Friday, February 6, 2015

Road Racing -- A "Lifestyle" Sport: 2015 Edition

Originally posted back in January, 2011. In movie terms, it's time for a "reboot". 

Huge thanks to Trev and Speed Theory for a great AGM last night. As a follow-up, I've got a few tips for all the new racers this year.

On the Alberta Bicycle Association website, road cycling is described as a "lifestyle sport":

Road cycling is best described as a lifestyle sport. It satisfies those who crave competition, it provides camaraderie for those looking for something to belong to, it provides immeasurable health benefits and, by travelling to races in scenic locales and exploring the countryside on training rides, it provides a means to experience the world.

Here's what else is meant by "lifestyle sport":

1. Your disposable income just got disposed of. Say goodbye to your savings and hello to a new lifestyle lived on the edge of insolvency. Between club fees, kit, race license fees, race entry fees, getting to races, accommodation at races, food, bikes, wheels, spare wheels, TT wheels, regular helmet, TT helmet, spare helmet, shoes (road and mtb), and so on, you'll spend equal to the GDP of some third world nations.

2. There's no such thing as too many bikes. So, you try out this road racing thing on your 2004 Specialized Allez aluminum, entry-level road bike and have a good time. After a couple of races, you notice that everyone else seems be riding a bike nicer, lighter, and faster than yours, at least that's the excuse you're using for finishing in the back third in all the races. (I have different excuses now.) Then, the dude doing the bike weigh at the (late, great) Prov. Hill Climb Championship comments on your "tank" as he calls his buddy over to help him get your bike up on the hook. So, you start thinking maybe it's time for new carbon road bike, so that's one trip to the LBS (local bike shop). Then, you notice that everyone winning the ITT's has a totally tricked out P3 with wheels worth more than your car, so maybe you should invest in a TT bike, disc wheels, TT helmet, and skinsuit to improve your times. So, you head down to the LBS again. Then, fall rolls and you take up cyclocross. So, you show up to 'cross race with your old mountain bike, look around, and realize everyone else has an actual cyclocross bike (with a "B" bike in the pit), and about 18 different sets of wheels. So, that leads to another trip to the LBS. Then winter comes and you start looking at fat bikes...You're going to need an annex to your house to store all this stuff.

3. Are you a single guy? You'll (likely) be staying that way. The only sport more male-centric than road cycling is UFC. Here's what the gender breakdown of a typical road race looks like: 125 guys in four different categories and about 15 women. If you've joined a cycling club looking for romance, you're in the wrong place (or the right place, depending on perspective). Try triathlons. So, your next date will probably with a non-cyclist. This leads to problems, because she'll expect you to pay for dinner and your credit card is maxed out because you just bought that P3 with the disc wheels. (Or, convert her to cycling. That works, too.)

4. You'll be "travelling to races in scenic locales". Mainly community halls in places so obscure Google Maps is no help to you. If you're thinking all our races are like the Tour de France, with millions of adoring fans lining the road, a caravan of team cars, and TV cameras, be prepared for disappointment. The fan base consists of a few people in the feed zone (for example, your lovely wife, who is wondering why she's burning a perfectly good Sunday morning to sit in a lawn chair for three hours to maybe hand you a bottle) and lots of cows.


Ken Erdman said...

Darcy: I loved your "Lifestyle Sport" post - it has content and a great sense of humour.

I had 10 interesting visits to a physiotherapist last fall for recovery from a road bike crash, & she gave this quote to ponder: "When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his/her dream." (Paul Coelho)

Speed Theory club/team can become that small universe to help all members realize their cycling dreams, and race their hearts out.

Andres Perdomo said...

Is funny but is absolutely true.

Alice Lee said...

carbon fiber wheels are lighter and stiffer. Your carbon fiber wheel spokes should be high tension, which allows you to accelerate quicker and maintain speed better.

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