There’s nothing like crossing the finish line with your arms in the air achieving what you had your heart and mind set upon in the weeks and months prior. Even if it wasn’t a victory, the satisfaction of performing at your best gives you an elated feeling knowing that all your hard work and sacrifice paid off. With sports in particular, and just about anything in life, hard work and sacrifice don’t always yield the results you want and when that happens you’re left wondering what went wrong and was it all worth it.
A little over a week ago I left Bend, Oregon where my girlfriend, job, and life nowadays is, for almost a month of racing on the road. This past spring I worked at a bike shop (Of which is amazing and gives me time off to race. Thanks Sunnyside Sports!) to make ends meat and to be able to still race across the country. My objective was to make enough money to be able to live as well as to still be able to get to the races since I wasn’t on a Continental team anymore. The working drew back from the training but it was the only way I was going to be able to still race and actually have a life outside of going race to race all year. Working and training are both big time commitments in their own right let alone when you try and combine them. Thanks to an amazing girlfriend, not enough sleep, and a lot of determination, I made it work. Definitely a sacrifice on all fronts but all for a reason; to race my bike and to race it well to make money along with hopefully getting a contract with a team to do bigger and better races.
Today, (Sunday) I was to be racing the Philly Classic, a big UCI race that has been the biggest one day race in the country and going on since 1985. It was a big target of mine and a race I’ve done the past two years as well as one of my favorite. Last Sunday I raced at the Winston-Salem Classic. It was a UCI 1.2 race with with 10,000 feet of climbing on a circuit totaling 110 miles. A hard race indeed with the best teams and riders in the country. I knew it was going to be a hard day, especially with out having any racing even close to that recently, but knew I could still have a descent ride. My left knee started to hurt about half-way through but I’ve had knee pain before and thought it’d be fine. I flatted with about 4 laps to go which required a hard chase to regain contact with the field (slow wheel change…) but during that chase I definitely knew something wasn’t right. I rode about half a lap in the main group but knew at that point I wasn’t going to get a great result and that I should just pull out and not further injure my knee. That was the first time I’ve ever actually pulled out of a race without being dropped. Can’t say I would have done that in the past but I knew there was more than just this race to be had.
Unfortunately I should have pulled out at the first bit of pain as even with careful treatment, position adjustments, physical therapists, and lots of rest, my knee still had a problem by the end of the week. This is the first race I’ve ever had to not start for any reason. Even being sick I would race.
Right now at least it feels as if all of those sacrifices weren’t worth it. And not only my own sacrifices but of those around me; particularly that of my girlfriend. I also missed an important wedding to now sit on the couch and watch a live feed of a race.
Before I always thought all the sacrifices for bike racing I made were worth it (and there were a lot). It was what I wanted to do and I wanted to achieve my goals and dreams in racing. Those sacrifices over the years have gotten harder and harder to deal with, one of the reasons why I’m not on a pro team this year, and now this set back makes me question it even more. Racing is a hard sport and getting to the top requires a lot of dead-set determination and willingness to do whatever it takes. I still want to get to a higher and higher level of racing and want to put in all the hard work that’s needed but making hard sacrifices you shouldn’t have to make makes me question how bad I really want it.
It’s a measure and the scale is definitely tipping. I just don’t want it to tip before I want it to tip. Hopefully with continued treatment and rest my knee will heal up and I can salvage this trip.
And if you’re interested in any of my sponsors products listed in My Store here, use discount code: “sacrifices” for 5% off. It helps benefit myself and our team. Thanks!