It’s a Good Thing Stuart O’Grady Quit Racing Bikes

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I saw this article over at Cyclingnews and in it there is an interview with Stuart O’Grady.  He’s been pretty under the radar ever since he admitted doping during his career.  But, like many others, he only admitted for just trying it for a short period.  But, this isn’t a post about Stuart doping.  It is about how I feel super sorry for him because he must of hated the sport while he was competing, if he’s giving honest, sincere answers in his interview.

This is the question, or many accurately, the answer that bothered me.

Q: You went through a retirement which can be challenging for anyone, especially with your doping confession. What was that like to handle both?

SO: There was a lot to try and take in, but at the same time every person I come across [says]: “Do I miss it? [racing]” Absolutely not not for a ‘nano’ second. I don’t miss hurting myself. I don’t miss the pain it brought on and the suffering. I don’t miss lying in my bed just in pain. I don’t miss the actual racing. I miss being around the guys you are like a trained dog. It’s been your whole life. Things are different

I am completely confused how a guy that raced bikes for so many years, in so many different areas of the sport, The Tour, Classics, Olympic Games on the track, etc., with so much success, could honestly say he doesn’t miss the racing one bit.  And he’s pretty adamant about it.

I don’t understand the whole thing about the pain and suffering he seems to be consumed by. And how he compares cycling to being “like a trained dog”.  Wow.

My experiences with the sport is exactly the opposite.  I find it freeing and uplifting.   There is a certain amount of real pain sometimes, but that comes with all sport.

Stuart raced professional for 13 years and won the Olympic Games on the track, won Paris-Roubaix and led the Tour de France and he says he doesn’t miss it for even a “nano second”.  It must have been horrible for him while he was racing.  I feel sad for him. It’s a good thing that he retired pretty much sums it up for me.

O'Grady'sbook copy


37 thoughts on “It’s a Good Thing Stuart O’Grady Quit Racing Bikes

  1. jt

    Steve, this is not a criticism: as a parent, I now know how tough it is to say goodby to my kids to go to work for 24 hrs at a time. Now, mix in a day or two to go race my bike(a hobby). For get about it. That’s really tough. The internal struggle with ‘am I selfish’. That sort of thing. And training, which on average is 8-9hrs a week year round. I’m just a regular guy, and that is a sacrifice on me but most certainly my family. But a Euro Pro or even a domestic pro, how many days a year are they on the road, racing and training away from their kids? 100-200 nights in a hotel bed????missing recitals and soccer games, major milestones in their children’s lives??? And add to that, a spouse who may remind you of the sacrifice by the nagging them.not to mention your own self questioning the sport and your commitment to it that takes you way from said children.

    Now Steve, you are a smart guy. Been all over the world, seen all sorts of amazing things and met lots of cool people. But let’s be honest. You’ve lived and continue to live a very sheltered life. You could not, can not, and never will understand this internal struggle that comes with sacrificing yourself for your career or dreams at the expense of a/your child. This does not make you a bad guy. It just is. And I am here to tell you that many of us that read your blog can see the mentality that O’grady and others like him might have. Many of your readers are parents. And that means to us, often our children come first.
    This guy happens to have realized that he sacrificed a significant chunk of his children’s lives by not ‘being’ there. Kudos to him for realizing it, admitting it and willing to or wanting to not sacrifice or lose out on any more of those milestones in his kids’ lives.

    I for one get it, or that part of it. This is all seperate from my opinion of him as a doper.

    Anyway. Just a regular working stiff cyclist and parent’s thoughts.

    Gotta go ride the rollers. Just gotta get that 2 year old in school:)

  2. Jason Ward

    I totally get what he’s saying. Suffering regardless of your physical level is still suffering, and that get’s old. I miss the competition, but not the pain and suffering of racing. Suffering through crappy weather, crappy courses just to have a shot at racing well another day? Sure it had a level of fun and a sense of epicness at the time, but now that I’m done racing, do I miss it? Nope, not at all.

  3. Jt

    Jeff, wtf??? How am i ‘torn up about it’??

    I’m offering a different opinion and a reason why I see it different that Steve does. Also offering s reason as to why Steve might not be able to understand my or another viewpoint.

    Not really sure what your problem is. So why don’t you go ride guy bike or something instead of taking offense to differing viewpoints on others’ blogs.

  4. Bernd

    O’Grady is normal in his answer, guys , girls in other pro sports say the same. they miss their friends camaraderie etc…not the job itself. Makes total sense what he says!
    Life goes on and riding a bike for fun is cool 365 days a year, but being a pro like him a totally different world.
    Steve you never experienced his lifestyle. Even a guy who just finishes the tour the france accomplished a great feet, he will never miss it when he is done.
    I am happy for O’Grady!

    the only guy who misses racing is Lance the robot Armstrong, but he is different from anybody else…poor Lance….

  5. Carl Sundquist

    Whoever thinks pro level cycling is not a “real job” has a misunderstanding of what is involved.

  6. DavidA

    I lived, worked and raced in Belgium and Holland during the 1980’s. Knew and trained with a lot of PROS and the lifestyle is hard, but at the same time a dream come true to be able to race at that level and be paid for it. I think it becomes harder when marriage, kids, and injuries happened. A natural progression as we get older and the stress of planning for the future depending on your race results and bonuses. Some people are able to handle the responsibility better than others, some implode and fade away. Everyone is different, I don’t think its the actual training/racing at the UCI team level….its everything PLUS . Life just happens and I don’t think a lot of riders really think of how travel…training camps…injury…racing…racing…..extended time away from wives and kids really will affect them.

  7. Freddy

    Jt, I think you are really missing the boat here with your judgemental comments. If you think Steve has led a sheltered life, then you have completely missed the point of his blog. He has in fact led the opposite of a sheltered life. Open your eyes and your mind.

    As for O’Grady, surely he has missed out on some family experiences, but he and his family have gained other experiences. Plus, the salary he earned as a pro has given his family everything they have and he made some good money. Doing what O’Grady has done is not comparable to some fat dude racing around the local industrial park crit. Road racing has been O’Grady’s profession for a long time. It was his job, pure and simple. Sure, it can be rough, tough and at times, painful. But there are great rewards, too and O’Grady has grabbed his share of the gold.

    He can’t have been too unhappy because he had one of the longest careers in pro cycling. We should all be so lucky. Nobody was forcing O’Grady to race his bike.

  8. donkybhoy

    Anyone gonna believe O’Grady is living in cuckoo land.

    The guy doped a whole lot.

    Hope he stays gone from the sport and doesn’t come back even for a nano second.

  9. Bolas Azules

    I had similar feelings when I packed it in. ‘Trained dog,’ yeah it was somewhat like that to me. I felt it a bit more like a glamorized carnival worker. Everyday you’re in a different city surrounded by different people until it really becomes a big blur. Anyone that has ridden at a higher level knows it’s not about the ‘wind in your hair’ and feeling healthy and well-centered…it really becomes a challenge to suffer. Or as we would call it a ‘daily sufferfest.’ Freezing your ass off or passing-out from the heat, snow, rain, lightening cracking all around you, riding through 6″ deep cow-pies in the rain on cobbles, puking up your lunch, crashing and picking scabs for weeks, sleepless nights in crappy hotel rooms. . . hardly a ‘magical experience’ I had signed on for but it did move me on in life.

    The carnival experienced reached it’s peak for me on a cold windy northern European day when there was a huge crash in the cross winds and a moto-doctor pulled me from the pile and started asking me simple questions to see if I had a head injury. He quickly asked me in French “Do you know where you are right now?” (A pretty good question for a guy that works in an office I suppose) I just remember smiling and saying back to him – “On the best of days I have absolutely no fucking idea where I am, and I certainly don’t know where I am right now!” Found a spare bike and got back up in the 45 degree rain and road the last two hours with a couple of other guys equally as pissed at life.

  10. Jeff

    Freddy, a big Thank You for articulating what I was ‘implying’ up above here with my comment to JT.

  11. James

    Another whiny pro. I’d give my left nut to have the natural gifts to find out how “miserable” it must be.

  12. Jamie Smith

    Stuey, you’re not doing anyone any favors by doing something you hate.

    And to JT, you made this about family when nowhere in his answer does O’Grady mention family.
    It’s just a damn hard sport on its own – with or without family. But we learn that early on. And we either accept it and shut up or we find another hobby.

    It was Jens who said “It’s too hard of a sport to do just for the money. You have to love it.”

  13. LD

    Sounds like he may have some regrets about not being there for his kids:

    “Now, it’s my turn to give my family the time they missed out on. It’s all about them. It’s a really important to be at home and be a dad. I read it somewhere, that the hardest part of being a dad is actually being there. I definitely hadn’t been there for the last 11 years.”

  14. Pat Garcia

    Steve, I have to agree with you. I contrast what Stuart says to the retirement interviews with Jens Voigt. They had the same job but Jens raced for 20 years and has six children, so he made even more sacrifices. Yet, their interviews are as different as day and night. Maybe they both love cycling but Jens also has a positive and gracious attitude. Whether Stuart was just in the wrong profession or just has a bad attitude – either way it’s good that he’s out of it.

  15. Mr. De Facto

    I’m going to miss the bus rides with the guys, training camps in Tucson, sleeping in, riding all day, doing nothing, but recovering. racing in Belgium (I one time had a thought that hitting a wall head on in a race was going to be less painful than continuing), eating anything I want, the pain that had power behind it.

    My turning point? My fiancee holding our dog all night while he died and I was racing at Redlands.

    Now? Job, her, racing Mt. bikes, road when I can. I’m making a special point on making it home for Christmas this year. I’ve missed so much life, it’s time to start living.

    I wouldn’t change a thing. There just seems to be a breaking point.

    Stu is an idiot, but I think I know how he can feel that way.

  16. Bernd

    Never judge a guy , if you didn’t walk in his shoes.
    that’s why we talk, commend on blogs like Steves…but we all do not know shit period it’s just fun when you have a little time for commend! “Entertainment”

  17. Jeff D.

    I had a friend who use to own a bike shop, I thought that had to be the coolest job in the word (getting to be around bikes all day) the owner of the shop told me to never make your hobby your job because it just becomes your job and not your hobby anymore, kind of made sense to me but I can’t really say because I’ve never had the chance to try. Maybe that’s the trap Stuart fell into.

  18. Jt

    Jamie, what article were you reading. One of the big points he made was how much of his kids lives he had missed in the last 11 years of racing. I’d say that pretty much about family…

  19. Jim

    jt… seems to me you might want to take your own advice.

    ” So why don’t you go ride guy bike or something instead of taking offense to differing viewpoints on others’ blogs”

    Assuming that because one does not have children = they can’t understand being separated from loved ones is incorrect.

  20. Joe

    “You don’t know how much you love something, until it is taken away from you.” For some people, perhaps Steve, they refuse to have something they love taken from them. Or even perhaps the injury setbacks and other obstacles point this out, or serve as the reminder of how good life is for them. When you do have something taken away, and you want it back badly, you start to understand the substance of what that something was, what it truly means to you, and think fondly of that past life. Few of us gain the motivation to get back to that point, others, it is all they know, and will absolutely return to past glory.

    Ultimately though, there is a difference that we are seeing. Those that allow outside forces to dictate their life, and those that are behind the wheel, foot firmly on the gas, determined to arrive at their destination. Perhaps we look at that person that is getting to their destination with envy, or loathing, but to detract from their quest is ill advised.

    I always get a chuckle of that female, or even perhaps male that is interviewed and asked, “what is the greatest achievement in your life?” They answer: “Having children.” “My children’s accomplishments.” What about the person who’s child accomplishes nothing? Is their life a failure? Getting laid, and popping out a kid is not an accomplishment. It happens billions of times. It is your life, what are you going to do with YOUR life? Judging success or failure based on the shoulders of others does not support a great mental foundation in YOUR life. Judging success or failure based on YOU is a far better way to live.

  21. MS

    He should try living in a fox hole for months not knowing if he’ll ever make it home to see his wife/kids/loved ones ever again.

  22. Just Crusty

    Maybe one aspect of Stuart O’Grady’s accomplishments as a cyclist for 13 years is his absolute focus on succeeding to the exclusion of other interests in his life. Now rather than cycling, he is committed equally to success as a father and family man.
    Rather than “balance”, some people succeed because of total committment. Perhaps this just says that he succeeded when his natural physical ability or genetic gifts were slightly less than a competitor’s.


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