Being "The Guy".

Aki Sato is one of the road cycling bloggers I've followed for a while. 
  
His in-race videos have been a masters class for me on race craft and tactics. I'm constantly amazed how he can make the moves he does using so little power, then throw down a high level of wattage at just the right moment. He's one of those guys with such a small CdA that not only does the wind not see him, it actually appears that he rides around with a perpetual tailwind.
  
Up until a couple years ago, Aki ran a very popular race series in the northeast. He was "the guy" making a whole lot of people's Walter Mitty-esque road racing fantasies a reality. Large investments of his time, money, and energy were required. He was the one guy it all hinged upon. Because of all of this, he didn't race or train as much as he wanted to. As he put it, "I felt like I had been rolled up into a race-promoting-snowball and rolling down a big snow covered hill. I couldn't get out until the snowball hit something, the snow flew off, and I had a chance to sit there clear of snow and recover." Then life happened.
  
I was that guy at one time. I dumped a lot of money and time into making other people happy, and while it was rewarding, it also ground me down. Lots of very long hours doing physical labor in the elements when I wasn't 100%. Often when I wasn't 50%. The whole thing hinged on me, just like it had on my predecessor. If I wasn't there, nobody raced. Other people helped here and there, but ultimately I was "the guy" making it happen. Eventually I couldn't do it anymore. The smallest bit of drama or inconvenience became too much. After ten years and a lot of money, I walked away. Sold most of my gear just to make sure I didn't return to that life.
  
It took a couple years, but I found my way back to the fun again. The fun of being a participant and part of the organization, rather than being the organization. I've told a whole lot of people that no healthy organization should live or die because of one person.
  
I hope Aki can find his way back to the fun, because that's why we did it in the first place. We can be resources. We can be cautionary tales. We did our part to keep the sports going, and hopefully others will take up the banner and press on- with a lot of support.
  
Being "the guy" is fun for a while, but being "a guy" is much more satisfying over the long haul.

Comments

  1. Yup, lots of work, a bit of fun. Some rewards. In the end I suspect we'd all prefer to just be in the race, even if we're just at the back of the race. Sigh.

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    Replies
    1. For a time, I really enjoyed the whole thing. People were genuinely grateful for the races I organized, and I liked providing them with the opportunity. If I didn't, nobody else was going to step in. This was made plain by the fact that in the three years since I stopped, nobody took up the torch.
      It wasn't a sustainable model, and eventually even pig-headed people like me run out of steam. It took me 10 years, but I folded. Now I'm happy to be a cog in the machine for a while. It's definitely easier to keep going for the long haul that way.

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