Quitting Training & Racing

So, I posted this on a forum yesterday:

That’s the end of formal (MTB) training and racing for me. Trudging around only at the back (again) after 4 months of hard training at a cost of £150 this weekend, not seeing the kids, not actually “having” a weekend, no time to address the overgrown garden or various jobs around the house, having to watch what I eat and drink…. I don’t know how others manage it.

Yeah bollocks, it’s become unenjoyable, I quit today with no desire to continue knowing I’m done. I’ll probably do a bit of Trainerroad to keep fit during the week and a weekend club / MTB ride with coffee and cake, and maybe enter a fun / open events on a nice weekend but that’s it.

Here’s to watching the grand tours, F1 whatever with a beer after the lawn is cut on a Sunday afternoon. :+1:t2:

I’m well known on that forum, and my own insecurities tell me I moan a bit, so I’d like to get some opinions from a wider & less well known to me audience. Essentially a failed race - the second I’ve quit in 2 months with dire performance levels and - I’m 51 - an increasing urge to do a better job at home supporting my family & kids. I should revert to social cycling and enjoy it, right? Or wrong?

I’d welcome others experiences.


Do cycling you enjoy. It’s a hobby, its meant to be fun. If racing (or all the things around racing) aren’t fun, there is little point in doing it.

Do social cycling. Take the kids cycling. Maybe only do events closer to home (even if it is another discipline, ie midweek crits or TTs). Or take the family to a cycling festival, so you can do a bit of riding and still do something together.


This is a really honest post, I salute you for speaking your mind.

What is the point right? I did a TT yesterday and got what I deserved from the non specific training I’d done, even though part of me thought it’d somehow magically muster-up a lot more watts from somewhere (why do I always think I can do that).

On the way home I thought about quitting, however I had about 6 beers with my wife and was just brutally honest with myself. Do I really enjoy it? Is it worth the time / money etc? I’m I missing out on other things in my life as a result?

For me, it was really obvious,

  1. I love to compete, even if I get my ass kicked. I want to win, but for me winning is not a podium, its improving and not quitting.
  2. I try to keep my family involved and make the events a day out with other things planned close by afterwards. We get to see other parts of the country we’d often never visit.
  3. I drink too much (I really do) so training and competitions keep me away from that. Most events are Sundays. So if I stay sober Friday / Saturdays I’m onto a good thing.
  4. I’m I really missing out on other things? Probably not, watching sports can be done anytime on-demand. If a social event is mega important , like a family birthday or wedding etc, that will always take precedence over my events.
  5. The older I get, the more I realize how much cycling and competing is great for my health. Both physical and mental. Nothing tastes as good as getting a good result or nailing a workout.

This may or may not be helpful, however its just my take after being really down yesterday after my own poor performance.

If you quit then fine, you can always train hard and reap the benefits of training and social riding.

However if you want to spend more time with kids and wife and that is your number 1 focus, then I salute you too, time spent with people we love is the most important use of your time.


Thats very useful thanks, and that you also for your honesty.

For further consideration, my race yesterday was GV’s at 3pm with a 2hr drive either side. Another option would be to “race down” this year into Mens Sport, of which the races are in the morning. I’d continue to have a reason to race, i’td consume less of the day and I’d be in the top 20 fighting it out properly rather than at the back of GV.

Similar to powering the intensity for a work out, drop down until I get fitter/faster again, maintain experience of XCO and be less humbled.

1 Like

It can be though one to admit that you might just not be good enough to compete at a certain level. So you can do two things as i see it. You accept that you will probably never compete for a podium at that level and focus on the process goals. You might still be last of the pack but you see small improvements during your racing season. Or you can try to find races that are more similar to your skill level and time and effort you want to put into it.
Most of us are doing this just for fun so both are perfectly valid things to do. You’re not less of a rider because you have more fun at a lower category.


Sometimes you just have to step back and take time away. And that is ok, your not a pro and your supposed to enjoy it.

Every race I do, I think of the impact on my family.


There’s nothing wrong with cycling for enjoyment and fitness and not doing any structured training or racing.

I’m 51, and the main reason I’m still doing structured training is I have my final bucket list race at Unbound 200. And really, I just want to finish. The winners will be asleep in their beds by the time I finish.

I’ve been been doing endurance sports running to triathlon to gravel for maybe 13 years. And a lot of them some level of structure. But I’ve definitely gotten to the point I want to ride strictly for enjoyment and to stay fit. I’ve done a number of long races and at my age now I feel like I have to do a lot of work off the bike (strength, stretching, etc) just to have my body not fall apart on some of the long gravel rides.

I have a couple guys I ride with on occasion who do no structure. They just ride how they want when they want. It keeps them fit. They don’t worry about their ftp and whether they need a rest day or build phases.

For me, will likely do something similar once I’m done with unbound. I’ll probably use TrainNow, ride indoors 2-3 times a week then do gravel/mtb rides on the weekend.


I love to be fit and compete, but most events are at least 2hr from my home. I’ve got two kids so I don’t really do much racing. Also, I find that unless I win, I’m always trying to come up with some excuse as to why I didn’t. I probably am a sore loser. It’s normal tho bc I have a competitive personality.
Nothing wrong with not racing. Nobody cares that you do it but yourself.

As of late, I personally like to train for power PR. I ran track and field in the past and like the concept of a PR for some time duration. That’s what keeps me motivated to continue to train.

Maybe give that a shot if you want something to shoot for. Otherwise, nothing wrong with being a normal guy who likes bikes. I can’t picture myself ever transitioning to that tho. Not in my nature. Prob isn’t for you either given you’re original post


My n=1 (with hindsight) I worked a very stressful job for the last 14 yr of my career (employed general surgeon). Was racing, squeezing in workouts at 5:00 AM. Developed a stress related medical problem that threatened my career. Quit racing, and the only riding I did was to and from the gym once/week. Fast Forward to retirement, and started riding again. The fitness loss was huge, and at this point I will never get back the fitness I had. If I had to do it over again, I would continue to train once or twice/week with one VO2 workout, and one threshold workout. That would have preserved most of my racing fitness. I wish you the best, but don’t sell your bikes and I’d keep training. Riding is fun, and riding fast is more fun, even if you don’t pin a number on.


I’m 55 now. Like you I question the rational of squeezing in the training required to challenge for a podium at the expense of everything else. I’m worried more because I think I train to do well in races more than I train for enjoyment of the process now. I mean I like riding and all but, I like racing 10x more. Now that training is no longer making gains but, minimizing performance losses due to age, the question of “why do it” seems to creep into my head more often.

As far as family goes I think they come first always. But, if I’m honest, when I was a kid I didn’t really care if my parents were around. I did my thing and they did their thing. That was the 70’s and 80’s I guess. What I’m trying to say is I (we gen-xers) put way too much pressure on ourselves to be around for everything.

Finally, I think you’re ok to quit. I believe everyone wants/needs to be good at something. See if social riding does it for you. Or better yet, start a group ride. Or maybe promote a race. Whatever you do enjoy it. Be good at it.


My personal, and about 92% serious opinion - join the beer drinking cat 5 cyclocross racing crowd.

Will scratch the competitive itch, and it is not frowned upon…hell it’s celebrated, to just quit mid race and take a beer handup :joy:

Find a local series, show up out of shape once a week, compete with the slow guys in the back. Have fun, stop when you get tired and drink beer while heckling. All done in just an afternoon.


I think it depends on what you want out of training and racing. I have had several setbacks and poor performances at events the last couple of years. Felt like I was wasting my time as well. I persisted and now I am the fittest I have ever been. I feel extra proud of my fitness because of my setbacks. That said, I persisted because I have a multi-year goal and I want to see it through. If I didn’t set that goal, I likely would have taken a step back as well.

Another thing to keep in mind - be proud of yourself for trying. I have friends/family that won’t do competitions (either endurance or other) because they feel like they can’t win. One person I know has wanted to do a body building competition his entire adult life but never does it because he is afraid of failing. This is a terrible way to view competitions - the person who gets last place at least had the courage to try.

To that end - after my first ever crit race I told my wife I got lapped, my lungs were destroyed and was at the very bottom of the race. Her response was that she was proud of me. It was a surprising response so I asked why; she said because I try things that I know I am not going to be the best at.

You are the only one disappointed in your result. Everyone else thinks it is awesome that you are trying.


Funny you should write this now. I dragged my husband across the country to do triathlon Nationals in Texas for which I did hardly any training. then I proceeded to have a bit of a mental breakdown in our second hotel of the day the night before the race (the first hotel I had booked trying to save money was literally a crack den) and I drank myself into a stupor. I was so hungover the morning of my race that I didn’t race and I flew home and threw my bike in its box in the garage. I’ve signed up for numerous “big” races since 2019 because I felt I had to “prove” myself or be the best I can be.

For now I’m stepping away. I’m tired of beating myself up about my weight, my schedule and all the rest of it.


I’m going through this issue myself. I am no longer training 10+ hours a week to get mid-pack in a road race I had to drive 4 hours to get to anymore. However I am staying fit to enjoy the weekend group ride.

I came to enjoy where I am after I realized this: There are only two types of people who are riding off the front/driving the pace:

  1. The “A” group rider who’s trying to flex
  2. The “B” group rider who values riding at the front above the social and financial costs associated with it. After riding with the group for 2 years, every single one of these riders is one of the following:
    • Single
    • Married/committed w/ no kids
    • Married/committed w/ kids but rarely spends time with them
    • Divorced w/ kids, but rarely sees them

I was the married w/ ignored kids type of rider for a while. The cost to get that 20% higher performance is exponentially more than the cost to just get 80% of the way there. It’s just not worth it.


This was my thought as well. obviously depends on where you live, but where I’m at I can race cyclocross in the fall and winter and crits in the spring and summer without leaving the city limits.

I have three kids and couldn’t justify events further away or events that take longer. Everyone’s family dynamics are different, but for me and mine, the idea of me disappearing for a whole day/weekend to go ride my bike is a non-starter. I do one or two long, all-day rides a year, but I take them mid-week as mental health days from work so that I don’t take away a weekend. I would feel too much guilt about the time away for loads of reasons that other people don’t seem to handle in the same way.


I agree with this to a point. My wife is the same way, super supportive and urges me to race when I can.

The issue is when you have to leave the house at 4AM to drive 3-4hours to a race, only to get a mechanical or dropped on the first climb (cause ALL the road races in NorCal have climbs). This is fine when you’re young and single, but not when you have a job and kids to raise.

1 Like

Another option to consider (possibly in addition to racing a lower cat) is to do randonneur events. The permenants can be done on your schedule and there is a semi-competitive nature to the events. As I have become a less effective racer, I have found that doing these events are a great way to give reason and season to my training which I enjoy. Everyone is different, but I have really enjoyed the shift to endurance riding focus.

1 Like

What you are transitioning to is called the “spirit of mountain biking.” :grin: Enjoy!

1 Like

This is where zwift racing comes in, free(minus the sub), many levels. You can drop down as your fitness decreases.

Ill get my coat.


Just a couple of thoughts:

  1. Four months isn’t that long. Perhaps lower volume consistently over the next year (perhaps with higher volume closer to the event) will lead to a better outcome and allow for better life balance.
  2. Perhaps fitness isn’t your limiting factor, especially in your discipline, so again it may mean you can reduce your training hours and improve a lot just by focusing on other skills and just doing more races.

Obviously if you’ve been building your endurance base for years and have sharp race and bike handling skills already then this won’t apply, but it wasn’t clear if this was the case.