Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bike Racing, Honor and Sacrifice

This topic has been talked about ad nauseam and I've read all the different opinions and perspectives on whether Contador should have or shouldn't have waited and I figured I'd put in my own two cents. I'm not going to say that Contador should have waited for Schleck or that he was justified in attacking while his opponent was fixing his bike, but I am going to look at the implications of what Contador did and how it will affect his victory.

First, let's put this into a different perspective: say it was a local race series, and week after week, you race against the same guys and you consistently finish in third place. Then, one week, the guys who were consistently finishing first and second don't show up and you win the race. Sure, it's a victory, but it's not as sweet as the one where you bested the same guys that were beating you week after week. I think this is the same type of thing with Contador.

Is "El Pistolero" going to chalk up another TDF win? Undoubtedly. But, given the way he achieved  victory, will it truly be as sweet? I have to say no. That attack was motivated by fear and doubt and not the attack of a champion. Lady Luck handed Contador a gift and, because he hadn't been able to drop Schleck in previous attacks, he took full advantage. I'm not saying this was wrong, I just think it detracts from the elegance, purity and honor of his efforts and it turns the focus from Contador's exceptional fitness and prowess on the bike to a unfortunate incident that befell his main rival.

In my mind, when I visualize great victories, they inevitably involve sacrifice and risk, and with that sacrifice comes a sense of honor and a deep respect for your competition. Then there's also the satisfaction of knowing you gave absolutely everything to beat your competitors, who, in turn, were giving their all to try and beat you.

I've participated as a Cat 5/Cat 4 racer in both road and cyclocross races, and you come across all types of personalities. The ones I have the hardest time dealing with are the "winning is the only thing that matters" types. To me, this is the mentality that encourages sand bagging and un-sportsman-like conduct.  I think this type of behavior results from insecurity or maybe even laziness. This is the easy way, a short cut, and the path of least resistance. And, as most true cyclists can attest, this isn't a sport for those that look for the easy way.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Has it really been two months?


My last blog entry was over two months ago, what the hell happened? Well, If anyone still reads this, here's what's up:

I've given up on doing any road racing this season. That's right. no racing.  And I'm cool with that. In fact I've gotten reacquainted with a few old friends: beer and desserts. Not great for the midsection but a welcome deviation from the overly disciplined, spartan life of a bicycle racer.

Cyclocross season is quickly approaching and I'm nowhere near ready. In fact, if I were to toe the line with my current lack of fitness, I would likely get lapped, it's that bad. So, if I don't get may act together soon, I'm pulling the plug on the cyclocross season too. I guess what it all comes down to is I really don't want to compete if I can't be competitive (and by competitive, I mean finishing mid-pack).

I just got back from an awesome vacation with the family - one of those vacations where thoughts and aspirations of training/working out are drowned out by an abundance of good food, good drink and good company. While I was on vacation I did fulfill a life-long dream to go surfing. I took a lesson, and even got to ride a handful of waves without wiping out. Great fun.

In short, it seems like I've been doing a lot of everything except riding my bike and, you know what? It's been kinda nice.