Wouldn't you love to be a professional athlete? I’m certain that this has crossed your mind at least once in your life. It seems like the best job in the world. Imagine just riding your bike around all day, and getting paid for it!
Have no fear as I’m here to burst another of your bubbles with my reasons why being a pro athlete is total bull-shirt…
Because you can’t pick your bike
How many bikes featured in the Tour de France would you like to ride - all of them? Probably. What about some of the teams that don’t make it…?
This reason to not be a pro athlete will, obviously, remain anonymous, but you’re not always riding a bike that you like, enjoy, or would have yourself. Even World Tour riders sometimes have to smile through their hatred for a bike, often time trial bikes. I’ve been told by many professional bike riders that the best bike they ever had was the one they purchased when they retired!
Because you have to travel the world
While it might seem like one of the best ways to see the world, being a pro athlete has its limitations on what you actually see. “The hard part about being a pro bike rider is traveling. It sounds cool to travel, but it’s not so cool when you realize you visit most of the world and you don’t see any of it. All the places that everybody on a normal holliday would visit, you miss. You just go from the airport, to the hotel, to the track, and then the roads to train.” SpokesFit Coach David.
You’ve also got to consider the impact to your family and social lives by traveling this much. Stefan Mastaller, one of our other SpokesFit Coaches, adds that “travelling the world while getting paid for it is one of the most beautiful things as an athlete, BUT It also comes with the drawback of missing a lot of time with your friends and family.”
Because you get paid to perform
All pro athletes are millionaires, right…?
“Of course Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas don’t have to worry too much about this, but going to a lower level of professional sports, there is not only the issue of getting enough money to make a “normal” living out of it. It’s the 1 to 2 year contracts that make it hard to plan your life long term.” Stefan Mastaller, SpokesFit Coach.
Because you have to perform
Just because you are riding your bike and getting paid, doesn’t mean there aren’t certain expectations around your performance. Like any job, if you underperform, you risk losing it. SpokesFit Expert Coach Zak Coleman adds that “the pressure on athletes is by far the hardest part of being a pro. The expectation of results, competition to be selected for races, and judgement on performance can really be hard sometimes!”
Because you have stress to bust
When you’re stressed, how nice is it to head out on the bike and bust that bad mood? It’s not really an option as a pro bike rider...
SpokesFit athlete Chris Opie tells us that “one major downside of being a pro athlete is that inevitably your favourite hobby has now become your work, meaning it is no longer an outlet for stress, but rather can be the cause of a lot of stress. You have little extra spare time to invest in a new hobby, so it can be quite challenging for your mental health.”
Because you still have to be human
Your post tough training ride routine probably involves having a shower, some food, maybe cleaning the bike, and various other items. It probably doesn’t include press conferences, talking to journalists, team members, and other people. That’s another pro problem - you do have to be human, even after long multi-stage tours.
SpokesFit Coach Andi Bajc reminds us that no matter how much you want to just crawl into bed, there is an obstacle to reaching it.
Because you are still human
SpokesFit Athlete Chris Opie opens up with this pro problem, telling us that “the real world has very little understanding for the mentality of an athlete. Something I have experienced first hand after retirement.
People will tell you they sympathise with how you feel after finishing a competitive career, but they don’t know the reality of your changing identity. For many athletes they will have worked and competed for their entire living memory, so to flick a switch and expect it to all be over is borderline impossible without professional help.
I think it all comes down to the fact that professional athletes are wired slightly differently to the average person. They live and breathe what they are and who they are, you can’t simply clock on in the morning and off in the evening, you need to be focused for every waking moment.”
Because you can’t take sick days
Remember the last time you picked up a cold and took a day off? It’s not necessarily an option as a pro athlete, especially if you’re fighting for a contract. Even if you’re not fighting for a contract, you still have an obligation to your team, and no one wants to let their teammates down.
SpokesFit Coach Andi Bajc also reminds us that often even falling off your bike is enough to end your race - you’re not able to use that excuse here…
Because life is about being a professional athlete
Having your body perform at the absolute peak of its potential isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work, but more significantly, it takes a lot of sacrifice.
SpokesFit Coach Stefan adds that “professional cycling is not a normal 9 – 5 job. Your whole life is in line with cycling. You cannot go on holidays when or where you want to. You cannot call in sick. You cannot go out for burgers every weekend. Life in that bubble is a different world.”.
And, because you’re a professional athlete
Of course! Perhaps only professionals would have noticed that this was a tautological question; the answer is provided in the question - that’s a thinker…
SpokesFit Coach David Muntaner tells us that “a challenge to be a pro cyclist is that riding your bike is actually your job, so you need to do it every day, even if you are tired, if it rains, or when you are not motivated. It's the hardest part to keep the motivation high every day and give your 100% every day.”
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