It’s rare a week goes by when someone doesn’t ask my why I don’t race my bike. The short answer is I don’t really want to, but that doesn’t really answer the question.
If we step back five years, I had just moved to Leeds and joined a newly formed cycling club with a group of really strong guys that were dead keen on racing. Within six months of joining i’d taken up racing, done a whole host of races between York and Manchester and obtained my Cat 3 license. I’d gone into racing with no goals and come out the end of the other side pretty happy. I didn’t train specifically for those races, nor did I monitor my heart rate or my power; I simply enjoyed riding my bike, got strong and as a result got some results.
The following year, I didn’t race but instead got involved in some other events, like riding as far as I could in 24 hours, Ride London, and Coast to Coast in a day. The type of events that fitted in perfectly with what I was enjoying doing most; simply getting out and riding my bike. People were still putting the pressure on, insisting I should race but I just didn’t fancy it.
Year three came around pretty quickly and after a strong winter of riding I decided to have one last go at getting into racing. It’s fair to say I had a decent start and won my first race of the year on what can only be described as a horror of a road race route. I picked up a few more races after that including a two day stage event but didn’t quite get close to that result again. The reason being? I wasn't training for those races, I was just doing what I love and riding miles.
I love riding whenever I want, and however I want, so even if I was racing, I was always going to be doing some kind of stupid ride on a weekend, or going out for a cruise with mates during the week, rather than sticking to those ever so exciting race plans full of 2x20 minutes or some sprints. That’s not me. Riding when I want, how I want, but keeping strong, that’s me.
Racing bikes gives you an amazing rush of adrenaline, and I massively respect everyone that dedicates their time and effort to racing across the country week in, week out, but I honestly prefer the complete freedom to race for cake instead of points, or even just sloth it out and eat cake without doing any sessions at all.
People think that just because I’m a 24 year old guy that likes going fast I should race. I disagree. It's okay to have some speed but not to race. Racing isn't everything and certainly isn't the only indicator that someone is a decent rider. I know some pretty punchy riders that don't race, and probably never will, but can still make you suffer for days.
Until this year I’ve always revisited the idea of racing each winter, thought about it for about five minutes then decided no again. This year though, after getting out and exploring the country with people like 10,000KM CC and heading out to the Alps on a solo tour, I realised that what I enjoy most is riding for fun, seeing new places, eating cake and taking photos along the way.
I never say never, but right now it’s not on the agenda and i’m prepping some pretty wild adventures for the next year. Equally, i’m not ruling out some of the cool ultra distance races that are out there either.
Anyway, I should probably go do my 2 x 20 Percy Pigs or something before my next ride.