This time of year, many of us who race start putting together a tentative schedule of races we anticipating participating in. I sat down and put my list together this afternoon. Here it is:
That’s it. It didn’t take long. The reality is that I’m pretty much out of the racing business. The main issue behind this is the condition of my knees. Apparently, my genetics caught up with me before I was prepared and I have the beginnings of osteoarthritis. At my last appointment trying to get the to bottom of why my left knee was feeling weird, I was told to “do what you enjoy, while you still can.” While I still can?? Thanks. At least I have the comfort of knowing that I’m not alone with these types of issues. Apparently, the high load that I put my legs under when racing hasn’t exactly been great for my knee joints. Who knew? Thankfully, the damage was discovered before I really got into a situation where things are actually painful.
Through no conscious decision on my part, I’ve always favored low rpm mashing on the pedals rather than achieving the high cadence spinning efficiency of a roadie. Sadly, there really isn’t any way to climb the hills around Vermont on a single-speed bike without putting a lot of torque on the knees. I always enjoyed overcoming the steep grades by virtue of sheer force and suffering. So in my efforts to extend the life of my knees, I need to change my focus to spinning and that means one thing: gears.
Even though I’m giving up competition, I can’t really complain too much. Racing has taken up most of my summers since I started back in 1990. I got started thanks to a guy who worked on base with me while stationed in Maryland. From road racing, I went to mountain biking back when NORBA was the only game in town (and prior to USA Cycling attempts at ruining the sport in general). I was hooked from that point on. Over the years, I’ve had quite a few good race results as an expert and many podium finishes in more recent years since taking up the single-speed.
I’m not giving up riding, not by a long shot. If anything, I’ll likely be putting on more mileage since I don’t have to worry about being rested for races. Last winter I started just exploring the woods on my fat bike and I discovered something: I still like riding just for the fun of it. So, I’m going to focus on just riding and not worry about all the various training factors that I had to consider when racing. My collection of Strava KOMs will likely dwindle as I let others steal them away one by one. I’m not saying I’ll never do a race again, but it will be the exception and I’m not going to be taking it seriously.
In case anyone is wondering, this blog will go on, and I’m not going to bother changing the name.