Today I was thinking back over my several years of racing and I was thinking about one of the years I raced the US100K just outside Atlanta, GA.
Here we were rolling along on a fairly hilly course, most of us running a 54 up front ‘Just in case’ we got near the frantic downhill sprint – all the while because the real Pro’s were in town we were going around this course that we didn’t need the 39 up front. Rollin’ it!
I was thinking back to a year that the whole Saturn team was there, they were laughing it up. Talking to each other across the whole pack, even though they were fairly spread out in the group.
I remember one year when I was laughing it up with a buddy of mine. Asking him “does this group do this ride very often?”, “want some of my banana?”. I mean here we were, tucked into the draft doing about 30, and I’m making jokes.
I got thinking about how years before then, how focused I would be on rides. I wouldn’t even talk to anyone because “I was training”. I wasn’t worried about getting dropped, I was worried about who was ‘up the road’, I was worried about where I should attack!
Yet, years later, I guess I started to realize that even if I got dropped, or even if I didn’t ‘make that break’, it wasn’t the end of my cycling. Maybe I even started to realize that I was near the top of my fitness level – unless someone was going to suddenly start paying me or I started to dope – neither of which was going to happen!
One of the things that always stuck out in my mind was how you could do 1 group ride a week, and chat with one person each time – and pick up the conversation, right where you left off last time. Bumping into friends (literally) from out of state that you haven’t seen all Winter.
I guess that realization started to lower the stress and the pressure that I had been putting on myself. I started to enjoy my fitness level, and enjoying my friends in the field. Those were some of the best years of racing that I had. It wasn’t the races, it wasn’t the miles and miles of training, it was the people that were around you while you are doing those things that in the end impact your memories the most.
A win is great, but mutual cycling friends is greater.