Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The golden rule

Last night’s crit was yet another disappointment for me. Actually, it started off quite well, as I was able to slip on the team kit with no discomfort and minimal stretching (I’m now actually a bit nervous it will be too big if I get my weight where I want it to be).

The pace was fast on the first few laps, but sustainable. Not something I could get away from though, as my heart rate was pegged. As we progressed and the field got tired, things slowed slightly. I tried making a move but got nowhere, so I sat back in.

With three laps to go, I got myself in position 4-5 riders off the front and thought I’d be in a good spot for the sprint. Somehow, though, other riders kept crowding me out. I ended up in no position to contend and finished with the main bunch but back far enough that it didn’t matter.

Steve, on the other hand, stayed right near the front throughout and ended up eighth out of a very large field. Afterwards, I asked him how he always manages to maintain a good position. “You just need to be a dick and not let anyone in.”

As a side note, I’ve noticed over the last few weeks I’ve been doing these races that the C flight has not only gotten larger, but more competitive. Last night’s pace would have fractured the field early in the year, and the sprint would have been down to about seven or eight racers. Instead, the field never broke up and there were at least 20 people who could have won the sprint.

Now I’m not the nicest guy in the world, but I do believe that the only thing in life that really matters is how we treat other people. I guess I need to watch out for number one a little more in the peloton.

The problem I have is that so many of us (and by us, I include myself) take sports so seriously. Sure it’s nice to post a good result, but at the end of the day, it’s still the C flight of a weekly race. And if you win, you and maybe three of your friends are the only ones who will care. Well, a handful of others may also care, but it won’t be in a good way, because they are fellow competitors who are pissed it was you and not them.

People come out to race because they feel like they’re fast enough that they want to see how they measure up. But there are ways of doing it that don’t involve foul language and animosity towards the other competitors.

As a sports fan and a competitor, I love to win. I love to see my team win. My brother defines a true fan as someone who believes when his team wins, they couldn’t have done it without you, and when they lose, it was somehow your fault. So of course, I’m always disappointed when I or my team loses. But let’s not take the wins and losses so seriously that we put lives and health in jeopardy, or worse, take our own, as one Arsenal fan did yesterday after the Champions League semifinal loss to Manchester United.

7 comments:

  1. That's the rub (no pun intended) people take it way TOO seriously, crits, CX, mtb races etc...

    I do not know why, maybe it is the failing of the light in our lives, maybe it is a pent up aggro attitude, maybe it is a big D contest, who knows, in the end it is a hobby and hurting yourself, or worse, someone else in the attempt to get one more spot, one more blue ribbon, one more shot at 'Glory??' is pretty sad. Don't get me wrong, I like to win, we all do, but is it worth the carnage. MTB racing is no better, just less likely to have to worry about.

    I feel a rant like post coming on, must fight temptation....

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  2. Long live the group ride! I liked the Zonder article.

    I rode with the Utah Velo Club last night. A good bunch of riders. The pace hurt. Friendly competition. Reaffirmed why I like group riding.

    Races have a little too much at stake for some riders and they say and do things they ordinarily wouldn't. Sure, it doesn't have to be that way, but it is.

    I'll do a few races each year, but prefer to group ride or go solo. 'Tis the soul of cycling to me. If you NEED to race, are you really cycling for the right reason?

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  3. I've never ridden a sanctioned race. I've done 2 unsanctioned races, and both were extremely dangerous. Competition brings out the bad and good, but sometimes more bad than I would like to see.

    I tend to agree with Kris. Group rides and solo effort are very rewarding, and might be all I ever need.

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  4. Yeah, there are always going to be those riders who will take it too seriously and take the "friendly" out of competiton, particularly in amateur events. But, I think most riders are still good.

    When a rider accidently hit my wheel in a race and I cartwheeled down the mountainside, several riders stopped to make sure I was OK. I was embarrassed but not hurt (although I ripped the backside of my shorts so my crack showed. Didn't know that until the finish line when an official pointed it out!) I told all who stopped to keep going, but I felt reassured in humanity.

    mtb w

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  5. Don't mean to imply that most racers aren't nice, friendly people who would rather DNF than see someone get hurt or not get the help they need. But there also seem to be some tempers at every race, including mine at times.

    The thing I love about racing is that I simply can't muster the motivation to drive my heart rate to 180 and above on a group or solo ride, yet it happens all the time in races. It's forced me not only to become stronger, but to be a better, and ultimately safer cyclist. Every race I learn something about bike handling or riding in a pack or cornering or braking that I could not have learned on a group ride.

    Plus it's fun to be at the race and hang out before and after. I just hope I remember to never do something during a race that will make for an awkward moment after.

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  6. I attacked a group ride today by sun and moon cafe on Emigration, 2 of them tried to stay with me, so I dropped back behind them before the switch back by Killians, I then put them both into the ravine, When I got to the top I raised my arms in victory, wearing my new enhancing Revolution Peak Fastener SHorts, unfortunately USADA was there and my over the counter depression meds are gonna get me banned.

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