Check out some of the trophies we're giving away at the Tacchino. These are for one small class - the Singlespeed prize list within the M 3/4 (yep, women are eligible) and for the best novice riders (first or second race).
What the hell am I doing giving away trophies that are so fanciful? This is serious! This is racing!
Well, yes it is serious in a way. But I have a secret.
Most of us aren't pros. This isn't a life or death gig. Young Joe Dombrowski may go on to be a great pro. He's going to be a stagiare next year. And I wish him well! But the rest of us aren't.
We're professionals and blue collar workers, a couple independently wealthy men and women of leisure, and a few bike bums... but all of us are amateurs.
Sometimes in our haste to make our mark, we forget why we do this. We do it to feel the keen sting of competition, to test ourselves, to make friends who value good clean competition as much as we do. We do it for the hell of it, for the fun of it, to feel more alive than we do for the rest of the week. We do it for the simple joy that a 5 year old feels by running across a field as fast as his legs will carry him. We do it for the approval of a couple peers and friends we are close to. We do it just because.
People who forget this and make it about external validation, go astray. The terminal domestic pro who is good but not great so he dopes, the kid trying to make Cat 1 (who hasn't realized that if he can't make Cat 1 without doping he'll never really make it as a pro anyhow) Cat 3 masters racer who dopes - all these have forgotten the reason we race. We non-doping amateurs who are all unhappy about our racing are making the same mistake as the dopers, only to a much lesser degree.
Yes, we race to win, or to place higher than last week. But it is ultimately for pleasure and you should get great pleasure from a good finish, but if the only pleasure you get is from a win, you're in the wrong sport. Even the greatest racers "lose" the vast majority of races they enter. This isn't boxing where a racer could retire 63-1-1. If you put too much emphasis on a single day's results, then you've missed the point, which is the sheer joy of competition.
I'm just the custodian of a great race, the Tacchino. It was one of the early grass roots cross races in MABRA, and near as I can tell has been going on for around 15 years. Maybe 12 or 13. Hell if I know. But I have a chance to leave a little mark on the local scene. I sometimes think about that - what kind of message am I trying to send with this race?
It's pretty simple, really. I hope you will race your balls off (or race your ovaries out, as appropriate to the situation) and that you will have absolutely as much fun as possible during the day, racing, cheering, maybe having a nicely hopped Belgian malt beverage.
Racing hard doesn't have to be a grim job. In fact, I think we're getting it wrong if we're missing out on the joy of putting everything into a race. We're also missing out if we fail to celebrate the fact we have a chance to do this, that we're doing it with cool people, and that we usually do a pretty good job of leaving it all out there. We should be happy... so celebrate already!
Register for the race. Bring a first or second time racer friend out or somebody who was just sitting on the sofa bemoaning the end of road season. Register for a second race, or race up in a class you normally don't race in...
It doesn't matter.
Life is short. The person wins, who has the most fun. You want to be that guy.
This race ain't no uphill. It's a downhill, as far as I'm concerned, and I know how to descend. All y'all are going to have to go pretty damn hard to out-fun me this Sunday. Good luck on that.