Not counting the Sweaty Yeti last March (and I should, it was a race and I did try to ride hard) I haven’t, in the words of Phil Ligget, “turned a pedal in anger” for more than a few years. Not sure why, but my life was filled with 15+ years of mountain bike and an occasional road race nearly every weekend in the Midwest and it just became a lot to keep up with. In my 50’s now, it seems many of my friends are in the same boat and have also hung up the cleats. It wasn’t the kids, for they either tagged along, did some races themselves with or without me or later, just let dad leave early in the morning for some far off venue and return in the evening with smelly shoes and a dirty bike.
For me I think it was that I felt I had to ride. An upcoming race meant I had to train and I couldn’t just go out and enjoy turning the pedals for fun. Granted, training can be fun, especially when you’re feeling on top of the gears, but “having” to always do it started to take the fun factor out. “Back in the day” I had some good results, and worked my way up from Sport to Expert and tried to hold my own with fellow racers and friends I met along the way. Even on the road, which was not my forte, I had fun and at least one good Firehouse 50. Having that success, fueled the training fire, which of course, pushes one harder-not a bad thing, but over a long stretch of time, to maintain that level can take a toll.
So maybe that is what finally lead me away from the competitive side. Sure I missed adrenaline rush of the start and the post race hang out with the great people I toed the line with each weekend, but those pleasures have been replaced with the simple joys of unstructured bike rides. Which leads me back to the point of this post. I signed up for a mountain bike race again. What?
As I wrote in an earlier post, my Fat Bike (Mukluk 2) has really been a fun ride. Like many others who bought the niche bikes, my Fatbike has become my number one bike. Nine times out of ten, it’s the bike I grab when I head out the door. Sooooo, some of my Gnomefest/Fat-bike.com/Generally good buddies asked if I wanted to jump in for a fatbike 12 hour race at the Wausau 24 (http://www.wausau24.com/) and I thought…hummmm, I bet it could be fun and not so serious that it would require training. Well, kinda.
I’ve found that once I wrote that bike race on the calendar, when my tires start rolling down the trail, a little different attitude starts creeping in under my helmet. I push just a little bit harder on the climbs…I take just a little longer route to complete the circuit… I try not to miss a day in the saddle. None of these things are bad; in fact, they help get me out the door and keep me motivated. The good thing, when comparing to the old “training days” is that there still is a big, fatbike fun factor. If Team Muffintop doesn’t take 1st place, we’ll still have fun. Oh, I know we’ll be pushing big rings (when we can). I’ll even put on my serious biker face and try to show my best sprint finish into the exchange zone, but underlying all that will be the knowledge that we’re in it for fun, not the podium. Maybe that will coax me back into the “race” scene from time to time down the trail. I have to admit…..it’s been a fun summer of making the quads quiver from time to time, and isn’t fun really what riding a bike is all about?