Cycling, simply put, is not exactly the cheapest of hobbies. And until we can make that big leap into the pro ranks (which is almost, but not entirely, impossible for a 37 year old) we generally have to do something when we aren’t riding to make a few bucks. But sometimes that balance just doesn’t work out so well.
I’ve been in that situation for the last few months. I’m a tech guy – systems engineer, responsible for keeping my company’s servers up and running. And I’ve been working for a startup. That means a lot of hours. One can not ride with their keyboard in front of them.
Then there is the nasty secret of system administration – on call duties. This means you have to receive alerts (or “pages”) and respond to them in a basically short time – usually 15 minutes or so. And what happens if you are the one and only system admin at that startup? Yup – you guessed it. On call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not getting enough rest is obviously bad for athletic performance. Not even being able to go out and ride unless you are within 15 minutes of your house? Well, that’s pretty much the end of the story. This was the year I joined – and then dropped out of – my first competitive team. Hell, I even ended up dropping out of my non-competitive cycling group. Not only was my work / cycling balance skewed, it was completely broken.
Granted, my particular situation was extreme (notice the was.) But I know of many that have seen their particular performance goal missed due to demanding careers.
There are ways to mitigate this somewhat unavoidable situation. You can use your commute as a workout in and of itself. Many companies are starting to put showers in at the office. Those that don’t often offer local gym membership discounts, and you can often use the showers at the gym to freshen up before your day starts. And in a pinch, of course, a few JustAnotherCyclist special editionActionWipes will do the trick too (hint hint). But these efforts can only go so far.
Lets face it – cycling is expensive when you strive to ride at the competitive level. It is expensive in dollars, and it is expensive in hours. It takes a great deal of time and dedication to continually improve your performance.
Oh and by the way – I’m looking for a new job. One that allows me more (or should I say, some) time to cycle. You looking for a systems engineer?