Wednesday, August 22, 2007

racing is dead; long live cycling

Most cyclists I know ride their bikes for fun and/or commuting to & from work. Sometimes their friends will talk them into doing a race or two. Or, they may even convince themselves that this is what they want to do. I've been there. I've done a few bike races, a couple 5-K and 5-mile runs. I even did a triathlon! Yes, my friends had alot to do with it. But once I set my sites on my goals, I was pretty focused on meeting them.

Last year, as I was training for the triathlon, I would do the prescribed workout on the trainer in the garage, then hit the door opener, jump off the bike and take off running through the neighborhood. I took swimming lessons to develop a stroke that didn't resemble a dog-paddle. I followed the regimen. I tried to eat enough to keep up with the training. I was working at least 50 hours a week, but I missed commuting to work. With all the training, I felt like a poseur. A fraud. When people asked if I commuted to work I'd answer, "In theory." I'll admit, I was pretty embarassed!

After the tri - in which I did meet my goal time (yes!) - I missed the swimming but I was also most relieved that it was time to get back to commuting. I was especially happy to return to mountain biking. The dirt trails were about to open and I wanted to ride through the woods with the colors and smells of spring. The bonus from the training was that I felt pretty strong.

But why does it take a race to get so many of us motivated? Testing ourselves and comparing our results to others is such a part of our culture - even beyond the cycling culture. And on the pro-level, we tag people with the name "hero" for winning a race, for turning their life around or pulling themselves up by their cleats. We aspire to be like them; train like them; ride their bikes and eat the same food.

Well, my friend, pass me another slice of Moose's Tooth pizza and pour me a Pipeline Stout. I may get drawn into another race in the future, but for now, I hope each ride and each meal is a celebration. Cheers!

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