Did you win dad?!
I almost always get this question from my daughter when I come back from a bike race. My answer is usually something along the lines of just finishing an endurance ride is like winning. I’m usually met with a smile, a great big bear hug and that’s it. No more questions. Usually it’s followed by a hug and “let’s go play daddy!”
It’s true though. We aren’t professionals. We are just people who enjoy riding our bikes. Most of us ride in “races” because we like being out on backroads, riding with friends and feeling the accomplishment of finishing a pre-planned route. We have no illusions of standing up on a podium afterward. We certainly respect those who do but equally so as those who finish last. We’re all working hard out there while having “fun”.
I traditionally ride in the back 1/4 of a race. I know what it’s like to ride along wondering if you’ll ever finish. Clicking off those miles at 12mph, 10mph, 6mph…walking up a hill at 3mph. Sitting in the ditch. Saying “I’m good” over and over to people asking if I’m okay. Ever had so many muscles in your leg cramp hard at once that you physically bend over and kinda move you leg with your hand? Been there. Ever have both legs go like that immediately after stopping on a hill and trying to do the penguin walk?Been there. How about hand pumping up 3+ flats because you keep missing that damn thorn stuck in your tire? Arms completely jelly but it’s your only way out? Yeah. Tell me you’ve had your chain drop and jam in the rear cassette so tight you bloody your hand prying it out? Sweet.
Crossing that finish line or just completing the route someone took the time to plan out is winning. Showing up and toeing that start line is winning. Coming home after an exhausting “race” and having my daughter run up to me asking if I’ve won arms wide open ready with a hug?