This episode, the second-half of our interview with ex-pro Phil Gaimon, and a look at some of the reasons not to turn pro.
“It’s harder than you think, and no one gets it at the level they want”
— Phil Gaimon, recently retired pro cyclist and author of new book “Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in awhile)
In the last episode we talked about some of the more attractive aspects of being a pro, the gear, the travelling, the recognition… But what about the ugly side of it? Today, Phil Gaimon decides whether or not he agrees with our Top 5 reasons not to turn pro, and some important lessons to be learnt for anyone thinking about following their dreams and making the move to professional cycling.
SPC Sting 1
Damian: This is the Semi-Pro Cycling Podcast, I’m Damian Ruse.
Today, we’re continuing an interview with Phil Gaimon from the last episode. So if didn’t hear the last episode, go back and listen.
When we left off Phil was talking about death threats as a result of, well, being a pro cyclist, or even crazier, talking about being a pro cyclist. This is when it starts to get real – when you can start to see the negative side of being a pro.
In the last episode I went through what I think are the top reasons to turn pro, I also put a list of the top 5 reasons to not turn pro, but before I settled on 5, the list was actually much longer. I kind of talk about this, so I won’t harp on too much. One thing I will say, though, if you’re an aspiring espoir wanting to join the pro ranks – there are some important takeaways in this episode.
It’s not just about cycling or trying to be a pro though, there are great lessons here about following your dreams and getting the most out of where you end up, that anyone can learn from, I know I have, so let’s get into it…
SPC Sting 2
Interview – “Top 5 reasons not to go pro”
Damian: In my humble opinion it was absolutely worth doing – Draft Animals has moved into my top 3 cycling books of all time. It’s the honesty, the transparency, and it’s being a cycling fan in the same era, getting an insight into some of pro cycling’s familiar characters from Phil’s vantage point. Phil gives a fair assessment of what it’s really like to “live the dream” as a professional cyclist, sharing a picture of pro cycling as he experienced it.
And I want to argue that knowing all the gory details doesn’t take the sheen off pro cycling – it doesn’t make me hate it (any more), it actually adds to pro cycling’s kooky charm.
Also, there are some insightful moments about the true value of working for an ambitious goal. Even if you get what you’ve always wanted – you have to make it be what you wanted. It’s on you to carve out happiness out of disappointment.
The book won’t please everyone, though. So I’ll give Phil the final words from a blog post addressed to the people that just don’t get it.
“The story I want to tell is about what it means to follow a dream to the bitter end–how hard I worked, how good I had to get and what I chose to put myself through, ultimately to suck at the highest level of cycling and make peace with it. It’s my truth and it’s the best I could do and I put a lot of time and emotion into it, but my opinions aren’t always popular, which I understand will make some people angry. I hope a few of you will read past the noise and enjoy “Draft Animals” for what it is.”
Chapeau, Phil. Enjoy retirement.
Damian: If you are new to Semi-Pro Cycling, check out the back catalogue of shows on all aspects of performance at semiprocycling.com or sign up for the Weekly Workout Stack – The guide that shows you how to structure your training week and use your training time more effectively, and I’ll also send you a best of our episodes straight to your inbox.
Alright, well, I’ll be back in 2 weeks. Thanks for listening.
Presenter/Producer: Damian Ruse
Assistant Producer: Ciarán Mac Parland
Sound Engineer: Satyr Productions