A Message to All Bike Racers

Greetings all fellow bike racers. I have to decided to join you all in the quest for self justification of one’s existence and ongoing quest for glory and all thing lightweight, tight fitting and shaven.

Today my team put on a great race in Thousand Oaks for the Barry Wolfe Grand Prix event. I raced the category 4 and went in with my mind completely focused on the task at hand. Our pace was moderate most of the way. No serious breakaway attempts were performed. I kept with the surges that come in an entry level race without fatiguing or losing sight of the riders in the front of the race. This is how I was able to observe the three second break attempts that were caught each time. Since I have raced in the four’s for entirely too long, I was able to pick out the strong riders in the pack, mark a few guys, and keep my head up while keeping the rubber side down.

With two laps to go there was a crash about five bikes ahead of me coming out of one of the turns. While I myself was not one of the unfortunate souls who ended up sliding on the hot pavement, I did have to come to a complete stop and wind things back up after steering through limbs on the road. This crash split the pack and was the start of the pace significantly increasing. I can speak for everyone when I say that there is a mutual sigh of relief once the first crash of a race is all said and done. It gets the angst, tension, and jitters out of the system resulting in a smoother and quicker race.

It took me one lap to latch back on to the main pack that was now cut in half. Since the riders in the front of the crash had no reason to slow down, riders began to wind up their pace with one lap to go. I wasn’t able to recover that quickly after I had just caught back on after closing the gap by myself. I had one more acceleration in me, but no real sprint (and not the best position to sprint in the first place.) It was kind of cute watching the riders sprint for positions over tenth place. I didn’t see much of a point since that effort would be wasted if I wasn’t sprinting for the win.

I got to reacquaint with some friends I hadn’t spoke to since our last race together. I even saw a former co worker working as medical support for this race I had referred him too. I miss the friendly atmosphere that comes with bike racing. Once all is said and done, everyone is there to have a good time. And a good time I had.

While not all things in life are perfect, I stumbled across the few personality types that made me dislike the ideology of the sport as a whole. The main reasoning for my dislike comes from an imbalance in mutual priorities. While having small talk with a fellow bike racer, it is common to discuss how the rider is enjoying racing for a particular team. “How do you like riding for….” is usually the phrase that pays among racers. To this day I have yet to hear a fellow rider show true unhappiness for the team they are currently riding for. More often it’s the unattached riders that are enthusiastic about joining a team. It is this enthusiasm that is the seed that roots one’s priorities and can cause one to be mislead to the joys of bike racing.

Every once in a while, I get a rider mentioning that the reason they have made a choice to join, switch, or leave a particular team is due to race reimbursement. I can sympathize with this if the right reasoning is stated. If you (the rider) are racing in an upper division category and are getting continuous successful results, or are winning races on a frequent basis, it makes perfect sense for reimbursement to be a concern when selecting a team. What better way to advertise a particular sponsor or shop than to get their riders the most media coverage possible by funding their races so more people can see them at a time. This helps the rider’s morale, as well as the sponsor’s goals to get their names out to the public.

On the other hand, if you are relatively new to the sport and it is taking you longer than an entire season to advance in a race category or successfully win than you shouldn’t be worried about the money. I have spent a lot of money on race registration and gas to drive to and from races; I know things can add up. I also am willing to consider the team owner’s point of view as well. It is comparable to finding a job you (in a perfect world) genuinely enjoy and turning it down because their base pay rate is too low for your lifestyle. If you genuinely enjoy something, whether it be bike racing, working, or raising a family, insignificant things like money should be a secondary priority.

This is why I enjoy riding for the team I ride. I know I am at the lower end of the totem pole when it comes to racing. I am happy to simply exist among successful riders who have more knowledge to share than I can begin to explain. I’ve picked the brains of many different teammates of all different shapes and sizes with equally unique priorities and outlooks when it comes to racing and what they think works best. They have helped me through very frustrating times of misunderstanding and confusion. They also take a more discreet approach when it comes to advice given (which is just how I like it.) It is for these reasons, and seeing our elite riders work together to get good results why I will continue to ride for Serious Cycling.

It’s not about the money right now. When the time comes, I know they will understand if I begin to make such a brave request in regards to race reimbursement. Until next time.

-dfj

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