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Old 02-09-2011, 06:35 AM   #1
neduro OP
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A case for competition for the non-competitive:

I wrote this a few weeks ago for Outrider Journal to use online, and got their permission to repost here, thinking we might get an interesting discussion started while many of us suffer from inhospitable weather.

----------------------------------------------------

The Dakar rally is here, and for me, itís the best event of the year. I like it for an odd reason- itís so long, and so arduous, that it does not favor merely the quick, but also the smart and the tough. Itís a full human experience, embodying both the highest highs and the lowest lows for everyone who chooses to participate. No one has an uneventful Dakar, it simply cannot be. In other words, I like it because itís not simply a race.

So, the people who participate in the Dakar transcend the word racer to me. In my mind, a racer is someone who thrives so much on competition that they would stuff an old lady in the grocery store if they could get their shopping cart on an inside line, who never smile except on the top step of a podium and who pump iron and eat spinach.

That description almost perfectly fails to match me, and I bet it fails to describe you too. Most people I know who are enthusiastic about riding adventure bikes, are not racers. Iím not a racer, but I do race from time to time, and I think everyone who cares deeply about riding should give it a try if they are able. Hereís why:

1) Itís a hell of a good time: itís a closed course, and youíre actually allowed, even encouraged, to go as fast as you want. This is magical, because no matter what anyone says, fast is better than slow and this is a fine way to prove it to yourself. Add to that the emotional cycle that starts with excitement, builds to nervous anticipation, and finally becomes euphoria out on the course, and you have a really fine way to break free from the shackles of the inane.

2) It helps you know your place: Often, when Iím on a particularly fun stretch, I imagine that I could be one of the fast guys. No one, I imagine, could possibly go any faster. Racing will tell you whether youíre right or not. Finding out Iím wrong, and seeing what fast really is, is one of the most enjoyable experiences I ever have, it seems like it should be depressing but instead it lets you realize what a wide and wonderful world we live in, and how much quicker someone else can get across it.

3) This leads to my third point: You will be a part of something with people who share your passion. If you wake up in the morning thinking about motorcycles, you need to go try a race, because the entire event will be filled with people just like you, and being among them will make you realize that the world is a pretty good place. And getting to share an experience with all those people, and especially the ones who are really good at what you share, is a wonderful experience.

4) Losing isnít a bad thing: Our culture is very focused on winning, and itís easy to fall prey to the ďsecond place = first loserĒ T-shirt slogans. These make sense to us because the public image of racing is the battle for first place, as it should be, and the guy who got second is often crushed. The guy who got second is also, most likely, a lot faster than either of us. The guy who got tenth was thrilled to achieve it, which leads to my rule of racing- satisfaction comes from exceeding expectations. As a non-racer, our expectations can afford to be set pretty low, so itís likely we can leave the event satisfied. After all, if it were about winning, only a few people would have any legitimate reason to show up.

There are a hundred reasons not to race, and in some cases they are pretty good ones. But many people overestimate the difficulty of taking part in an event- you arenít trying to win your first time out, so itís OK not to have the latest and greatest. If you have a small bike, try an Enduro. If you have a larger one, try a rallymoto. Donít worry about buying stuff to be competitive, just get to the start line and take a swing at it. You are guaranteed to place ahead of all the folks who didnít try it, and you might just find something that changes how you view fellow shoppers at the grocery store.
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:42 AM   #2
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Well said, I started riding enduros to challenge myself, and that was the point. I finished most, and worked my way up to the B class and will continue to do them. M goal is not to win, but to finish every one of them and try and keep within a set number of points of the high point overall.
I am glad I am not that good, so I am less competitive than if I had some skills.
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Old 02-09-2011, 07:59 AM   #3
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A nice writeup Neduro!

Voices exactly what I think about the whole thing!
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:06 AM   #4
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As usual, Ned, The Bard of ADV nails it. Well said, sir.
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:47 AM   #5
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if that silver haired lady takes the inside line ... I'll put her in the wall

Great blurb..


ps I go to sleep AND wake up thinking of it...
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:30 AM   #6
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Very nice Ned. Well done.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:49 AM   #7
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Thanks for posting that, Ned. Racing has been a really great experience for me. I've only been riding for a few years, starting with dual sport.

But two years later and looking for something a little more out of it, I rode my first race, and it left such a huge impression. It's very hard to put it into words really. As I pushed my bike to the start row of my first race at 40 years old and found a place, I never felt more alive, more nervous. It was a chilly crystal clear day in March and everything felt so surreal, the colors and sounds were so much more clear and vivid at that moment than I can ever remember. It was almost like I wasn't even there, but instead a passenger seeing the world through someone else's eyes. Being right in the middle of a sea of 200 dirt bikes in the clearing at the forests edge warming up their engines, rev limiters, the smell of two stroke exhaust mixing with the cool mountain air, clear blue sky above, green grass below, it was totally awesome and beautiful. Sensory overload. And then when the call came for everyone to kill their engines and the race was about to start, the sudden silence was just as imposing as all the revving bikes moments before. When the flagger starting calling off the rows my heart rate jumped to another level and as I waited back on row 8, one row every minute, my row getting closer and closer to launch, it felt like I was on a freight train with no way off now. And when the flag dropped for my row, I still had no idea what I was in for in that race.

I finished that race and it was one of the most grueling and exhilarating few hours of my life. Racing is *hard*! I thought maybe that race was just an anomaly, they can't all be that hard, but I never got to try it again until the next year when I did my 2nd race. After the 2nd race, I knew it was no anomaly after a similar experience. If anything, the 2nd race was harder than the first. Racing really is *hard*, that is confirmed. How could anyone be in good enough shape to finish one of these events with anything left in the tank. I did one more race that 2nd year and was finally feeling like I was maybe getting the hang of things, at least to the point of being able to manage the adrenaline on the start line.

Then last year I jumped in head first and did the full 16 round series, plus 2 races out of series, check my signature for the blow-by-blow. But I have to say that it was that very first race that got me hooked.

Racing is brutally honest. It's a reality check. It's a great way to challenge yourself. It's a great way to meet like minded people. Over the past year of racing, I've met a lot of great people I wouldn't have otherwise. I've even had close competitors in points help me swap parts on my bike moments before the start just so I could make the start of a race after a starting line mis-hap damaged my bike. That first race I did several years ago, everyone were strangers, but even that day I made some new friends. But now I go to the races and I feel like I'm going to an extended family reunion where we all catch up, BS a little, then embark on a spirited woods ride through the mountains of NC with 200 of my closest friends.

I still like other forms of riding, and dual sporting is still a lot of fun for me, maybe even more than it was before. But racing has added a whole new dimension to riding for me. I'm so glad I did that first race a few years ago, and I'm even more glad I was able to do a full season of it last year.

Thanks for starting this thread, Ned.
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Old 02-10-2011, 10:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neduro View Post
Iím not a racer...
One skill of an advanced racer is knowing how to play mind games. A sign of a real professional is when he can play mind games against his competition and they don't even know it. Ned, you've done a great job of convincing everyone you're not a racer, while quietly advancing your riding skills to a very high level. The moment one makes any effort at all to get ahead of someone, they become a racer. Ned, you are a racer of the highest order!
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HogWild View Post
One skill of an advanced racer is knowing how to play mind games. A sign of a real professional is when he can play mind games against his competition and they don't even know it. Ned, you've done a great job of convincing everyone you're not a racer, while quietly advancing your riding skills to a very high level. The moment one makes any effort at all to get ahead of someone, they become a racer. Ned, you are a racer of the highest order!
I was waiting for someone to call him out



Great article Ned!
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HogWild View Post
The moment one makes any effort at all to get ahead of someone, they become a racer.
I've been thinking about this and feeling it wasn't quite right, and I think the reason why is right in your words. I do put a lot of effort into my riding, because I love the feeling of riding well, of riding with grace, of getting through tough situations efficiently. But I don't put a lot of energy into beating someone else. I enjoy a good result in competition when it happens, but the reason I train is for me and the feeling I get, not for someone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSNorcal
I was waiting for someone to call him out
Yeah, yeah.
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Old 04-10-2011, 04:38 AM   #11
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Great sentiments on this thread. Mirrors my sig quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve McQueen
All racers I know aren't in it for the money. They race because it's something inside of them... They're not courting death. They're courting being alive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by neduro View Post
I do put a lot of effort into my riding, because I love the feeling of riding well, of riding with grace, of getting through tough situations efficiently. But I don't put a lot of energy into beating someone else. I enjoy a good result in competition when it happens, but the reason I train is for me and the feeling I get, not for someone else.
Yep, that's me.

To me, racing is a 'pure' form of riding. You & the bike against the terrain, no excuses, no 'artificial shortages' as it were. That is rather liberating.

My race bike (200EXC) died a couple of years ago, and I haven't been able to afford to fix it. So for the last year I've been racing the 640 Adventure in the local cross-country series, had a crack at endurocross and got back out at the annual beach races. The 640 is not exactly competitive but at least I'm out there doin' it. Heck, the other year NordieBoy and myself raced his '79 XR250 in the 6 Hour Cross Country, some brakes would've been nice but it was a great day's riding regardless. We're not quick, we don't spend a lot of money, but we sure have a lot of fun!
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Old 04-10-2011, 06:50 AM   #12
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Our People

Over 50 years I've noticed it's the same people in the paddock.

As we were loading up after my second son's first race weekend a few years ago, he was surrounded by new friends. They were animated and joshing as racers do: "Those are your people now, Zach..."

And they are.
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HogWild View Post
One skill of an advanced racer is knowing how to play mind games. A sign of a real professional is when he can play mind games against his competition and they don't even know it. Ned, you've done a great job of convincing everyone you're not a racer, while quietly advancing your riding skills to a very high level. The moment one makes any effort at all to get ahead of someone, they become a racer. Ned, you are a racer of the highest order!
That was quite a prophetic post!
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Old 04-10-2011, 02:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neduro View Post
I wrote this a few weeks ago for Outrider Journal to use online, and got their permission to repost here, thinking we might get an interesting discussion started while many of us suffer from inhospitable weather.

----------------------------------------------------

The Dakar rally is here, and for me, itís the best event of the year. I like it for an odd reason- itís so long, and so arduous, that it does not favor merely the quick, but also the smart and the tough. Itís a full human experience, embodying both the highest highs and the lowest lows for everyone who chooses to participate. No one has an uneventful Dakar, it simply cannot be. In other words, I like it because itís not simply a race.

So, the people who participate in the Dakar transcend the word racer to me. In my mind, a racer is someone who thrives so much on competition that they would stuff an old lady in the grocery store if they could get their shopping cart on an inside line, who never smile except on the top step of a podium and who pump iron and eat spinach.

That description almost perfectly fails to match me, and I bet it fails to describe you too. Most people I know who are enthusiastic about riding adventure bikes, are not racers. Iím not a racer, but I do race from time to time, and I think everyone who cares deeply about riding should give it a try if they are able. Hereís why:

1) Itís a hell of a good time: itís a closed course, and youíre actually allowed, even encouraged, to go as fast as you want. This is magical, because no matter what anyone says, fast is better than slow and this is a fine way to prove it to yourself. Add to that the emotional cycle that starts with excitement, builds to nervous anticipation, and finally becomes euphoria out on the course, and you have a really fine way to break free from the shackles of the inane.

2) It helps you know your place: Often, when Iím on a particularly fun stretch, I imagine that I could be one of the fast guys. No one, I imagine, could possibly go any faster. Racing will tell you whether youíre right or not. Finding out Iím wrong, and seeing what fast really is, is one of the most enjoyable experiences I ever have, it seems like it should be depressing but instead it lets you realize what a wide and wonderful world we live in, and how much quicker someone else can get across it.

3) This leads to my third point: You will be a part of something with people who share your passion. If you wake up in the morning thinking about motorcycles, you need to go try a race, because the entire event will be filled with people just like you, and being among them will make you realize that the world is a pretty good place. And getting to share an experience with all those people, and especially the ones who are really good at what you share, is a wonderful experience.

4) Losing isnít a bad thing: Our culture is very focused on winning, and itís easy to fall prey to the ďsecond place = first loserĒ T-shirt slogans. These make sense to us because the public image of racing is the battle for first place, as it should be, and the guy who got second is often crushed. The guy who got second is also, most likely, a lot faster than either of us. The guy who got tenth was thrilled to achieve it, which leads to my rule of racing- satisfaction comes from exceeding expectations. As a non-racer, our expectations can afford to be set pretty low, so itís likely we can leave the event satisfied. After all, if it were about winning, only a few people would have any legitimate reason to show up.

There are a hundred reasons not to race, and in some cases they are pretty good ones. But many people overestimate the difficulty of taking part in an event- you arenít trying to win your first time out, so itís OK not to have the latest and greatest. If you have a small bike, try an Enduro. If you have a larger one, try a rallymoto. Donít worry about buying stuff to be competitive, just get to the start line and take a swing at it. You are guaranteed to place ahead of all the folks who didnít try it, and you might just find something that changes how you view fellow shoppers at the grocery store.
Thx Ned,

I agree wholeheartedly. I've never been fast and never will be in terms of top club level/amateur racers but I appreciate the sport of racing a bit more than those who have never tried because I tried it, because I realize for a brief moment when my suspension was working the way it should and I am having that perfect moment that passes oh too quickly how it must feel, for a brief instant, to get that perfection in and out, lap after lap, berm after berm.

Racing doesn't have to be expensive but the benefits are worth more than their weight in gold.
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Old 04-12-2011, 12:45 AM   #15
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Lots of wisdom here. The biggest difference for me between participating in a sport and racing is the level of focus racing brings. I've ridden motorcycles many years but never raced (yet) but I ski race and have entered mountain bike races and distance running competitions. I signed up for my first motorcycle race this last Sunday, the Desert 100, but a family medical emergency intervened. Like Rosanne Rosannadanna said "It's always something. If it's not one thing it's another." Riding and skiing fast are great fun and wonderful ways to take your mind off the day to day worries of life.

Racing is the same but the intensity level is raised from 60% to 100%. When not in a race, life's little issues can slip into your consciousness. Problems with your lover or job can sneak into your thoughts. When racing, all your senses are turned up high, focused on the race, and the rest of the world is blocked out. It is refreshing.

You feel every little nuance of the experience. Every little slip or loss of grip. You analyze each and every turn for how you could have improved in some small way to go faster and at the same time you are looking towards the next to set up properly. Managing risk so you are at top speed but don't DNF. Is your body position correct? Are you following the right line? Are you maintaining control? Are you set up for that jump up ahead? One instant you are kicking yourself for some small mistake and the next you are thinking "Oooo, that felt good!" All this thought and concentration happens at warp speed and as you speed up the world slows down. It is magic.

With longer events the whole mind game with endurance adds to the picture. Pacing yourself for the best overall time, not just the early sprint. Working through the pain. Pushing yourself to the limit. Fine tuning your technique so you don't tire yourself with sloppy motions. Constantly monitoring your body to see if there is any more speed available. It is an extraordinary mind game .

With amateur dual slalom ski race courses you are skiing next to another racer but focusing on beating them is a distraction from focusing on your own run and performance. If you are 100% into your own race you are more likely to finish first than if you try to beat the other racer.

Finishing well in the standings is a good measure that helps you keep track of your long term performance gains or loss but knowing that you ran your race well is the source of real satisfaction.

Sparrowhawk screwed with this post 04-12-2011 at 12:51 AM
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