Longevity

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I was out flogging this morning with Josh Dorfman, Mike Hines, and Kristie Fox, and in between smashes we got to talking about cycling longevity. The question was along the lines of “How do people keep racing not just for years but for decades? How do you keep from burning out?”

I had to think fast because we only had a couple of minutes’ rest in between Flog intervals, but here’s what I came up with. Your results probably vary.

  1. Every day you have to win the pillow battle. If you can get up at 5:00 AM every day no matter what, you will get enough control of your day to ride.
  2. Don’t chill, rest. Bike people are generally hard-nosed and competitive. You can’t change that and “chill” or become a “relaxed chick.” But if you don’t give it a rest every now and then you will burn out. How much rest? I don’t know.
  3. Variety. People who race for decades change stuff up. Kevin Phillips has raced road, crit, pursuit, Madison, team time trials … and he always seems to find something new.
  4. Look down as well as up. People who eventually get frustrated with racing are typically looking up too much, focusing on all the people who are better than they are. You have to also look down sometimes. If you got 22nd out of 45 riders, you beat half the field.
  5. Race clean. Dopers eventually quit, regardless of whether they get caught, because their results depend on the drugs, and taking drugs over decades is an almost impossible regimen to continue–cost, routine, fear of exposure, and side effects eventually take their toll.
  6. Accept the fact that you suck, but enjoy the battle. Hardly anyone is a consistent winner in cycling and most people never get on a podium, as in “never.” But where else in life can you compete so intensely, so all-in, no matter how old you are? Treasure the opportunity to pin on a number. It’s a privilege and a gift.
  7. Pass it on. No matter how much you suck, most people suck waaaaay more. Teach what little you know. Help people whoask for it. Gratitude is a tremendous motivator and esteem builder.
  8. Smash. Resist the temptation to only “ride for fun” or “ride for enjoyment.” There’s a crucial element to cycling that involves unvarnished misery and the taste of your own puke. Make sure that no matter how you ride, you always save time for the nausea cage.
  9. Quit buying stuff. Stuff isn’t the answer. Pedaling is.
  10. Race. You can’t be a racer unless you race yer fuggin’ bike. And racing will keep the delusions at bay like nothing else ever invented by man.

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