Curious, how do you racers deal with disappointment

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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by davidalone

Some background: Ex- X-ctry runner and triathlete, been road-racing for 4 years now. Last year of college, so essentially it's the last 'serious' season
last weekend my 6-man team went up to a 3 day stage race for the last race of the year and also our 'A' race. team has a climber (me), 2 flat specialists, an all-rounder, and our captain, who's sort of a punchuer. I'm the 'lieutenant' of the team and me and the 'captain' were in the best form of our racing careers. we didn't have all our A+riders but we had a good enough team that we were confident of pulling off a good GC result, maybe take a KOM/sprint jersey.

30km into the first stage theres a massive crash that takes down 30+ riders, 3 of us included. our captain goes down but is miraculously unhurt. another team mate (the all rounder) has his wheels spokes broken (campy boras) and his scott foil frame cracked in 2 places. ( also thankfully only has a sprained wrist as the worst of his injuries.) my bars are broken (cinelli ram) and my sram levers damaged ( could be fixed, but not something done by the roadside in a race situation.) such that I had no rear braking, lose a bottle cage, mavic R-sys spoke gets a crack, and tyre sidewall torn. my own injuries are also, considering the speed of the crash, piddling. ( I get a deep cut from a chainring and some road rash, but thats about it.) 2 of us are of course in no shape to continue and abandon.

our captain, unfortunately, lost 3 minutes to the lead group ( only 1 rider, our weakest member, with him, another made it through the crash with the first group.) so GC was pretty much shot by this point. our priorities shift to trying to take the sprint jersey or win a stage

watching from the sidelines the next day, I watch as our essentially 2-man team tries its best but to no joy. our captain is obviously one of the strongest riders there, and he pulls in some favours with some friends in the peloton, but to no avail. a strong four man team takes all the wins and jerseys. he gets in the break six times over 110 km in 2 stages. weekend is not a total loss as we get a 3rd place in the final sprint.

right now my mind is full of 'what could have beens'. really pissed that all the training has gone down the drain this season, with not much result to show for it. in my mind I'm just really questioning if it's worth it. back when I trained seriously for XC and tri luck wasn't so much of a variable as it is in road racing. here a moment of bad luck means bike damage, training down the hole, and injuries .

okay. rant over

but seriously, how do you guys get over such stuff

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by SpinnerTim

Stories like this are a burn- even to read. I'm really sorry to hear that this happened on a day when you had your form after investing so much time in training. We've all been there, pros included, and I can assure you that you should take heart from a few facts that luck can't change.

1. If you know you're good, have confidence and don't let the result get you down. Luck and ability don't always coincide on race day. Don't doubt yourself. Resilience in the face of disappointment is a racer's skill, just like VO2 max, 5 second sprint power, or other quantifiable factors. Toughness and confidence are harder to measure, but just as real. You know you were good, don't doubt yourself. Absolutely train for your next event, stay tough upstairs, and let the legs follow. Results will come.

2. Go back to the well and revisit what you love about the bike. Take a day or so to skip training and just ride for enjoyment. This allows you to decompress from the competition and recharge your motivation to train. A fun 100 mile round trip to- for instance- an ice cream shop gives you a good chance to do this. Take a fun day on the bike before you dive back into training.

3. Always remember that 99% of people passing you on the street don't have the guts to toe the line and pin on a number. It takes some boldness to commit to training, take the start, look your opponents in their eyes, and measure yourself against them on the road. Most people can't even talk to strangers without becoming self-conscious and defensive. There are tons of people talking trash on the internet, including this forum, who don't race, don't have the heart to race, and can't face the possibility that they might fail publicly. Measuring yourself against others in public view takes guts. If you dared, you win for that reason alone.

Take heart, take a breather, get back to training, and results will sort themselves.


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by swiftvelo

Just look at what happened and learn from it. Life is full of disappointment. That's what I love about bike racing if you don't place in the top three NOTHING. Bad day on the bike during a really hard crit race you get pulled. In a couple years you'll look back and laugh about the race with your team mates.

This will not be the last you get to deal with disappointment.

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by Craigagogo


Ride closer to the front of the peloton whenever possible.

If you are that strong you belong there.

Hardly ever see crashes @ the front.

Most races are won from the front.

Its just the way it is.
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by davidalone


yea we were at the front. I was in the front 20 bikes when it happened, and in a race of chaotic 180 odd riders fihgting for position I'd say thats pretty near the front. just one of those freak things that happens.

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by artray

You can never know what is going to happen in any walk of life . If you are enjoying your racing then carry on . Maybe the next race things will work out for you . You can only do your best . You cannot account for crashes mech fails or even the odd dog running in the road. Look at Andy Schlecks mech disaster ...good luck

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by Craigagogo

davidalone wrote:@craigagogo

yea we were at the front. I was in the front 20 bikes when it happened, and in a race of chaotic 180 odd riders fihgting for position I'd say thats pretty near the front. just one of those freak things that happens.

Then just keep on doing what you are doing, success will come, it is worth the effort.
More than 10 years a Weenie!

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by Rick

In every race, all ~200 people trained hard and want to win. Dissapointment is much more likely than success. That is why there is a continual turnover of old, burned-out racers, and new, eager racers. If you still have the drive, internally, to train, just forget about it, learn, and start preparing for the next big race. :thumbup:

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by Craigagogo

I am sure everybody trains hard but realistically there is usually 5 to 10 % of the field capable and expected to win. Train hard, train smart and race smart to get yourself into the 5 to 10% lucky few...oh, and stay off the drugs! :evil:
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Tinea Pedis
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by Tinea Pedis

Spinner Tim is spot on the money. Especially points 2.) and 3.)

I feel your pain, my collar bone was broken in similar sort of circumstances 3 months ago and it destroyed the most important part of my season.

Look at Jens. After that horrific crash he could have racked it and walked away from the bike. If racing is what you love then stuff like this (unfortunately) comes along with it.

As much as it still galls me to think it...that's racing.

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by Tapeworm

Or take up time trialling. Generally only one person to blame in a crash...
"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG

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by drhule23

I think SwiftVelo may have said it best. I think cycling and racing can teach a lot of things about hard work and humility.
The more you suffer, the closer you get to transcendence.
It's not the mountain you're climbing, it's yourself. If you don't want to know, stay at the bottom.

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by shoopdawoop

Lifes cruel, but not as cruel as bike racing!

My dad and uncle who are life long racers have always told me that; over the course of this season I crashed three or four times and broke my wrist, collarbone and was covered in road rash. You just have to accept that with our fast paced awesome sport its going to happen. If it didn't cycling wouldn't be nearly as fun! The worst crash was my last one and my first as a cat 3; it was a fast crit that I was doing really well in and staying at the front and in the last turn I was 4th position for the sprint and the guy in front of me laid down his bike and took me with him. He walked away with a big cut and I had two broken bones and the guy being me had a punctured lung and a very visible chainring across his back.

This was my first season and I was feeling very discouraged and almost quit; but I just kept riding with no structure and just enjoyed it for awhile. And wouldn't you know it a week or two or three, after each crash I was ready and excited to race again :thumbup:

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by nathanong87

once u realize that stuff happens that are out of your control often and you cannot change the past, it puts things into perspective somewhat.

sure there are days where u feel so strong, riding top 5 in the group and still #4 crashes in front of you somehow , relagating you to the back of the bunch. It happens.

way easier said than done, but to dwell on the past reall strains my mental state and in a sport that i consider to be at most a competitive hobby.... i chose to not waste energy on thinking about what was. Just keep shooting for the next race, the next day. U'll get it sooner or later =)

also i've come to realize really quickly that cycling especially the winning percentage is very very minimal. Riders might go their entire amateur careers without a win, just the nature of the sport. So if you do end up taking a win or getting a jersey, savor that moment!

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by Courant

During my late-teens/early 20s I competed at a high level in another sport. Quite different to bike racing, and far less physical injury risk, but the themes are identical. Those 5 years saw some of the biggest highs and lows of my life. Ironically the lowest low came right after our biggest success, when "normality" resumed and day-to-day life didn't seem quite worth it any more. Other than that, the grind, the training, the complete bomb-outs, the near-misses, led to a cycle of one of our team, at any one point in time, needing motivational support. And, actually, I think our most successful season came not because we were training harder/smarter or were generally better than everyone else, rather that we'd figured-out, as a team, the tricks to maintaining our spirit and morale no matter what happened, thus we were better placed to take advantage of opportunities as they came our way (success in sport is probabilistic!).*

So, my advice is this: completely separate from training, nutrition, race strategy, etc., view the art of keeping you and your team-mates happy and motivated as a completely separate challenge, and something to master. Work on it consciously. SpinnerTim's suggestions are excellent, particularly finding ways of keeping perspective and enjoying the sport and the company of your team-mates for their own sake. Also, try to assess your performance independent of results, because you can only control what you can control.

Good luck, where you are is not a nice place to be, so you have my sympathies, but things do get better!

*(The funniest instance of this - in hindsight, though I was freaking out at the time, because we had just been trashed and I could see things falling apart - was my captain/room-mate, mid-way through a major competition, completely flipping out and saying to me, "I need to go and get drunk" - I knew our coach would have hit the roof but I figured my captain's mental condition was more important than his physical one at that stage, so we snuck out of the hotel and hit the town in quite a large fashion. Next day was written off - no competition, phew! - but the day after he regained his head and we managed to recover as a team to do pretty well.)

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