Zen On Dirt

A return

10 Comments

I did something completely out of character last weekend. I raced my bike in a completely pressure- and expectations-free situation. I told no one I was racing (my parents called me the following Monday night, ‘We’re looking at photos of you racing…did you race?), I had zero expectations, and my only goal for the weekend was to not completely implode and to have as much fun as possible.

It was awesome and I loved it.

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Evening pre-ride

Just a week and a half prior to the race, when out on a long ride with Alexis, I offered my services up as a duo partner for 24 Hours of the Old Pueblo. We’d ridden the Antelope Peak Challenge together two weeks before and I hadn’t completely sucked, I knew she really didn’t want to race solo, and I was battling a set of shin splints that had kept me off my feet, and thus, on my bike, for nearly a month. It was perfect preparation for a 24-hour race. Right? Right.

I was pretty stoked when Alexis agreed to switch categories.

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Bike people are pretty awesome

I’d get to race, but I didn’t have the spend the three previous months thinking about racing and worrying about training and wondering if I should be riding instead of running. I didn’t get to worry about my weight, or my power output, or what my lactate threshold was.

And you know what? We did pretty damn well. It was old-school Ez racing of going out way too hard and holding on for dear life. And for the most part, I held on, posting far faster lap times than I had when I raced with Scott in 2011. It hurt more, sure, but that’s what racing’s about, right?

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Wait, isn’t racing about unicorns and rainbows?

In summary, I had a really good time and it’s made me re-examine my retirement from racing.

A lot of my quitting racing came from not wanting to dedicate 100% to training and racing. I did that for many years, and I had some pretty spectacular results to show for it, but after a while, standing on the scale each morning got old, doing core work every day got old, intervals got old, worrying if what I was eating was the right thing got old, diet shit in general got old. I missed the days of hippy Ez racing where I chased boys around on bikes, drank beer, and rode hard when and if I wanted to.

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Breakfast of champions

And if I wasn’t going to dedicate 100% to racing and try to be the best, I didn’t want to do it.

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Also, breakfast of champions. 

So here’s where OP comes in. I realized, lo and behold, racing is really fun, even if you’re not in it to win it. The need to be the best was ingrained in me and reenforced many times over and here I was throwing that need out the window.

And it felt pretty damn good.

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I’ve been the “best” at what I made my goals in the past. I’ve done the “serious” racing. I’ve made the “sacrifices”. I don’t need any of those things any more.

Take away message: Racing is a whole ton of fun. I’m going to do some of it this spring and summer. I’m going to drink as much beer and eat as much chocolate as I want while doing it. I’m not going to do a single structured interval.

And most importantly, the goal for each race isn’t going to be to show up as ready and fit as possible with a fully functional bike (wait, I never had that), but to use the event as an excuse to hang out with amazing people and to keep the Fun Meter pinned at high.

And I’ll try to be better about blogging to. Doing my small part to keep blogs alive.

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10 thoughts on “A return

  1. I like this. Allow only you to put the pressure on. Good for you!!!!

  2. my god, yes. thank you. i needed to hear this, eszter. all your points are spot on. i wrote off ‘events’ because they are too structured, somewhere i gotta be, too fast, not enough sleeping outside, etc, etc, etc… but they are also some of the places i’ve met the coolest people in the largest numbers and have learned a lot about myself. there is a place for ‘racing.’ there are certainly two ways to go about it, as you point out. i like your alternate method 🙂
    thanks again!!!

  3. I have the opposite to your previous problem. I keep training for half marathons, and then when I get to the big day of the race, it’s all such a fun event, that I feel unmotivated to do anything but have fun. I run harder in training! At the race itself I just want to soak up the atmosphere and that’s not possible if I’m spending all the time in my own little world of pain. Afetrall, what’s an extra 5 mins here or there – not like anyone else is paying attention to my time! Or maybe it’s the organisers who are just making these things too much fun.

    jules

  4. So glad to see you posting again.

  5. I’ve found that’s one of the nicest things about life: being able to continually adjust your perspectives as you move your way through it.

  6. Fuck. Yes. Sometimes taking a break helps distill the deepest beauty within our deepest passions. Fun=life. Love to you Eszter!

  7. You describe it well. Some of the same reasons I left racing long ago too! And yes, keep blogging. I love the way you write!

  8. I’d like to say welcome to another convert to the “dark side”. Your accomplishments far exceed my meager racing “career”, but about 6-7 years ago I found out it’s a lot more fun to just ride than train. Who cares about intervals, watts, etc. Exploring, toeing the line at new or interesting events, just riding with friends. That’s where it is at.

  9. High five and fist pound for that post.

  10. Great blog post about racing. What you are doing is exactly how I approach things…my training partner is my German Shorthaired Pointer Cider. We have a lot of fun “training” together and while I don’t win every race and sometimes explode. I have a lot of fun and enjoy good food & IPA’s.
    Cheers,
    Kara

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