Since it seems to be cycling week here on the blog, I can’t skip racing. Much as I scorn the cyclists obsessive nature and his fixation on improvement, when it comes to racing it actually make sense. These guys (and gals) get a pass. Don’t be confused, they’re still psychotic and sadomasochistic, but at least they do it with purpose.
Take my friend L. Since joining a team and starting racing in her early 40s she’s undergone a complete transformation. She’s become the person I believe she always was. Focused, driven by competitive desires, enjoying comradeship from her team mates and I have to believe, a more fulfilling self of sense. I don’t see that look of ‘I wish I could’ that most of us fall into after a certain age. She did just it and now into her second winter, she looks insanely good – ripped even – happy and she just shines, even as she’s climbing exhausted into her car at the end of her race. Certainly, I’ve spent more time looking at her podium shots that any hetero woman should admit to. How did she get those legs??? (cycling.. idiot!)
My other friend Hope took up cycling as part of her triathlon training. As soon as she suggested a tri I really did have to fight the desire to delete her number, but since she’s a good friend I put it down to mid life crisis and temporarily oxygen deprivation after a long run. Now she rides flywheel and rode over 500 miles in December alone. While she might be approaching crazy-ville, she looks great, she’s discovering the competitive edge in herself and its exciting to see where she might take it.
Neither of my girls are going to give up their jobs, families and move to France to pursue their TdF dreams, but both seem to have used their love of the 2 wheels to take them out of their rut, fuel some inner competitive edge and drive change in their lives.
Of course not all racers take it up as part of mid life crisis. My friend Bob has been racing for years and boasts one of the best ‘masters’ asses I’ve ever seen (his partner knows I check it out and I’ve not been slapped yet. I think she revels in it). Not only does it keep him fitter than most 30 yr olds, he’s powered through medical issues, life changes and challenges by remaining focused on the next crit. When some might be thinking ‘ I should hang it up’, he’s learning to surf, riding harder than ever and amazingly, still improving his performance. Bob’s a lifer as far as cycling goes and I can see him riding for another 40 years since his cyclist psychosis is tempered by an enjoyment of all things culinary and an extremely health sex life. Clearly he’s not spending too much time in the saddle.
All of these guys race and yet instead of spinning themselves into deep psychosis, it seems to keep them in touch with reality. They seem to thrive on competition – so much you can actually see it. Maybe because they’re spending their time channeling their sadomasochism into some form of tangible achievement instead of spending hours checking Cycling News, researching the latest derailleur wire and obsessing over the weight of their rice portion. Or maybe they just like winning and we don’t much opportunity to win anything after the age of 10.
I wish I had a competitive bone in my body where cycling was considered – it seems nothing but positive as far as I can see. Ripped bodies, satisfied Sunday nights and the opportunity to stand stiffly on a podium and feel like a winner, even if your audience is composed of spouses and prairie dogs. Sadly I’d no more chase down a cyclist to pass them – just for fun – then I would ask them for their digits. I guess I need to get my kicks in other ways… and no, dating doesn’t count as a competitive sport.