Ever since I was a kid with my Huffy Stingray with the banana seat and high sissy bar I loved the freedom and independence that cycling brings. Whether you are young, old or somewhere in between cycling brings a feeling of freedom.
Fast forward about 40 years and cycling is my escape from many things.
Stress of everyday life although my life is THAT stressful melts away with every turn of the pedal.
Pain reliever. I suffer from nearly constant pain in my neck and my back. The pain comes from a herniated disc, dessicated and desiccating discs. Bones were never meant to touch each other. Add to that arthritis. Did I suffer some horrible traffic accident to get these problems? Did I play full contact sports growing up? No and No. It's genetics. You can't choose your parents and both of mine are arthritis sufferers.
I started getting interested in bike racing watching Greg Lemond win the Tour de France. Being the procrastinator that I am I didn't enter my first race until the Tour of Murrietta back in 2004? I did the time trial and the road race. I did OK.
I fell into a sick and twisted relationship with a race called Boulevard in San Diego's East County. My first time I got 29th out of 50. I was hooked.
I invested in a training program and even used a Coach, Gord Fraser for one year. I trained better but my racing results didn't improve much. I even got free training for a couple months from Tyler Hamilton (nice guy). I did see some improvements in my racing, primarily in my time trialing. I started to feel that my R.O.I. (Return On Invest) wasn't justifying the expense, and training programs and personal coaches run into the 1000's of dollars a year. So this last year I decided to just go on my own and use the knowledge I gained from the past coaching experiences to coach myself.
Well after 7 years of racing and never cracking the top ten let alone a podium spot (well I have had some top 5 20 Kilometer individual results) I have come to the conclusion that I am not a bike racer. I train hard and I can ride hard in the weekend world championships but when it comes to race day and proving myself on the road I just can't seem to get it together. Case in point: This years Boulevard Road Race in the Masters 45+ race I was staying near the front where I needed to be. At the 12 mile mark about a mile into the climbs I was was beyond red-lined. I am a "skinny climber dude" and give me an 8% grade of more than a mile and I'll drop your ass but when it's 4-5% and the "sprinters" and big-ring it I get dropped. I closed a lot of the gap by the time I got to the top of the climbs 8 miles later, passing "sprinters" all the way up. The "sprinters" caught up to me about 8 miles later on the slightly downhill/flat section. When we got to the middle of the climb on old hwy 80 I popped. My back had tightened too much to turn the pedals effectively enough to be competitive so I decided to abandon when I got to the finish line instead of carrying on for the 3rd and final lap. The light bulb went on. I am not a bike racer anymore.
A friend of mine whose nickname is NASCAR (he holds the individual 20K Time Trial record at Fiesta Island) says I am more of a Grand Fondo, long endurance event kind of rider. I agree. When I have done these kinds of events I have finished strong and at the front and most importantly enjoyed myself. So my focus from now on will be riding to be the best that I can be outside of racing (with the exception of Time Trialing. I will continue to compete in the race of truth)and for my own health and fitness. Oh yea and to kick your ass on the local group rides and climbs.
Sometimes you just have to let go of your dreams.....