Ten hours of training per hour of racing. That’s about what it took for me to have a pretty unspectacular year last year. But that understates the whole deal of it. Mine hits the ratio at probably 400 hours of training and 40 hours of racing (which in fact probably understates the time spent training and almost certainly overestimates the time spent racing – I did maybe 20 races last year, of which a large number were hour long crits and stuff – but I’m not the kind of keeper of charts and graphs to have this info without doing an undue amount of scratching and pondering). You can’t post up with 10 hours of training, it ain’t like that. Depending on what level you race, you probably donate the first 100 or 150 hours to the cause before you even pin one on for the first time, and that’s at some early season training race. By the time you’re hitting stride, you’re over 200 hours into things. Well and truly, in for a penny, in for a pound – the incremental additional races that you do just improve your ratio. Might as well get out there and pin one on, then, eh?
From the business perspective, we get pretty deep into a bunch of stuff that used to not matter to us at all. Two years ago, would we have noticed or given a rat’s ass what the UCI’s doing with Gran Fondos? How much time would we have spent with the UCI sticker program? The double-edged sword of our transparency in trying to bring you the whole story of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it is that sometimes we wind up sounding like picture of gloom and doom. There’s a lot of dopey (pun not intended – see what I mean?) stuff that happens that affects the story of who we are and what we do, but that otherwise is pretty far below a consumer’s radar. In bringing you along on our story, we sort of ask you to be more engaged than you would otherwise be.
(above all else, know thyself, right?)
On the other hand, the one divining principle that we know we’re wholeheartedly behind is the act of the safety pin joining lycra jersey to tyvek rectangle. Racing is the great cocktail of honesty and obfuscation, playing coy at times and being as subtle as a steam whistle at others. You’re as good as you want to be until you pin that number on, and then you’re only as good as you really are. Go ahead and set the pace on your local Wednesday night worlds all you want, but until you see the pins and numbers come out, you don’t know who’s really in the game.
It’s a pain in the butt all around, right? Promoters getting venues and organizing everything, logging the dirty miles to get ready, negotiating the slings and arrows of the rest of your life in order to carve out the time you need… Not everyone can do it, and there’s a huge slice of people out there for whom it’s too big a pain. A lot of them claim to have more fun just riding around and enjoying it than they ever did while they were racing. I’m throwing the BS flag at the whole lot of them.
Admit it, there’s nothing like hitting the line for the first time each year. Your heart is in your throat, you’re simultaneously totally self-assured and more overwhelmed than a first grader stepping onto the school bus for the very first time. With so much behind you, it’s still all in front of you. Then you move through the season and find the rhythm of your year, click into the gears of your team, start to dance with THE FAST. What non-racer is going to go through all of the self-flagellation necessary to get a full fledged visit from THE FAST? You do your race at Reston and spend 20 minutes after where every time you try to say something all you can do is cough, and then you go watch the elite race and see that the break is going up the home stretch 2 gears deeper in the cassette than you were when you thought your race was cooking? Holy marone! What kind of a roller coaster must THAT be to ride!?!
That’s kind of our whole deal, right? The screw gets turned and the only question is “have you got it?” You hit that point in the race where you KNOW the only thing to do is sack up and get your carcass to the front, or off the front, and there are a million different reasons why you wouldn’t, couldn’t, don’t want to, can’t but only one reason why you’re going to – because last time I checked this was a race and as long as we’ve gone through what we’ve gone through to get to this moment in time, we might as well do it right or die trying. I f—king LOVE that moment. You push it and it goes. Do the hours spent going nowhere fast with a fan in your face matter at that point? Would you pay double what you did for another ride on the machine? Yup.
So yeah, when all the other crap happens or doesn’t, what we’re really for is racing. Grab your pins and your numbers, it’s getting to be about that time.