04 January 2013

You can do it!

You've got the right stuff

I can see you now, wondering, planning, scheming which events and what equipment you will ride in 2013. I am calling 2013 the year of doing it yourself. So what if our heroes have fallen, so what if they too are now seen as mere mortals. We, the collective and rapidly growing mass of amateur cyclists are building momentum.

This sport of cycling is growing

More and more people are taking to the bicycle, and age is not a deterrent. I recently popped up the website for the grand-daddy of them all - the Death Ride in California, a brutal 129 miles (270km), 15,000ft (4,572m) climb over 5 mountain passes near the border of Nevada and California. There is an interesting statistics page on their website; did you know that of 2,902 riders in 2012, 81.2% were men, 18.8% were women. The oldest rider was 87-years old, the youngest 12. Six percent of rider were from out of state or out of the county. Riders from Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Korea and Switzerland traveled to California to participate in the ride. Only 66% of those who started the ride, finished the ride (only 45% of the women finish). That is one hard event ride! But most interesting - look at the spread of age groups of the finishers:

12-21: 27 finishers
22-31: 178 finishers
32-41: 392 finishers
42-51: 728 finishers
52-61: 517 finishers
62-71: 95 finishers
72-81: 3

You is kind, you is smart, you is important

No wonder we are the dream target market for bike equipment and cycling apparel companies. There is a reason why the bike service industry is willing to sponsor and pay those professional cyclists and teams - because they want our attention! Maybe they should turn their efforts to supporting more local events and races. Not just the cycling fan, but the amatuer cyclist holds the buying dollar in this sport. The number of amatuer racers and the number of casual cyclists continues to grow. Think about how many more people you see out cycling than you did 10 years ago.

Event rides are not a piece of cake

Don't discount how difficult some of these amateur event rides can be. The slew of increasing Gran Fondos are timed citizen rides with a winner, but even non-timed events can result in a cyclist being on the road for 5-9 hours in a day. Some events run for several days in a row at this level of effort and mileage.

You are not your average water cooler kind of guy

Chances are most of your family and friends realize you are a bit different. We Cyclists find our motivation in the challenge, the adventure, the preparation, the determination, but mostly in the feeling that cycling is a means to get us in, and keep us in, incredibly good shape. We find our reward in feeling like kids again, in improved health, and in being part of a community of fellow cycling enthusiasts.

Cycling is our hobby, not our bread and butter

For each one of you who feel like you are hot stuff in your local area races, remember that there are towns all over this country, all over this world, where cyclists spin the pedals daily achieving and meeting their goals. You are a fish in a magnificent sea of cyclists. This effort is going on daily around the globe.

For each one of you planning your first 40-mile event ride, know that waiting for you is an incredible feeling of accomplishment at the finish line. Plus a squadron of cyclists who will be riding next to you, supporting and sharing your enthusiasm. Nothing feels better than sharing a passion or hobby with others, especially when cycling brings people from such varied backgrounds together on two wheels. You are guaranteed to meet amazing people on a bike.

No effort is too small, no effort too great

I learned a lesson in 2012, some of the most interesting people I met in 2012, I met during my local bike rides or on event rides or at the pro races. They were not pro riders (with the exception of the always fascinating Ted King) or race directors or team managers, they were passionate common cyclists who loved riding a bike. I also learned that most of what I need I already have, most of what I want is in my own back yard. Following my pattern of every other year to Europe, this is my year to stay on home soil.

I have had fun penciling in some rides on my calendar and planning registration. I am thinking about traveling in Colorado, California, Utah, and Oregon this year, plus personally tackling the entire route of the USA Pro Challenge on a bicycle over several weekends. Why not?

Yes, the sport of cycling is growing, read ...
Where are you going to ride in 2013?

2013 Colorado Bike Events and Races
You too can race the cobbles (and in 2013!)
2012 l'Étape du Tour Mondovelo (and in 2013!)
L'Etape du California is back for 2012 (and in 2013!)

The road does not always lead to a podium or to glory, but it does usually lead to satisfaction. 
The end of an exceptional ride !
Man that hurt, man that was great!!