Relegated (A-Z Day 18)

Posted by on Sep 13, 2012 in Bike | 10 Comments

A-Z Day 18


Joe Friel recently tweeted:


In The Secret Race, Tyler Hamilton told a compelling story that went like this:

He was in a race, and had a nasty crash. He was bleeding, and pretty banged up. But he jumped back on his bike and started to pedal furiously to get back into the chase. He hadn’t taken any time to really see how bad his injuries were, he was just pedaling. And that’s when a friend put a hand on his shoulder and said “Tyler, it’s just bike racing.”

I like the story because every one of us has had those kind of moments. We’ve all been, at one time or another, too wrapped up in the race, too concerned about our placement in the field, and too focused on that sub-nine, top 10, or podium finish. Each of us has, however briefly, forgotten that “it’s just bike racing.” And when that happens, we forget our humanity. We become someone different than who we really are.

If we aren’t careful, we start thinking that this amazing sport, this sport that we all love and pursue with dogged passion, is all about us—our results, our goals, our hard work.

Nothing about bike racing has anything to do with any of us individually. Nobody really cares about our race-day goals, or all the hours we’ve spent training that will be wasted if that lapped rider doesn’t quickly get out of our way. Our results are meaningless. The little number next to our names after the race doesn’t have any actual value. It’s just a number.

Before any of us makes an ass of ourselves at our next event, we ought to remember that it’s just bike racing. We should remember that everyone out on the trail is there for their own reasons. Some riders want to go fast. Others just want to finish. But when the race is over, and the day is done, where any of us end up on the cork-board is irrelevant.

Our sport already has enough people who believe that they are the center of the universe. We don’t need more.

Adam Myerson, in an excellent interview, recently said: “Bike racing meant something to me and that’s why I never attempted to cheat to do it because the minute I did that I would have ruined this dream that I was pursuing.”

There is a difference between doping, and being an ass. But not much.

Bike racing means something different to each of us. But despite those differences, we all agree that racing bikes is worth our time and energy. We train. We spend money. We travel. We trade weekends that could be spent doing whatever normal people do, for a chance to pedal in circles as fast we can. Most of us never win anything. Most of us, in fact, are utterly anonymous; just pack fodder. And that includes the age-group winners.*

*If you are winning age-group races, it’s time to move into the Open class.

Ultimately we race because it’s supposed to be fun.

When we start accusing others of intentionally cutting courses, and throw man-sized fits at finish lines to prove it, because finishing 8th place (in an age group!) is exponentially more important than finishing 11th, then we’ve gone too far. We’ve lost any modicum of perspective and reality. When we start trying to get other riders relegated, it might be time to relegate ourselves.

Be happy.

Work together.

Thank a promoter, a volunteer, a sponsor.

Ride your bike, and smile. Otherwise, why bother?

After all, it’s just bike racing.

It's just bike racing.


  1. Thomas
    September 13, 2012

    I agree with everything, except the part about having to upgrade to open class if you win age group races.

    • Bob
      September 13, 2012

      Says the guy who regularly wins age group races 🙂

      I will expand upon Adams pronouncement, In races that have Open categories and then age categories, like the P2P, Steamboat Stinger, True Grit etc…. Open means Pro and Expert.

      Age category is, imho, for sport class and beginners….

  2. Fatty
    September 13, 2012

    Strangely, I saw the “No related posts” at the bottom of this (really good) piece and read it as “No relegated posts.” I then stared for a few moments, wondering what might cause a post to be relegated. My brain is old.

    See you in Draper on Saturday, and I apologize in advance for the well-aimed elbow I plan to throw. Just remember: bruised kidneys heal. Usually.

  3. Brandon Banks
    September 13, 2012

    Fantastic post……………………..

  4. DLarisch
    September 13, 2012

    Good read! Amen

  5. Expert
    September 13, 2012

    I am not a devout reader of your blog however I do enjoy reading an episodic post. I also have had many conversations with ‘BOB’. I think his real name should be ‘CRY-BABY-BOB’. In one sentence he is continuously complaining about – “Those expert guys don’t know how to race a bike which is why I race open. They yo-yo and are all over the trail.” And now he is saying we (I’m an expert) that are in contention in the expert division should be moving up to Open. Bob, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of why you race Open? You are getting confused in your old age my friend…

    FYI- I will be the expert likely on the podium and passing you on lap 1 (if you were racing).

    -Expert in contention and that is not an ASS on the trails.

    Grizzly – good write up but don’t forget – We ride for fun and it shouldn’t matter what group we elect to race in.

  6. Josh
    September 13, 2012

    I like Bob.

  7. UtRider
    September 13, 2012

    What I don’t understand is this: If racing is truly about “having fun” and “our results are meaningless” then why spend the $$$ to race? Wouldn’t it be more cost effective and, given the events that inspired this post, perhaps a lot funner, to just get a group of closely matched friends together, agree on a route, and go hammer until you can’t see straight?

    • Grizzly Adam
      September 13, 2012

      Most nights I eat dinner at home. But once in a while it’s nice to go out.

  8. UtRider
    September 13, 2012

    One more thing: I like Bob too and have never seen him cry.

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