I am a competitive triathlete and compete at the local, regional, and national level. I began competing in triathlons in 2010, coming from a sports background in swimming and running. Back then, I considered myself a runner who tolerated biking in order to compete in the sport.
But in the past few years, particularly as COVID-19 altered the way all athletes trained, I really found my passion for cycling. It not only is a sport I compete in but also consider it in how I commute around the city. Unfortunately, the east side of Metro Detroit is not well suited for bike commutes. I hope this changes in the future. While I continue to focus on all three sports in triathlon training, I consider myself a cyclist now, who tolerates running and swimming.
My Strava feed has been the blog of my life over the past 5 years and I've always wanted to expand upon it. However, I never found the right forum for it until now. What follows below are my thoughts and feelings around he world of cycling, in a conversation with myself, because I could talk for about it for hours; well beyond the capacity of my family and friends, who love me but clearly have heard enough.
31 July 2022 - Tour de France Femmes
This is the first year of a women's tour, which started right after the men's race (well, technically, a few hours before the end, but who's counting?). After watching both tours more-or-less in their entirety, I'm struck by how they seemed remarkably different. The mens race seemed well-coordinated, professional, and planned - like watching an F1 pit crew. The women's race appeared haphazard, contradictory, and amateur. Now, please understand me correctly, in no way am I suggesting the women's physical abilities or potential are any less than the men. All involved are amazing athletes and impressive in their own right. Additionally, it's hard to compare an inaugural race with the a world premiere race that's been around for 120 years, so I acknowledge that challenge. However, I think the disparity highlights a much more important and interesting difference in the sport - money. Just looking at the prize money alone (total $2.7M for men, $250K for women) shows major disparity. But, I like to think bigger than that. Money to support a race, a team, or a world tour and all the trappings required of those things do not come from no where - ultimately it (primarily) comes from corporate sponsorship/advertising. Every aspect of a professional athlete's training and livelihood ties to money via sales/advertising/sponsorship in some way and while I've accepted that commercialization as a fact of life at this point, I think there's a disappointing theme that's playing out in professional sports because of it - the financial disparity between men and women's professional sports. The difference I witnessed between the men's and women's races is not a statement about the differences due to ability, knowledge, or any other human trait, per se. Instead, it is a stark example of the result when the world values one aspect of the sport as financially lucrative, and the other less so; that's very sad.
24 July 2022 - Tour de France
This year, I watched every stage of the Tour, except one. I'm in awe by the fitness and resolve of these cyclists. From a pure mileage standpoint, they ride 100-120 miles per day - in a race - for 21 days, in the mountains, no less. That's impressive enough as it is. But what really struck me this year, more than ever before, is how they can have a bad crash, or two, and still do all that. I had two crashes this year in May within 5 days of each other, the first being less catastrophic than the second. While I was unable to continue riding after the second because the bike was destroyed, I still had the will to continue riding for both, albeit shaken. So yes, in the Tour these are pros and they earn their livelihood through riding and I can understand the desire to get up and continue after a crash, on adrenaline alone. However, the next day, and the days that followed, I was really hurting and didn't want to ride (nevermind, 100s of miles in mountains). That's what impresses me the most - it's not the crash or the immediate pain in the race, per se. It's the lingering. pain and discomfort that affects your life 24 hours a day afterward for days or weeks on end. Can't get comfortable enough to sleep well, hobble around the room when walking, can't sit straight - that's what I remember during the recovery period. Yet these pros are still able to get up the next day, keep their mind focused, and race at a World Tour pace without rest.
20 July 2022 - Catchup year to date
A lot has happened this year that, had I started this earlier, I would have wrote about. But, they form the foundation of my cycling experiences for the year so I should at least summarize them. As of today, I sit with about 2500 miles of biking this year, a little over half of which was indoors (Zwift). That's not a lot of miles by traditional cyclist standards, but it's the most I've ever done in a year and quite sufficient by triathlon standards. I vEverested in March in 16 hours (complete the elevation of Mount Everest in 1 ride on a single (virtual) hill). I rode all the named roads in Troy in April/May (around 500 unique miles worth). I was hit by a car while riding in May, I added 2 new bikes this year for a total of 4 in my collection (yes, I need them all). I won the Armed Forces Triathlon National Championship in June. There's a lot I could have talked about over the past year. Suffice it to say, that if it's not on my mind every day, cycling is at least on my mind nearly every day.