Bike racing: various musings.
I’ve been putting a lot of thought into bike racing lately, specifically road racing. A big part of me wants to put on a number and line up, but every time I start to get excited about it I’m treated to a video of fresh carnage. I’m not talking about random bike crash videos from around the world, I’m talking about local races–the races that my friends are doing, and the ones I would be doing. Virtually every race involves at least one crash, and oftentimes multiple crashes, and they are not pretty: serious injuries and severely damaged or even destroyed bikes are very common.
I realize that cycling is an inherently dangerous sport, and I accept those risks. No one likes to wreck, but it happens. I’ve wrecked plenty of times, both mountain biking and on the road. It sucks to go down hard, but if you ride enough it’s not a question of “if”, it’s a question of “when”.
Bike racing, however, takes that danger to an entirely different level. Take a bunch of competitive guys riding as hard as they can (usually at, or above, their physical and bike handling limits) and accidents are going to happen.
I’m 46 years old. I don’t heal as well as I did when I was kid. I have a career, a family and many responsibilities. A serious injury could literally alter my life forever, and not in a good way.
So that’s one thing. Another sticking point is the bike. I’m not sponsored, so if my bike is destroyed in a wreck that money is gone. No one is going to hand me a shiny new bike once I’m healed up. I simply don’t have $8,000 to replace my bike. Even a fraction of that sum is not money I have lying around just so I can race.
One option is to buy a beater bike just for racing. That’s definitely something I’ve considered. Wrecking a bike that costs less than just my rear Zipp 404 Firecrest wheel would take a lot of the sting out my wallet. That money can still add up, though.
So, is the juice worth the squeeze? I really don’t know. I’m already in love with the sport, and events like Six Gap get me plenty excited and inspire me to train hard. Hell, I don’t even need events to inspire me: I love training hard just because!
Another possible option that intrigues me a great deal is Time Trial racing. Not only are TT races much safer than traditional road races, they play to my strengths as a cyclist. My phenotype is that of a Time Trialist. Dr. Coggan, co-author of the indispensable Training and Racing with a Power Meter, confirmed this when he sent me an email after analyzing my power data using his WKO+ 4 model.
While I could certainly dip my toe in the TT race pool atop my road bike, I’d really need a Time Trial bike to be competitive.
Anyway, these are just some random thoughts. Unless you’re my mom or my wife, feel free to chime in with your opinions. 😉