Bringing shame and disgrace to the singlespeed community- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Sofa King We Todd Did
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    Bringing shame and disgrace to the singlespeed community

    As if I don't do that just by riding a singlespeed bike. But this past weekend, I took part in my first ever MTB race. Scratch that, make it my first race ever, nevermind that it was on a MTB.

    Anyway, I'd decided about a week before that I was going to do this. In other words, no training whatsoever, no dietary considerations, no athletic ability whatsoever, no nothing. And I chose to ride my Surly 1x1 so that I could minimize any mechanical issues out there. My goal was to finish, not place. It's called being realistic. The single greatest fear I had was to blow up while in the woods and have to have someone haul my sorry ass out of there.

    And so off I went. The only idiot riding a singlespeed bike in the beginner class. Everyone rocketed off ahead of me - kids, older riders, women, a blind hunchback with a club foot, hamsters, they all shot past me. I paced myself, took my time. I was going to cruise...! Well, it turns out that I completed underestimated the race course. It was brilliantly technical. So brilliant and so technical that I found myself walking half the time, and not just uphill. Rocks, tightly wound trees, steep inclines, more rocks, even more rocks, and yeah, rocks. I didn't know my way around and I stink as a rider - hell of a combination in a race, I tell ya.

    But I finished. The only idiot riding a singlespeed in the beginner class came home dead last. The winner won the race in under an hour. Everyone else came in between an hour and an hour and a quarter. I was about 30-seconds shy of two hours. My God, do I suck. I knew I sucked but I had no idea just how badly I sucked. I mean, I SUCKED!!

    Everyone was terribly supported and said that my singlespeed probably slowed me down considerably. Thing is, the lack of gears wasn't really an issue, it was flat-out riding skill. Of which I have none. All I know is that I'm constantly hearing stories about how singlespeed riders go out there and kill the races. They blow everyone away. They come out tops constantly. And here I am, bucking the trend in the most unspectacular fashion.

    So there - a bloody disgrace to the singlespeed community. Ugh, I suck.

  2. #2
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    Congratulations!!!!!

    You were the fastest SSer! What a badass!

  3. #3
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    So what ? Did you not have fun ? I cramped up like crazy in the last lap but still had a bunch of fun, that course is awesome; believe it or not all of it is rideable.

    Now at least you know where to improve It's not for show, actually riding any kind of trail at a decent pace is a lot more fun, you'll see. I ride alone all the time (except when racing) so I could care less about my style or whether or not people are watching when I clear a rock garden (or crash lamely), it's about making progress so that riding is more fun all the time.

    Also racing makes you improve faster.

    Maurice

  4. #4
    ----woof----
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    3 races = 3 last place finishes but I still had fun. I never realistically considered myself to be in any condition to take a podium finish but just to see how well I could do personally.

  5. #5
    Feet back and spread 'em!
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    No Shame

    This year I entered 1 race (my first ever) with almost no prep. We were a 2-man team in a singlespeed 7 lap race. I think there were 5 teams and we finished, uh, fifth. I was amazed how strong the winners were. They just cranked!
    Still had fun and after a couple of days rest, I was noticeably stronger on the road bike!

  6. #6
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    Win, lose, or draw, you still did something that 90% of all bike riders never do: you got out there and tangled with the pack, and lived to tell the tale. No shame in that. Ten bucks says you'll be back!

  7. #7
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    Good race!

    Didn't you just start riding this year?
    Learning to mtb, going SS and then racing in a short period of time, you must be having some kind of fun!

    Something tells me that you'll be back out there again.

  8. #8
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    You entered a race as a ss'er!!!! Are you crazy? You must have legs of steel and giant lungs! You da MAN! Good job! And you're posting the story which means you had fun and like steelbike said - you'll be back.

  9. #9
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    that is awesome...we are all very proud of you. hell, most people dont bother racing and no doubt everybody in the beginner class you raced should have been in the expert. this story inspires me for my upcoming race in 2 weeks where my placement should be sure to make you feel better about your results.......i only hope i can finish as you did

  10. #10
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    You had a goal and you achieved it, your a champion! Screw what anyone else thinks, have fun. Remeber dfl is really 1st place in ss land...

  11. #11
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    good job Des!

    you finished in one piece and you had fun - that's all that matters

    I'll do you one better. After having done about two races in the past ten years, I decided I could handle "sport" class at Ringwood three weeks ago. I thought I could handle two laps since I usually ride for two hours at a clip when i go. No training or road work, just ride about once a weekend if I'm lucky.

    I was dead last (in every age group) until halfway through the second lap when I mangaed to pass a couple of people back. Bottom line - I had fun and I will do it again but beginner class next time. I rode my squishy, but I'm thinking of riding my SS next time

    cheers

  12. #12
    could do better
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    Good job! Shame and glory - conjoined twins

    You flew the flag for a great many out there and for that you achieved a great glory. First or last are the places to be honoured - everything else is just in betweeen.

  13. #13
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    on another note...

    ...maybe racing aint your thing. you dont have to race to be a biker. there's no shame in not racing / doing well in races.

    ride your bike.
    To air is human, to dig is divine.

  14. #14
    Recovering couch patato
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    Sucking is temporary
    Quitting is forever

    I have to admit to quitting more races than DFL'ing.

    Sometimes it's good to see on the results page just how bad you suck. Puts your attention more on enjoying your riding.
    My last race I DFL. On a 29" gearie in a field of mostly 26" gearies and a 26" SS (my buddy the reigning Dutch SS Champ). Hands down I rode the bet bike in the field. Flew over the winding singletrack. Still 70th/70.

    From here, the only way is up!

  15. #15
    I am the owl
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpinWheelz
    My goal was to finish, not place.
    Sounds like you met your goal. Everything else would be gravy.
    SingleSpeedOutlaw .com
    Riding Bikes and Drinking Beer.

  16. #16
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    Be proud of yourself.......

    [QUOTE=SpinWheelz] The only idiot riding a singlespeed bike in the beginner class. QUOTE]

    I'll bet 25 percent of those beginner class riders were sandbagging, and should be riding sport.

    I've raced before, but never on my SS. I was going to do my first this year but chickened out and rode my gearie. My goal next year is to do a race on my SS. Don't be so hard on yourself. I have a feeling next year you'll be passing the hunchbacks and the hamsters easy....
    Last edited by Old_Bashturd; 10-06-2005 at 05:58 AM. Reason: spelling
    "Veni, vedi, pulsus" "I came, I saw, I pushed"

  17. #17
    mcd
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    HAHA! I also did my first ever race this summer, also on a single speed. They actually had a class for the 3 of us and made us start with the women experts...the other two guys actually rode wheelies off the starting line, needless to say i never saw them again, i was able to hang with the expert women for about 100yards! Then just tried to keep pedaling...i will try again though!
    disclaimer: i (NO LONGER) live with my mom...

  18. #18
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    keep it up

    The only disgrace is that you were the only SS (beginner) out there. Where were the others, in higher classes?

    So many rocks you say, so suspension was critical?

  19. #19
    Sofa King We Todd Did
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    Cheers for the words, fellas. FoShizzle, your enthusiasm is weirding me out a bit - did you miss the part where I came in dead effin' last by a HUGE margin? I'm pretty sure you'd fare much better in your race. You might even beat the hunchback with the club foot! And chuffer, I think it's glaringly apparent that racing isn't my bag. I'll continue to take part in races as an exercise in pushing myself farther. I'll continue because it's fun to meet up with other riders, even if it's just for that brief moment at the starting line before they all rocket off ahead of me. Beside, I feel that if I play cards right, I'll have a proper job at all these races - moving chicane. I'll be the Minardi of mountain bike races!

    pacman, there were plenty of other singlespeed riders, all on pretty fancy-schmancy, racy rigs. They all rode in Sport and Pro class. There was a singlespeed-specific class that ran also (which rode with the Sport class). I know my limits and I know when I'm out of my league, hence my riding in the Beginner class. I was out of my league in Beginner, but what the hell. Someone needed to represent the single cog community out there. This was my turn, I guess.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpinWheelz
    FoShizzle, your enthusiasm is weirding me out a bit - did you miss the part where I came in dead effin' last by a HUGE margin? I'm pretty sure you'd fare much better in your race. You might even beat the hunchback with the club foot!
    SpinWheelz, you are not fooling anybody my friend. I know your type.....you are like the hustler at the pool hall who pretends they are a hack just to get somebody to play against you and then you take their money! We all know next time you will smoke the crowd when they see you coming and let their guard down.

  21. #21
    Sofa King We Todd Did
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    The only time I do that is when I want someone to take me out to dinner. "Oh, I'm on a diet, I don't eat much." When we're seated, "Hi, I'll have the entire left side of the menu, please. Thank you."

  22. #22
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    so if you went out and practiced on that course (like everyone else probably did) you'd do a lot better? sounds like something to work on for next year.

    in my first race i came in DFL on trails i ride almost every weekend (i got to the end as the course marshalls were taking down the finishing line, i had somone ride up to me on an ATV near the end going, "OH.... there's still someone out here?") don't be so hard on yourself.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    that is awesome...we are all very proud of you. hell, most people dont bother racing and no doubt everybody in the beginner class you raced should have been in the expert. this story inspires me for my upcoming race in 2 weeks where my placement should be sure to make you feel better about your results.......i only hope i can finish as you did

    FoShizzle, Would this be Bonelli? If so I'll see you there. My first race and I'm planning on doing it SSpeed too. Maybe afterwards, I can start the SS-DFL club with Spinwheelz.

  24. #24
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    actually, it is the 24 Hours of Chamberlain Ranch race in the Santa Ynez valley. Fortunately, my other team members (3 of em) will make up for my sorry arse.....and to make matters worse, not only did I not ride last weekend but I now have a damn head cold! I am gonna die!

    I will be happy if I can finish even one lap before having to crawl up in the fetal position

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    actually, it is the 24 Hours of Chamberlain Ranch race in the Santa Ynez valley. Fortunately, my other team members (3 of em) will make up for my sorry arse.....and to make matters worse, not only did I not ride last weekend but I now have a damn head cold! I am gonna die!

    I will be happy if I can finish even one lap before having to crawl up in the fetal position
    Your team mates will be happy too, you're required to do at least one lap. But we know you're sandbagging.

  26. #26
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    Good job! No Shame.

    This was your first race! Finishing and having fun should be priority one; otherwise you won't ever do it again.

    I started racing 5 years ago. I suffered so much at my first race. I still remember thinking to myself, 'I don't think I'm meant to do this'. I did have fun and I didn't quit.

    Well, in past 5 years of racing, I've only won 1 race out of 75+ races. In all of those races, I NEVER quit; although many I had wanted to.

    Today, I still suck. I just suck less than before and in some races I suck more than others. The important thing is to have fun. But what I've learned is racing ISN'T just about fitness. It's also about technical skill, safety, nutrition, luck, commeraderie, but mostly about just having fun. Heck, why else are you racing?

    One other important thing about racing is KNOWLEDGE of the course. Pre-ride as much as you can. You can plan your attacks, recoveries, what areas you'll walk and which ones you'll blaze. Pretty soon, you'll still feel like you suck (like me) but you'll find yourself on the podium a heck of a lot!

    Looking back now at my competitors in my first race; they blew me away. Today, even on my SS, they can't keep up. But the best thing is; these people have become some of my best friends.

    Jim
    If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room.

  27. #27
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    Good job!

    I'm impressed that you did your first mt. bike race on a single speed and even more impressed that you finished. Pat yourself on the back, and have a beer. My helmet goes off to you.

  28. #28
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    I did a similar thing earlier this summer. It wasn't my first race though (just the first race in about 11 years) I actually beat 2 gearies. I think I was 14th out of 16 and the only singlespeed and the only full rigid. I don't think being on a single slowed me down that much (granted I lost some time spinning out on the flat sections) , But not having front suspension really put me off the pace. It wasn't that rough of a course but after 9 miles the arm fatigue was setting in something fierce. Since when are beginner races nine miles anyways????

  29. #29
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    Blue Mountain?

    Was this the Blue Mountain race you are talking about? If so, I know the rocks you speak of! I ride my SS there pretty regularly, and it is definately a challange! I think everything is rideable, but being your first time there, I think you did well! I was unable to race because of a previous engagement, but I would have raced Sport and probably finished last! BTW, what gear ratio were you running? I used to ride my FS bike at Blue all the time, and never imagined it could be ridden on a rigid SS, but that is exactly what I have been doing this year, and having a blast!

  30. #30
    from the east
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    Oh yeah!

    Quote Originally Posted by bikeny
    never imagined it could be ridden on a rigid SS, but that is exactly what I have been doing this year, and having a blast!
    Yeah. Blue is Very Tough single speed, and even way tougher rigid. But really fun once you get into it! I'm glad to hear there are others riding the rigid ss there.

    eric.

  31. #31
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    Don't listen to this!!

    Quote Originally Posted by chuffer
    ...maybe racing aint your thing. you dont have to race to be a biker. there's no shame in not racing / doing well in races.

    ride your bike.
    Most races are ridden by bikers who just want to be part of the race. The last Sea Otter race had 103 singlepeeders finish the Beginners/Sport class. I finished 101st! Still I had a great time and with the exception of the the top ten riders, most where also there just for the fun of racing.

    Does one dream of winning? Sure. As a matter of fact after I got healthy, I went on to win a third place medal in this years Northwestern Police/Fire Games at North Star; and I did it on my SS against geared bikes (with riders closer to my age).

    Think of a race as an event designed to bring riders together to celebrate bicycle riding. A handful are there to win and for the rest it's just about the ride. If you are a singlespeeder then you are a racer. Singlespeeding is about challenging yourself; exactly what racing is about; there is just added fanfare to sweeten it up a little.

    1G1G, Brad
    Last edited by aka brad; 10-14-2005 at 04:38 PM.

  32. #32
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    Hey your post is inspration for those of us just getting into the sport. I'd like to try a race, but fear (just my nature) the DFL! At least now we know what it feels like, living through your words and while it sounds like it sucked, it also sounded pretty fun!

    Thanks and congrats, I may just have to sign up for the next race!

  33. #33
    Sofa King We Todd Did
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    The race was indeed the Chainstretcher event at Blue Mountain in NY. Halfway through, I thought the operative word was "stretcher" 'cause I thought I was going to need one!

    Even though I came in last, I was thrilled to have finished at all. I saw a few people walk out of there, not because they ran out of steam but because of a mechanical failure. That's gotta tear you up, probably even worse than coming in dead last.

    aka brad speaks the truth again. I had no aspirations of placing anywhere near the top. In fact, I would've been outright shocked if I didn't come in last or thereabouts. Instead, I took it an opportunity to ride with others, meet new riders, and test myself.

    wakeboardR2wheels, coming in DFL is a lot less humiliating than one can imagine. To me, DFL means I finished. As Ron Dennis of McLaren aptly put it, "To finish first, one must first finish." And even if you're DFL my a country mile like I was, if you cross that finish line in one piece, I guarantee that you'll grinning from ear to ear as if you'd won the damn thing!

  34. #34
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    Dfl

    My first race was on a single speed, 24hours. I got 4th place, because there was only 4 racers in the single speed category. They gave me the fifth place trophy at first, then switched it to the fourth. Really quite embarrassing, but I'm going back tomorrow for another try. Hopefully we'll have more than 5 SS'ers this year. I'm aiming for DFL, anything else is gravy.
    Jay

  35. #35
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    Sounds like you did fine. You took your first race, something inherently difficult, and made it even moreso by riding a course that was more technical than what you are used to riding and riding it on a rigid SS. Riding a rigid SS on technical terrain is something that takes a great deal of practice to do well as you don't have the suspension to compensate for not riding smoothly. If you go out and specifically try to do more riding on that sort of terrain your results will improve and you'll have a lot of fun doing it. A really technical trail is sort of like a puzzle where you might figure out a piece of it on every ride until one day you are able to ride the whole thing without dabbing. As for racing, the more you ride the faster you will get. You have to have a base of miles under your belt or you can't hope to be overly competitive. When you ride, ride fast and hard and you'll improve. Another key is to try to ride with people that are faster than you and push yourself to stay with them as well as you can until someday you are the guy setting the pace that day and they are trying to keep up. I'm still looking forward to that day.

  36. #36
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    I enter a few races, but I don't race. I participate. Like you said. It's about being realistic. I only plan to have fun. Sometimes I don't even plan to finish. But I always have fun.
    Numero Uno in the SS class, huh? Not bad.
    Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back.

  37. #37
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    congratulations on your jump into racing

    Two years ago, I finish my first race at the bottom.

    But I knew it was a learning experience. Last year I was fourth overall in the points series, when I decided to jump to Sport (yep, finishing in the back again). This year, I entered my first road race as a CAT4 and I'm doing 12/24 hours races (finished 8th at Santos).

    The point is, keep pushing yourself, stubborn determination will take you a long way. Racing and training with riders that are faster than you will make you better.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpinWheelz
    The race was indeed the Chainstretcher event at Blue Mountain in NY. Halfway through, I thought the operative word was "stretcher" 'cause I thought I was going to need one!

    Even though I came in last, I was thrilled to have finished at all. I saw a few people walk out of there, not because they ran out of steam but because of a mechanical failure. That's gotta tear you up, probably even worse than coming in dead last.
    I raced the Chainstretcher last year. Worst... conditions... ever! I remember some pro dude riding an orange and purple ano Scalpel with no labels, wearing a freakin' day-glo orange body suit. He was ridiculously fast but DNF'ed.

    A *lot* of people DNF'ed last year actually. Thumbs up for finishing that race! The course is brutal!

    Personally, I much preferred exploring Blue Mountain with friends than racing a bunch of people I don't know. But I've since moved to the desert so I'll probably never ride there again. <sigh>
    now the world is gone i'm just o n e

  39. #39
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    common pattern...

    Quote Originally Posted by jaychevako
    My first race was on a single speed, 24hours. I got 4th place, because there was only 4 racers in the single speed category. They gave me the fifth place trophy at first, then switched it to the fourth. Really quite embarrassing, but I'm going back tomorrow for another try. Hopefully we'll have more than 5 SS'ers this year. I'm aiming for DFL, anything else is gravy.
    Jay

    That seems to be the case at a lot of races. The singlespeed classes are tiny. I was 2nd overall expert SS in the CA state series this year, but it's pretty meaningless when all that means is I showed up for most of the races and managed to podium in a class of *maybe* 7 guys. The guy that took the series was untouchable all season. Closest I got to him all season was 7 minutes (He probably flatted, or stopped for a beer or something.), and he was usually beating or at least matching the top expert geared times. I, OTOH, woulda been pack-fill in my age-group in the geared expert classes (Usually top-10 pack fill at least, based on my SS times, but still way off the podium.). I would have felt better about my season if I could have at least given him a run for his money, but the fitness just wasn't there.

    Other races, like Sea Otter, there's 100 or more guys and I'm stoked if I break into the top 20.

    Just go out there, keep pushing yourself and keep having fun. That's what it's all about.

    Think maybe next year I'm gonna try a few of the endurance events that all you *real* sickos do. Haven't soloed anything longer than a 12-hour yet.

    -Trevor

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrevorInSoCal
    The singlespeed classes are tiny. I was 2nd overall expert SS in the CA state series this year, but it's pretty meaningless when all that means is I showed up for most of the races and managed to podium in a class of *maybe* 7 guys.
    Do you mean to tell me that in such a big bike state as CA there are only 7 guys racing expert SS??? How on earth...

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    Most races are ridden by bikers who just want to be part of the race. The last Sea Otter race had 103 singlepeeders finish the Beginners/Sport class. I finished 101st! Still I had a great time and with the exception of the the top ten riders, most where also there just for the fun of racing.

    Does one dream of winning? Sure. As a matter of fact after I got healthy, I went on to win a third place medal in this years Northwestern Police/Fire Games at North Star; and I did it on my SS against geared bikes (with riders closer to my age).

    Think of a race as an event designed to bring riders together to celebrate bicycle riding. A handful are there to win and for the rest it's just about the ride. If you are a singlespeeder then you are a racer. Singlespeeding is about challenging yourself; exactly what racing is about; there is just added fanfare to sweeten it up a little.

    1G1G, Brad
    Having been at least moderately successful at racing bikes for the past 20 years, I stick to my original statements: Racing isn't for everyone. There is a hell of a lot more to biking than racing.

    Opinion: I actually think the support, time and money wasted on amateur racing in the US is pretty ridiculous. More effort should be made by USCycling and NORBA, as well as the other governing bodies of the sport, to support professional racers who are representing the US on the world level. Are beginner, sport, expert and semi-pro national championships necessary? Are those categories even necessary? How about two categories: Amateur and Professional? Dividing everyone up into skill levels for racing defeats the point of racing, which is competition.

    Look at track & field. Other than age categories you are pretty much either pro, collegiate or amateur. In fact in a lot of races everyone races together. You either place in the 400m or you don't. Nothing more is needed.

    As to the point that racing is a great forum for socializing, so is a group ride. Bike racing is a career not a social event.
    Last edited by chuffer; 10-17-2005 at 06:47 AM.
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  42. #42
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    133

    My first race ...

    I was similarly unprepared for. I quickly found my place at the back of the pack, and it was basically just me and this girl, who was riding her bike very gingerly and not very fast. Since she was incredibly slow, and I was determined not to get beaten by this girl, I made every effort to stay in front of her, which, for the most part, I did. I pictured myself a bit of a huckster, so every time we got to any kind of log or obstacle, I would attack it with reckless abandon. Invariably, I would go over the bars, or into the trees, or both, at which point she would ride by me slowly and carefully and say something like "Ouch, that looks like it's going to hurt."

    Well, about 10 times she rode by me like that, while I was reassembling the various pieces of my bike and my riding attire and getting clipped in again, but on the final stretch into the finish there were no obstacles and I was firmly out in front (of her ... I was miles behind everyone else). I was shooting down the big screaming hill towards the finish, relishing with pride the fact that I had not finished dead last. That was when, with about three seconds left in the race, she went shooting past me and took second last.

    I don't race anymore, but it was a heck of a lot of fun. I figured I was last out of the mountain bikers, but first out of all the shmoes who stayed home and sat on the couch eating junk food and smoking butts.

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