Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Been a Pro?
These days, I don't think I ever had what it took to be a pro. However, back in '94, '95 I thought I had it all figured out. I was a whopping 23 years old and the way I saw it, the only thing that was standing between me and living the rock-star life of a U.S.-domestic-pro-bike-racing-bee-yatch was time. "Just put in the time" I kept telling myself.
Sometimes, though, time ain't enough. Believe me, I'm not afraid of doing work. During those years, nothing had come real easy to me - and, for what it's worth, the same thing goes for today...
You see, in the early 90's I wasn't all that talented at many things - I had to work my ass off to pass that thermodynamics class, and I also had to work my ass off to avoid being dropped by my older bro' Kirk, on his "easy" days...
Let it be known, that, in 1995 I put the time in. Check out the following training diary entry of one of the "early" weeks of my 1995 season:
If you have done a few of these 25+ hr weeks in a row, you know it's work (4x20's anyone?)...
It should also be clear by now (that is, if you are a regular of this website) that I don't know a whole lot about the physiological principles of training - but I do think that I know something about what kind of _effort_ it takes to realize your full physical potential at any given time.
During the mid 1990's, where weeks very similar to the one above (i.e - 20-25 hours) were commonplace, I think I reached my own physiological limit. And that limit was a very unspectacular category 1 bike racer who could go "kinda fast" on just the right course if everything was "perfect". In other words, I worked extremely hard at it, but still wasn't that good!
I trusted my coach "back in the day" to point me down the right path for my training. He laid it out. I executed it - and since he knew me and how my body responded, the training paid off when it needed to. Nothing stellar, but what more could a guy with very little natural talent ask for?
I believe I squeezed every last bit of cycling potential out of my body during the 90's, and even though I don't have much to show for all the effort, I don't regret the time I spent pursuing the dream!
So what? I have come to think that cycling performance is what one makes of it. I worked hard and have no regrets - having put forth the effort and time to ultimately discover that I didn't have what it took to be a pro bike racer was painful, but simultaneously enriching...
Maybe you are more realistic than I was, and simply don't want to be a "pro" anything. So, for you, what does cycling performance mean? Is it putting the hours in the saddle? Hours tweaking the TT position? Hours obsessing over which set of wheels to select that makes performance fun for you? I think people are all different in their objectives and also in the path to those objectives.
These days, it isn't about how many hours I put in on the bike - rather, it's about how I make those hours on the bike count. I make it fun for myself, and am always considering the question, 'what does cycling performance mean to me'?
What does performance mean to you?