Pry a roadie in conversation for long enough and eventually s/he will tell you about two tenets of pursuing The Dream in competitive cycling: Sacrifice and Balance.
Everyone from the aspiring junior to the master’s racer with a spouse and kids knows the Sacrifice. Every minute spent out on a training ride, traveling for a stage race, or goofing off on TrainingPeaks comes at a cost to other commitments, be it family, profession, social, academic, etc. Friends, family, and loved ones of roadies know these Sacrifices best, better than the roadie does. To the roadie, these Sacrifices seem sustainable, at least for a period of time, and necessary for the Glory Of The Sport. The Sacrifices we share within the Sport bond us together, and in an inexplicable way provide justification for why we do it in the first place.
Next you’ll hear from the roadie about Balance, the maintenance of these Sacrifices in the context of attempting to lead a well-adjusted, healthy life. Every roadie believes to some extent that s/he has this Balance figured out, myself included. I want to believe that I have taken Balance into account when I back out on a planned day hike with my girlfriend because I need to stare at my power numbers for five hours, or when I decide not to ride with my friends because my planned workout doesn’t quite line up with theirs. I apologize to them and say, “there’s always next time,” and there’s my Balance.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that we roadies are very poor judges of our own Balance. I can come up with any number of excuses why I’d want to ride the same old familiar Sunday training roads on April 9th instead of going a little further out of my way to make it to the Flannel Grinder. If I followed my Roadie Balance I’d be out doing repeats on Cardiac or Sierra College. But I know better than to listen to that noise. In about a month I will be following True Balance and getting absolutely loose on some amazing backroads in Placer County with some of my favorite human beings. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be riding a sweet carbon road bike with wide tubeless tires or a full rigid mountain bike that’s as old as I am, and I’m not sure yet if the weather will call for a flannel or a Hawaiian shirt on top of my spandex, but I’ll be there. And I hope to see cyclists of all stripes out there with me. Especially you fellow delusional roadies. You know who you are. Flannel Grinder is good for you.