Living The Life?

Now, I may get myself into some hot water with this post… But I can’t hold back any longer. I’ve been seeing this tagline all over cycling blogs/Twitter feeds/Facebook posts/etc the last few weeks and it really is making my eyes crossed. Yes, the offending tagline is: Living The Life.

What the heck? What is exactly Living The Life? I really don’t know where this tagline/motto/slogan came from but I would like it to return to the rock from which it come out from under. Harsh, I know. But seriously…

What do these three seemingly innocent words exactly mean? By using them are you trying to make others jealous? Are you attempting to belittle the work and effort you put into your training and racing?

The fascinating aspect to the use of this slogan/tagline/motto is that I haven’t seen any ProTour or top North American pros using it. Nope, it seems to be coming from those who are along for the ride (so to speak). Now, some of you might hesitate to suggest that I’m one of those along for the ride…

Well, bite your tongue on that thought young man. Yes, I bill myself as a pro cyclo-cross racer. Essentially this is what I am – I don’t really work much, I have sponsors who support my racing efforts, and I do earn some money from start contracts. I suppose, I’m a candidate to use the “Living The Life” tagline/slogan/motto. Heck, I might as well get it tattooed on my bulging quads. But I digress….

Really, there is nothing awesome or spectacular about choosing to ride and not work much. It is a choice. Is it a glorified existence? No.

From the full-time pro road racers I’ve spoken to, the life of a professional ProTour or top North American bike racer really isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Having no control over when and where you race. Literally racing to save your job, lest a poor day on your bike puts an end to your contract. Living out of a suitcase. Being away from family and friends. Crashing hard and still being expected to get out there and race again the next day. Having no control over the equipment you have to use – forget the fact that the team pedals/shoe combination inflames your ITB or that the saddle you have to ride really just doesn’t fit your “you know what”.

Living The Life? Gee, I’m really not so sure.

But for someone like me things are a bit different. I choose my racing schedule and arrange my own travel plans. If I’m sick or simply not having a good day on the bike, not to worry, there are plenty of other races. I have two homes: Ottawa and Blauberg (thanks Tim and Jos) and don’t have to worry about less then spectacular hotels and hotel food. I race and ride with the equipment and clothing I like. Simply put, I have control over my bike racing life.

So maybe, I’m Living The Life? I still don’t think so. Since I still have concerns like mortgage payments, arranging sponsorships, and living a normal life.

I guess this all leads me to one big question: can someone please explain to me what Living The Life is? I’m so darn curious. I’m thinking that if I could just crack this nut, I’d really and truly have it made. On the other hand, I can stick with what I have and be damn happy and lucky that at the age of 38 (soon to be 39) I’ve got an amazing husband who helps me keep the dream alive.

4 thoughts on “Living The Life?

  1. I think you hit exactly what “Living the Dream” is. No, it’s not easy. No, it’s all good, all smiles, all the time. Nobody ever said it was going to be. But “living the dream” is simply doing what you love. That’s it. Lots of people seem to hate life, hate their jobs, whatever, so getting to do what you love and generally being happy is what I call “living the dream!”

    So if you’re happy, be happy. Enjoy it. And use your joy to spread it to everyone you know, everyone you meet, everyone you interact with. And one day, we will all be “living the dream!”

  2. I think living the life may be more of an “in the moment” expression. An endorphin and adrenaline charged announcement to whomever in listening that right now you are feeling good. There are days when I get that from riding and days when I get that from being a husband and a dad. Just a feeling that everything is going great.

  3. After over 10 years of riding my bicycle and getting to a point where I now ride full time, I would have to disagree with your post Vicki.

    I love riding my bike. Otherwise, there is no way that I would have been able to put in the hours that I did over the months of January and February while based in snowy Ottawa in eager anticipation of the upcoming race season. I have been through my fair share of injury and illness over the last 18 months and all that has served to do is illustrate how much I love my bike. As such, I was one of those with the tagline “living the life.” It graced my FB status last while while I was in South Carolina riding a 30 hour week.

    This was in preparation for my first season on a UCI team – I believe that makes me a pro. Sure there are days when the thought of riding is a little nauseating, but one of the very coolest experiences I have ever had in my life was riding the Tour de l’Aude – and it very nearly destroyed me.

    I can’t imagine anything better than getting up, eating a good breakfast and heading out on the road for the day. If you don’t agree with me – bike racing probably isn’t for you. There are definite hardships, but I truly believe that if you see what you’re doing as a sacrifice – it’s time to call it.

    I too don’t want to offend anyone – but being a pro bike racer – it’s definitely “living the life” – at least the one that I choose.

    • Well, it was bound to happen… I’ve got myself in hot water in the cycling community with my thoughts and comments on Living the Life. Now I suppose I need to step up and “justify” myself.
      I think the best way to do this is for those of you who read my blog and are following this comment thread is to click through my blog archives. You will see that I too have been through my share of illness and rough times on the bike. This past season in particular. It would have been easy for me to pack it in and return to my career of 15 years as a professional technical writer – taking the easy route. But I too have a burning passion for my bike and want to see what else I can get out of my heart, body and soul. I suppose I am living the life as well – I get up every day with my focus on being my training, eating, and recovery.
      So yeah, I’m “Living the Life”. But I also know what it is like to slog it out over an entire pro/elite cyclo-cross season – arranging my own travel, finding mechanics, cleaning my own bikes, recovering from injury and illness and trying to race my best day in and day out. But I don’t want to glorify what I do – it is not easy every day – and I don’t think it should be.
      Don’t doubt my desire to ride my bike consider where I was, the goals I’ve achieved, what I’ve been through with my health and then to continue racing and training. Which really, given my health situation really isn’t the best thing I should be doing but I’ve made a deal with my doctors, Marc and my coach – they’ll let me keep going so long as I don’t get any sicker. So yeah, I have it.
      Don’t judge me with this one blog post – start from the beginning to understand where I’m coming from.

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