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Old 11-17-07, 06:19 PM   #1
Bob Dopolina 
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Retiring with Grace?

I'll be 44 soon. I've been racing for 26 years, coaching for 15 and managing a team for 10. During the process of setting the budget and objectives for 2008, meeting with sponsors and compiling product lists from riders etc, it all just became too much. I realized I was dreading 2008. I started to ask myself what I was doing all this for? Money? ,some but surly not the mother load. Fame? I'm as famous as I'm ever going to get! Then what?

I have a 10 month old son who makes me belly laugh every day. I started to think of the hundreds and hundreds of hours I would be training, the time spent organizing my team and traveling to races, the meetings and dinners with sponsors, the time spent at suppliers factories giving them endless product feedback, the proposals, budgets and presentations and on and on and on.

I decided that I was done. Finished. I would much rather hold my son than hold 400 watts. I would much rather spend my time riveted to him, watching him play with the coloured blocks I just bought him, than on the rivet.

At first I was really frightened. For 26 years I knew what my life was going to entail each and every day. My life was planned around my training schedule and it was certain, reliable, predictable, safe. I had difficulty sleeping for a few nights. It was all I could think about.

Then I started to remember that there were other things I used to enjoy doing. Reading for instance. Playing Poker with my degenerate friends. I built a bike with a baby seat on it that my son will soon be old enough to enjoy with me. I thought about how much I used to just love riding my bike. I went into my office and took my computer off my bike. Suddenly possibilities began to open up. I thought about the bike tour I'd been trying to convince my wife of for years. She was game (sort of) but it never happened because I needed the time to train. And that was just the beginning. A weekend in Macua...a weekend in Hong Kong...there are hot springs in the mountains about 2 hours from here.

With the up, there is usually a down. I started to worry about getting fat (hey, I'm vain, so what). I wondered if I should join a gym. I already knew I wanted to study Chi-Gung (The precurser to Gung-Fu, - Kung Fu to you white folk) with my son when he was about 4. maybe I cold start now? I wondered if I could still motivate to ride enough not to become Stephan Roach.

I'd really be interested in hearing from others who have gone through this process. How was it for you? How did you cope? What changed in your life? Any hints or tips? I'm in virgin territory here and could really use some sage advice.
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Old 11-17-07, 06:41 PM   #2
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Wow. Dopolina has a lot to ponder. I sense you are longing for the shackels to be cut. Freedom to do whatever you want every Sunday of the year.

I too am almost 43 and tried retiring this past year, but still couldn't stop doing 10-12 hours a week on the bike and jumping into a couple training crits. I am also involved behind the scenes as part of our Local Association's board of directors. Plus always helping with free coaching for the needy.

I think the only way you or I can "retire" is to step away completely. Stop reading bike forums, cyclingnews.com, or bike periodicals. Don't worry about all the people you can help by managing a team, or how you can just train a bit and do races for fun. It won't work.

Step away, enjoy your kids, see how you adapt to life without it for a year, then if the bug grabs you come back. But you have to give it a full year, otherwise, you won't have gotten a real taste of life without bike racing.

Good luck and keep us posted, unless of course you decide to give up the forums today. We'd know you found a bit of peace.
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Old 11-17-07, 07:23 PM   #3
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Pull away completely and every time you feel like going for a ride, grab the fixie. It should slow you down and remind you to keep everything simple and your priorities straight.

Mark
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Old 11-17-07, 08:07 PM   #4
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Money or Free Time. You get one or the other, (if you have to work for the money). Regardless it sounds like you have the ability to take a break so do it. Life does not come with a rewind option.
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Old 11-17-07, 08:19 PM   #5
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Retirement and grace are over-rated.
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Old 11-17-07, 08:23 PM   #6
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Retirement and grace are over-rated.
So we've noticed.
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Old 11-17-07, 08:28 PM   #7
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I was in the same position, to a lesser degree when I was 30. Racing twice a weekend, managing a team, trying to get sponsors, got married & bought a house a few years before, and my job was becoming more demanding. I pretty much dropped out except for some club rides, then when my daughter was born 12 years ago, I quit completely. I did get whiplash every time I drove past a cyclist, looking to see if it was anyone I knew. I gained up to 20 lbs at one point. I took up ice hockey so I could get a little workout at night after bedtime, and finally, after 12 years off, I started riding again 1 1/2 years ago.

I don't know that I have any advice other than to explore all those things you've given up and you'll find other fun things to do.
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Old 11-17-07, 08:29 PM   #8
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So we've noticed.
Touche'.
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Old 11-17-07, 09:07 PM   #9
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Money or Free Time. You get one or the other, (if you have to work for the money). Regardless it sounds like you have the ability to take a break so do it. Life does not come with a rewind option.
I get both, but then, I have a dream job.
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Old 11-17-07, 09:09 PM   #10
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Dopo's biggest problem (common in cycling) is taking racing too seriously. If you sucked at it like Pcad, you could have a more casual approach, and approach Pcad Cycling Zen.
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Old 11-17-07, 09:21 PM   #11
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Dopo's biggest problem (common in cycling) is taking racing too seriously. If you sucked at it like Pcad, you could have a more casual approach, and approach Pcad Cycling Zen.
This is so true!

Actually though, I just think it's hard to find a balance. It seems like a typical male trait - either we're totally on-board, training hard all the time, or we aren't riding much. Very hard to find an inbetween. That's depressing to me though, because I think you can still keep a high level of fitness while cutting your training time down by half, or to even a third of what it was, and then use the remaining time to start enjoying some other things.

So here's hoping Bob can find that balance...

-bullseye
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Old 11-17-07, 09:22 PM   #12
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If you love something, set it free.
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Old 11-17-07, 09:42 PM   #13
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If you love something, set it free.
Wonderfully said!
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Old 11-17-07, 10:08 PM   #14
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Retirement and grace are over-rated.
This is the quote of the month!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love it!
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Old 11-18-07, 05:44 AM   #15
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Dopo's biggest problem (common in cycling) is taking racing too seriously. If you sucked at it like Pcad, you could have a more casual approach, and approach Pcad Cycling Zen.
I had that problem too. I didn't suck, but I wasn't great either. Caught in the middle, thinking I might get great. Fortunately, I didn't delude myself for too long.
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Old 11-18-07, 07:46 PM   #16
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I had that problem too. I didn't suck, but I wasn't great either. Caught in the middle, thinking I might get great. Fortunately, I didn't delude myself for too long.
The path to Pcad Cycling Zen is clear for you now weeniesan.
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Old 11-18-07, 10:07 PM   #17
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I travelled during high school and finished early due to racing as a junior (not cycliing though). I was full time racing at 18 and over by 27 years old. Burn out. I had cycling the whole time and raced on and off since about 11 years old.

Been club racing and the odd elite/open race now since the late 90's, 2 kids, own business, wife and house took over. Enjoy the riding and racing the bike more now that it is for fun, there is no pressure. I learnt the first time with the other sport. I have never looked at a magazine or followed it since. Nothing.

I just replaced it with something I really enjoyed the whole time. I'm in my late 30's and often dream about coaching etc with cycling. Don't want to wreck what I have going now.

Not at least until my young boy starts racing in the sprockets division (7 & up age).

Think you'll be ok, I went and did some study, finished some courses etc and my wife and I work togtether.

She knows that sport is either in your blood or not, so long as the family does not suffer then you need to make yourself happy.
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Old 11-19-07, 12:24 PM   #18
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Wow. Dopolina has a lot to ponder. I sense you are longing for the shackels to be cut. Freedom to do whatever you want every Sunday of the year.

I too am almost 43 and tried retiring this past year, but still couldn't stop doing 10-12 hours a week on the bike and jumping into a couple training crits. I am also involved behind the scenes as part of our Local Association's board of directors. Plus always helping with free coaching for the needy.

I think the only way you or I can "retire" is to step away completely. Stop reading bike forums, cyclingnews.com, or bike periodicals. Don't worry about all the people you can help by managing a team, or how you can just train a bit and do races for fun. It won't work.

Step away, enjoy your kids, see how you adapt to life without it for a year, then if the bug grabs you come back. But you have to give it a full year, otherwise, you won't have gotten a real taste of life without bike racing.

Good luck and keep us posted, unless of course you decide to give up the forums today. We'd know you found a bit of peace.

This is just the opposite of what I was going to reccomend, but it sounds like YMCA has had more experience with this than I. I would suggest that you take a break from racing yourself and try to find a manager for your team but stay on as an assistant manager or coach. That way you could stay in shape yourself by doing some of the training rides with the team (but with no pressure), go to some of the races that you choose just as a coach (you could bring a 1 yr old to watch), and your team lives on so all the other riders and people involved don't have to go looking for another team. Maybe this is more of an addiction where you need to go all or nothing as YMCA suggests - it is up to you to decide that.

I have 2 young boys that I love to spend time with. But, I find if I don't have anything going on in my life for myself, I don't enjoy that time as much. It is kind of a quantity vs. quality of time thing. Or maybe it is a deep down selfish resentment of all my time being consumed by others. I end up getting frustrated with them more easily for their misbehaviors and fighting, and neither of us enjoy each other as much. This doesn't happen so much when I'm spending a little less time with them, but have an outlet of my own. I guess you have to find out what will work for you and your family.
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Old 11-19-07, 12:32 PM   #19
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I do not agree 100% , but am in the same camp more or less. It sounds like the team has been a big part of the OPs life for many years. I would not suggest just walking away. Do what you can to make sure the team is in good hands first. After that you may want/need to make a clean break. But it is surprising how often after that clean break that people find they can go back and watch/help just once in a while without getting sucked back in to the level they used to be.

Who knows when the 10 month old is a 10 year old they just might express an interest in racing, it would be nice to have kept in touch enough to know a team where they would be in good hands.

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This is just the opposite of what I was going to reccomend, but it sounds like YMCA has had more experience with this than I. I would suggest that you take a break from racing yourself and try to find a manager for your team but stay on as an assistant manager or coach. That way you could stay in shape yourself by doing some of the training rides with the team (but with no pressure), go to some of the races that you choose just as a coach (you could bring a 1 yr old to watch), and your team lives on so all the other riders and people involved don't have to go looking for another team. Maybe this is more of an addiction where you need to go all or nothing as YMCA suggests - it is up to you to decide that.

I have 2 young boys that I love to spend time with. But, I find if I don't have anything going on in my life for myself, I don't enjoy that time as much. It is kind of a quantity vs. quality of time thing. Or maybe it is a deep down selfish resentment of all my time being consumed by others. I end up getting frustrated with them more easily for their misbehaviors and fighting, and neither of us enjoy each other as much. This doesn't happen so much when I'm spending a little less time with them, but have an outlet of my own. I guess you have to find out what will work for you and your family.
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Old 11-19-07, 12:59 PM   #20
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I've got a 10 month old in the daughter variety. While I dont have your extensive background or degree of committment to my own racing or team, I'm of similar age and there is a balance of a full time management job, training, racing, serving as cycling club treasurer, helping out the new members, interacting with sponsors, promoting our annual race, and being a father/husband, etc. that can be delicate.

If you're wired anything like I am, cold turkey walking away from it all sounds great right now, but will be difficult to actually do. Example, this time of year - since mid september - I'm not really doing much in the way of structured training and am not racing, just riding, mixing in some running, other forms of aerobic fitness, whatever. I'm starting to get edgey and am finding myself wanting to do intervals, have races on weekends to look forward to, write down my training plan, start planning next years race, and the list goes on.

My recommendation, for what it's worth, identify what parts of bicycle racing Bob Dopilina you enjoy the most and just do that. If individual racing is your passion, just focus on training and race. If coaching is what makes you feel best at the end of the day, just coach. If you like sponsor dinners, and fund raising, be the sales man.
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Old 11-19-07, 02:55 PM   #21
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I have no kids, I only recently got married, and I don't run a big team nor can I maintain 400 watts for any longer than about 60 seconds. I'm not quite your age although I've been racing for 25 years.

However, I used to be in the bike business and stepped away after 15 years. This was 10 years ago.

I still rode - I love riding/racing - but I couldn't deal with anything relating to mechanical work or sales/service. Initially I was so burnt out on mechanical stuff I didn't even want to fix flats - whenever I flatted I'd just find a different wheel to put on the bike. It took me a few years to run out of wheels and then I finally decided I need to change a flat or two - I probably had 10 or 15 by then, and I'd eaten deep into my collection of race wheels so a lot of the flats were tubulars. It took me even longer to degrease my by-then disgusting drivetrain.

It took until this year before I could go into a shop and actually think a new bike was cool. Until now it was simply, "I feel sorry for that guy" and "I can't imagine anyone buying a new bike" and "that bike looks like every other bike". I'd try and patronize my local shops, even to the point of working for an evening in one (I volunteered to help a shop owner swamped with stuff to do). But it was 10 years before I thought "boy, this is a cool bike". That's not good, but I feel like I've "recovered" my passion for cycling. I'm actually contemplating ways to get back into the biz.

Dopolina, it seems you are heavily involved with cycling at a much higher level than me, but would it be possible to tone it down a little without going cold turkey? Hand the team off perhaps? Or maybe race less or in more select races? If there are things you really don't want to do, maybe you should stop doing just those things (lining up sponsors for 2008 for example) and focus on what you like doing (going to races, maybe with your son?). Hand off the "it feels like work" stuff to a trusted lieutenant and just ask that every now and then you get a VIP pass or three so you can show your son some racing from a special vantage point.

As a non-training way of cycling, I'd consider a tandem. They're a lot of fun with the right partner (stoker in your case), they let you ride hard without ever worrying about dropping your other half, and they act differently enough that you'll find new things to experience on the tandem which simply aren't possible on the single. You can pull your son along in a little while if you want as well.

good luck with whatever you do,
cdr
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Old 11-19-07, 06:00 PM   #22
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Thanks to all who responded. Not one smart ass comment in the bunch! This must be a first for BF.

A quick update. I spoke with the title sponsor. They understand my feelings and have honoured my retirement. Since I will continue riding they have asked me to continue product testing for the product sponsors. This I have agreed to do. Since I work in the industry the contacts I have made through my team cross over into my other bike industry life and there is some benefit for me here. That was another point I didn't make in the OP. Since I work in the bike industry I will never be able to walk away 100% unless I quite my job, too (I'm not that burned out!).

After several long phone conversations they have asked, and I have agreed, to ride for a club they are forming in my part of the country. They will keep me supplied with product and all I have to do is wear the club kit (which I designed last year), show up on some of the club rides and do the occasional training race in my part of the country. No pressure and no expectations. Essentially, I can continue to benefit from the work I have done in the past, but I have no time or performance commitments. We will revisit the entire subject in 2008 as they have left the door open for me to return as a rider, manager or both. We'll see how it works out but if the weekend is any indication it could be great.

I went for a ride on Sunday by myself. I had no computer on my bike. I went fast when I wanted to and slowed down when I felt like it. I missed a turn that I had planned to take, to hook up with one of my old training routes, so I took a new road instead. I have no idea how far or how quickly I rode. I have no HR or wattage data to download. I didn't take my resting HR this morning and I had a beer with dinner last night (a new Indian restaurant which, living where I do is a blessing. I like local food but a little variety is nice). In short, I had one of the best rides I've had in years. Just plain enjoyed the beautiful weather and the sound of chain through gears. Perhaps the most telling thing was when I walked in the door, saw the searching look on my wife's face and the smile she mirrored back to me.

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Old 11-19-07, 06:51 PM   #23
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... in my part of the country.
Just out of curiosity, what part of Taiwan are you in? I have been to Taiwan many times, and I wouldn't dare ride a bike in most of the places I've visited. That is mostly in the area from Taipei down to Hsinchu. I have seen some nice areas on the East/SE side that would have some beautiful rides - around Hualien and Taitung if I remember correctly.

Sorry to derail the thread...
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Old 11-19-07, 08:06 PM   #24
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Just plain enjoyed the beautiful weather and the sound of chain through gears. Perhaps the most telling thing was when I walked in the door, saw the searching look on my wife's face and the smile she mirrored back to me.
I hope you transmit and receive that smile a thousand times. That IMO is the definition of a good life!
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Old 11-19-07, 08:15 PM   #25
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Just out of curiosity, what part of Taiwan are you in? I have been to Taiwan many times, and I wouldn't dare ride a bike in most of the places I've visited. That is mostly in the area from Taipei down to Hsinchu. I have seen some nice areas on the East/SE side that would have some beautiful rides - around Hualien and Taitung if I remember correctly.

Sorry to derail the thread...
I'm in the south, in Tainan. If you have been to Taiwan and been in the cities only, I'd agree that there doesn't seem to be anywhere to ride. If you look at the geography of the country it is basically a very large mountain range (some of the highest peaks in Asia) with 90% of the population living in a string of ugly cities down the west coast (facing China). Head 20 km toward the mountains and there are great roads, beautiful vistas and few cars. The east coast looks out into the Pacific Ocean and is very sparsely populated.

From where I live, I ride about 5km out of the city, hit about 10km of farmland and then the rollers begin. If I ride another 25km I can start climbs that begin to push 1000m in elevation gain. If I keep going they get MUCH bigger. Sometimes my wife will drive to a hot springs in the mountains and I will ride there to meet her. Great stuff, all in all.

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