The One Essential.

I am firmly of the belief that you need only one thing to race bikes for a very long time.
 
It isn't talent. That helps, but it isn't essential.

 
It isn't money, but that also is pretty nice to have.

 
Nope, the one thing you need for a long "career" as an amateur bike racer is a short and very selective memory.
 
The only thing you should be able to remember is all of the moments of "glory", only witnessed by a couple of bored significant others and/or children, plus a handful of race officials who are already wondering if they can pack up quickly enough to beat that looming rainstorm. Unless you're extremely talented or the big fish in a very, very small puddle, these moments will be few and far between. Your brain should seize on them and every detail that led to them so you can bore everyone around you with exhaustive race reports, and exclude all other memories that aren't quite so pleasant. Weddings, births, deadlines... all of this is secondary to your triumphant moments in races nobody sees or cares about.
 
You should also be able to filter out all of the moments of unpleasantness that led you to your one accomplishment. The intervals, pukervals, diets, cold/wet rides, bonks, flats, cramps, and everything else that comprises the remaining 99.9% of the sport needs to be forgotten as soon as you stop shivering under a hot shower and your left leg ceases its painful twitching.
 
Once you grow a fully-functioning memory, your days in the sport are numbered. Pretty soon you start remembering just how comfortable the couch is. You remember that food is a magical thing that doesn't necessarily have to have the "SuperFood" label prominently displayed anywhere on it. You start sleeping in, because you remember sleep is more fun than early-AM intervals. Because of all of this you gain weight, and you seem to recall this characteristic makes riding competitively somewhat more difficult.
 
All of this works in my favor, because essentially I'm Ten Second Tom from 50 First Dates. I can barely remember my own children's names, so forgetting hours of self-abuse is a snap, as is forgetting that I have no innate talent, potential, or sufficient drive to be anything more than pack fodder in a road cycling backwater.
 
Chances are, I'll eventually win by default because everyone else will come down with a severe case of the memories- if I remember to show up.

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