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When to throw in the towel? Or: How do I get my race mojo back?

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When to throw in the towel? Or: How do I get my race mojo back?

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Old 06-21-10, 05:31 PM
  #1  
aicabsolut
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When to throw in the towel? Or: How do I get my race mojo back?

This season has been a doozy. On the upside, I feel stronger than ever, and I feel like I have been making smarter decisions in races (or race-like situations, such as fast training rides with my betters).

The problem: I am not sure I know why I do this anymore. I'm not yet 30, and I'm already thinking I need to trade in the bike for a power chair. Last season, I somehow kept going after doing some damage to my left shoulder. It's not going to be 100% without surgery, but I'm managing thanks to Kinesio Tape, PT, massage, and NSAIDs. I already have a bum ankle and in general feel like I'm falling apart.

This season is a train wreck:

Race 1: canceled for snow
Race 2: mechanical
Race 3: 2nd in an ITT and a mention in Velonews, co-eds edition
Race 4: disappointing ITT performance
Race 5: flat
Race 6: caught up in crash in final 1km. OTB but unscathed
Race 7: ok
Race 8: dropped in the mountains, pulled a hamstring, but still 4th.
Race 9: narrowly avoided another crash. still had the strained hamstring + sinus infection.
Race 10: did some good things but didn't get a great result.
Race 11: tried to be a good leadout for teammates. conquered my hatred of gravel.
Race 12: flat front tire in technical crit = crash = damage in my previously good shoulder

Mental burnout was hanging over my head a good bit before the crash due to all the poor performances and bad luck.

This weekend's crit was supposed to be my A priority race for the season. I love this course. It's technical and fast and has a sprint on bricks. It's tough. And awesome. However, I am just not feeling it. I have been sick for the past week, and my right shoulder is a lot more messed up from my crash than I thought it would be. Physical therapy hasn't been helping, and I need to get an MRI. It doesn't hurt to ride my bike, but I am terrified of falling on it.

I don't think I have what it takes to be in the best lower-risk zone (OTF) based on the fast, single-file, white-knuckled crit racing I've done in the 1/2/3 fields this year.

In fact, I'm thinking of skipping pretty much the entire rest of the season. I might do my team's RR in July because it's a 3/4 race on tough terrain, but it's not the type of course where I expect to excel...or to be near very many people.

I was thinking of starting the Capital Crit this year (a few weeks away) just to say I raced down Pennsylvania Ave. I am trying not to think about the U-turn. I plan on taking Bikesnob's Pass/Fail approach to that race, if I enter. Maybe I'll be able to do that crit after 2 months off. Maybe not. There's a host of other RRs and crits left in the season that I just don't feel like doing anymore.

Am I being too wussy? How am I going to get over this for next season if not this season? Don't even suggest downgrading.
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Old 06-21-10, 05:46 PM
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Keeping going when I was no longer having fun is how I burned out and quit riding entirely. Unless you are getting paid for this there's no reason not to stop doing it when it's no longer fun. Go race motorcycles or chase girls or something.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:11 PM
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Agreed... I used to play professional sport (golf) and the burnout sucks but its a job and you've got to keep going out and practicing and doing it or you will fail. That is something that I love about racing my bike now. On days where I don't want to train, I don't. When I don't want to race I don't. And because of that I have very few good results but I have a blast and I'd rather have fun doing something like this. (I would also like to do well). It only makes it better when I do do well, but when I don't its ok because I enjoy it. Sorry to all of you who will find this a "loser" attitude, but I do it for the fun not for the chicks and money.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:15 PM
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Although I've made a little money this year, if I wasn't having fun, I wouldn't pin a number on.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:19 PM
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this is why I mostly ride slow when not racing

it's nice to look at the scenery and listen to the birds etc. it cannot be all hammering and suffering.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:20 PM
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Sounds like you need some time off after this weekend's crit.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:47 PM
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I've always said you have to spend time associating the bike with something other than pain. Add expectations in there.

Bag it. When you get the itch to race, that's when it's time to race. Not because you feel like you have to, or you might do well. You should WANT to.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:53 PM
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I was at the same place a few weeks ago. As such, I'm taking the rest of the road racing season off. I'm still training a lot, but just not racing. In fact, without the pressures of racing, the training has been going really well. It's put me in a great mood (and shape!) and has been really good for my mental state and my social life. Even work is going well for a change. Sometimes, you just need a break and/or a change to keep things interesting.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:56 PM
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understand that those results kind of fall under the heading of "that's racing". related posts below with some good replies and some that are plain stupid.

try avoiding those hains point rides, ncvc sprint ride, and other sketchfests you dc peoples do ... your nerves have gotta be fried by the time you get to race day.

and if you start chasing girls like eric m recommends, do wear a helmet cam!

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...hlight=passion

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...hlight=success
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Old 06-21-10, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
Keeping going when I was no longer having fun is how I burned out and quit riding entirely. Unless you are getting paid for this there's no reason not to stop doing it when it's no longer fun. Go race motorcycles or chase girls or something.
Well, no reason the OP couldn't chase girls if she wanted to, but you seem to be assuming that she is a he.

Irrespective of that, good advice. Take some time to heal, reflect, get passionate about racing again. Or not, if that's how it goes, though I hope not. Just don't end up hating the bike, that would be sad.
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Old 06-21-10, 07:02 PM
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I decided to wait until next year to get back into racing--I was putting a huge amount of pressure on myself to get back up to speed as fast as possible and it wasn't fun. The leg is coming back, but I'm still re-establishing my neuro-muscular capabilities--my leg just doesn't fire as fast as it use to right now. Doc said my shoulder was strong, but because of the fact that pec reconstructions aren't a common injury at all, he wasn't sure when I would be at 100%.

So I'm nervous about crashing again (I nearly crashed two weeks ago when I found out I had a front flat going around a corner), my power isn't there, and my motivation is lacking. I have trouble getting myself out to the shed (my motivation was racing, but since I'm not racing this year...). I'm 20 lbs overweight (race weight that is. My wife says I look great). I'm going to put my powertap away (except for one trainer session a week), put my rear Zipp on, and go have fun in my group rides. I'll start training again in the off season, but I just want to have fun right now.

You may want to end your season early. Have fun. Come back next year. When I decided to delay my comeback for a year, my stress level went down a lot. It was nice.
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Old 06-21-10, 07:19 PM
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OP - Sounds like there are two things: dealing with the crash thing and dealing with the injury thing. If neither were a factor in your riding, it sounds like you'd take your season reasonably well.

Injury thing - get through it and don't worry about the riding. I just toodled around on my bike while getting over my first really bad injury. In general I back off hard whenever I feel discomfort. I rarely, if ever, have had chronic injuries.

Crash thing - analyze what it is that makes you nervous about crashing. The fall? Take some kind of judo or something that has tumbling in it. The closeness of the pack? Do drills with others on grass and practice low speed, constant contact type riding. Equipment? Learn how to maintain your equipment and don't cheap out on things like tires, tubes, chains, stems, bars, forks. Replace it if you have any doubts.

Then be patient. I thought that my best years would be in my late 20s and I started to panic when I realized that I was working my butt off trying to pay my mortgage. But if you're not a Cat 1 or something, it doesn't change much. I've been a 3 forever. I have good years and bad years. Some years I go to races mainly for the social aspect because doing one or two laps in a crit before dropping out doesn't count as "racing" to me. Other years it's nice, getting places and such. You have a lot of time to race, as much time as you want. Go back to the basics, get fluent on the bike, and you'll be fine.

cdr
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Old 06-21-10, 08:21 PM
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The crash thing is tied into the injury thing. I think I know how to fall reasonably well from years of riding horses. I think if I didn't know how to fall like a rag doll (and roll, preferably), then I could easily have broken the collarbone or separated the shoulder.

I am not going to lie and say that the idea of crashing doesn't freak me out, but I've had a pretty good run. Only one other crash in a race, in 2008, which wasn't my fault but did give me a decent concussion. Nothing major outside of racing. I think I have good crash-avoidance instincts. I do have trouble trusting the pack and am uncomfortable in the middle, but I'm working on that. Racing with the 1/2s helps, but sometimes so do the aggressive, sketchy rides that MDcatV mentioned. I pick a wheel that I trust and work on being glued to them no matter where they go in the pack. Even if I was more comfortable bumping, etc., that wouldn't necessarily prevent a crash, particularly if I wind up ramming into people who go down in front of me. It also wouldn't prevent a tack from taking me out when my aluminum rim scrapes the pavement in a corner. I don't know what exactly is going on in my shoulder right now without the MRI, but it's not good. I feel like I can't afford to fall again anytime soon, and my head isn't going to be in the race if I'm actively worrying about that.

I've actually been thinking about going back and turning pro in my old sport, much to the dismay of my parents. Having screwed up shoulders makes dealing with horses kind of difficult. I also don't want to lose what I hope will be my retirement hobby if not my backup career.

Ken, didn't I see you out on the road this weekend? I had a good time avoiding the stage race stress that everyone else was going through.
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Old 06-21-10, 09:27 PM
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When you get to the P/1/2 level, racing becomes a full time job. There are team and sponsor committments, training rides and races, constant working on the bike mechanicals. If you also have a demanding full time job, it can burn you out, even when you're healthy. That's pretty much what happened to me except I had a pretty bad concussion in my next to last season that affected my last season greatly, and was the thing that put me over the edge. That's when I hung up the bike for good, until this week.

Listen to your body. Hopefully at some point, you will reach the crossroads where the pain of the injury is less than your desire to race. In the meantime, take some pleasure rides with friends.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 06-21-10, 10:09 PM
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As others have said, it sounds like you're going to burn out if you keep going. I say walk away for now. Maybe do some mentoring for newbies (that's what I did during my looong break). Don't sell your stuff or hide it away. Go ride when you get the itch, and enjoy it.

If you're supposed to be in racing, you'll come back. I took about 11 years off and I'm a much more fit and smarter racer now, and having a lot more fun. Still learning tons, and somehow still finding the intervals to be very fun.

Keep poking your head in here and don't be a stranger, but I totally would skip this weekend's race. Things have changed since you put it on your calendar, and it doesn't sound like a battle you want to fight. Even if you won, would you saddle up next week and hammer on? Probably not. Not worth it.
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Old 06-21-10, 11:16 PM
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But your body and health before the bike. It seems you need to concentrate on that. Go out and ride by yourself to enjoy the scenery or do something else entirely for a bit.

You need to heal. Seriously.

That's what I'm trying to do, albeit I haven't been as successful as I'd like. I still ride when I can and enjoy it, but I'm not feeling the itch right now. Maybe I'll never race again, but I know I'll never stop riding.

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Old 06-21-10, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by aicabsolut View Post

Ken, didn't I see you out on the road this weekend? I had a good time avoiding the stage race stress that everyone else was going through.
Likely.

I've been doing 3-4 hr rides in our neck of the woods (with a good dose of SST/FTP work and socializing) on the weekends (oh, and lots of wine with non-bike peeps - very important!) and with a little more structure during the week. I had forgotten that riding a bike (and wine with non-bike peeps!) can actually be really fun!

Give it a whirl, I say.
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Old 06-21-10, 11:54 PM
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shot in the dark, but try reading ROADIE if you have not done so yet. kind of puts the fun back into riding/training/racing. either way i would take time off. i hate hearing those "i put the bike away for a decade" stories because in most of those cases if they would have just eased up for half a season then they would be back at it a lot sooner.
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Old 06-22-10, 12:05 AM
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i'm in the 'get the shoulder taken care of', and 'dial down, enjoy if/when possible to prevent total burnout' camp.
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Old 06-22-10, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by enjoi07 View Post
i hate hearing those "i put the bike away for a decade" stories because in most of those cases if they would have just eased up for half a season then they would be back at it a lot sooner.
Truer words were never spoken. I should have never hung up the bike. I would have been better off taking some time off and maybe dropping down to Cat3. Now that regret is fueling my desire to get back on and back into shape. You never really know how much you miss it until you return.
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Old 06-22-10, 06:35 AM
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yeah I hung the bike up for a decade. I also made a lot of money in that time frame I'd have not made if I were this focused on racing...buried a couple of parents....reared a kid. Now I'm a serviceable racer again.
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Old 06-22-10, 06:54 AM
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I'm in the "Take a short break before you burn yourself out" camp, too.

Why don't you come out to the 'burbs, drink some mimosas, and get out of the pressure cooker that is DC for a weekend afternoon?
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Old 06-22-10, 07:07 AM
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That an offer, BD?

Perhaps I will go play photog a bit at Sunday's race.
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Old 06-22-10, 07:09 AM
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It absolutely is an offer. RudeSiggy still owes me a day in the suburbs, too.
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Old 06-22-10, 07:09 AM
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mimosas? dude. dude. dude...
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