Beer Season
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beer Season

by Ian Dille at 6:58 PM EST   comments
Categories: Training, Preparation, and Health, General
 

Last Saturday I completed the last road race of the year. The Texas season starts in earnest the first weekend of February, takes a brief hiatus during the scorching summer (Austin had 69-days over 100-degrees from June through August), and wraps up with the State Road Race in mid-October. I’m writing this on the first day of the off-season.

In actuality, the term off-season—in warm winter blessed Texas, during the current era of power-based, periodized training, and for an amateur bike racer who’s not training ridiculous hours in preparation for a slate of major national level events—is a bit of a misnomer. Non-racing time, or mental-break period, or a moment to reconnect with family and friends and work obligations you’ve neglected while focusing on the somewhat self-absorbed sport of bike racing, would be a more apt description.

I prefer the term beer season (with football watching era a close second). Not that I don’t drink beer during the season. I drink plenty of beer, especially since I opted to finally relocate from my parent’s basement and put my professional bike racing ambitions on hold. (I say, on hold, because all bike racers, no matter how terrible in actuality, maintain a glimmer of hope that a ProTour birth is just a few business park crit wins away. For example, when I turned 30 about a month ago, I didn’t dismay about not maxing out my IRA. Rather, I was upset that, in terms of winning a Grand Tour, I was reaching my physiological peak.)

During the season there’s always a tinge of guilt associated with the consumption of empty, liquid calories, no matter how warm and happy they make you feel. But in the two-weeks or so that comprise my beer season, malted and hopped beverages flow without remorse. A new race is taking place: How quickly can the human body transform from a lean, pedaling machine, to a soft, hairy legged, shell of a cyclist?

The cycling community offers many options for beer-season support. In many towns, including mine, local bars and restaurants offer happy hour specials for those who show up on a bicycle. This year the New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat, an event dedicated to bike worshipping as much as beer drinking, comes to town just in time for beer season. And at Lance’s joint, the SIX Lounge—which is co-owned and run by his best buddy, John “College” Korioth, who generously (or perhaps maliciously, since we regularly race against him) sponsors our team—my buddies and I anti-train by swilling potent local brews (i.e. not Michelob Ultra) and talking trash about all the races we intend on winning next year. (Note: These inebriated predictions rarely hold true.)

Whenever I hear reports of a company that instilled flex hours and saw profits rise, or how frequent breaks increase overall productivity, or that Europeans, who work only 36-hours a week and take a month off every year, experience a less stressful, happier outlook on life, I feel completely justified in my beer season. I’m fully aware that cycling is my (and I cringe at using this word) hobby—what I do to blow off steam. But truthfully, many of us, me included of course, treat the sport like a second job. Beer season, in essence, is a vacation from how I spend my vacation time.

Whether you enjoy beer or not (seriously though, who—of legal age—doesn’t like beer?) we all need a beer season. It’s not a tough sell, I know, but simply take this as a reminder: Whatever you dub your break from the bike, please enjoy it—remorse free.

Ian Dille is a freelance journalist based in Austin, Texas. He currently races at the elite amateur level for the Super Squadra road cycling team. To read more of Ian's writing, please visit iandille.com.

Read more from Ian here.

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