I have been reading a number of articles and posts recently about people cheating. Maybe you noticed in the past few weeks, but you may ahve missed it… there was a little known bike race in France. Tour de France leads to cycling which leads to legends falling to doping which leads to comparisons between professions and recreational and or elite athletes. Another article explained the differences between “you”, an average cyclist to the peleton and why you are not in there. It was a fun article to compare watts, speeds, power/weight ratios, etc. I sent it to a co-worker of mine and he sent a brief response…”EPO” This warranted a small chuckle on my behalf.
Regardless if you are a cycling fan or not, you likely heard about the Lance scandal in some capacity. I am going to shy away from talking about the professional scene and bring this back to the amateur level. I recently read another article which talked about doping at the amateur level. Without categorizing, for those with plenty of money who have a super-bike, aero wheels, personal coach, etc one way of improving is to start resorting to these other areas. Just like someone shopping for a doctor to write them a script for pain meds, people are now shopping for a doctor to diagnose them with low Testoserone. There are steps to make this “alright” through USAT, and I am sure with enough work it can pass as legitimate. *Discliamer* I know nothing about USAT TUE process, I am just saying if they allow exemptions, there will be ways to abuse it.
Some people may skip this step and have the right connections for doping and try to hide it as well. I will stop here for a moment and say, this is not a post to discuss doping, the purpose of this is to talk about WHY?
Along with doping to increase performance, I have read a number of things about people cheating on course. Again this is nothing new, I just feel as I have seen a number of cases of this recently. I am sorry, but if you are in for a 11 hour day of racing and your run splits are consistantly 9min/mile except for that one out and back section where you averaged 6min/mile. Something may be up.
Now to the guts… Why do people do this? I wish I could tell you their reason, but I am sure everyone has their own. When I look at these issues in our sport, it makes me look at why people are even involved. My question to you is why do you race?
I started getting into “racing” by trying to acheive something, to run a marathon, to become a marathoner. Looking back, did I “race” it… no way in heck was I “racing”… did I “run” it… I am not sure I would call it “running.” Now before you start throwing rotten veggies at your screen towards me, in no way, shape, or form am I trying to say you have to average X.X MPH to be running. Running is a very subjective word that is defined by the person using it.
I then moved into a phase where I was racing to be active. I wanted to make exercise fun, so throwing in events (note I didn’t call them races) to help break up the training blocks was enough to keep me interested and seeing gains…(Take note of those last few words)
That is what kept me going, seeing gains… for some people… this is the end goal. A competition within. How do they become better, each time putting their body through training to get faster and reach a new PR, or maybe a new distance they never imagined. All of this along side of knowing they may never reach the top of the age group, or frankly not caring.
Not for me… with gains started to come results. I cannot sit here and honestly say that I do not get satisfaction out of placing, knowing that on that day I put together a performance that was amongst the top in my classification. While I know not every race works out this way, trust me I have been humbled a number of times by guys running 5:28s after biking 25 MPH splits. I know I cannot keep up with them right now, and that is ok.
I think this is often where the slope gets slick, when people are expectant of constantly performing at a high level. When bad days are just not acceptible because their hard earned time and money is at stake and may miss out on that “high” which will get them through the next 15 hour training week.
While I am personally in a spot where I am getting a good mix of personal advancements and competitive results, I know there are a number of people faster than I am, and I am ok with that. I have a wonderful wife and two amazing boys that I love spending time with. Would I like to push into longer distance racing, maybe dedicate some time to make a qualification or two in some races? At some point absoultely, but right now, I know what that would cost me in my personal life, and I am not willing to sacrifice this time to reach for something.
I am finding myself enjoying where I am at, seeing myself getting better, and occasionally being competitive aginst the field, but also find that I am having a slight shift to enjoying the social aspect of racing. It is no secret that I am on Team Rev3 again this year, and I look forward to catching up with these people at races, spending some time together. It is yet another reason I love this sport!
So… why do you race?