There are plenty of reasons to start racing |

There are plenty of reasons to start racing

Brett Donelson
Vail, CO Colorado
Brett Donelson

In the upcoming weeks my fellow coach and owner of Dogma Athletica Rod Connolly and I will write about cycling and how it pertains to our locals in the valley.

We live in a place that has some of the best cycling in the world, and it is a main reason why many of us live here.

The thought of doing a biking event is not fun for many locals. Some think of it as a group of spandex-wearing, techy, number-crunching, health nerds getting together to see who is tougher. I know I did. But my wife wanted to get into cycling and racing, so I followed.

I am not a cycling guru, nor am I likely to ever win a race, but I want to share some practical reasons about why signing up for events can be beneficial to anyone. I will focus on the Athletic Club at the Westin Vail Mountain Bike Series in this article, but these ideas pertain to road riding, triathlon, stage events, running, etc.

The Series kicks off May 23, and the short track races have already started. So what would make the average cyclist want to join this sometimes intimidating group?

For me, the primary reason is simple accountability. I have a nasty habit of being very inactive in the off season while having the best intentions of staying fit. The reality is that until I have an event paid for and on my calendar, nothing gets done.

Once I’m signed up my mindset changes and it is time to start riding. Is it purely because I don’t want to be embarrassed by my peers and get my butt kicked? Yep. That is a good enough reason for me to get off of my couch and cut down on the number of times that I frequent our many fine pizza establishments in the valley.

The second reason is that there is a real sense of community surrounding these events. I am new to the cycling world, but I have made great friends and had a lot of laughs with people that I meet. There is a certain level of respect and acknowlegement that goes on when you toe the line with someone. Whether you are winning the pro category, or exploring the never-ever category, it is all the same.

The third reason is that it gets you out riding more. Last year, I had to miss the race at Boneyard in Eagle, and I realized I never rode that trail all season. I love that trail but I just never “got to it.” I certainly would have if I had to race it. These events make you ride new trails and get out of your usual routine.

Fourth, is “why not?” Relative to my friends, I am not a fast racer. But at least I have tried it. I can stop at any point if I want. This is much better than never trying it and wondering “what if?” There are very few places that you will live that put on amazing events like this valley does.

Between biking, skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, and other events, it is hard to beat the level of quality and volume of events provided here. It would be a shame to miss out on something and not get that chance again.

Next, you will not be the slowest out there. You may be for one race, but then you get better and you get to move up in the ranks. Any of my close friends have said that in one race, they have been the last person out there. I certainly have been. Something will break, you will have a bad race, etc. It happens to everyone and no one else cares, so you shouldn’t. At least you tried. Racing will make you a much better rider, which we can all see benefits in.

Lastly, and absolutely the most important part of any of these events, the party afterwards. Do some of us take the racing part a little too seriously sometimes? Yes, guilty. But that is all forgotten when you win prizes, and earned your food and drink for the evening.

Brett Donelson and his wife, Tam, own Donelson Coaching, which coaches endurance athletes. Brett is also a personal trainer and cycling director at the Athletic Club at the Westin in Avon. For more information on Brett, visit