Not all things change with time…
So, I’m another year older. The day of my birth has come and gone, and, compared to last year, (the meeting of a new decade), somewhat mellow. I raced my bike with my great ‘new’ team.
You see, these guys have been cyclists all of their lives, wether or not they were racing bikes. We all started in our wee years, with bony knees, dink marks from the chain (see my earlier post) on our legs, and appetites that could, and should have, put any steady income earning family into the poor house.
We’ve all decided to come back to this element of racing (we all have ridden, some) at the same time, and thought, heck, let’s get the old team together. Kind of like the Blues Brothers’ getting the band together, but with more colorful clothing and shaved legs. The racing has been hard, but always fun after the fact when we’ve held on, been up there, and most importantly, involved in the race.
That’s where I have some concern. You see, even after YEARS away from the sport, some things haven’t changed. Some for the better, some not so much. I’m talking about non-aggressive racing. Sitting in. Sucking wheel and sprinting.
This so called ‘tactic’ is, and always will be, an unfortunate element of bike racing. It’s very specific to cycling, as I can’t think of another sport where a person of less strength can simply use others for the benefit of a high placing. Sure, in running there is some draft, but you are still working pretty stinking hard. Cycling provides a good 40% less effort when sitting in the pack, snug as a snail in the dirt.
It’s not a bad way to get placed in the top of a race. Think about it, hold on in the comfort of the pack, sprint for 500 meters, take home prizes.
But let’s put this into perspective here…
What is at stake in a local race? Are careers on the line? Pro contracts waiting for the victor of a small club race? Don’t think so. Aren’t we paying for the chance to compete? So then, why not COMPETE with some effort? Sitting in simply doesn’t make better bike racers. It is a way to do little to the overall event, and makes for some pretty good grumblings along the way from your fellow competitors.
Do yourself a favor, try the front. If you’re going to die a quick death (like I did last night) time your efforts, but make an effort just the same. I’ve always felt that to attack and go down in a blaze of lactic fueled glory is far better than a pack sprint for tenth place. Or even first place, for that matter.
Friends don’t let friends suck.