"The 33"-Road Bike Racing - Despuech syndrome.
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Is this a ridiculous notion? Do you think racing too much too early and training too much too early can cap ones potential? I believe it was Eddy Merckx chose to not go pro and wait a year, and who attributes his successes to that decision.
I'm a novice, but I"m having some pretty good success for only riding about a year. I don't harbor any delusions about going pro, but I'd like to see at least Cat II one day. I train moderately, I train progressively, and I take every 4th week off as a rest week. Maybe I should take every 3rd week off just to be safe?
(Despuech: The kid in Tim Krabbe's book The Rider who was fairly dominating early on in his career, but hit a plateau as everyone else progress beyond his level)
03-25-11, 03:35 AM
Keep in mind that Merckx raced when drugs didn't increase ability, just increased how hard you could go within that ability. So you really got super exhausted because you were hopped up on speed most of the time. I'm sure that doesn't help a rider's expiration date any.
There's mental burn out, which is real.
I've watched very strong Juniors (i.e. racing as a first/second year with the Cat 1-2 men and being extremely competitive) just disappear a year or two into their Senior (i.e. not Junior) years. I've had the chance to talk to some of them. One had back problems which prevented him from going further, but he returned in his 30s to win a 'cross title. He's still going I think. Another one stopped for school, had kids. Went from 4 to 2 the year he came back, and he was in his 40s. He's a huge Masters threat around here.
Another one, which I haven't spoken to, apparently fell back into his heroin habits. Dunno what happened to him (he disappeared when he was about 15, came back at 18 and totally killed it, then disappeared right after that).
My first teammate was a strong Junior, second in the state champs to one of the riders in the first paragraph (the pro with the back problem), and quit cycling because he had too much anger. He got into fights with his brother where police got called (they were hammering on each other with 2x4s, and both were pretty hurt). With family problems as well as his own personal stuff, bike racing took a really far back seat. He returned briefly about 10 years later but did maybe 3 races before he quit again.
Physiologically I don't think there's anything there. A person's body matures over time. If a Junior age rider does most of his/her maturing, they may peak as a Junior and then be nowhere as a Senior. Think of the kids that shoot up to 5'6" as a 9 year old but never grow past that (childhood friend was like that).
So, yes, there's a possibility of the body simply not maturing or adapting, but it doesn't have to do with racing or not; it has to do with burn out and injuries (maybe from overuse at earlier ages - think of all those gymnastics girls with bad knees at age 8 or 10).
Stephen Roche, it could be argued, was limited by his bum knee, not his engine or drive or motivation. He wins the Giro, Tour, and Worlds, and then he can barely walk. He had a fragile knee his whole career but he never returned to that level after 1987. And it was before EPO when he did the triple so to me he's the last legitimate winner; he lived up to the promise where he was outclassed only by Hinault and Lemond; when both of them were out, he won, barely.
On a side note I think concussions don't help any.
I'm worried about Taylor Phinney for example. Multiple severe concussions, knee problems, and he's young. His dad has Parkinson's, something associated with head trauma (like putting your head through the window of a station wagon at 30 mph like he did in some race, without a good helmet on no less). I'd hate to see Taylor have a similar outcome from his multiple bad crashes.
03-25-11, 07:51 AM
It can lead to burnout but more often than not a rider just moves on to a new hobby, work, gets married, etc. I say race as much as you can while you enjoy it.... Have fun.
03-25-11, 09:44 AM
Yeah I don't know if I buy into Krabbe's theory... it could just as easily and simply be true that some kids dominate their age group peers but when they hit the pro's vs savvy 28 year olds it's a different ball game.
And / or, odds and bell curves mean that most hotshots will still not rise the the level of a legend... you can't have a new Merckx or Armstrong every year.
03-25-11, 05:43 PM
There's something to the observation that some people who were "wonder kids" when they were young end up burning out quite young because they're not used to losing. You can get these real superstars that have never been handed a sound ass-whupping the way the rest of us mortals have. But getting shelled is supposed to be part of the process of getting mentally and physically tougher. If you've never really felt that gutting sense of defeat, it can be a huge psychological limiter when you get to the senior level and start getting whupped by older, stronger riders.
Really, it all boils down to whether you're having fun or not.
Would you train for 20 hours a week in the snow and ice all winter if you didn't love cycling?
Training too much and being tired all the time does take the fun out of racing. Judging yourself through your results page does as well.
It's hard to train if laying on the couch and watching TV is more fun, and it's hard to race well if you don't train well.
Ask any pro, they'll tell you the same thing.
So basically what I'm hearing is that it's more of a psychological thing and not a physical thing. Good to know.
03-26-11, 07:21 AM
Just don't take amphetamines to motivate yourself. Coffee, fine. Ambulance ride to hospital after ingesting so much speed you go into convulsions while warming up for a race (like a really dumb teammate did way back when), not fine.
He stopped racing for a long, long time. Rediscovered it about 15-20 years later. Happy as can be with no pressure to perform.
03-27-11, 04:04 AM
...not entirely, moving aside aformentioned facts o' life, that:
Early dominance doesn't necessarily mean that the young champs will wield the gifts over their peers as adults, everything else being equal.
Everything isn't equal.
Shi' happens: injury, overuse, accident, illness, etc.
From there, can "overdoing it" cause the young champ to fail to reach their full potential? E'body's different; the answer is that, ideally, one's program is designed to deliver the athlete prepared to do their best at the time when they can do that. In cycling, that would be what, somewhere between 25-35 yrs?
Therefore, good luck with that! "Ideal," now there's a notion.
In addition to the "purely" physical gifts, add the mental and emotional requirements, some luck, team (add family and community) support, coaching, some more luck, and that lil' extra "something" that drives one to reach their potential. Add s'more luck, as the "program design..." is as much art as science.
That "something" is often a "thing" a bit OFF (wrong, whack, different, weird, skull f'ed...) that the participant chooses to explore/express/repress through the sport.
That's my 'pinion, formed after some two decades of year around coaching literally thousands of other people's kids and young adults.
That is all.
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