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Masters Racing (All Disciplines) Race on the track or road or on your mountainbike in the Masters Category? Want to talk tactics, strategy and training with your peers?

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Old 01-04-16, 06:11 PM   #1
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Emeritus: Retired Racers Still Riding

Cycling can be a Lifetime sport.
Adaptation to the machine, bike handling skills, endurance, power and speed hard earned for competition can carry on as a solid basis for still moving right smartly along with some dignity and style as we continue to turn the cranks when racing is long done.

The New Season has started as always with base miles on the fixed gear.
Why mess with tradition?

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Old 01-10-16, 08:28 PM   #2
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Just saw this. I retired last year due to medical complications. I had a lot of unfinished business, thus it has been a very, very difficult transition. I miss racing so much. But that's where life's road has taken me, and there's no need to ruin the rest of it obsessing about something I cannot have.

I do my best to ride or work out in the gym 5x/week. I'm enjoying riding with the club and online on Zwift.

Ride on.
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Old 01-10-16, 08:59 PM   #3
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I had a lot of unfinished business
Isn't that how it is: One more bite at the apple that just doesn't happen?
Let it go: Done is Done w/ competition certainly does not mean that one gives up the routine of getting out on the bike and moving right smartly along because that's what we did/still do with some style.

There must be lots of us who have lined up and had at it in ABL of A, USCF and NORBA competition who are still riding today because we enjoy being on the bike.
Retired from racing is not an End to cycling but a good solid base for more miles/years on the bike as we please/health allows.

Ride on indeed.

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Old 01-11-16, 12:12 AM   #4
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Shovel, you accomplished more than most folks who take up this sport. Talent helps, but you also did the work ferociously and used your brain. You certainly walk away with your head held high.

I retired from motorcycle racing twice. Like cycling, you climb one mountain and see the other one off in the distance. There is always another mountain. The first retirement was the hardest, I had a good program put together for a national championship run and they changed the class just before the start of the season. 6 months of work building the bike, working sponsors and fabricators for freebies...gone. No time to start over.

I had enough at that point of eating out of generic food boxes and working the equivalent of 3 full-time jobs. At 26 I was "too old" for the factory teams without that title to knock open a few checkbooks. So I walked away from a dream I had since I was 9. Couldn't go to a race or watch on TV for years.

Farted around with it in my late 30's and early 40's. Won a couple of regional half ass championships and decided the hours:race ratio wasn't worth it. Much easier to leave on my terms that time.
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Old 01-11-16, 04:10 AM   #5
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It's interesting to ask oneself, as a non-racer, whether one still has goals in cycling and if so, what they are? Obviously enjoying being on the bike, but is that enough or do you need something more specific?

I've said in other threads that the data doesn't grab my attention in itself, so I'm not about to buy a PM and set a target of maintaining 90% of my peak w/kg or whatever. I can easily see why others would do that, though. Quite apart from anything else, it would be a good way of ensuring one retained a very high level of fitness, and there's a pretty good correlation, I believe, between keeping the VO2max and staying healthy into old age.

So staying really fit is high on my agenda, and the bike is my favourite form of exercise. It's also a big source of pleasure for me in terms of my mental health and well-being. Long days on the bike have been highly meditative for me. A lot of the time I am riding along acutely aware of my surroundings, and myself, but with my conscious mind largely out of the way. And there's a big link between the two, for me: mens sana in corpore sano, and all that.

So my goals these days, while not strictly quantifiable, are essentially about health and fitness and pure pleasure. I need to stay fit enough to have no problem with five or six hours a day on the bike when loaded touring, and to relish, rather than merely endure, riding in even the most challenging terrain. That'll do.
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Old 01-11-16, 06:25 AM   #6
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I think where Bandera was going with this thread is that we can be competitors in one phase of life, and when that phase passes, we can still do the same things we always did, just out of competition.

I get that, and it's true. When competing there were times when I obsessed over my numbers. Training with structure can be addicting. You see this all over the 33. I don't do that anymore. I still ride fully instrumented, partly because it makes me honest and it's partly Pavlovian. You ride that way for so long, and the numbers meant so much, that it's become part of riding. I don't have to look at the screen. It doesn't take away the enjoyment of riding. If I was obsessed, it could, but I'm not.

There's no way I could keep the VO2Max I had when racing without being on a program, and it makes no sense for me to be on a program if I'm not. I wasn't born with great genetics, I had to work really hard at this sport, and manage my fitness to peak at the right times in order to race at the level I was racing at. As I aged I found this harder to do on my own, hence having Ex coach me, which worked out better than I ever thought it would. But that was then, and this is now. It is what it is.

Nowadays when we have those little competitions in the group, if I'm tapped out, I've learned to let them ride away. It's ok not to be the rider you once were. Ride within yourself, and make enjoyment the win.
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Old 01-11-16, 09:53 AM   #7
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Interesting responses. I was still competitive locally in Masters and 2's into my early 40's. I left with some unfinished business, seemed like I always had an injury or work complication around Masters Nats and a scheduled trip to Worlds the year I stopped competing (mid season). But overall I was happy with my decision at the time, had no regrets and didn't feel like I had anything left to prove to myself.

A lot of twists and turns since then. Several moves, an awesome son (now in HS and batching it with Dad) and accomplishing most of my career goals. Still rode once or twice a week but nothing regular. Got back on the bike "full time" a couple years ago to regain my bearings while going through a divorce. Thought I could just ride, lol.

Unlike chasm54 I can not resist the seduction of numbers, patterns and structure. And I have to progress, I can not just do. Must be the engineer in me or some form of OCD. Adding a power meter to my ride last year was the final blow, I should have known. 20 lbs shed and a couple bouts with structure later, finds me now revising and digging into old training plans and considering my next move. I may be content to just chase numbers for a while but sooner or later I'll be pinning a number on again.
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Old 01-11-16, 10:11 AM   #8
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@Voodoo76, we are kindred souls. Except for the fact that I have zero prior background in cycling. But I too love numbers, patterns, structure. Interval workouts are right up my alley. I really like to ride my bike, trust me. But I'm never even tempted to ride off schedule. If its not on the schedule, it does not occur to my brain to even want to ride.

@shovelhd, I was riding a double century last summer & got dropped by the guys I was riding with in a section of gnarly headwinds. I came upon this Mexican pace line- it was a group of Hispanic cyclists out of Chula Vista- and I rode with them for 60 miles until I found some friends at a rest stop. They were riding a nice rational double pace line.

The group was called Ride with Javi. Javi (Javier), their mentor, was out on the course with the group (following in a van), I actually thought he was part of the ride organization.

Once I found friends to finish with & was leaving the Mexicans behind, I went over to the group to say goodbye, thank them for including me in their group, and to give them some props on their pace line. Javi was having a meeting with them, they were being reminded about not letting gaps open up in their pace line. I chatted with Javi too, and realized he was doing a very good thing, opening up cycling to the type of people who the USA Cycling system is not designed for.

You hear comments all the time about the lack of whatever type of rider showing up for races. I think it's really hard to fully understand why that happens when you are part of the group the system is designed for. But when you're outside it, you see exactly how it happens, the little differences are all cumulative until the gap is so wide that it's not worth trying to bridge for the outsider.

I know you are a USAC official and your intention is to move up that ladder. And that might actually be the prefect use of your skills, background, experience, personality, etc. I have no idea. But you could also be someone who opens doors. I'm not talking about the training races for people who already want to race. But opening minds that might not have ever considered it and would never show up for a training race. Food for thought. Maybe this is what cycling clubs do or are supposed to do. I have so little experience in this world so far, all the cycling clubs I know are all about trying to advance yourself to ride with somebody stronger or about never ever competing or pushing anyone so as to not make anyone feel bad. No group I know tries to bring people along and show them what's possible. That's what that guy Javi was doing and it was pretty awesome to see quite honestly.

Last edited by Heathpack; 01-11-16 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 01-11-16, 10:30 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76 View Post
sooner or later I'll be pinning a number on again.
The Comeback!
It's always in back of the mind isn't it regardless of:

"I'm Done!"
"No, I'm not training for anything just getting out on the bike a little."

@Voodoo76 voices what old warhorses have whispering from the limbic system all the time: "Just One more time....."

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Old 01-11-16, 12:15 PM   #10
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HP thanks for your thoughts. I do belong to a great cycling club with a large variety of members. Most do not race or want to race. I will mentor on group rides. There's always one jerk in every crowd but for the most part my comments are taken the right way. During the high season I sometimes choose to ride with the C group (I am an A). These are always great experiences. Sometimes a little sketchy but I'm ready for that. Riding with them brings me back to why I started riding in the first place, for fresh air, a little exercise, and friendship. They have questions and I'll answer every one of them.

What I equally enjoy is teaching new racers, like when I was an instructor at CDR's Cat5 clinics. Start with the fundamentals, then progress into tactics, training, reading races, and how to win by using your strengths. I would love to be a part of a USAC BRP program.
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Old 09-18-16, 07:51 AM   #11
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I'm being forced to retire from mass start racing. I had 2 concussions within 7 weeks this summer, the first a bike crash (my own fault/mechanical) the second a very minor car fender bender (other guy's fault). That last was 6 weeks ago and I'm still not recovered. I had at least 3 other concussions over the last 12 years, two of them quite serious.

The two doctors I saw are saying I am at risk for CTE and am now highly susceptible to re-injury, so little accidents (like my 5mph car accident) that would be a non-issue to other folks can now cause me to have another concussion. Docs strongly encouraged me to consider quitting racing because of the risk. Quitting riding would probably be smart too, but that's off the table.

My family wants me to quit racing. I feel like it doesn't make sense to continue, since what I'm risking - cognitive impairment, early dementia, inability to work and take care of myself - is so serious and life-altering. I could already be in that situation, but the more concussions one has, the more the risk.

I just bought a mountain bike, but I don't think it's safe to ride it. Mountain biking and little minor crashes go hand in hand. I cancelled my cross season. I quit riding the track, I was just getting started with that too.

I'm almost done deciding i'm quitting mass start racing. It's so painful I don't even want to say I decided... but i don't see another rational decision.

I'm devastated. Racing has been my focus for the last 5 years and I feel like I was just getting started. Apart from the competitive aspect, my teammates and the race scene has been really important to me socially, so that is also leaving a big gaping hole in my life.

I may continue with time trial racing, although it is my least successful and least favorite discipline, just to retain some connection to the racing community. I will probably race on Zwift, too.

I'm not sure if I'll go back to riding organized rides (centuries and bike tours) since the risk of some random person crashing me exists.

Anyway, I'm not looking for anyone to talk me in or out of anything. If anyone can share how they coped with this kind of unwelcome change, that might help.

Thanks for listening.
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Old 09-18-16, 08:48 AM   #12
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If anyone can share how they coped with this kind of unwelcome change, that might help.
Concussion trauma & risk for CTE scares me just sitting in my kitchen, a wise choice to retire from mass start racing in my opinion.
Managing risk and accepting that you are not defined by pinning on a number and banging shoulders is Wisdom.

I retired from racing after what could have been a life-altering MTB race wreck forced me to accept that the excess of confidence in lieu of competence by my Evil Twin Skippy was likely to end very badly indeed for "both" of "us".

Watching local events, and the inevitable carnage that ensues, reinforces my decision to stay retired.

I still love to ride the bike and the technique, skills and mind set developed for competition serve me well every time I roll out even if just for the Farmer's Mkt TT.
Cycling with some style, panache and a bit of pace on favorite routes with chosen company is still great fun >40 years on, and the city limits sign "sprints" are all the competition that I need.

Have fun & take care.

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Old 09-18-16, 08:57 AM   #13
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As hard as it is to give up racing, I'd give up everything to stop my wife's terminal cancer and her very recent death. You still have your health - enjoy every minute.
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Old 09-18-16, 09:06 AM   #14
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@valygrl, I won't try to talk you one way or the other. It's your decision. I know you, though...

Have you considered officiating? It will definitely keep you in the community. Serve on the BoD for your district? Other off the bike forms of connection? Three of the women on the committee I'm on don't race anymore, and the one woman on the BoD's for the NCNCA stopped racing years ago.

Food for thought.

I am definitely with you, young woman. Warm hug....
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Old 09-18-16, 09:20 AM   #15
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I'm being forced to retire from mass start racing. I had 2 concussions within 7 weeks this summer, the first a bike crash (my own fault/mechanical) the second a very minor car fender bender (other guy's fault). That last was 6 weeks ago and I'm still not recovered. I had at least 3 other concussions over the last 12 years, two of them quite serious.

The two doctors I saw are saying I am at risk for CTE and am now highly susceptible to re-injury, so little accidents (like my 5mph car accident) that would be a non-issue to other folks can now cause me to have another concussion. Docs strongly encouraged me to consider quitting racing because of the risk. Quitting riding would probably be smart too, but that's off the table.

My family wants me to quit racing. I feel like it doesn't make sense to continue, since what I'm risking - cognitive impairment, early dementia, inability to work and take care of myself - is so serious and life-altering. I could already be in that situation, but the more concussions one has, the more the risk.

I just bought a mountain bike, but I don't think it's safe to ride it. Mountain biking and little minor crashes go hand in hand. I cancelled my cross season. I quit riding the track, I was just getting started with that too.

I'm almost done deciding i'm quitting mass start racing. It's so painful I don't even want to say I decided... but i don't see another rational decision.

I'm devastated. Racing has been my focus for the last 5 years and I feel like I was just getting started. Apart from the competitive aspect, my teammates and the race scene has been really important to me socially, so that is also leaving a big gaping hole in my life.

I may continue with time trial racing, although it is my least successful and least favorite discipline, just to retain some connection to the racing community. I will probably race on Zwift, too.

I'm not sure if I'll go back to riding organized rides (centuries and bike tours) since the risk of some random person crashing me exists.

Anyway, I'm not looking for anyone to talk me in or out of anything. If anyone can share how they coped with this kind of unwelcome change, that might help.

Thanks for listening.
I'm very sorry to hear this, and I support your decision.

You asked for how people have coped with this. I haven't been in quite the same situation as you, but I have suffered concussions from bike falls. Here are some factors that I have thought about:

a) net expected impact on health - cycling may still be a positive for me even with some increased risks

b) "one more concussion and I'm out" - we may see if I hold to this or not, but I wonder if I was unlucky or if my experience was normal...so I have a bit of a wait and see approach

c) I race much more conservatively...there are many times where, rightfully or wrongfully, I don't make a move that I think is tactically smart, yet higher risk than I am comfortable with...and my risk threshold, while never high, is now pretty much the lowest in the field...some may say that I'm not even racing to win.

d) I got a concussion from JRA (JRA = "just riding along") so I don't think the risk of an accident is limited to racing

e) I have made a mental list of riskiness of activities to getting hurt; there is no data, just my experience. Here it is, from most risky to least risky:
- Track - mass start racing
- Road - crits
- Road - road racing
- Track - JRA (with others on the track)
- Road - JRA
- Road - TT
- MTB - racing
- CX - racing
- CX - JRA (single track)
- CX - JRA (gravel roads)
- Track - TT racing
- MTB - JRA

f) So yeah, the first thing that I'll cut out, if I do start curtailing stuff, will likely be track mass start racing. And, the last thing to go will be nice MTB rides in the woods. And I do think that injuries in CX racing are pretty unusual, and often limited to collarbones...there are a lot of people around here that just do CX racing, and limiting yourself to just that can still lead to a pretty full racing year.

g) I am a big believer in what I'll call "the rabbit hole". I'm sure there is a formal academic term for this bias, but I don't know it. But we all love bike racing, and spend our time on that, at the expense of...other things, of which we might not even be aware of. But, if we weren't racing bikes, we would certainly be doing something else, and we would very likely be just as passionate about that as we are bikes, because, apparently, that's the sort of people we are. So I'm confident that if I were to go cold turkey on biking, there would be a period of suckiness, but eventually there would be a new passion, even though I can't imagine it right now.

I can even paint a bright side: biking has downsides in that it is expensive, equipment-heavy, and most significantly, quite a dangerous sport. There are many sports that are less risky.

Also, 3 cheers for variety...would you rather do one sport very well for your whole life, or a handful of sports pretty well? I really don't think that the question is a no-brainer...


Anyway I'm sorry to hear the news and saddened that you are confronted with these issues and choices. Best of luck, and let me know if I can help.
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Old 09-18-16, 12:53 PM   #16
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@valygrl, totally sorry to hear this, especially because its impact will be so deeply felt by you.

I don't really have anything to add because I haven't given up cycling, so I don't know exactly how you cope. Maybe you take up something else, maybe you cobble something together that is relatively minimal risk. I know that as a newby cyclist, having someone to ride with who could serve as a mentor would have been most welcome. Maybe you could find a way to be that person to someone? Or helping with organized racing, I like that idea too,

Anyway, condolences. I know its a loss for you.

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Old 09-18-16, 04:52 PM   #17
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Annie. WTF. I am stunned.

You know my situation. That doesn't make it any easier. I miss racing like crazy. Nothing anyone can say can convince you that something else can replace it. You have to deal with this yourself.

I'm here. PM me if you want to talk about it.

Dammit.
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Old 09-18-16, 05:05 PM   #18
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As hard as it is to give up racing, I'd give up everything to stop my wife's terminal cancer and her very recent death. You still have your health - enjoy every minute.
Oh, damn.
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Old 09-18-16, 05:23 PM   #19
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First, you have my thoughts, and understanding.

This is going to be tough, @valygrl. Racing TT's is not your cup of tea, and I can't ever say it will be. Racing once every couple of weeks at the most, and the training it takes to compete in those, is completely different than what you're accustomed to. I didn't like it, but this isn't about me. That said, you may just like it once you shift to that. It will keep you in the game, but it's tough when you know that they're out there doing something you're absolutely outstanding in, and you are watching on the sidelines. I'm sorry to be doom and gloom, but that's the reality.

Plus side, you're a very respected member of the racing and cycling community, and you have that to fall back on. I'm certain all you have to do is ask someone to jump, and they would for you, in a heartbeat. Whatever capacity you look towards, you'll be accepted, and you've earned every bit of that.

If there's anything I can do, please let me know.
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Old 09-18-16, 05:44 PM   #20
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@valygrl your post got me to thinking way back to when I started racing & to my 1st coach.
He raced on the board tracks pre-WWII when Six Day racing was a way to make a living in the Depression years.
WWII happened and he served in the SW Pacific to return to a civilian life with the sport that employed him simply Gone.

Despite that he coached (with great results sans mine) and spent his off-time bringing up another generation or three with good solid technique and heart in the ABL of A & USCF..
He got up on the banking with all of his protégés to assess timing, technique and race smarts despite a Purple Heart, many years off the bike and being an "old man" to demonstrate how it's done properly. Done racing? Yep, still in the Sport? Indeed.

There are lots of useful ways to be actively involved in the sport that don't involve stuffing yourself inside a decreasing radius corner (my favorite/stupid move) .
There are always road Time Trials the Pursuit or the Kilo to race on the track if the solo events are within the scope of risk for you.

-Bandera
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Last edited by Bandera; 09-19-16 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 09-18-16, 07:21 PM   #21
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@valygrl - I can't add to what's been said above, just want to send out good vibes to a woman who's made a tough decision. You've got to play the cards you're dealt.
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Old 09-19-16, 11:40 AM   #22
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Bandera - I'm glad you found a way to enjoy riding after racing. I hope some day I can reach a place of acceptance and feeling that this was a decision I made instead of a thing that was forced on me against my will.

Dalai - if I didn't already say it, I'm so sorry for your loss. Of my situation pales in comparison with losing a spouse. In part that is why I am heading down this path to retirement - I can't in good conscience put my family through what could happen. If I was single with no family I might make a different decision.

sarals - thank you for the hug. I don't know what my next thing will be.

rwt - thank you for the support. how many concussions have you had? I didn't realize you were in this situation too... anyway, my doctor and I had a conversation about whether I could race "conservatively" - I realistically don't think i can. And even if I did, this year alone I was next to 3 crashes (not affecting me) in parts of a race where i was not contending a sprint or pressing for position. I got lucky not being affected by those, but the people who were, would not have been able to avoid them by being more conservative. I think it's just an inherent risk.

I agree, that risk is still there for JRA - only 1 of my concussions was in a race - but cycling in general is just too much to give up. I think racing has much higher risk of crashing than regular riding - I've been in several race crashes - so it feels like avoiding mass start racing reduces the risk, a lot.

My risk-list is different than yours, probably b/c my skills are different. MTB and CX carry crash risk for me for sure.

HP - thanks for the condolences. You have been a great help with this for me. i truly appreciate it.

shovelhd - i'll take you up on that, at some point. thank you. You totally get this. Probably more than anyone. We're in the same situation - forced retirement. When it happened to you, i was really sad for you.

LAJ - yep, you get it. I'm not even worried about being accepted or respected or whatever.... it's not about that for me. it's about being part of it. And more, about the process, for me, for improving my skills, tactics, fitness, and actually competing, head to head. And i think that is (mostly or completely) going to be gone. sad.

revchuck - thanks. yes you are right. cards you are dealt. good to remember.


Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. now that i've said this out loud, i might be able to go back to participating in the rest of this forum.
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Old 09-19-16, 12:17 PM   #23
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I keep private thoughts out of public domain. But. I am so sad for you, Anna. You are and have been one of my key inspirations. Shovel is the other. I've watched you cooly focus on what you needed to do, build towards your goal, and go after it, more often than not reaching it. I can't see that passion going away, I really can't, and knowing that it MUST is painful for me. I can't imagine what facing that is for you, or what it was (and probably still is) for Shovel. I know, I know how risky this passion of ours is. I've told friends in my community here that we're really closer to combat, sisters in arms if you will, than we are to just an "ordinary" social circle. The bonds and friendships built in this racing community, as well as the rivalries, are powerful, much deeper and lasting than ordinary friendships. More like family. In the end, what you do is what you must. I don't want to see you think you have to walk away. You're a part of this, I know it, others know it, you know it. To me, leaving is impossible. You'll find an avenue. I know you will.

Love, Anna....
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Old 09-19-16, 01:51 PM   #24
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valygrl, I wish I had some words of wisdom for you. My heart breaks at the thought of what you are going through with this change in life.

Sending you hugs from Oklahoma.
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Old 09-19-16, 07:19 PM   #25
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@valygrl, bummed to read that, but having been around 2 wheel racing for a half century at this point, I think that you can both be comfortable with your decision and feel fortunate that you have the opportunity to weigh risks and decide what level of riding you are comfortable with. I can't count the number of friends and competitors who never had that opportunity, their lives or racing careers were over in a few seconds.

When I quit racing Moto GP there were a lot of factors in play. Too much carnage, doing everything on a shoe string, getting involved in a nasty legal fight with a promoter. I put together a "last best shot" program to try to win a National Championship and a month before the first race of the year at Daytona they dropped the class and changed it to some manufacturers cup thing. I was sitting on thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of work, and would have had to start from zero. Promises to sponsors, work contributed by friends, all down the drain.

So I quit/retired. Left a bitter taste in my mouth that took a lot of years to get rid of. But it taught me a lot and opened up a lot of opportunities, like this sport. In the end I am pretty proud of what I accomplished.

And I also realize that had I continued, who knows what the next race would have brought. Decades later I've got a great life, and am more or less in one piece. Creaky at times, but not bad.

Whatever path you take from here is wide open. Your friends won't stop being your friends, the bike won't stop being fun to ride, and the leaves will still go gold in the Fall. There are worse things than hiking single track. Perspective comes with time if we embrace the positives.

You got to be a bad ass bike racer. Few people get that chance. Yes, you'll have the occasional longing for a hit on the crit pipe, but that diminishes too, though never entirely. And it can be a bit of a surprise how well you can get on with the TT bike if you give it a fair shake.

Hang in there.

Last edited by Racer Ex; 09-19-16 at 07:28 PM.
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