The answer is easy. To stay relevant, first win and be deemed the best. Next: don't be a jerk, be the coolest; tell a good story; be an ambassador; motivate more people to ride [and purchase] bikes. In the end, be happy, healthy and strong!
Always achieving the first item means you might get away with doing relatively less of the succeeding items. But if you can't always achieve the first item, then perhaps having enough variety in your repertoire makes it possible to achieve all the other things, especially the last one.
Once I realized there were all these things to do...and the list keeps growing...XC, CX, STXC, DH, eliminator, super D, enduro, freeride, dirtjump, trials, flatland, street, road, crits, clunkers, fatbikes...trail-building, adventure journalism, movie making, speedometers, heart rate monitors, power meters...races, hard rides, easy rides, night rides, teaching people how to ride...how they all complement one another...I realized I was apt to enjoy any of them, but not just one...skills favored some disciplines, sure, but the variety was a big reason why I developed a love for cycling in the first place...all the ways in which to do it, to express myself and test myself. It's still hard to pick favorites. There will always be somewhere cooler to ride.
Every year I feel like I draw upon that attraction to variety, even if I'm heavily focused on training for a single discipline. For me the variety is always in reach, whether I need it or not, and it can always recharge me. Having the many provides me the balance to focus on the one.
"The one" for me has classically been cross country racing...
What I'm getting at is that it's hard to be just an XC racer anymore. Unless you are currently (or immanently) the Super Boss Champion of the World in any discipline, or, if you had good timing in acquiring real-estate on the island of Super Bosses in the past, then your next best strategy is to either become a Super Boss very soon, or embrace the fact that there is a lot more to having a relevant career than just being [or not being] a Super Boss. I think this is especially true for anyone with aspirations in XC racing.
At the end of the day, it's a struggle for survival that's fun as hell, that lets you see amazing parts of the world with lots of good people to share it with. I'm happy about my situation, thankful for my health, family, friends and sponsors, and excited about what's in store for the 2014 season and beyond. In the meantime I'll be thinking about my approach to gardening.
|Photo Credit: John Gibson|
Thanks for reading