View Full Version : competition in everything?

Ken Robb
06-03-2004, 03:16 PM
Many of our posts refer to seeking more speed on our bikes. How competitve are we in other aspects of our lives? The simplest question: if you always want to be the first up the hill, to the town limit sign, back to the start for first choice in donuts, etc. do you always want to be the first one away from a traffic light in your car? Do you make more $$ than you need because it's a way of keeping score? Do you play singles rather than doubles so you totally control whether you win or lose? Are you really competitive on your bike because you stink at other sports or had to give them up due to injuries? Lots of other possible questions.

I think I know where a lot of us fall on the competitive continuum from our many posts and some of us have ridden together. There is no right or wrong answer. Have you noticed any change in your attitude about riding, other sports, business, etc. as you have aged? I have. Nowadays I'm usually just happy to be outside doing something physical. Let's hear it!This should be a good one.

06-03-2004, 03:23 PM
i'm not sure if competitive is the right word, but i like to play up to my abilities. my fav sport before cycling was basketball, which i've been playing hardcore for the past 3 or so years. spent a year in houston doin grad school, my basketball got better exponentially. when i got back to toronto it really wasn't all that fun, schooling the kids at the local court. with my size (6'2 220, which in toronto is a more heft than usual for b-ball, but in houston is almost the norm), and my shooting skillz, i push around players and it's not so fun when the competition isn't up to your level. i guess i just need a context where competition is _alive_, not dead.

as for cycling, i admit i do like to pass riders, but it's still a matter of me keeping a steady and high cadence. if riders pass me it's no big deal; i like the maxim "there are always better and worse than you" (don't know the proper wording). for me cycling is a solo sport; i almost always go alone, and on club rides, i find i'm too fast or too slow for whatever group i happen to find.

in things outside of sport (school/etc.) i try to chill out and stay cool. i find that if i'm not thinking/in control of myself, though, the competitive instinct takes over. good question :p



06-03-2004, 03:34 PM
ken, i'm insanely competitive. sometimes i realize its destructive power and i stop. other times, no. unfortunately, in sports, i've always had the competitive fire without the talent to back it up. bad combo. as i get older, i try to be aware of my competitiveness and use it in healthy ways. in my job (advertising) being insanely competitive pays off. i see it coming out in my daughter. yikes. out on rides, more often than not, i compete against myself. i'll push myself, trash myself pretty hard. trying to do that to other riders nowadays just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. especially if they trash me first. ;)

06-03-2004, 04:56 PM
I do these group rides on Saturday mornings with guys who have a reputation for being hammerheads. I notice that, outside a hard core of maybe a dozen guys who are there every week, there's a steady stream of one-timers. I think what's happening is that if you can't keep up with the leaders, you get discouraged and you don't come back. These rides aren't really conversational; I'd estimate that the average speed is somewhere up around 17-19 MPH over pretty challenging terrain around Mt. Tam in Marin County.

I can never keep up with these guys. Sometimes I can stay with them for the first 40 miles (of a 75-mile ride); more commonly I lose them less than 15 miles into the ride. But I keep riding with them anyway. Why? Because I like the routes they ride, and leaving with this group gets me home at a reasonable hour even after a long ride.

Does it bug me, getting dropped every single Saturday? Yeah, I can't deny it bugs me a little. But I remember that most of these guys are ten years or more younger than I am (I'm 42), and most of them are smaller than I am (at 6 feet and 185, I'm probably a bit bigger than your average fast climber). On the other hand, every once in a while some guy ten years older than me and ten pounds heavier than me will rocket by me. But I'm riding about as much as I can find room for in the week (generally ten hours or more a week), and I'm probably at or near my genetically-determined limits to how strong a rider I'll ever be.

So I've learned to live with it. After all, I'm not getting paid to race, and I'm not out there to set any speed records. I'm out there to have fun, to stay in shape, and hopefully to allow myself a fairly healthy and active retirement. Who wants to live to be 90 if you spend the last 20 years in a rocking chair?

And besides, if I ride 150 miles a week, I can have an occasional pizza without feeling too guilty about it. :-)

Ken Robb
06-03-2004, 05:05 PM
the old guy who blew past was Big Mac slumming across The Bay. I sometimes ride with a group on Coronado Island like that. Their Sat. AM warm-up is 9 miles at 17-18mph and return at 21-22mph in the slow group and 30 +mph in the fast group. After several rides with them I took my wife over the route and discovered that there were multiple decks and piers for viewing the bird sanctuary on the east side of the road. All I had sen before was somebody'swheel and butt--some attractive and some like mine.

06-03-2004, 08:12 PM
. . . as I have gotten older because I have learned a great deal more about myself. I am very competitive if I decide to go at something seriously. I go at it 110%. This won me some nice awards when I was shooting pictures on the street as a photojournalist, but it also got me 80 hour work weeks, a non-existent social life, and a lot of missed good times during my twenties as I chased contests and awards.

Now I am very picky about what exactly I decide to invest my competitive spirit in. That’s why I don’t race. I know that if I started doing it, I would get invested in the competitive aspect of it and not be satisfied unless I was really good at it. Then it would quickly become work, not fun anymore. I prefer to compete against myself now, keeping that mental list of hills I have not conquered yet and local routes not yet taken.

I am also much more picky about getting suckered into causes or volunteer gigs. There’s only so many hours in the week, and I have given so many in the past to so many pastimes that turned out to be wastes of time. That old saying about “necessary” work expanding to fill available time really is true--but only if you let it be. I think that’s the most important thing I’ve learned--being able to discern between what’s “necessary” and what’s really just spinning my wheels--at least metaphorically.

Keeping the house spotlessly clean is nice, but it’s not “necessary.” Acting the way you think everyone expects you to act is certainly not really “necessary.” Trying to live up to other’s expectations--unless they are paying you to--is almost never “necessary.” Worrying about “what would people think?” is the ultimate pathetic self-deception . . .

Maturity is nice. I just wish I had it back when I was 20 . . .


06-03-2004, 08:32 PM
I really don't give a rat's fanny about how much money I make or how fast I get off the line in my car from a stop light ... I just want to be the first one up that damned hill on my bike! At 56 years old, I'm still very competitive when it comes to athletics (and that's actually why I don't race anymore), but in other things ... it really doesn't matter.

06-03-2004, 09:26 PM
I’m never gonna own a Ferrari or marry a supermodel or win the lottery, but it sure IS damn nice to get up that hill first and wait for everyone else! :p


06-03-2004, 10:49 PM
I just like to ride. I wish I could be the first up the hill, but because I cant I am content just to ride the hills.

Competitive? Dunno - at work everyone is pretty much type A (me included)
I just love to ride because its my 'time out' - As long as I have a good workout, I really dont care.

I *DO* love watching other cyclists duke it out... thank goodness for OLNTV!

If I am going to be the best at something, its going to be as a husband, father(hopefully!), and friend. (oh yeah - and also work)

For those who are Cat4, go for cat3!, the 3's go for 2! etc...
Ill keep cheering!

06-04-2004, 05:53 AM
I like to ride fast because I like to ride fast. When the fast guys take off and I can't keep up I'm only bummed cause I lose the draft.

Too Tall
06-04-2004, 08:23 AM
CAVEMEN were competitive! This is a good thing but as you alude can be used for good or E-vil!

As life goes on...less and less. A nice thing happened after me and Queen got a few accomplishments under our belts. Sports gained new meaning and perspective. No longer was it such a "deal" to acheive the fastest rolling avg. on group rides or whip some weekend warrior up a hill. BUT! when the competitive juices start flowing it's full steam ahead baby.

Frankly, I find the notion of competition in EVERYTHING an exhausting proposition. Agreed? That's one reason the city is so darn hard to live in. Everyone and their brother wants to be first in line for coffee, the ATM and to cross the street. Ewwww...why bother? No wonder everyone is snorting lines of Paxil!!!

Thank goodness for goals, peaceful home a loving wife, my sports distractions and a warm dog....that's my sanctuary day to day from these pressures.

06-04-2004, 05:03 PM
I am not all that competitive.

However, I do have the newest post in this thread. Nyah-nyah-nyah. :banana:

06-04-2004, 05:47 PM
I am extremely competitive. I am so competive that I want to bet each and everyone of you that I am slower, poorer and dumber than anybody on this forum.

:fight: :bike:


Ken Robb
06-06-2004, 12:25 PM
Ok, you win! Now I'm going back to the hammock.

H.Frank Beshear
06-06-2004, 09:11 PM
After I returned from the very fine ride that our friend Ken Robb treated me to my wife asked a few questions. How far did you go? I'm not sure. Well how fast did you ride. I don't know,we had fun. Kens bike didn't have a computer, and besides it wasn't that kind of ride. Sometimes it's nice to relax and enjoy the company and the view. Hows the hammock Ken? I'm sure the weather is wonderful. Take care Frank

06-07-2004, 01:25 AM
I'm so competitive that I have to be the first "commuter" over the Hawthorne bridge after work..Ha ha ha...Suckers...

It always amazes me how slow commuters are.. These people ride to work every day all winter, and in the rain, and in the shine and one would think they would know how to ride a bike.. but fat flabby me , a guy who has only drunk beer all winter, made pots, while shoveling mexican food into his face can blast by these people on his bike as if they were standing still. I'm not trying to disrespect but I'm just sayin' that these cats are SLOW....
so yeah, I'm a big competitive jerk..



06-07-2004, 07:38 AM
My name is keno and I'm 62.

I happen to feel that there is a huge difference between those who feel a need to win contrasted with those who feel a need not to lose. I also happen to think that both categories have alot to do with fear, fear of who we are, fear of who we aren't, fear about who we think we are supposed to be, and maybe some other fears. Don't know much about evolution theories (or poetry or geometry, either), but I'm guessing that our natural competitive urges came from chasing down game and not starving to death (including because the other guy got the bunny), or killing him, the guy not the bunny, or an animal before he or it killed you. I don't deny that it can be alot of fun to compete with someone who's abilities are close to your own or you somehow handicap the race so that both have a chance to win, but in other cases something much more complex is going on.

A central component of racing is winning; to some less capable racers, getting the best out of themselves and riding a race to their abilities may be the goal, but I wonder if that is competing rather than testing oneself. Getting to the top of a climb first in a club ride is a game we make up in our heads. If some or all of the folks on the ride agree that getting to the top of a climb first gives you bragging or some other rights, then it's an informal race. Up until that point, if you beat someone up a hill and he has not bought in to the race in your head, you might as well be racing Sigmund Freud (and he's dead).

In short, if the other guy doesn't know it's a race, then you ain't competing.

As for me, I can tell you about two recent and very satisfying riding experiences. You can tell me if I was competitive as you see it.

First, about a month ago I did my first TT, a club event and about 10 miles. Starting 7 weeks before the event, with the help of Too Tall and flydhest, I started doing intervals and setting objectives. I completed the TT slightly above the objectives I had set. While I was in the lowest part of the top half of the whole field, I felt extremely well satisfied and, until composing this post, thought almost not at all about my finish position except in the context of clearly being the oldest person in the field. I was thrilled to experience that the training worked and the other preparations I made, including proper warmup and nutrition and race strategy, worked as planned.

Second, a friend has won a sales contest winning a trip to a week of the TdF and the chance to ride stage 10 a few days before the actual day of the stage. He is a Cat 3 crit racer and far above my riding abilities. He began to train for the course with longer rides than he is used to a month or so ago, and I have gone on some of his rides. The longest ride until last Thursday for me was 70 hilly miles. Last Thursday he, Mary, a regular rider in his world, and I spent about six and a half hours on our bikes riding 108 miles with 6,100 feet of climbing. It was my first century, a tough one, and I paced the ride by being last. It wasn't a crawl, 16 mph avg, but not up to their abilities. I apologized to them for holding them up. They both thanked me profusely saying they never would have made it if they had ridden faster as they would have blown up along the way. Anyhow, I was thrilled to have gone that far and in difficult terrain for me for that distance. Wow, my riding confidence went right up. I called Paul the next day and suggested that we do the first part of the ride, with 4,000 miles and about 55 miles, out and back in order to increase the climbing by a few thousand feet in order to get him closer to the 12,000 feet in his ride in France. I'm eager to see if I can make it, and I don't much care about the speed.

So, that's my story for now and I'm sticking to it.


06-07-2004, 10:53 AM
to compete is gut wrenching, truely.
i puke before and i end up puking 10 ft past
the finish line. the anxiety of performance failure
is huge.
i stopped running races because of this and found
bike racing easier to take. the variables
involved with bike racing have squelched my belief
that i'm in total control of the moment and immediate
future. its this 'giving in' that calms me. i remember laughing
at myself in my first biathlon (i had never had fun in competition
prior). i had entered as lark with a
friend quite serious about the whole ordeal. it was this
new found attitude, along with a few other facets that made
me switch legencies(sp). anyways...

adrenaline amazes me with its power(s) to make me over come
hardships and actually do more than i thought possible.

Ken Robb
06-07-2004, 11:02 AM
those two rides sound to me like a person trying to develop his own abilities by putting in the effort and reaping the rewards of satisfaction and confidence. On a personal note, sort of, my wife, a new rider, went off alone intending to replicate an easy scenic ride that we do together. For those with local knowledge we go up the Gilman Bike Path, through UCSD, past Torrey Pines Golf Course on the old highway that is closed to cars. We sit on a bench overlooking Torrey Pines State Reserrve down to the ocean and reverse the ride home. Leslie missed the turn onto the closed road and found herself with no option but to continue down Torrey Pines Grade to the beach. Then she called home to ask for a ride back up in the car. I had just dragged my butt off my bike after a very long ride for me and told her I would have to re-hydrate and shower before I could get in my car. I told her the grade was no steeper than others she had done , just longer and I thought she could ride it fine if she took her time and rested if needed.
A quick shower and I put the rack on the car and headed out to find her. A good mile past the top of the hill I found her stopped for a drink on the flat. When I asked if she wanted a ride she said "Heck, no! (church organist) I'm going all the way. So like your two rides did for you, this one gave her the confidence to ride some areas that seemed too intimidating before. She does hills and you do centuries.

06-07-2004, 11:18 AM
In athletics, I learned a long time ago that I would never be the biggest, strongest, fastest at anything, so while I enjoy performimg to the fullest extent of my abilities, I'm not ultra competetive. I enjoy riding as fast as I can for as long as I can, and I love passing people, but I get passed more often. If they're only a little faster I try to keep up, if they're a lot faster I say "Have a nice ride."

An interesting note on differences in perception. A few years ago my wife and I and a group of my friends would meet every Friday night at a local park for some games of friendly, co-ed volleyball. As is true in most such groups, some players were good, most were not and a few were really bad. So while we had one or two jerks who couldn't seem to realize that this wasn't for the Olympic Gold medal, we usually had fun games, let everyone hit the ball, drank a few beers and had a good time. After a few months, though, my wife quite going. After a little prodding, I found out that she thought almost all the guys on the court (me included) were way too competitive. I was dumbfounded as I thought it was probably the most uncompetitive event I had ever done.

06-07-2004, 12:41 PM
I definitely have a competitive streak--no doubt enhanced, if that's the right word, by growing up playing competitive sports (through college).

BUT: not everything and not always and not always to the nth degree. I just gave up (or have given notice of giving up) a fair bit of money to take a job I find more interesting and worthwhile, but perhaps that's a bad example (since, at least in theory, I'm buying something valuable by giving up some monetary compensation).

More and more however, with age and with kids, I find myself thinking, or acting as if I think, that: Sometimes winning isn't important. Sometimes winning isn't worth it. Sometimes, there are different things to win, depending on how you conceive the game. Sometimes it's better just to take it easy. Sometimes I just want to take a nap.

06-07-2004, 01:01 PM
In competition bad losers are irritating but I think bad winners are even worse. Interestingly, the really good cyclists I have raced against are usually good losers and good winners. They just don't seem to get hung up too much if they don't win...they learn from their mistakes, are gracious, then win the next time and they are noble about it. Incidentally, I have never won a bike race (or any other race for that matter) in my life...still trying though - it's what makes it interesting!