When I was riding a couple of nights back, I happened to join a training race. Not intentional. The riders were on the same loop and, as I was in full kit, they assumed that I was one of the registered riders.
Being an older rider, near my mid-fifties, I have long since abandoned road racing. It is a brutally difficult sport and it demands a remarkable level of drive and discipline. But I pushed hard to keep up. And after 40 minutes or so, I left the pack to head home. I have no idea how long the rest of the group spent riding that evening.
What motivates people to work so hard, train so hard?
Is it money?
These cyclists were not professionals. They were not getting paid. They were folks from all different age groups, male and female. Serious and committed given the pace of the pack. If a cyclist makes it into the ProTour the minimum salary would be about $50,000. That is not much money for a pro athlete. Money was simply not a factor.
Is it fame?
Aside from Lance Armstrong, I am not sure that many people can name a high-profile cyclist. And most of them are not making headline news except for things like the Tour de France and some doping scandals. Riding in Kingston is not going to get anyone noticed except by motorized traffic — and not always in a positive light.
Is it passion?
I think passion must play a part. There needs to be a fundamental love of the sport to make the sacrifices necessary to ride well.
Is it an obsession?
There is certainly a fine line between passion and obsession. Obsessive behaviour may well drive many people in this sport.
Is it a challenge?
Yes. That could be it. Cycling is ultimately an individual challenge. Can you get stronger? Can you get faster? Can you keep up?
Cycling is a test. A test of Â will to tackle something that is not always fun to do. A test to see if a difficult ride can be finished. A test to keep going at something. A test to keep the mind and body healthy.
Is it something else?
Whenever I have a stretch of time away from cycling, I actually find a different motivator whenever I get back on the bike: joy.
Cycling makes happiness happen.