With televisions tuned to Versus and thoughts of Alps, Pyrenees and all flats in-between, bike racing is front in center in the news (perhaps an exaggeration but at least reported), although sometimes the behavior of the peloton is more interesting that the results. The pain and suffering associated with racing is etched on the faces of those in the grupetto as well as the winners of the stage, and this pain transcends the professional ranks to amateur racing as well.
While the DC area is lacking in big mountains and fields of sunflowers, there are a large number of amateur racers and I asked them to share what racing has taught them about life:
From Cheryl Osborne: “ Know which way the wind is blowing and who is around you before you spit. Literally and figuratively. People on and off the bike really appreciate your taking the time to acknowledge their presence before doing what you do.”
From Tracy Lea: “Endurance – pulling an all nighter for a work project and then off to work to present the project and needing to be “spot on” – is no problem thanks to all those weekends of bike racing that start at 4 am on Saturday and never seem to end until late on Sunday night.
And on the lighter side and perhaps more practical. Remember those long lines at the returns desk post Christmas? I have learned to spot an attack in the parking lot by a mother loaded down with returns clearly headed for customer service and knowing that if I can just figure out a way to get the best line to the “last corner” I will have an easy path to the returns line with no chance of being overtaken”
From Christine Gillette: “I think the biggest life lesson cycling has taught me is patience and timing. It’s made me think things through more thoroughly and imagine many different circumstances that could evolve throughout a race. It forces me to strike a rational balance between my emotions and my physical ability – wanting the feel the win across the line, and recognizing how much energy and power/strength it will take to get there. “
From Dori Buckethal: “Look and focus on where you want to go. Don’t focus on the immediate obstacle/hill/rock in front of you, but beyond to where you want to be; whether that’s the first across the finish line, building deeper relationships or advancing in your career.
From Diane Harris: “All racing and no recreational riding makes Diane a dull girl. I love the competition, the adrenaline rush, the concentration, the hard work, the strategizing…all of what goes into racing. One reason is because it gives me an appreciation of not racing. Not racing is taking your time to get from point A to point B. You actually get to see what’s around you, to see and smell the flowers, watch the animals, check out the houses, look at farmland with it’s crops, etc. In life, all work and no riding (or doing something else that you enjoy) doesn’t give you a chance to enjoy or appreciate the other things that surround you. I don’t know if I’m explaining it right but it’s one reason I sometimes don’t enjoy casual riding with racers…they can’t relax and enjoy the ride. Rest stops have to be short so they don’t stiffen up or lose momentum, they can’t enjoy regular food at the rest stops, it has to be an “energy” bar or drink or gel, they won’t slow down when there’s a particularly pretty section of the ride, they don’t ride at a pace for easy conversation. They can be so focused on making it a hard ride, or keeping heart rate or power within certain parameters, or beating a certain time, that they actually miss the ride. Just like life, being so focused on getting or keeping that job, making the better salary, having the right zip code, etc that you can miss the pretty stuff.”
From Meg Schiffman: “I would say teamwork. Yes, at times, everyone has to be in it for themselves – we are each going after our individual goals with our own unique motivations. But at the end of the day, we are stronger as a team and more successful! “