I’ve been racing my bike for 4 years as of this season. Not a long time in contrast to many I line up with, but long enough that there are races I have no recollection of. I’ve managed to win a small handful of mostly meaningless races. I’m proud enough of these accomplishments but none of them are my proudest.
In fact, my proudest moment on a bike took place on a country road in central Illinois. I was part of a 5-person breakaway that formed in the final 20 miles of the race and had been whittled down to just 2 of us. I was out of water and had no food. It wasn’t hot that day but the sun was pounding and my mouth was dry. John Whipple could have dropped me but staying away alone is tough to do so he let me hang, so long as I gave him a rest every now and then.
I thought for sure I’d get dropped. And after getting dropped the peloton would catch me, and from there I’d be toast. I thought for sure all this work was for naught. The Thoughts started creeping in. The Thoughts; everyone who has raced has had The Thoughts. “Man, it’s a nice day. I should just pull off to the side and sit in that field for a bit.”
This sport is really all about The Thoughts. It’s Freud’s classic battle between the Id and the Ego. And on that day, I won. I didn’t win the race, in part because of an agreement with John and in part because he would have beaten me anyways, but I did get 2nd. That’s why this sport is so awesome. It challenges your mind like few other sports can (and Lycra).
There was little glory in getting 2nd in a spring cat 4 race in the middle of nowhere Illinois. I didn’t even get 2nd place credit as I crossed the line, as we had caught up to the tail end of the race ahead of us and most people assumed I was just off the back in that race. However, to this day, that day stands in my mind as a standard for myself. The lessons learned that day are attributed to much of the subsequent success I’ve been able to snag on the bike.
Don’t quit. Ever.