Friday Group Ride #371

Friday Group Ride #371

C asked me how my ride was. I’d left work the night before, kitted and watered and hell bent on blowing off some steam. I went alone, as I often have to, simply based on when I can find time to pedal. There is a lot to be said for the solo, after work ride. It serves as a powerful purgative (purgatory?) for the day’s stresses, and the more so when you’re not just transporting yourself from point A to point B. I have been know to complicate the restorative properties of a ride by feeling like I need to race home.

I very seldom actually need to race home.

I am fortunate in that way, but also in the fact that there is a fun, semi-technical dirt route home that spans 18 miles and, via it’s rough edges and sinuous curves, guarantees to slough off any negative attitudes you might have brought along with you.

So how was my ride? It was life changing. I smiled at C, and I said, “Well, I’m only racing myself, and mostly, I still win.” And he said, “We’re all just racing death, my friend,” and we both laughed, because that’s true, but also on a deeper level, because we know we’re losing.

This got me thinking about racing in general, the ways I’ve beaten myself up for being slower than someone else. If, at root, we’re all just racing death, racing itself is absurd, and there’s no point getting worked up about it. It’d be easy to get bummed out about this, except that I find it tremendously relaxing. It doesn’t mean I can’t/won’t race, but it does mean I’ll probably enjoy losing more.

There is a lot to measure yourself against on the bike, other people, their times, your own times, the reaper. Competition can be tremendously motivating or often enough, discouraging. This week’s Group Ride asks, who are you competing with? And how are you doing?

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8 comments

  1. Chuck

    Not anyone. Not even competing. Just riding to ride. To enjoy the joy of riding. And the company of those I’m riding with.

  2. Fausto

    Just trying to out do the last fun ride. We do this because it is supposed to be fun and we always have smiles on our faces. Right?

  3. Les.B.

    I don’t know if this is exactly competing with myself, but sometimes on a ride I will spot a road with an ascent that looks too crazy hard for me to do at the time. There is some creature inside me that in a situation such as this will egg me on to take that road anyway.

    I often take the dare and am almost always glad when I do.

  4. Todd Baker

    I almost exclusively ride by myself. I do Strava- so there’s that “competition”. I’ll always go hard, I’m just a little slower at 46 than I was at 36:). Better to burn out than fade away, I think. An, yes, I agree, racing is absurd, as are most things in life, with the possible exception of things like love, kindness, and empathy, etc.

  5. Jeff

    I started road racing 3 years ago when I was 44. I enjoy the competition with the field, but for the last year, my real goal, and competition with myself, has been to upgrade to Cat 3. This enables me to NOT race the Cat 4/5 in my weekly crit, and to try to get fast enough to compete in the P123. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to hit the podium often, so Top 10 finishes were my goal. After competing in 48 races in ’16-’17 to date, I finally got there two weeks ago and was upgraded. It felt good…but NOW WHAT?

  6. Dizzy

    … “We’re all just racing death, my friend,” and we both laughed, because that’s true, but also on a deeper level, because we know we’re losing.”
    Depending on one’s point of view and/or faith, one could be racing life. In that mindset, we know we’re winning.
    Am I competing or challenging? An interesting question. Since rediscovering the joys/rewards of cycling, I look for new adventures to go on, e.g., Bon Ton Roulette, RAGBRAI, etc. All the daily pedaling serves to keep me healthy, give me hours of pontificating, and prepared for the adventures.
    Competing or challenging? Thought’s for my next ride. Thanx Robot.
    How am I doing? I’m rockin’!

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