• Leigh

So why do I race ?

This is a question I have been asked a few times, usually followed by the statement 'at your age' - as if it's like being aged nearly 50 should basically mean I sit in the corner and just wait for death to appear.

So do I race to to keep old age and death from my door ? Er nope.....

Is it because I am competitive by nature ? God no ! I am the least competitive person I know... over the course of my life I have done both shooting and archery and won a few medals and trophies across the years but was that because I trained hard and focussed for those events to ensure I peaked at the right time and was able to beat my opponents ? Er nope.... I won simply because I happened to shoot better than the others on that day, didn't really care about medals/trophies - just like my cycling all I wanted to do is have fun !

I was once taking part in a 2 day Field Archery tournament and was grouped with a gentleman who was fighting for a medal in his class at the end of day 1. Day 2 started, it was the first target of the day of a 40 target course. Out of the 4 in our group he shot last and his arrow was deflected out of the pro ring by the other people's arrows into the main part of the target - he had hit the target, he had scored points but by no fault of his own he had scored less points than expected..... and that was it, that one simple deflection of his arrow had cost him a medal as he knew he had lost enough points on that first target to no longer be able to be in with a chance - you could see he knew that and his whole attitude changed from that moment for the rest of the day. I remember thinking how crap that must be, imagine being so competitive that if you lose any chance of winning your day is ruined - damn I was happy if I hit the target at the end of the day and because of that I enjoyed it a lot more I suspect.

Now I know some people may find those statements a bit weird - surely the whole point of racing is the competition and about being successful and top of your game - and I do understand that, but it just isn't me, of course I do know a few people who love nothing more than to paste all over Instagram, Facebook and wherever else they can get attention from about their latest bit of tin they've won or latest achievement but these people I have found just want attention, it's the whole 'look at me' thing and I pity them for craving that attention - you may well have more followers than me but guess what I don't care lol !

And there is an interesting statement - I Don't Care......

I think this is one of the best things about growing old, the inability to give a damn about things, to not care what people say or think, to understand that people will not care about what you look like or what you wear, to realise that you don't need attention, 1000's of friend's, lots of followers and constant 'likes'. It doesn't matter if you finish first, in the middle or you're the last person in - at the end of the day in all honesty no one cares lol ! I have found that my life improved drastically when I realised these simple facts.

OK, some people will care, people who compete at the top of their game care - they have to - but weirdly I also find they don't plaster their success all over social media or bang on about it - perhaps once you have success you don't crave the attention ? Who knows !

So back to the question as I appear to have gone off track a little....

Why do I race ? So we know it's not because I am trying to avoid old age and it's not because I'm competitive so why do I ?

A statement I hear often is 'I am only competing with myself' meaning it is about bettering your achievements and improving your abilities, now that I can relate to as I like to see improvement in things that I do but I can do that without having to race so it can't be that either.

Perhaps it's the camaraderie - I have gained a lot of great friends through racing and going to events etc. As I tend to focus on Endurance races (6/12/24 hour races) they usually entail at least one nights camping and quite often involve an entire weekend away. Now of course you all camp together and have a few beers the night before with a BBQ etc etc and that is a big part of the experience for me so I think we can say that plays a part.

The more I am doing this post the more I am realising that there is not a definitive answer to the question why do I race so if you were waiting on that nugget of information I apologise now !

I think the simplest reason is - It's Fun !

Yes put simply I enjoy the events and the races, the atmosphere, the people, the noise, the music, the camping, the social element of meeting up with old friends and making new ones, the build up and planning and the simple fact I get to go out and ride my bike ! I wonder if I was younger and hadn't reached the 'I don't care' part of my life that it would feel the same ? I guess I will never know but currently I love doing these events and cannot wait until the next one !

Of course I do some training, this is simply so I can enjoy the events as much as I can, I don't train to be competitive and to be in with a chance of winning but I do train so that I can enjoy the race a lot more - I train to increase my fun !

I know people are put off by racing - they imagine it to be ultra competitive, no room for amateurs or slow people and that they'll make a fool of themselves. I am hoping that by this post sharing the fact that I am not fast, competitive, professional or stand any chance of being anywhere near a podium and that I do this because it's FUN may well help to get them to have a go, give it a try and sign up for an event - you won't regret it, trust me it's fun like I say.

CAVEAT - if I suddenly do well at a race I WILL plaster it all over social media and will expect a dramatic increase in likes and followers lol

Well that's enough for now, see you on the next one.....