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Sarah Hammond is a fixture in the Melbourne cycling scene. An endurance rider, Hammond is a serial everester (someone who has completed multiple Everestings, which are rides with a minimum ascent of 8,848 vertical metres in one continuous cycling effort) and is planning to tackle the epic 6,800km Trans Am event in 2016. The racing community would love to see someone like her pin on a number but racing –a normal distance event –is not for her. Here’s why:
‘You should race!’ ‘Why aren’t you racing?!’
I ride bikes……a lot, and really far. So it’s a common question for folks to ask me why not race if you love cycling so much.
We all ride for different reasons and have different motivators that challenge us. With weekends being so short here’s my ‘5 reasons why I choose not to race’
1. Exploring the road less traveled
A big motivator for me is the freedom of the road and the opportunity of exploring the non-conventional road. If you can ride a bike, you can take it pretty much anywhere. Granted my off road skills could be better, but that’s part of the challenge.
Being able to mix up the terrain throughout the ride and turn left over the tourist route is always attractive. Having the ability to do this without time restraints and a bell lap is a big bonus. It’s about the freedom to choose where I’ll ride today and let my own personal preferences navigate. It’s an adventure!
2. Up and up to my heart’s content
In addition to the road less travelled, I seek out the gradient less ridden. I’m most at home when positioned vertically over a pancake flat road for hundreds of kilometers.
Endless climbs offer rewarding views, temperamental weather, interrupting wildlife and the exhilarating descent.
That’s not to say that racing doesn’t have climbs or climbing stages. It’s the intensity and total elevation that I look for in some adventures, exceeding well over the 3-5000 meter on sealed or gravel roads.
3. Distance over speed
You could put a rocket up my arse and I still wouldn’t be much faster. I challenge myself now and then but have never really trained for speed, nor does this bother me.
My body is built for endurance and distance. Spending anywhere between 8 – 12+hours on the weekend at a pace that can see me through is my preference, taking in my surroundings and never being in a rush to get home.
4. Social Aspect
I’ve been known to talk on occasion, and cycling is an enormous platform for me to do that.
Being able to spend long days getting to know new people is something I enjoy. A good number of my favourite people have sparked from group rides in the past, and over time more and more people are introduced and new networks built.
Being able to breath and talk and ride steadily is a win.
Social also means bakery and brewery stops not gels and liquid sustenance.
5. Time away from home and costs
Cycling is expensive, not only does the basic set up of owning and maintaining a bike cost money, so does the yearly racing license, endless entry fees for both local and national events and the travel expenses involved in some cases.
I understand the reasoning, of course, behind all costs, however it’s not for me. It ties in again with what I touched on earlier about the freedom to ride my bike anywhere at anytime.
My weekends are busy with work and home commitments (an enormous furry child) so the cost of time and frequent travel can be difficult.
These are purely reasons why I do what I do on the weekend instead of racing –it doesn’t mean that riding is better than racing or vice versa. Whether we pin a number on our back or not, the takeaway is to do what makes you happy. Try it all and find the thing that brings you the most joy.
And what about you? Why do or do you not race?