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:

blank!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.

Anyone recognize Jack Rabbit Run?  Hillsboro Classic?  Lynn Woods? Kangamangus Classic?  Vernon Woods?
Anyone recognize Jack Rabbit Run? Hillsboro Classic? Lynn Woods? Kangamangus Classic? Vernon Woods?  Temple Mountain?  Galloping Gears?

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.


7 thoughts on “Retirement

  1. The Bully

    Bro. While I’m saddened by your post. I must say you’re doing the right thing. No messing around when it comes to knees and joints. You’ve got the rest of your life to enjoy getting outside and spending time with your family and friends. A tough decision for sure. I’ll make sure to keep you in the loop as to team stuff. Of course I’ll be up your way in June for the fest and I will expect another great team tour. Take care of those knees!

    1. I’m *mostly* okay with it now, but every once in a while I feel the urge for racing and it annoys me. I guess that’s normal for this time of year. Definitely looking forward to getting together at NEMBAfest.

  2. Kevin

    I shan’t be far behind! Cheers to early retirement. Maybe you would flourish in a more administrative role like me? Maybe we should get into race promotion? Things to ruminate…

    1. I’m already considering some things like that. I never really thought about race promotion that much though but it’s not a bad idea either. I’ve been more involved helping with things via MTBVT and KT this year and it’s been quite a bit of fun. Regardless, there’s plenty to be done out there.

  3. Dave Rocheleau

    Hi Mark,

    I went down the same road a couple of years ago with hockey. I was told by my surgeon that the hockey career must end or face double knee surgery within a couple of years. I hung up the goalie pads and still do a some low key skating.

    As a result, my knees feel a lot better and know realize it was the best decision.

    As for gears, welcome to my world. Running a 1 x 10 this year. 33 front with a 11 x 36 in the rear. Plenty of spinning choices but you can still hammer when needed.

    Let me know if your interested in joining some rides in Burlington/Stowe area.

    I hope to get to your neck of the woods 3 or 4 times this year.

    Take care and see you at the Gravel Grinder.


    1. Bummer on the hockey. I’m hoping to hit a lot more areas around VT this summer so joining you might actually happen. Definitely let me know when you’re going to be over this way.

      Same thought on the gears. I figure 32×36 should be plenty low, especially when I’ve gotten used to climbing with a 32:18.

  4. Pingback: TVR Fat Bike Fun

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