For the Love of Racing… What Some of Us Are Forgetting
This weekend, as I was helping tear down the team tents in Louisville after the Derby City Cup, my dad called me. He had just gotten home from AppleCross, a local cyclocross race in NJ at an apple farm, and he wanted to tell me all about the race. He gave me the quick report: he headed there in the morning for the 4/5 race with his Raleigh, but his legs just weren’t feeling it. So, he sat that race out, but hung around for a bit. Then, he drove home. A couple hours later, he loaded his plus-size bike in the car and drove back… so he could jump into the fat bike race.
He didn’t have a miraculous finish, or anything like that. But he had a blast, raced hard, hung out with some new friends who invited him to have a beer. Now, that’s a cyclocross race.
I forget about that part of racing a lot. Maybe it’s because the level of racer I spend the most time with—those racing professionally, or trying to reach the pro ranks—have to look at racing is a job, not a hobby, and so it can be hard to take it lightly. But there are plenty of mid-pack racers and masters and juniors that I know who seem to have lost a lot of the fun as well. Competition is fantastic—but if we’re heading to the start line feeling sick, if we’re finishing behind where we wanted to and feeling the need to cry or punch something at every single race… Well, that’s a pretty big sign that something needs to change, or that we need a break.
This weekend, my dad reminded me with a simple phone call that racing bikes is still fun. Whatever level we’re racing it, we elected to do this either for fun or for a career (hopefully with fun still in there). And actually, our upcoming podcast guest has a great point on this topic: she could always have opted to be an accountant or something instead, but she chose to race as a career.
Dad also reminded me of how rad our community is, and that we should be taking advantage of it. Last weekend, he helped out a good friend of mine by pitting for him at HPCX. Dad didn’t race, he didn’t make $$$, and it wasn’t like he was there to cheer me on or anything. He was just psyched to be there and be part of the race because he loves the sport. That’s the fan that pros are racing for, and that’s the fan that’s keeping cyclocross alive and well in the US.
It reminded me that whether I’m racing or working at a race, I should be freaking psyched to be there. (I mean, yeah, it’s work… But I’m also outside, playing bikes, and seeing people I love. It’s exhausting sometimes, sure, but it’s so very worth it.) I’m not going to racing professionally in any real sense, ever, so why would I race if I don’t love it?
So… next time you’re racing, try to put a smile on your face—at least after you cross the finish line. Also, if you see this man at a cyclocross race, do me a favor and cheer like crazy.