keep you riding more than a “normal” life would allow. It’s the joy of riding that’s kept me in the sport for 45 years. Too many pop into the sport to prove something – then they either prove it or more likely they don’t and either way they quit and move on to the next challenge.
Absolutely. There’s no wrong way to enjoy cycling. And if your pleasure is easy riding or moderately hard riding or crazy hard multi-day events, that’s awesome.
But to continue racing year in year out, especially as the rewards diminish and the risks increase, is hard. Of course continuing anything for a long time is hard, cf. flossing.
You touch on something important. People who just like riding their bike, period, seem to race longer than those who are in it for the kill. Not that it’s good or bad, but it’s really hard to stick with the vagaries of fitness and health and equipment and events if your only payoff is a podium.
Anyway, given the decline in SoCal and nationwide in USAC race participation, it will all be moot in ten years anyway. Hop you like grand fondues!!
I think #9 is perhaps the key to eternal happiness.
It’s certainly the key to being able to pay off your credit card bill in full each month.
“Stuff isn’t the answer”?! Wtf is wrong with you?
Everything. Everything is wrong with me.
Seriously, on your sage advice I bought chain goop and blinkies and now you tell me to quit buy stuff? From which Seth should we take direction? I mean I’m still out there, diligently twiddling my 34-28 fixed gear.
Fortunately you have many Seths to choose from and can take comfort from the knowledge that they are all dashing madly down the wrong path to the wrong conclusion and bad results.
Will you be at Tulsa Tough this weekend?
I tried to register but they didn’t have a Crybaby Cupcake Division, so, no. Darn it!
5 am PDT = 8 am EDT, I can handle that.
Gets even better once you’re in Europe. But China is gnar.
Great post Wanker. I have to give up to guys who race week in and week out on the road (pretty much all crits at this point) for an extended period of time. So much risk every time you strap it on. Even the profamateur fake races can be sketchy as hell, and from what I hear the roads in LA aren’t exactly smooth these days. As for #9, a good rule of thumb is never let your equipment get ahead of your commitment
Some of us just ride….
no need to race,
sometimes fast as I can,
sometime slow enough to enjoy the scenery.
If you’re pedaling, that’s enough!