Begrudgifcated Volunteer.

The recent single-digit and lower temperatures haven't done much for my morale. While we have more snow on the ground than last year at this time (not saying much) and the resorts are making as much of the man-made type as they can pump through the guns, I'm just not feeling the winter love just yet. Maybe it was the abrupt transition from dreary and chilly to butt-ass cold that prevents me from acclimating. Maybe it's the memories of leading groups of Mighty Mites down icy and bumpy ribbons of death, watching the snowpack melt away with every trip up the chairlift. Maybe I'm just getting old.
A lot of guys in the fat bike community are all giggly about riding in -12F temperatures. They post pictures of themselves on Facebook, sporting icicle-encrusted beards like badges of honor. I think they're pushing the season a little bit, risking burnout before the trails get properly covered. Then again, what do I know? I cower in my relatively-warm garage (50F-ish is warm, right?), making pools of sweat that mingle with the dust and dirt on the garage floor. Different strokes for different folks.
Wednesday night I was summoned to the annual Mighty Mite coaches' shindig. Pizza, beer, and hours of listening to Mighty Mite Head Coach Lumpy talk. It helped to lift my spirits and get my mind right. A month from now I'll be squiring packs of little monsters down Alyeska, so now's a good time to get motivated. Hearing about all of the behind-the-scenes administrivia made me happier than ever that I no longer am required to deal with that stuff. I coach my little group, try to make sure each day ends with a giggle or at least a smile, and my day's work is done.
My past experiences with boards of sports organizations have taught me that I tend to take on far too much responsibility, until it becomes a burden. Often, the only way I've been able to unload that burden is to leave or outright shutter the organization. It's not a feeling I enjoy, but like this blog, in the end it's all about me. Killing all the joy one feels for the sport is not a great way to end an association, so when old board members successfully make their break for freedom after years of service, I honestly hope they enjoy life on the outside. I've been there more than once, and will likely go there again.
Every time the Road Division president asks for volunteers to take responsibility for a specific role and is greeted by nothing but the sound of crickets (and we don't have an excess of those up here to serve as volunteers), I feel guilty when I don't jump up and take it on. So far I've been able swallow my shame and hide behind other board members, even as they try to hide behind me, but eventually I'll cave. That's what I do.
Eventually I'll take on obligations that will cause no end of marital strife. I'll commit myself to tasks that are ill-defined and ever-expanding, because that's just how these things go. Good-intentioned people (I'm sometimes classed thusly by the ill-informed) are always ground into small pellets and fed into the machine that drives the organization. When the fuel is spent, the machine will either find a new source or grind to a halt. The best take little hunks at a time out of a variety of fuel sources, making for a more sustainable organization, but in the end we're all just soylent green. How fast we burn just depends on how volatile we are and how we're used.
So, as I gird my loins for another season of Mighty Mite fun and for helping lay the groundwork for next season's road racing, I take time to remind myself why I even bother in the first place- at their core, I think both activities are pretty awesome. I think more people should do them. I know that these activities don't exist without a lot of very tedious work going on in the background, but the more people have the opportunity to participate, the greater the chances that there will be others that are willing to be ground up to keep the machine going. Maybe we'll reach that point where we're only chewed up a little, and can eventually make our own escapes, leaving others to carry on in our stead. There might even be a small chance that we'll still be more or less intact at the end.
Then again, I can think of less-worthy causes to dedicate yourself to.
Like fat biking.


  1. Personally I think burnout risk has a lot more to do with mental stress than physiological stress. Riding outside, no matter how cold, is far less mentally taxing than riding the trainer for me. Work stress and a lacking support system will burn anyone out faster than anything. I'm able to ride 18-22 hours a week through the winter for several reasons.

    1. I have an amazing wife that supports and believes in me as a bike racer. She may not love my absence for half of every weekend, but she knows what we are working towards, and is just as stoked for my 2016 A races as I am.

    2. I'm in love with riding bicycles. At the end of the 2015 road season, after an entire summer of continually increasing training stress, I was more in love with pedalling than ever. It took a shattered collarbone to get me to finally concede that the off-season had arrived.

    3. I have a job with predictable hours that doesn't leave me mentally exhausted at the end of the day.

  2. Ahhh, Joey. You naive little boy, you forgot a couple:
    4. You have no kids. Dude, the tiny bastards will kill you. I wouldn't trade my hell-spawn for anything... maybe a sweet set of Lightweight wheels... but nothing else.
    5. Your amazing wife (she seems fairly amazing) hasn't morphed into an uber-protective maternal she-beast (justifiable transformation), so "family time" has not yet expanded to "every waking moment plus 4 hours".
    6. Decades of crushed dreams and unfulfilled aspirations haven't yet rendered you into a bitter, hollow shell of a man, whose only outlet is to scream profanities at the world from a seldom-read blog.
    Just sayin'...


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