Tom Zirbel: That’s Bike Racing

Tour of California time trial

I actually kind of hate that cliché even though I’ve been known to use it from time to time. It’s a very versatile cliché. It pretty much encompasses all that can go wrong during a bike race. “I flatted at the base of the climb. That’s bike racing.” “That dude chopped me in the last corner, but that’s bike racing.” “There was a crash directly in front of me and I had no where to go, but …”

What people really mean when they say that is “This sport is so maddening at times that I could puke.” Or at least that’s my translation. So much can go wrong in this sport and we all accept and understand those risks and percentages each day that we line up. The hardest thing to accept, though, is that much of this potential to go awry is out of the rider’s hands.

To work so hard and have everything be on track only to have your opportunity snatched from you is for me the hardest thing to accept in this sport. But I know full well how much hard work and detail (and luck!) goes into a perfect ride. There are probably three times as many staff as riders at this race, if that gives you any indication. And the staff is often working sun up to sun down. As I said in an earlier post, we are a team working together toward a common goal. And if something goes wrong, we don’t point fingers and we don’t lay blame. We work together and move forward.

So yeah, I was disappointed about my time trial yesterday but I certainly don’t lay blame on anyone. I know that these things will happen. Especially with the absolute rush job that Jamis/Sutter Home and sponsors had to do to get me set up for this race. I think they’ve done a phenomenal job and I’m thankful for all of their hard work. So I had a stinking mechanical in the one stage that I’ve been looking forward to all week – that’s bike racing. Accept it or pick a new profession. I like bike racing, so I think I’ll stick around.

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