Friday, July 13, 2012

The times they are a-changin' ...




I have the Fair Hill 50 this weekend. I'm looking forward to this race -- partly for the ride (Fair Hill is a very cool place to ride) and partly for some redemption. Fair Hill has been sort of my "white whale" the last two years. In fact, since I've only been racing SS for two years, I've never completed a FH50 on the SS! In 2010, I finished the first lap and had to drop out because my stomach went bad. I started feeling sick about 9 miles in, which meant I rode 18 miles on a bad stomach. I couldn't face another 23, so I bailed (and subsequently got very sick in the bathroom!) Then last year, I was having a decent race but went off trail and didn't realize it until I arrived back at a spot right near the finish I shouldn't have hit for about then miles. Apparently, I wasn't the only one - about a dozen other racers in various classes did the same thing. So my Fair Hill 50 turned into a Fair Hill 42 in 2011, and I ended up being DQ'd. So I'm definitely looking for a little redemption in 2012 -- just finishing will be a step in right direction!

But I think I've come to a decision lately: FH50 notwithstanding, I think I'm finished with endurance series after this. I don't mean I'm done racing -- I just don't think I want to race a series anymore. I want to choose when I race based on whether I want to be racing vs. just riding. I don't want to feel like I have to race because I'm chasing points. I'm just tired of having my entire summer scheduled in advance.

I think this decision has been coming for a while. There is nothing I would rather do more than ride my bike, but almost all season, I've had trouble getting excited for the scheduled races. Part of it may be that I've done each of these races a number of times now, but I think a bigger part of it is that racing requires adherence to a schedule, and I have enough of that to deal with at my job all week. I'm just tired of turning around on a Friday and realizing that my weekend is all planned out in advance, and before I know it, I'm back at work on Monday. It starts to feel like I have no free time to just get out for fun rides anymore or even do other things. I want to get away from that. So I'm moving away from a planned season after this year.

To be sure, there are individual races I think I will continue to participate in for the foreseeable future (e.g., SSAP, Iron Hill, Cathedral Pines, etc.) but I won't be planning on carrying a full season again. The simple fact is, I use riding for a lot of things, only one of those being racing. Recently, I've noticed that the racing part is infringing on some of those other reasons I ride by dictating when and how I ride. And I'm noticing the effect of that on my mood and my psyche more now than ever before. I feel drained at times after work, and it's hard to get out and train after a day at the office. It never was that way before. I need to get away from that -- riding helps clear the stress of daily life away, and I can't afford for it to ever start being a source of stress itself. So with that in mind, I think this will be my last season of chasing series points or carrying a full load of races. I think the irony is that I'll ultimately ride more for not racing than I do now. It's what I want to do -- I just don't want to need to do it!

So that's the decision I've made at this point. I'd never say "never" but I think there is enough other stuff to do on a bike than go from race to race, and I look forward to that.  And some of those things might even be other races -- "event" races in far off places (like I did in '09 in Wisconsin.) I'm just getting to the point where it's more about chasing experiences than chasing points, and so that's what I'm going to do.

But for now, I still have a bunch to do this year, even if my last totally necessary series race is this weekend. I still have five more total races after Sunday that I'm already registered for and I'm looking forward to all of them (especially SSUSA in two weeks!) So if you happen to be at Fair Hill, SSUSA, the DH 40, Rattling Creek, or Cathedral Pines and see me out there, come and say hello because one of those experiences I'll continue to chase is meeting other riders out there whether it's on the trail or on the starting line!


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