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Once Competitive Always Competitive?

Old 12-15-20, 01:16 PM
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rsbob 
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Once Competitive Always Competitive?

In auto racing it’s called the ‘red mist’ and it’s the urge to compete and excel. I know there is a good percentage on this board, who ride strictly for the pleasure, fitness, etc, and have zero issue with it. I also know they will comment here even if this thread doesn’t pertain to them, such being the nature of forums.

In my 30s I was an aggressive rider but when I rode, I rode hard and would chase down anyone I could, even momentarily just to catch them. Now in my mid-60s I still am unable to lose that drive to chase, but now don’t catch but back off.

I do it because I think it’s fun, no matter how painful it can be at times. I like to test myself and push myself. I know this is MY thing. No judgement (Others I am sure will add theirs )

Just wondering how many ‘mature’ (heh) riders still have that drive and how many have given it up and moved on and continued cycling for other reasons?

What’s your story?
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Old 12-15-20, 01:39 PM
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Same here. I was always slow, endurance is my thing and I'm not that bad at it, but despite this I always had fun competing with friends and strangers, even did some races many years ago. Now at 69, I still enjoy it. One of my friends once said that I'd challenge the World Champion if I met him on the road. I replied of course, what's the worst that could happen? That he wins.
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Old 12-15-20, 01:49 PM
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I turn 58 in a few weeks, and still racing - though not this past year due to Covid. I haven't done road racing in years...Prefer gravel racing now, as the people seem to take themselves less seriously and there is always beer at the finish line -- sometimes at the mid-race aid stations, too.

In my area, I am about the only regular rider -- so, if I saw another person on a bike, I would chase them down -- not out of competitiveness, but just to say "hi" and make a new friend.
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Old 12-15-20, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
In my 30s I was an aggressive wannabe racer type without the time to devote to serious training due to commitments, but when I rode, I rode hard and would chase down anyone I could, even momentarily just to catch them. Others told me I could have easily started at Cat 3, if that helps.
I have often out sprinted and out climbed national champions and record holders. Strangely, it never happened when we both had numbers pinned on. And despite what your friends might have told you, you would have started as a Cat 5 just like everyone else until you proved yourself in real competitions. Unless we're talking far enough back that Cat 5 hadn't been introduced in which case you would have started at the lowest level at the time.
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Old 12-15-20, 01:58 PM
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Started racing in my 30s, still racing in my 50s. If you want to compete, I recommend CX. You've got a great cross scene in Washington and by all accounts it's just as welcoming as NorCal. People race hard, heckle each other, and hang out afterwards. That is, in a non-pandemic year. This fall, we had a very abbreviated "season" and folks were not allowed to hang out.

We also had a grass-roots, socially distant TT series here which was open to anyone with a bike and a Strava account. Even if we do get back to sanctioned racing, I'm hoping the TT series continues.

That said, I'm not a huge fan of "races" where someone chases riders who are just out riding their ride. I might be out doing an interval set (yes, you're right -- racing takes a commitment to training), commuting, or just out riding around and somebody hops on my wheel and then sprints around me to the county line sign? Okay dude, whatever.

Last edited by caloso; 12-15-20 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 12-15-20, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
I have often out sprinted and out climbed national champions and record holders. Strangely, it never happened when we both had numbers pinned on. And despite what your friends might have told you, you would have started as a Cat 5 just like everyone else until you proved yourself in real competitions. Unless we're talking far enough back that Cat 5 hadn't been introduced in which case you would have started at the lowest level at the time.
Perhaps they weren't really working that hard on training rides.

Yeah, everyone starts at Cat 5, except in Colorado - and maybe that has changed since I last raced out there about twelve years ago. I think they had a different system that started at Cat 4.

I do have an old riding buddy who was forced to upgrade to Cat 4 after his very first crit, in which he lapped the field twice...I think he was 17 yrs old at the time. He eventually won a couple national championships, set a couple world records, won some gold at the Pan Am games. But I think that sort of thing is quite rare.

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Old 12-15-20, 02:22 PM
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i dont like competition riders on my rear hub. If i catch you tryna catch me, I'll let you eat my fart before losing you in the past.
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Old 12-15-20, 02:29 PM
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I was a college football (QB) and baseball (SS) player. I still have that competitive blood. But, these days I crank it up for Strava PRs not against others. I am 74 and comfortable with where I am..This year on a 1 mi flat I averaged 25 mph for a PR. Good enough for this old guy.
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Old 12-15-20, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
Same here. I was always slow, endurance is my thing and I'm not that bad at it, but despite this I always had fun competing with friends and strangers, even did some races many years ago. Now at 69, I still enjoy it. One of my friends once said that I'd challenge the World Champion if I met him on the road. I replied of course, what's the worst that could happen? That he wins.
Well, there could be an injury or crash. If you 'race' expecting to 'win' and have a fragile ego, getting dropped in short order might injure your pride quite a bit. But yeah, there's little risk in a loss.

I have spent the last half of my driving life curbing the compulsion to be 'first' or to 'win'. I consider it a character flaw; when your rational brain has succumbed to the impulses of your lizard brain. Outside of a closed course, there's no safe way to indulge that urge for a motor vehicle.

Since we're talking about bikes, well, I relish passing riders on newer, more expensive rigs. I only recently figured that I'm likely hindering my fitness goals by maintaining high zone 3/ low zone 4 heart rates instead of trying to maximize the time in zone 2 to build aerobic capacity and efficiency.
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Old 12-15-20, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
In auto racing it’s called the ‘red mist’ and it’s the urge to compete and excel. I know there is a good percentage on this board, who ride strictly for the pleasure, fitness, etc, and have zero issue with it. I also know they will comment here even if this thread doesn’t pertain to them, such being the nature of forums.

In my 30s I was an aggressive wannabe racer type without the time to devote to serious training due to commitments, but when I rode, I rode hard and would chase down anyone I could, even momentarily just to catch them. Others told me I could have easily started at Cat 3, if that helps.

What’s your story?
You couldn't have started as a cat 3. Racing is not "catching someone on a group ride, " nor is it even "dropping everyone in a group ride." Racing is racing. You can only figure out how good you are or would be at racing by racing.

And to that end, in response to your specific question, no.

If you want to race without racing, go for a Strava KOM in which you can be reasonably assured that the people at the top went pretty hard after it. Chasing down random people who could very well be on a recovery ride or finishing up 100 miler or are on their very first ride ever is in no way feeding a competitive spirit.

The other people have to be competing for it to be competitive.
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Old 12-15-20, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
Well, there could be an injury or crash. If you 'race' expecting to 'win' and have a fragile ego, getting dropped in short order might injure your pride quite a bit. But yeah, there's little risk in a loss.

I have spent the last half of my driving life curbing the compulsion to be 'first' or to 'win'. I consider it a character flaw; when your rational brain has succumbed to the impulses of your lizard brain. Outside of a closed course, there's no safe way to indulge that urge for a motor vehicle.

Since we're talking about bikes, well, I relish passing riders on newer, more expensive rigs. I only recently figured that I'm likely hindering my fitness goals by maintaining high zone 3/ low zone 4 heart rates instead of trying to maximize the time in zone 2 to build aerobic capacity and efficiency.
It's strange, because I'm not a competitive person in general, and not at all when driving. Perhaps Mr. Hyde when cycling.
And I "raced" many guys I was totally sure I hadn't the slightest chance against. It's just for fun.
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Old 12-15-20, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
You couldn't have started as a cat 3. Racing is not "catching someone on a group ride, " nor is it even "dropping everyone in a group ride." Racing is racing. You can only figure out how good you are or would be at racing by racing.

And to that end, in response to your specific question, no.

If you want to race without racing, go for a Strava KOM in which you can be reasonably assured that the people at the top went pretty hard after it. Chasing down random people who could very well be on a recovery ride or finishing up 100 miler or are on their very first ride ever is in no way feeding a competitive spirit.

The other people have to be competing for it to be competitive.
This.

I will add that there is a lot more to racing than strength and speed...This is one reason why everyone starts in Cat 5 and works their way up: even if you are fast enough to ride with the 3s, that doesn't mean that you are capable of safely handling your bike in a tight pack as it rails its way 'round corners at 30mph.
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Old 12-15-20, 03:13 PM
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Perhaps I am speaking for "Us" recreational cyclists getting up in age and dealing with nagging conditions that made us non-competitive with more advanced cyclists. Being competitive for me is just riding my ride and maybe doing a little better next time. Meaning more miles, more climbing, and better times on known routes, are competitive goals I can relish in.
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Old 12-15-20, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Yeah, everyone starts at Cat 5, except in Colorado - and maybe that has changed since I last raced out there about twelve years ago. I think they had a different system that started at Cat 4.
Yeah, Colorado re-introduced Cat 5 a few years after you raced here.
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Old 12-15-20, 04:35 PM
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I just let 'em pass me as many times as they want.
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Old 12-15-20, 04:48 PM
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I'm super competitive when the other person is competing. Otherwise I could run up and cold-cock some dude and exclaim how tough I am. That's exactly what chasing down some grannie on her e-bike commuting to her volunteer job at the East Central Community Center is. You're basically tackling an 9 year old.

Seriously?

Either pin on a number or be quiet. You're not "Cat 3".

I need to say this again but chasing down people to pass them out on a bike ride when it's not in an actual race and they have no idea what you are doing is really goddamn weird. Creepy. It's like an old man telling a young girl to smile.

Gross.

I'm in Washington State too, we have 60 year old and even 70 year old age groups in most of our races. Now that you don't have the same "commitments" as you did when you were a wannabe, why not come out and test yourself next year? Then you can actually be a racer. And understand just exactly how slow you really are. And be forewarned, every person I've ever raced with in this state has been a mensch. Even showing up as a noob with a $600 REI bike I was still treated with respect and welcomed. So, how bout it? You gonna sign up and give it a go. You might learn something. Humility. Or better yet make some friends and support the local racing scene. We need it.

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Old 12-15-20, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by aplcr0331 View Post
I'm super competitive when the other person is competing. Otherwise I could run up and cold-cock some dude and exclaim how tough I am. That's exactly what chasing down some grannie on her e-bike commuting to her volunteer job at the East Central Community Center is. You're basically tackling an 9 year old.

Seriously?

Either pin on a number or be quiet. You're not "Cat 3".

I need to say this again but chasing down people to pass them out on a bike ride when it's not in an actual race and they have no idea what you are doing is really goddamn weird. Creepy. It's like an old man telling a young girl to smile.

Gross.

I'm in Washington State too, we have 60 year old and even 70 year old age groups in most of our races. Now that you don't have the same "commitments" as you did when you were a wannabe, why not come out and test yourself next year? Then you can actually be a racer. And understand just exactly how slow you really are. And be forewarned, every person I've ever raced with in this state has been a mensch. Even showing up as a noob with a $600 REI bike I was still treated with respect and welcomed. So, how bout it? You gonna sign up and give it a go. You might learn something. Humility. Or better yet make some friends and support the local racing scene. We need it.
Has to be the strangest invitation I’ve ever read. Slap, slap, creepy, slap, please join us! Hint: Next time try, I admire your competitive spirit even though it may be a bit misplaced and I have exactly the right venue for you.


Dont know how this is gone gone so far off track about me, but this is about whether YOU THE READER still feel like being competitive in your later years or not. And for the record, I have zero interest in racing now, just enjoy the chase, but never actually catching, and then backing off to avoid the creepy factor. It’s an excuse to go hard and then take it easy. Nothing to prove to anyone other than myself and Strava. My wife does exactly the same thing. So what about you? We are now entering the reading comprehension part of the exam.
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Old 12-15-20, 05:38 PM
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I guess not everyone learns humility.
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Old 12-15-20, 05:42 PM
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Haha you are so right!
But to your question, I'm just as competitive as ever. 30 some odd years later, I still feel the same... even about a bully.
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Old 12-15-20, 06:10 PM
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"We are now entering the reading comprehension part of the exam."

Got a good laugh out of this. The virtual world is weird. People get lost in their opinions and take the conversation where their opinions take them, be it on course or off into the wilderness.

To your question, no. Around age 55 I was beating the heck out of myself one day and simply asked myself, "Why am I doing this?" Really, what was the point of pounding the pedals when there was no reason to "train" anymore. In all frankness I often asked myself this question back in my racing days. The answer always came back to the team. I raced for and with the other guys on the team. We supported each other, strategized together and sacrificed our personal interests in order to put the team on the podium. We all knew who was the best of the bunch and that is who we supported. I see this same thought process in my son. If he were not on a team with really great guys that support each other and race for the dominant rider, he would not be in it. He does track racing because the strategy involved and the purity of the testing limits it provides.

I went back to my touring roots about 3 years ago and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
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Old 12-15-20, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
Dont know how this is gone gone so far off track about me, but this is about whether YOU THE READER still feel like being competitive in your later years or not. And for the record, I have zero interest in racing now, just enjoy the chase, but never actually catching, and then backing off to avoid the creepy factor. It’s an excuse to go hard and then take it easy. Nothing to prove to anyone other than myself and Strava. My wife does exactly the same thing. So what about you? We are now entering the reading comprehension part of the exam.
I've noticed, in this venue at least, that racers can get sensitive when non-racers talk about competitiveness. Pin on a number, why train if you're not racing, it's not about being fast, all of that sort of business. They don't really get it.

Personally I'm like a dog seeing a rabbit - I have to chase. But I enjoy being the rabbit even more. It's just a game we cat-sixes play, and racers don't kid yourselves: most of the time, we both know that we're playing it. Nobody's taking it seriously. Childish, maybe, but then again playing on the bike is part of the attraction for some of us.
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Old 12-15-20, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by aplcr0331 View Post
I need to say this again but chasing down people to pass them out on a bike ride when it's not in an actual race and they have no idea what you are doing is really goddamn weird.
Wow man, lighten up. There's nothing wrong with chasing down rabbits when you're out riding. It can provide motivation and it's good practice for when you have to bridge a gap or chase down a breakaway.
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Old 12-15-20, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I've noticed, in this venue at least, that racers can get sensitive when non-racers talk about competitiveness. Pin on a number, why train if you're not racing, it's not about being fast, all of that sort of business. They don't really get it.

Personally I'm like a dog seeing a rabbit - I have to chase. But I enjoy being the rabbit even more. It's just a game we cat-sixes play, and racers don't kid yourselves: most of the time, we both know that we're playing it. Nobody's taking it seriously. Childish, maybe, but then again playing on the bike is part of the attraction for some of us.
What does this even mean? How are you competing against someone that isn't competing against you?

Say you chase me down and pass me. What does that mean to you? Did you win something? Are you now the fastest person on the road? What was the accomplishment, then?

That's the issue. It's not sensitivity, it's just you having to completely make up whatever you think just happened, because it didn't actually happen. And that's all well and good if it's in your head, but when you go and start proclaiming it on bike forums, it's a bit bizarre. And when you call out people that actually do race because they understand the difference between a race and just riding around, it's even more so. Who's kidding who?
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Old 12-15-20, 08:20 PM
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aplcr0331seems right.

Pushing sixty in a couple of weeks. I am a has been and can deal with that at times. At times the arrogance of those passing me inspires me to chase them down then pass them just to to say pfffft. We all ride so at least try to be sociable, we all ride for different goals but being such a minority I feel we need to support each other. Pass me if you will but be sociable. If not I can become a total ass. I will die just to make you feel inferior. Wave or signal and I will politely do the same as you pass me by. I realize that I can ramp up to high speeds quickly for short burst and piss most off in my area by doing so, but sustainabilty for great distances is no longer my strong suit alas. Fortunately that is all it usualy takes. Yes I have a bit of an attitude at times. But for the most part I support all those who ride and tend to do my own thing. I admire those who politely do the same. But......... lets just all be nice ,we are to few to try to be elitist . Race if you must, but please respect those who just tend to meander for the enjoyment of the ride. We are to few to few to segregate , lets just say we all enjoy the ride! Be it fast or slow we all all are bicycleist. sometimes it is just that simple.
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Old 12-15-20, 09:32 PM
  #25  
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The urge to compete and excel? Sure. Willing to put in the training that enables me to compete and excel? Not so much.

On brevets I'm generally a middle of the pack finisher. If things go south I might finish last. On my best day maybe top third. Us middle of the pack guys are as likely to help one another to the finish as we are to race to the finish, although the latter does sometimes happen. On the back if I find myself there, ha, well it's pretty much the same story.

Using someone up the road as motivation is as old as it gets, is occasionally useful, and occasionally a really bad idea. It's never ever racing.
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