Louisville Bicycle Club
Table of Contents
From the President
Touring Program
When To Race
Mad Dog 200
Advocacy Update
Car-Free Day
March-April 2002 Newsletter

When To Race

by David Stewart

Many months ago, someone posted a question on the Racing Team egroup, LBCracing@yahoogroups.com. They asked, “How do you know when you’re ready to race?”

An experienced and successful racer responded. I think you’ll agree that the response is a classic. Read it, enjoy it, clip it, and hang it on the wall. It says it all. Perhaps it’s even the answer to your own question.


The time to race is when you are ready to race. When you are wondering how good you can get at something you love.

The time to race is when you are willing to put your ego aside, face your inner demons (did I train hard enough, is my bike expensive enough, do I look like a Fred in these socks, what category am I, should I have shaved my legs?) and recognize that during the learning process (as with anything) you are going to really suck for awhile and have to accept that as part of the process.

The time to race is when you still might feel some trepidation while standing in line at registration wondering what you should be doing, where you should be going and how long you should be warming up. When you feel those butterflies in your stomach while standing at the start line and thinking could I possibly have to go to the bathroom again and wondering about the unknown. When you are ready to face the possibility that during bike races you will most likely be dropped, have snot blown on you, be yelled at and perhaps crash. When you understand that whether you are the president of a corporation or a fast food worker, that even with all your training you may still finish last and have to explain why to your family and friends — mechanical excuse anyone?

Are there any upsides to racing? Of course. When you feel the rush and exhilaration of screaming down a hill in a pack of skilled bike handlers at 50 mph or cornering in the middle of the pack for the first time in a crit or besting your time in a time trial. Or when you know and are recognized for the fact that your attack or bridge helped one of your teammates make the break or win the sprint. Or perhaps the biggest racing high of all — getting to raise your hands in victory as you cross the line first — an effort culminating from your training hard, conquering your inner demons and playing your cards right during the race. But don’t forget the most important thing that comes from racing. It’s the lifelong friendships built around a mutual love of cycling.

So, when are you ready to race? When you are sure that on any given weekend a bike race is exactly where you want to be even if there are no crowds, no prize money and no glory for crossing the line first.

Now, quit wondering and get your a** to the start line. You are ready to race.

(Author’s name withheld by request.)


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web posted: 25 February 2002
last updated: 28 February 2002