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I have just about had it with racing........(31 posts)

I have just about had it with racing........Badger
Apr 22, 2001 3:02 PM
I am just about done with racing. I travel to AZ to get some early season quality miles in, my job suffers as I try to get out in the day light and train four to five days a week, up to 12hours a week, with two fast race training days, one to two long days, a couple of recovery days, and specific solo sprint or climbing training. I read all the books, try to eat right, the whole late part of the week is focused around the race (eat right, check the bike over, spin the day before, travel)......AND I STILL GET SPIT OFF THE BACK AS A CAT IV.

I am not getting out of this sport what I am putting in. I can hang "ok" in the training rides, not the best, but I hang in there, then on race day, a whole new me shows up and embarrasses myself and my wife in front of family and my riding friends. Even today, small circuit race with one small climb, I was one of the first dropped. I soft-pedaled for a couple of laps, rejoined the pack and still was dropped at the climb again within two more laps.

I know its early, but why am I wasting all this time during the week,money on parts and races and the time on Sunday, with no chance of placing well, when I could be paying attention to the house and my wife. ALl I talk about is biking and thats all my non-riding friends ask me about. Here I am supposed to be this big biker, but I am a joke.

Why train and ride if you are not going to race?

I am venting and ranting and maybe this will be part of my therapy. Some days, I count my blessings that I even can ride, when i see people who would love a chance to ride a bike, or even ride it 20 miles, when I talk about doing 80 miles that day. But, my only goal with this sport is to win one measly medal, AND NOT when I am 67 years old in a class of one or two other riders. I just want to "be in the mix" and be part of the finishing sprint. After many years....I have only felt that once or twice after doing 20+ races a year.

Convince me that I should stay with this sport.
i dont know if i should convince youjohn de
Apr 22, 2001 5:35 PM
you could always spend your time fishing...or something the way did this race happend to be at penn state...i got dropped at that race today, my first race ever...hang out with the kids and wife, there are alot of things to do out there, maybe your wife needs to push you around more..
re: I have just about had it with racing........must_pedal_harder
Apr 22, 2001 6:19 PM
I'm not sure exactly what you have a case of, but I'm guessing a lack of achievement.

I most definatly hear where you're coming from. I've never in my life been really 'great' at something - more of a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Most of my friends think I am a genius in "x", "y", and the other thing, and it's a big let down sometimes when I can't produce on par with their expectations.

As a runner I was never that great at anything. Ran a 13 second 100 and then stayed there for a few years in middle school. Now I can run a 26 second 200 but it's still not good enough to get anywhere. Can just break 60 seconds in the 400 but I have close friends that run 53 400's. I essentially die in my 800's, running in at a ~2:20 time. My miles, even worse at 6mins and usually finishing last in my heat - I know how it feels - it sucks.

I've never been so sure or unsure about anything in life as I have about cycling. I always loved going out as a kid riding and now I'm training for my first races in the summer. You would think that someone who runs a 6 min mile wouldn't be able to compete in something so arduous as a 30-100 mile race and sometimes I ask myself that too.

I know for a fact that I would probably just drop dead after a 50+mile race (then again I'm only 16), but I frequently drop friends who run better mile splits (5 mins or less) in their two mile races then my best single mile time. I feel good for a 20 mile deal right now, but I'm working my way up to past 40 so hopefully I can put up more of a fight then now.

Anyway, I hear you - no one person can convince you to keep racing though. Last year I did it because I couldn't help myself, wasting away doing nothing but slowly as the days go by, become another person in the crowd - out of shape.

Keeping with my training has been hard though, since I don't have any real "training buddies" to keep pushing me. I do it though, because I have to. We all hate it, no one honestly likes pushing their bodies to their absolute limits for hours on end. The pain in the legs, the burn in the lungs. No one really likes it - yet we still do it. Maybe we like abusing ourselves? Or maybe it's that hope that one day we might actually win something.

:/ I apologize if I'm sounding a bit incoherent, it must be the hour of day. Just letting you know you're not alone.
This sport takes time...RobO
Apr 22, 2001 6:48 PM
to learn how to ride. Last year out of ten or so races I finished one. Every single other race I got dropped, and lapped, and then axed by the official. I worked hard over the fall and winter, and now I'm in contention for the sprint. I can recommend two things to you, one thing is you might want to consider a coach. He'll be able to help you with your training and your racing technique. The other thing I can recommend is take up mountain bike racing. It's easier and it will keep your morale up. Plus you can go smoke pot with the mountain bikers.
I know it does.....Badger
Apr 22, 2001 6:53 PM
I have been racing since 1992, first mtn and for the last four years, road. Its not that I need to be patient......I think I have done that in spades to this point........
PerspectiveMass Biker
Apr 22, 2001 7:26 PM
I've been racing for well over ten years (including collegiate). At times my form runs hot. Quite often it runs cold. What makes it worthwhile though (for me, anyway) is being part of a team and contributing to that team's success. Not too long ago, I learned that vague goals "I want to win today" were the sure way to frustration in this sport. Around the same time, I realized that having a specific goal on race day ("cover breaks", "lead out designated sprinter") made the ups and downs that much more bearable. And in the process, I have come to understand the true meaning of the saying: "what comes around, goes around". In other words, approaching each race as a team makes each individual rider stronger. And the efforts and sacrifices you make for your teammates, are paid back in ways too many to mention, and allow you to achieve results that you couldn't get on your own. I'm not going to be a Cat. 1 anytime soon, nor do I want to be. But I do want my efforts (training, racing etc.) to make a difference - being part of a cohesive team is one way of achieving that. Just another rider's/racer's perspective. - MB
mountainbike racing easier???mondo mike
Apr 23, 2001 5:55 AM
i think that lance said, after his first pro mountainbike
race that " it was the hardest race i ever done " lots of
people smoke pot, not just mountainbikers, but roadracers
as well.

i think the word " OVER TRAINED " has something to do with it
MTB racing easier? Ya right...J.S.
Apr 23, 2001 8:03 AM
Come out to California and race a Vet expert race and tell me it's easier, please. In crit or circuit races you can sit in and barely get your heart rate up, in a MTB race there is no hiding in the pack. I also know of plenty of pot head roadies.
Watch out...There are a few MTB racers around here too...biknben
Apr 23, 2001 5:24 PM
I would compare MTB racing to a road Time Trial. After the first, usually brutal climb, you spend most of the race by yourself. It's just you and the pain. Those who win are the best at ignoring the pain.
The only thing easier about a MTB race is that YOU determine your own pace at all times. If you're about to blow, you can just take it easy for a moment and regroup. In a road race, the pace is often determined by the group you are in. If you fall off the back it's all over, so you fight to keep up.

It's different...but far from easy.

BTW: I know you didn't mean to offend. I'm just sticking up for all us dirt lovers.
RE: Watch out...There are a few MTB racers around here too...RobO
Apr 23, 2001 6:10 PM
I actually started cycling mountain bike racing. The advice I gave was exactly what happened last year. I could win sport races, but I finished one 4s race out of nearly a dozen starts. Mountain bike racing was the only thing that kept my morale up enough to finish out the season, and keep training over winter. I found it easier to get results in mountain bike racing versus road racing.
Apples and OrangesRoger
Apr 24, 2001 8:57 AM
road racing (or crits) compared to mtb racing (xc) is like comparing apples to oranges. They're completely different except they're both considered a fruit (bicycling). Each has it's different mental games, each has it's different type of pain, and different type of efforts required. For example, at a mtb race the start begins at the gun, it's complete effort from the first pedal stroke, where as in a crit (and in some road races) the race doesn't start until you're in sniffing distance of the finish. The funniest thing I heard at the beginning of a crit when two guys immediatly tried to go off the front hard was "Hey what the hell are you guys doing we're not even racing yet?" I started laughing to myself as others chimed in to the same tune. They were all just content to wait it out until the final two laps, and then began racing. Sure, those two laps hurt but it was a different hurt than a mtb race.

In short, each type of racing just exposes different weaknesses or strengths in our riding and racing abilities. Neither is harder or easier than the other just different.
You're rightRobO
Apr 25, 2001 8:07 PM
Mountain biking, you can go out by yourself, and learn how to ride single track.
You cannot go out by yourself and learn how to group ride, where to position yourself during the ride, and where to position yourself for the last couple laps (or the race).
But I still stick to my original point, it takes more training to succeed in a 4s race then in a sport race, most definatly a citizen race.
yeah you need to know what you're doingRoger
Apr 27, 2001 7:39 AM
like you said, positioning etc. Where as a mtb race put your head down and go till ya blow! ;0)

Good luck in your racing.
i feel the same way...jayz
Apr 23, 2001 3:18 AM
i came on here this morning to post just about the same message...
i have raced mnt bike for the last few years and this was my first year for road racing.
did my first cat5 race (ever) yesterday and got dropped...
i trained all winter..felt a ton stronger, lighter, and leaner than last year... i honestly thought i was going to be upfront and do great. oh well....i guess...
i sulked for a little bit, put it behind me (sort of) and just gonna focus on training harder and someone suggested, i meeting with a coach this week to review my training plan and get some advise from him.

funnny though, i opened my email and a message from the president ended in this quote:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts . The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day." - Charles Swindo
If its not fun, why do it?Onrhodes
Apr 23, 2001 5:41 AM
My 2 cents, and definitely very opinionated. Okay, you ask yourself why ride if you're not going to race? That has got to be one of the most absurd questions I have ever had to endure. Do you ride because you like it? or do you ride to race? If you ride just to race, you're cycling career is going to be filled with many dissappointments. That one comment from you alone seems to seal it for me. I ride because I love it. If I wasn't racing, I would still ride. Why? because I love the bike. I like what riding has done for me over the years. Yes, much of it has revolved around racing, but some of my most epic of moments have come just from being out with some friends who share the same passion as me. I've seen parts of this state that I live in that very few people every do. I went on a mtn bike ride once while at college. We went up towards this place called Plymouth Mtn. On the top of this, out in the middle of nowhere and literally miles from any sort of house let alone stop light or store is a graveyard. In that graveyard are headstones datiang back to the early 1700's. There are even some that dedicate the loss of a soldier in the REVOLUTIONARY WAR. That is very cool. That is also just one of the many stories I have about why I ride. To discover new things about myself and my surrounding.
I ask you this (and to quote Ben & Jerry). If it's not fun, why do it? Are you more fit then if you didn't ride? How has it helped your health in general?
I hope that you're not basing your self worth on how you finish in some race? That to me would seem pretty sad. It's just a race. Thats all.
Again, just me opinion.
let me rephrase....jayz
Apr 23, 2001 6:35 AM
oh, i totally agree with you...if i hated this, i would be off doing something else for sure.
and if i decided not to race anymore, then i would still ride for fun.
but you have to admit, that you definately do ride differently when you are planning to race, than when you are just riding for fun.

i love to be on my bike not matter what i am doing...but i would have to say that there are days, when i am rushing from work, i dont feel good, etc...but i still go out and ride because i know if only ride when i 'FEEL' like it, then my racing would suffer.

i still have fun at races, even when i suck (thats alot of the time) but i was just hoping for some better results..thats all...

yes, you should be having fun...but when you are setting goals for YOUR racing season, did you say:
"eh...ill ride whenever i feel like it...during races ill just sit in the back and talk to people...if i feel like eating a gallon of ice cream, thats cool.....hey there is a party on the saturday night before my race, ill go out drinking all night"
probably not, because you have goals...and that takes some sacrifising.

i think my point and everyone else who had a bad race this weekend was that we put soooo much time and effort into it, but really didnt see the results we were hoping for..
was it still fun? of course..
was it a little dissapointing? of course... done beating myself up about it....ill do better next time...and if not then...then the time after that.

thanks for the advise...
did you go to.....jayz
Apr 23, 2001 7:18 AM
the Adelphia race??? you ride for CSA, right?
i saw a bunch of thier jerseys flying by :)
Apr 23, 2001 8:31 AM
Yup. We had 3 guys in the 3 field, 2 in the Pro/1/2 and 1 in the 4's
Awesome course, bad luck. I flatted on the last lap after hitting a guy who crashed. I hope he feels that whack today.
performance anxiety!rollo tommasii
Apr 23, 2001 5:31 AM
Hmmmm, you're comment about "the whole new me" is quite revealing. As a student, did you comprehend the subjects well but test poorly? Are you a good public speaker?

Performance anxiety can come in many forms, totally unconsciously. It may not even matter whether or not family or friends watching. "They" are always in your minds' eye, and your fears are amplified through what you think they expect out of you.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you imagine everyone in the pack is racing naked, but positive imagery (coupled with attainable goals as Mass Biker suggests - bridge gaps, cover the break, etc) will focus your mind and your body to a common goal.

I sympathise with your predicament - I consider myself a 'pro' Cat 4 (ha!), and I've had some embarrassing times but I've also won a race. So the bad is with the good, but sometimes it's easier to beat up on yourself than find anything good in yourself. Surely you had the greatest of joy in the pack during that circuit race? Felt comfortable in the group? It was just the hill, right? Don't forget those lighter weight slacker climber types who soft pedal for miles just to launch on the climbs. It's their fault you got dropped!! (ha ha, hows' that for reverse psychology) Did anyone try to attack a mile or so from the climb, to spoil the climbers? (oh, am I gonna get it for the slacker comment!!!) But that's racing - a hundred different agendas about how the finish line should be attained. Perhaps your group training rides are "too" organised, that is to say too predictable (same sprints at the same old sign) and without the chaos of a race. Mentally, on your training rides, you know what to expect; in a race, it's the unexpected that nails you (funny, you don't seem worried about crashing, so you must be a pretty good bike handler). Suddenly the hill becomes bigger than it is....

Do you have teammates, or even just a riding partner that you race with? Sometimes just having someone you know helps, as you can support each other at the moment it seems hardest. I know, I've really been there - that half-a-wheel gap becomes a full bike length then immediately becomes a mile wide. Despair is as long as that half-wheel gap.

I'll be racing on the for the first time in about two years this weekend (long boring story), and I'm really nervous. The training is done for the body, the bike has been washed, the tires checked. This week is all about a long steady ride on Wednesday or Thursday, and lots of positive energy.

I could get shelled, I could get a flat, who knows. But the process continues.....
Nice post Rollo!!JBergland
Apr 23, 2001 8:02 AM
Cycling is a lot more than training and racing. If a person measures their cycling by how high they finish (or don't finish) in a race, well... I don't believe there would be too many of us racing. There is only one first place... only one top ten, etc.

The phrase 'It's not the destination, it's the journey' comes to mind. I'm going to be racing in my first 'real' Road Race this Saturday and have goals of a top 10-15 place. I spent 5-6 years being only semi active (just enough to keep those extra pounds off and the waste line at 32) and only started cycling in 97-98. I have done a lot of 'work' over this winter and like the results. What if I get shelled out the back on Saturday?? Well... so what!! I'm a better cyclist than I was last year. I'm a stronger rider than I was a couple months ago. I've gotten better every year and I'm ALWAYS learning something new. Would I continue cycling even if I was never a even close to staying with the group during a race? Sure I would. Racing just woundn't be as big a reason why I cycle. For me, there are plenty of reasons why I LOVE this sport. It's never about just ONE thing!!
Nice post from you JB! :-)bigdave
Apr 23, 2001 11:44 AM
Especially the way you concluded it... it's the destination not the journey, and to keep in mind the positives rather than flog yourself over it.

You know, I've been dropped in my three races this year... but I'm 50 lbs lighter than a year ago, I am faster... I'm good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me. :-) (sorry stuart smalley)

You folks on this board are great influences.

Blame your genes...gromit
Apr 23, 2001 7:30 AM
Go on...blame your mom and dad...they made you into the puny weakling you are. You may never be able to win a race no matter how hard you train because there is always someone else out there who is naturally better than you, they can train half as well as you and still leave you dying in the gutter.
So, quit riding? I say no.
Quit racing? if you truly feel you have given it your all and still don't enjoy it then I say yes. What are you trying to prove?
Give up before your wife gets fed up with all your wasted time and energy.
Don't quitSmart A.
Apr 23, 2001 10:01 AM
If nothing else, at least your contributing money to the sport. True, if you've been racing for 4 years and still can't hang in a cat IV pack, you're probably never going to make any impack, other than becomming a running joke with the other racers.
From a chick in the same boatMichelle
Apr 23, 2001 1:35 PM
I had the same exact experience this past weekend. Got dropped in the first 1/4 mile and was thinking "what the F*$% is wrong!" I've ridden with 1/2 of these people before, KNOW that I'm as strong as them, but cant seem to hang! Beyond the psychology part of it, someone said that sometimes low iron can be a cause for poor performance. Two of my friends agreed (male and female) that when they started taking iron, it made a WORLD of difference. It may be worth having a blood check done to see if your iron count is low....
or cook in cast iron skillets ...Breck
Apr 24, 2001 12:12 PM
bee sure and add tomatoes as they draw out the iron.

works for me :)

yeah I know, retro ,etc.
ci-skillets & dt-shifters.

Apr 23, 2001 9:12 PM
Badger, I read your post and can sense your serious frustration. I don't think it's unreasonable and it's certainly good you've got the perspective to view yourself as lucky in the sense that you have the ability to ride at all. That said, I have several reactions to your post. I'll lay 'em out in no particular order.

Before I make a few points, and by way of reference, I'm a fellow racer (Cat. 2) and my life sounds very similar to yours to the extent that my week is highly structured around cycling. Like you, I also have to balance my other commitments with cycling. While I don't have a wife or house, I'm a fairly busy lawyer with a soon-to-be fiancee, so I can relate to your situation.

Alrighty, then. First, and this has been alluded to in other responses, you've gotta ride and race b/c you enjoy it, period. It's great and very effective to be driven by racing and race goals, but if you lose sight of the fundamental underlying enjoyment, cycling can become an albatross. Training can become a chore and make you miserable. This is particularly true if you are corolating everything to race results (which, I think, is the case with you based on your comment, "why train and ride if you aren't going to race?"). It can all ironically evolve into something unhealthy that can have a seriously detrimental effect on your mental well-being, physical health and relationships (I went overboard when I was a serious young up-and-comer, so I have a pretty decent frame of reference).

Referring to yourself as "a joke", speaking of "embarrasing yourself and wife", etc., these are huge, unmistakable and familiar signals to me that you need to reevaluate your cycling/life balance. Taking some time off the bike may be the best move you could make. It could help you rediscover a passion for bicycle riding that's been a wee bit obscured by your single-minded focus on race results. A break could also help your race results (see below). Consider a trip with the wife and w/o the bike.

Second point. I fully understand the frustration of getting dropped and not getting results, especially when you're training hard. I agree with another poster who suggested getting a coach, preferably someone local who you can see and talk to one on one. While your very generally-described program sounds reasonable (#hours /wk., reading cycling books, eating/sleeping right, etc.), my guess is that you need to focus on some weaknesses that have been largely or completely ignored. For example, you may need to do more intervals, less intervals, longer intervals, hill intervals, criterium intervals, ride easier on easy days and harder on hard days, get more sleep, pick different races, work on tactics, use your heart rate monitor differently, change your diet, lose weight, etc. A coach, even just a decent one, could provide some objectivity that could lead to a major breakthrough.

A huge thing might be to DECREASE your mileage (see more, below). I struggled like hell as a Cat. 3 for about 25 races. No results, none, until I nearly halved my weekly mileage but increased intensity. Very shortly thereafter (like 2 weeks later), I placed top five in big-field races on six consecutive weekends. It was purely a matter of incorrect training for the events and distances I was racing....

You say you read all the books, so I'm sure you've glanced at the following, but here are the main ones I turn to in case you don't have 'em: Borysewicz' Complete Book of Bicycle Racing (very old-world and outdated but still one of the best reference books I've ever read), LeMond's Complete Book of Bicycling, Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible, Phinney/Carpenter's Training for Cycling, Burke's Serious Cycling. Armstrong and Carmichael stuff is also good. By the way, read Borysewicz' (pp.123-126) and LeMond's (pp.258-261) comments on master's racers. While you may not be master's age, you're currently racing Cat. 4 distances and you've got a w
TIME TO REFLECT ON LIFE AND RACING (Conclusion)baldkingpin
Apr 23, 2001 9:17 PM
... wife and house and full-time job, so his advice re: mileage and racing/life balance are highly applicable.

Badger, my strong suspicion is that you DO have the ability to be "in the mix", as you put it. If you really want it, you can probably also attain your goal of getting a medal, upgrading to Cat. 3, whatever. If you can hang in training rides, even if it's only "ok" hanging, you've got a baseline level of physical ability (VO2 max, etc.) that you can build upon. However, as another poster put it, training rides are generally more predictable and do not call for (hence, don't create) the things you'll need in a race. You probably need specific interval training to be able to hang/excel in races. Again, read Borysewicz or LeMond on this topic, they have sections directly on point. Above all else, and before anything else, I'd get a handle on how cycling and racing fits into your life to make sure you control it and not vice versa. You gotta get the happy back, my man. Otherwise, your opening premise "I am just about done with racing..." may, unfortunately, be the best route.
Apr 24, 2001 12:56 PM
Baldkingpin, thanks.

Your comments ring true, and I thank you for your time on this. What you said helped more than the calls I had with my other cycling buddies after the race. Where I was hurting last weekend was on a short, steep climb. It was a short circuit race, and by the time we came around to the hill again, I had just recovered from the previous lap.

I know I need to work on power, hill climbs and a few more intervals. BTW, I think one of the things that may have affected my last race that prompted all of my whining, was that I was at the onset of getting sick and did not know it. I am a doctor, and had a patient on Saturday with Strep throat and the flu, and he was hacking in the room the entire time I was there. I washed up pretty thoroughly after, but in the race, I just "felt different". I didnt quite feel like that any previous time with racing or training. Later yesterday (Monday), it hit the point where I spent today laying on the couch and watching Speedvision and bike race tapes all day. I will miss our weekly training race tonight, but I plan to be up and back at it this weekend.

I will probably skip this weekend. Its a three hour drive to race for 24 miles. But I will be back. I love to compete, and I love the feeling of crossing the finish line. Maybe because I didnt finish last week, I missed out on that feeling, and I felt like a failure.

Thanks though........its good to have common sense spoken when I tend to overreact to things. Best wishes!
reading al theses replies...trackie
Apr 26, 2001 11:14 AM
has made me realize that i'm not alone!!!! I'm trying to get my motivation up to do the local crit tonite even though i know i'll be dropped halfway through. I am just using it as a way to get in touch for the track season starting up in june, but it still is super depressing to go into a race knowing that you'll get dropped. Nothing to it but to work harder I guess!!
Life is too shortrompus
May 1, 2001 9:05 PM
Way to short to dwell on these things. Look at the paper at the young people dying! You are alive and healthy REJOICE! you have a wife and family REJOICE! You have the physical ability to ride REJOICE. No I am not religious. We can't all be Lance or Eddie,we just were not born with it. You obviously have the drive to train the way you do. 90 percent of the fat americans couldn't do one eighth of what you do. Get up and kick ass and just know you gave it your all.Jeez I should have been a preacher
re: I have just about had it with racing........NEIL
May 3, 2001 1:19 PM
I've been there.

10 years ago I was just like you. I lived, breathed, and slept bikes and racing. I was between high school and college, had no job, and just rode every day hard, trained with the team several times a week, drove to races. When I wasn't riding, I was thinking about bikes, followed all the pros, and became a self-taught bike mechanic. I did well, moved up to a Cat 3, even won 5 races in a season, won two district gold medals, and qualified for junior nationals, ( I never went), and was competive with a lot of Cat 2s. I raced for 4 years. But, really, the only person who really cared what place I came in was me. I'd do all that, collect some money, and go home. I was lucky if somebody even acknowledged the weekend's achievement on the following tuesday ride. The purpose of the whole insane cycle was to prove yourself to the next guy, to gain some kind of unspoken respect. Most of the team guys were arrogant and unfriendly anyway, which threw coals on the fire for me.

I grew tired of all this and had to make a life balancing decision. I really enjoyed training more than racing. I'd get all stressed out on race day and sometimes would psych myself out before it started. Despite the attitudes, I seemed to thrive on the team training "races" which weren't very organized and usually turned into a "last man standing" situation. But, I liked it because in the end it didn't matter, no entry fee, and the chances of crashing were much less. I realized that if I wanted to succeed in other areas of life, I had to make some adjustments in my cycling. I know it was for the better.

Now, I still show up at group rides and ride as hard and as smart as I can, but racing is not a priority anymore. When some young kid at a group ride asks me if I am racing this season, I just say, no I'm retired. I ride because I love to ride and I love bikes, but I think I've learned by now that you just have to swallow your ego and pride, and not get all hung up about results. It's hard, I know. I still stuggle sometimes when I can't ride like I used to, and it hurts inside, but my performance on the bike doesn't validate me as a person. I used to chase this never ending idea way too much. If you're not having fun, don't do it. That's got to be the first prerequisite. Nobody pays you to ride for results.