Yep. I have a wife and kid. I race local cyclocross in the fall, maybe 1-3 other events a year that require going out of town. Often we’ll make a weekend out of these trips and my wife will come with. Barry Roubaix last year, we stayed at a nice hotel, she toured a couple wineries during the dace, then we went to dinner in Grand Rapids after the race. Was a super nice weekend.
You can definitely treat it as the end for now and re-visit in the future. Motivation ebbs and flows. For reference- I’m 34, former national-level mountain bike racer as a junior and in college. I’ve got 2 young kids at home and a fairly demanding job in healthcare. I don’t have time (or inclination, frankly) to be competitive in a lengthy series any longer, but I’m content after finding a few local races that I really enjoy and do those 3-4 each year. Signing up stokes the motivation and toeing the line still scratches the itch. It was hard but necessary to reframe my thinking from the shark-brain killer mindset that I would get into back when I was super serious, but I really do enjoy the events and everything adjacent (training, travel, socializing with other riders) a lot more now.
I train to the extent that I’m able- sometimes it’s enough that I can contest the pointy end with the youngsters (lol). Most of the time it’s enough that I can try for a PR- my primary competition is myself for sure and I’ve learned to get a lot of satisfaction out of the little wins like really nailing a section of trail I’ve struggled with in the past.
And sometimes if life goes sideways I give it my best and ride as hard as I can to earn a couple beers and a burrito at the end and hopefully build some fitness for next time.
Edit: something that really stuck with me was on an old podcast called Open Mic with Mike Creed (former pro with Postal Service and several others, currently director for Aevolo). He knew toward the end of his career that what he was doing was a privilege and started making a conscious effort to look around during the race and really take in what was going on around him. I started doing the same, even (especially) during moments where I’m hurting or don’t want to continue. And it gives a little more perspective and enjoyment to what’s ultimately a grown man in silly clothes riding a bike in the woods.
Agree. And at some point all we are doing is slowing the decline. I will never be as fit or competitive as I was in my peak in my 20’s. And that is ok… as you said, 80% is good enough at this point as long as you are enjoying what you are doing.
And not to mention, to be the top masters/senior rider you need much more than 10 hours a week to be competitive!
Social cycling can also include racing. I race, but I’ll never podium. And I still enjoy it. I race against my own previous times, or for relative position, or against people of similar pace to me (in race series where I know the other riders), or have goals about cleaning sections of technical trail during the race.
It also means I can be less serious about riding. and fit riding in around the rest of my life as opposed to vice versa.
If you listen to the YouTube racers and podcasters, they’ll tell you that pack racing is all about strategy and that you can podium with minimal fitness. Yah no, it’s fitness first and then strategy. If you’re getting on the podium with less than 6 hours training/week, your genetics are what got you the podium and not the race tactics.
All that to say, yes, enjoy the racing even when you’re not going to podium.
Yep. I have genetics for sprinting, not endurance sports. No amount of training can make up for the wrong genetics.
Thanks for all the replies, they are useful to me and I’m sure for others questioning what they do or going through a dark patch.
I raced to a 9th National place 12hr MTB in 2021, but becuase 2022 was beset by Covid, 3 other respiratory ilness plus some race cancellations I got frustrated and I decided with my coach to revert to XCO in ‘23 because there’s 4 x more event opportunities. Power isn’t my strong point, endurance is so maybe I haven’t adapted well.
Since I posted I had a quick email chat with my coach with whom I’m meeting tomorrow, and he reminded me we’d move to a flat loading pattern for the first time. Maybe this hasnt worked. And, I still have a raised RHR since having an ear infection 2 weeks ago.
I’ve 2 races over the next six week period before I agree events for the rest of the year, I’ve decide to race a category down and try reverting to my prior traditional process and see if it’s fatigue / illness / change I’m dealing with, or whether the desire has gone. I’ll know by mid June.
Oh I hear you. 54, always overweight, asperger’s or autistic, ftp has dropped about 40 watts in a year. Struggle with depression and mental health. Was bit on the dick by a dog at work last year and then was brought into the boardroom and given socks to cover my dick and was humiliated/shamed AND then they all lied about what happened when they were confronted. They have even stated I went into the boardroom of my own accord and basically started a stand up routine about my dick.
Quit cycling in September as my wife’s rental property got trashed and it cost $84000 to fix and 5 months of my time working on it. I gained 40 pounds during this time.
I started riding again in February AFTER the property was re-rented. I have a couple events planned this year and it seems almost every summer a do a multi day trip between 4 and 7 days and 800 to 1500 km.
Another of her rental’s burned down on March 18.
I am at the point where I am only racing myself. In that race I have every chance of winning and it is up to me if I win or not. I have had a lot of extra stress in my life the last 1.5 years. Riding is an outlet for me. It allows me to self medicate through activity instead of at the pharmacy with all the side effects.
There is instant gratification when I leave the house on my bike and there is always a sense of thankfulness when I return and it does not matter if it was an hour or six. Well more thankful on return after six…
Bottom line is I do this for me. Its my race and I alone decide how well it went. I admit it is hard at times. Last year the annual gravel race I do was an hour slower than the year before. I had not trained as much, I was not as fit and I was heavier. I was a little down about it. But I also know I have a choice on what to do going forward.
From User Batwood14
"Life is short. Celebrate every victory, big or small.
Don’t act like you’ve been there before, behave as you would if you might never be there again. Constantly be surprised at what you can achieve. Enjoy the ride. Every ride.
In other words. Fuck it and enjoy the ride! Its your ride!!!
This is one of the best paragraphs written in this forum. I truly don’t mean to make fun of your situation, but this story is something else.
My personal dealings with having my first daughter at the age of 57 it’s child’s play….
My life is madness, yet somehow riding and racing has survived the storm. I had to double down on diet, recovery and strength training to survive the training + life.
Work has taken a back seat.
It’s very easy to be an all or nothing athlete. “If I can’t compete at the elite level, I may as well quit” is an attitude I see a lot from folks like us. Enjoy being fit and healthy enough to ride and race! Injuries and health problems can rob that from you and then you’ll realize you were simply taking this all for granted.
If you are burned out physically, you will mentally struggle. It’s all connected. Take some time off, do some unstructured rides, skip days when you simply don’t feel like riding, find new trails to explore, etc. Don’t be so hard on yourself… life is short and soon you’ll wish you were still young and healthy enough to have the decision to hang it all up, because one day that choice will be made for you.
If racing bikes is having diminishing returns, yep move on . . . however don’t consider it quitting. Hopefully you had some fun in it, made some friends, shared a few memories (possibly over an occasional frothy beverage), got excited for new bikes, and hopefully maintained some healthy fitness throughout. Simply consider racing bikes one chapter within your life!
None-the-less, continue to ride to stay fit! I stopped racing, but continue to enjoy training and dabbling in some occasional group rides. As well, the fitness helps in other sports I partake, but I certainly do not need elite podium fitness. Best to you!
Your not making fun of it at all! Lets face it. It is funny. There has been a fair amount of laughs to the point where we were in tears. I’ve shared it with friends and others. Easy to share on a forum and this isn’t the first time it has been shared here.
What wasn’t easy was me, 6 supervisors (only one man, 3 of the women I didn’t know.) and one female manager who hates my guts in the room. They thought I was making a joke when they gave me the socks and I said they were too big. I was still in shock and pain when it happened.
ANYWAYS, my point was to that we all should try and get what we can from this hobby/sport. I try to keep it in perspective so that even though at times it is incredibly frustrating, it can always be equally rewarding. It also helps with the stupidity of life that I mentioned above
This pod is less than a week old; talks about goals, process, and motivation. Pretty good.
I know the OP personally. (Hey mate).
He’s a really nice guy who loves the process of training more than the actuality of racing. He’s got great all day fitness, dogged determination, but his chosen discipline of mtb didn’t really play to his strengths.
I keep banging on that Audax/bikepacking would suit him down to the ground. You can get meticulous in your planning and preparation, yet the riding is about holding steady speed and enjoyment.
Back me up here guys.
If I’m honest, this is very true. Hence my comment that I’d stick with TR to stay fit mid week anyway without the racing.
Audux rides would be an even bigger commitment, no?
OP I think you are done with racing for now if you give it everything and get nothing back but disappointment and no enjoyment.
I think TR can fill that gap as there is a sense of accomplishment / satisfaction within your own little competitive bubble and mix in some rides with riders that will challenge you.
Racing is just one small aspect of the bike. Plenty of enjoyment to be had from commuting, chasing local segments on strava long adventures. I found hiking great which is more inclusive with the family.
Racing and training to be competitive is a selfish, all consuming pursuit and deep down most family people on the forum know this. At the end of the day nobody really cares that you finished top 10 in some local amateur event.
But on the other hand it is healthy to have your interest and hobbies outside of family life its just being a competitive endurance athlete is on the extreme side of thigs,
Just turn pro and never look back.
My 2c worth. About to turn 49. Have a history of being a decent, but never outstanding, athlete. Happen to have fallen in with cycling the past few years. Most of what I do is solo riding, inside or outside, which I enjoy and is a tonic for my mental and physical health. I will never be a pro cyclist. I will never race. I’ve competed in other sports in the past and I don’t like the sense of obligation. I also have a young family and a demanding job, which I didn’t have back then. As I get older I just want to do enough cardio, weights and other things to prolong my health span and enjoy my life. Sustain muscle mass, fitness, VO2 max, etc. I want to be good enough to enjoy my cycling, be in great shape for my age and ride occasionally with friends. Maybe the odd sportive or overseas trip to give it a bit more interest. If I wake up the morning of the sportive and it’s raining I can hit snooze and bin it if that feels right. Then, when I enjoy it, I really enjoy it. That’s enough for me. It’s all about balance.
My big thing with riding bikes while being a parent is to try to make sure that when I am with my family, I am really there, not on my phone or whatever. And I have found a lot of joy in doing trips/vacations where cycling is no longer at the center of things. I have never been a huge structured training rider but recently have done that more and more in order to be more efficient with my time, although I could also see myself dropping out of structured training entirely. At the end of the day it is all just for our own reward. I have previously been fit enough to be really fast and learned that wasn’t actually worth missing out on all of the other parts of life either.
I guess at some point most of us just have to accept that we will never be as fast as we could be if we had limited other commitments. And I personally felt that being that fast and maintaining it was not the ultimate peak of things in life. The goal for me is to enjoy riding and be as fast as I can within the time constraints and desire that I have and now to spend some time doing other things, especially on weekends/vacations. No one maintains fitness consistently for forever. There will always be many who are faster, unless you are an olympian.
I don’t race a ton…but decided to race more after having a kid because if I’m putting the time into training at the expense of family time, I figured I should also show up to race occasionally. I prefer to do things close to home though and stick to < 3 hr events.
I heard from a friend that a person in our mtb community who used to be well known for being very fast dropped out of mtb entirely after having 2 kids because “if they couldn’t be as fast as they once were, they didn’t want to do it at all”. That’s fine - it’s their life. But that’s not me. I’d rather accept I won’t be as fast as I once was but that’s ok, I don’t have to be.