I hadn’t really thought about it until last weekend, but when I did I was shocked. I’ve had a bicycle racing license for 40 years. And I’ve had a Professional designation on that license for 29 of those 40 years. As of last weekend’s racing, it was the start of my 40th year of racing. Wow. It is sort of depressing thinking about it. Well, not really, because I wouldn’t take much back. Actually, I wouldn’t take anything back. For sure I have regrets, disappointments and want a few do-overs, but I accept that isn’t part of the deal with the sport, or life in general, so I’m just sticking with where I’m at.
When I started out, I had no preconceived ideas about how long I was going to race. I just knew it was what I wanted to do and I wanted to get good at it. I still feel that way. I don’t race bikes for any one reason. There are thousands. Many I probably haven’t even personally identified yet.
I rode a pretty big week for me last week. Nearly 500 miles. I had 90 miles on Saturday, with a criterium, then 60 miles of racing on Sunday. Yesterday I thought I’d go out for an easier ride on my 29’r MTB bike. I’m kicking around going down to Austin and doing the US Cup there this Saturday and though maybe I should ride my MTB bike a couple times before I take the plunge. Anyway, I started out down by the river and the next thing I know I’m in Lawrence drinking a cup of coffee. I had no intention of riding the 30 + miles to Lawrence when I started out. I don’t think that riding a MTB bike 60 miles on gravel, into a brisk wind, with the temperatures in the lower 30’s, is very good recovery from the first weekend of year racing. I didn’t really care.
I got caught up in the ride and didn’t even think about turning around, even though the temperature was supposed to be dropping into the 20’s and it was going to be dark at least an hour before I got home. I just did it and didn’t really worry about the rest.
That is kind of an analogy of my whole cycling career. I got caught up in it and didn’t ever think over deviating the course.
A lot of people ask me how I can still be doing this after all these years. I don’t have a definitive answer. Like I said above it is a ton of things. I love being outdoors. I love seeing the world from a bicycle. It is just the correct speed for me to be able to view, then process what I’ve viewed. I like competition. I like the athletic and technical aspects of the sport equally. I like the mechanical aspects of the bicycle. I am naturally inquisitive.
Then there is the travel. I’ve been to every state in the country, minus Alaska. I’ve raced in dozens of foreign countries. I’ve seen things that I’m 100% positive I wouldn’t have seen unless I was a bike racer. It has molded how I view the world and many of my morals.
Next are the people I meet. Most/many of my close friends are those who I’ve been fortunate enough to ride a bike with. Many for long periods, all over the world. These are people that were drawn to the same sport as me, for whatever reason, then we bonded for life. It is a very important part of the attraction and duration.
When I look at the whole package, it has just about everything that I need to be happy and content.
I recognize that I am one of the lucky few that gets to do exactly what I love to do. I try to, and hope I do, show gratitude and honor, to the sport I love.