If you missed the many track and field athletes during the Olympics who nearly missed qualifying for the next round by easing up before the finish line, then a reminder from one of sport’s wisest sages is in order.
"It ain’t over till it’s over." - Yogi Berra
Oh, and this will drive the point home, too, if Yogi didn’t.
I love getting the opportunity to race two different categories at the same race: more racing for all that traveling. But for some reason I hate pinning on numbers. Maybe it’s because I’m picky about pinning numbers properly: not pulling awkwardly, tearing holes in my jersey, catching wind, poking me, closing jersey pockets, pinning my jersey and undershirt together, or being invisible to the camera. Whatever it is, I have found that pinning both numbers on at once saves me a lot of time the second time around that day.
Just pin on both numbers, one on top of the other, then use a scissors to cut the first number off (super quick) or just remove one pin at a time from the top number, pull up that corner of the top number and replace the pin only in the bottom number—this avoids finding the right position again for the second number.
The last couple of weeks many of us watched the many of the world’s best athletes during the Olympic Games. While they raced, jumped, lifted, hit, and shot through their competitions, the camera often caught their coaches giving advise or family and friends cheering them on. The athletes were competing with their teammates or on their own, but they definitely did not make it to the Olympics on their own. MSN has an article, The high price of raising of Olympian, which talks about how much time, money, and effort go into making a successful athlete. New bicycle racers (and their families) should be aware of the commitment needed to become the best. In addition to a lot of hard work, time, planning, focus, expertise, some talent, and a bit of luck, reaching one’s potential requires money, coaches, advisers, sponsors, equipment, teammates, mentors, competitors, and much more that an athlete cannot provide on their own. As you learn, develop, and progress as an athlete, look to include as many people as you can in your goals—the bigger the goals, the bigger your support group will likely have to be.
Of course, as one of the parents in the article mentioned, if he’d have known how much it would take to support his son, he never would have done it. So maybe it’s best you don’t know ahead of time and just go for it.
It’s wishlist time! No, the reindeer are not stopping by anyone’s house, but the time for end-of-year sales, team clothing orders, cold weather riding, and planning for next season will be here before you know it. You know you’ve been yearning for a set of super fast wheels, the newest supercomputer on a stem, and that ultra light, electronic, carbon-weave thing-a-ma-jig. Sure, add that to your list, but let’s be a little more practical than that.
Will your bike fit next season? By fit, I don't mean “matches my team clothes,” but for juniors, will you look like you’re racing a BMX bike if you don’t get something that actually fits? If your bike doesn’t fit, it’s hard to ride at all, so add this to the top of the list—just be careful not to expect custom carbon.
Next, take inventory of your gear. What tools, parts, spare items, or gear are you missing? Did you find that cheap chain tool doesn’t just fail to break a chain link but actually breaks the chain? Have you gone through all your spare tubes or worn down your training tires to the casing (or will soon)? Are you limping through the season with a shifter that got shredded in a crash? Take note of all these items, as they tend to be day-to-day gear you will most appreciate replacing.
Short days and cold weather will be here all too soon. If you’re planning to ride throughout the winter, then some cold weather or indoor gear may be needed. Think back to last winter and what parts of your body froze first on those snowy rides. Write down some items to keep those body parts warm this winter. Or take my approach and just write down “trainer” or go cross country skiing—either way, you’ll stay much warmer.
Don’t forget annual maintenance on your bike. A new chain, bar tape, shifter and brake cables and housing, and any parts that are getting worn—these add up quickly so keep them in mind.
Last, that team clothing order always seems to surprise to me. So keep in mind that those are often placed in the late fall or early winter, and take account of what clothes you need and want for next year. Shorts, jersey, some matching arm warmers, a thermal jacket—they all sound totally pro but add up quickly so think about what you wear while riding 95% of the year.
With new wheels, parts, tools, clothing, and much more, you’ll probably find you have quite a lot on your wishlist. So get to work making that dream a reality. Start paying attention to end of season sales, give a few hints to your spouse, parents, or rich uncle, and don’t forget my mom’s great Christmas trick: the “To me, from me” gift.
As the end of the road racing draws near, hopefully you look back and feel like it’s been a good season. You may even be thinking that next season you’re ready to move up from a category 5 to a category 4, from a 4 to a 3, etc. But how?
Each USA Cycling licensed racer has a separate category for road, track, and cyclocross. Upgrades for each discipline follow a separate set of guidelines based upon experience and results. As a new racer, upgrades are based mainly on experience, with the goal that cyclists advancing to the next category have the skills and fitness to be safe in the higher category. At higher categories, riders move up based upon results in their races.
While the official guidelines are a good measure of a rider’s potential for an upgrade, you may find some riders upgrade even if they don’t meet the official criteria. These exceptions can happen for many reasons—good and bad. If you have questions about your particular situation—or are eligible and want to upgrade—contact your Regional Coordinator.
You’ve probably had it happen before: you’re enjoying a nice ride when a car drives by with a passenger yelling at you about getting off the road—or something less friendly. It’s annoying and interrupts a pleasant ride, but at least it wasn’t this disastrous situation.
Whether it is to avoid getting a ticket, defending your rights, or simply staying in the good graces of drivers, it is a good idea to know the actual laws about cycling on the highways and byways. These laws vary in every state—even different cities—so it is important to know what the local ordinances say and learn the new ones when you move or train in a new region.
From the Michigan Vehicle Code, Act 300 of 1949, Section 257.657: Operation of Bicycles, Motorcycles and Toy Vehicles: “Each person riding a bicycle … upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle….” Keep that in mind, and you’ll get the sense of your rights and duties as a cyclist.
But there are some important details to consider. The portion of the Michigan Vehicle Code noted above includes 14 documents, many of which are only a sentence or two long, and are worth reading. Highlights include:
Others parts of the section that may be of interest: Carrying package, bundle, or article; Parking bicycle; Riding on a sidewalk
If you are interested more broadly in the topic of cyclists and the law, VeloNews’ column Legally Speaking—written by two-time Olympian and 1990 National Champion Bob Mionske, now an attorney focusing on bicycling—is a great resource to learn about issues involving cyclists and the law. His book, Bicycling & The Law, is another excellent resource.
While it is good to know your rights and responsibilities as a cyclist, it is also good to keep in mind that staying safe should be your main goal. And in order to do that, “Obey all stop signs and signals; motorists get upset when cyclists ignore traffic laws” (League of Michigan Bicyclists’ What Every Michigan Bicyclist Must Know). An upset motorist is never safe for a cyclist, whether it is you today or your friend tomorrow.