Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Demise of Cyclocross - Part IV: Conclusion

The idea for this topic started when a bunch of us were sitting around drinking beer after a ride one night this past fall. We started talking about the regional cyclocross scene and then about the problems and the sense that it seemed attitudes were changing. People were starting to complain and be more critical than in the past. There also seemed to be an increase in finger pointing. I suggested that maybe I would investigate a few of the topics that I personally felt were issues within not only cyclocross but amateur bicycle racing in New England.

That's how this series started out. What changed throughout the course was a movement towards an introspective. The cold realization was that in my case, the only thing wrong was me in how I was acting upon the negative aspects of cycling and competition for that matter. Though I strive not to, I take myself too seriously, I whine too much and make too many excuses. The image I have used in this series was of my mountainbike racing water bottle stand. It states "Shut up and ride". I put that phrase on it in order to help put things in perspective and to remind myself that when all is said and done, it is just another ride on the bike.

There have been a number of interesting developments throughout the course of this series. Some people along the way have missed the point. We have also seen that any given topic means different things to different people. My rants had specific meaning to me based on my perspective but the same argument could and does have other personal meaning to each reader based on their perspective. For instance, a statement about people taking advantage of the sport has multiple, vastly different meanings based on who is evaluating that statement. This does not necessarily dilute or taint the basis of the statements.

In reality, there is no one thing that is "ruining" cyclocross and for that matter bicycle racing, for me. The problem is simply that the combination of many little things contribute to an overall feeling of dis-satisfaction with the sport at a personal level. For me, the list of those things includes but is not necessarily limited too;

  • taking the sport and oneself too seriously
  • getting too wrapped up in the results
  • trying to be 'pro'
  • trying to do too much
  • people taking but never giving back
  • whining and making excuses
  • alienating and differentiating vs. developing and mentoring

All of these things contributed to my personal loss of motivation and interest. The main ingredients in this recipe for disaster as it is, are simply that I was ill prepared for the season and had unrealistic expectations. Once this started to show itself in the form of poor or inconsistent results, a sort of death spiral was put into motion that I have been unable to pull my way out of. There have been some highlights but for the most part, success has eluded me. Frankly, I don't know how to escape and at this point in the season, I fear that it is too late anyhow. I tell myself that the problem is primarily motivational in the hopes that the fitness I am intermittently able to channel can't really be gone.

The bottom line is that what is leading to the demise of cyclocross for me, is me. The sport as a whole will continue on and depending on what the masses decide, will either grow or will stabilize or in the worst case, will start to decline. The decline or at least the stabilization is inevitable and is bound to happen at some point. With luck there will still be many seasons of prosperity left. That said, it is to the point now where I honestly believe that the sport is saturated. This season we will have 17 weeks of cyclocross racing, with one weekend (Labor Day) reprieve. I know that at this point, I'm ready for a change in scenery. I think that for me, in the future, the schedule will be packed enough that I will need to be more selective about which weekends to race and which to not race. The days of racing both days of the weekend for the entire season simply do not scale any longer. However, having all of these races to pick and choose from is a really nice luxury to have.

The season is winding down quickly. The numbers at the races have started to pare down and people are starting to talk about post season activities and even training for next season. My words of wisdom, if I may be granted the latitude, are to keep it fun because it is just sport and sport is meant to be fun.

Thank you for reading.


MrFrenzy said...

Two things, MKR. Enjoy your good days. Set expectations high enough that you reach them occasionally, but always know there is some dude who can beat you. Enjoy it, anyway.

Second, give back (which you do plenty of,) know you are giving back whether anyone says thanks, and be selfish enough to take great satisfaction in everyone you make enjoy the sport more because of you.

Met very, very few elite athletes who are happy. Think about that.

gewilli said...

I hit bottom hard this year, but me, the most negative, pessimistic emo masters racer (yeah worse than G-ride) has managed to bounce back, find the fun and joy in this sport.

You can go for a mt bike ride, you can go for a road ride but there's nothing you can do to go for a cyclocross ride. You can take your CX bike on the road or trails but that doesn't make it cyclocross.

It's in your soul man, you need NBX as much as it needs you. Although, on second thought, if reg stays at 25 people there's a goat's whisker of a chance i might actually get a single verge point. And Me? with a verge point? can you imagine that? Don't let it happen, come down to RI this weekend

mkr said...

You know what really stinks is that I actually started to get motivated this week to race, and then I got sick. D'Oh!

David said...

For what its worth I really appreciate the mentoring and advice you've given this year. You give back plenty and I have learned a lot from your experience and tips and suggestions, any lack of enthusiasm has not been apparent to me. Watching you battle in Lancaster was a much a highlight as watching JP win at Stirling. From myself and the other newbies you've helped this year Thanks You.