first place in my age group. 50 miles, almost 6000 feet if climbing. Last climb was a 30% grade. Absolutely brutal day. Thanks to racers and chasers for putting it on. Going to have a much needed recovery day at work. Somehow I survived the race without being sent to the hospital for IV fluids. Would have been funny to show up at work as a patient.
As I sit in my empty apartment and prep all my supplies and double check what I need for tomorrow I can see and literally hear everyone gearing up to spend their Friday night at the bars and clubs in the Gaslamp district of San Diego, right outside my door. I can hear the music, the women laughing and screaming and the cars and motorcycles tearing down the city streets. Every weekend this persists until the morning comes up.
A few years ago I would have tried so hard to be out there and to be a part of that, wanting so badly to fit into the “scene” filled with short skirts, too much makeup and bad music. I can’t help but see a grand emptyness in it.
When the gun goes off at 800 tomorrow, I will, in the next few hours, learn more about myself and life than I had in the entire 26 years before it. It’s so hard to explain to other people why I willingly wake myself up at 5am on a weekend, a good two hours earlier than I wake up for work. To them, it almost seems as though bike racing is another job. In fact, my neighbors all think I do this professionally, since almost every time I enter or leave my house it is on top of my bike.
In the elevator, the other day, my neighbor mentions how it “must be nice” as he is wearing his collared shirt and heading to his office job. I laugh and tell him I wish I was getting paid. My shirt and pants are in my messenger bag, and luckily one of the perks of working in a hospital is the easy availability of showers.
On the other hand, if I was cycling professionally I can’t help but feel as though a lot of the enjoyment would be gone from it. The pressure to perform, please sponsors, and take risks just to get noticed and secure your team contract from year to year seem all too much. There are some days where it’s just not safe to dig that deep. I’m reflecting back on many of the crashes I was in, behind, or in front of on the criterium circuit. Often times they were the result of amateurs taking unnecessary risks in corners, relying on hitting the very limits of traction because they know their legs can’t take it.
As soon as something you love starts to pay you a salary, it becomes decidedly less fun. Better, then, to find something to do, for a living, that pleases you enough to be adept at it, and to save your excitement and passion for the weekends, friends and personal life. Burn out is real, and I couldn’t deal with ever being burnt out on the beauty of being outdoors with nature and a few new friends from the road.
To everyone I’ve pedaled with in Southern California: Thank you for making this time bearable. It’s honestly tough moving somewhere entirely new and different and the real cycling community is truly full of amazing, varied, and decent people. See you all tomorrow at the race.
Get your go fast on.
My undying love for Freddie Mercury, whose last name I share, has forced me to break my daily post limit. This was just too amazing not to post.
I love flashmobs. My favorites include the Akihabara flashmob of dancing schoolgirls and geeky dudes, and the Michael Jackson singing/dancing flashmob. There’s something amazing about real life suddenly looking like a GAP commercial, and there’s something even more amazing when it includes Queen, and sick Trials riding from the land of Espresso and Waffles.