I’m back in Marin, and reflecting on the previous couple of weeks. I feel so fortunate to have been able to race my bike in Europe. I can’t believe it is all happening! I didn’t just get to go to Europe and survive an epic tour, but I got to RACE it.
Surviving and racing are two entirely different methods and abilities. I am looking forward to more experiences like that. Don’t get me wrong, there were times during the race, where the peloton is strung out for a k and all you can do is bury yourself into the wheel in front of you. The desperation of finding a draft for survival is key. Then, when the pain subsides, the peloton lets up for a moment, just a moment, you launch an attack of your own. Why do this to myself? I discovered the pain is all the same, but there is something satisfactory when you initiate the pain, instead of sitting and waiting for someone else to make the critical move. When you feel yourself wanting recovery, and relieved when it is available…that is the time. Go for it. If you are hurting, someone else is as well. The cat and mouse. The attacks. The accelerations. The survival. The game. That is is bike racing.
I can’t express how much I appreciate people like Rick Rockhold who helped sponsor me to be able to travel and to race. Unbelievable support and friendship. I feel so blessed for such an amazing support system. People last year told me I could do it and I know they are still surprised I am here, and this year, I am racing for the US National Team and Team TIBCO? Crazy.
Although bike racing isn’t rocket science, and it doesn’t solve the world’s problems, I think we can take little life lessons from bike racing.
I learned that win, lose, or draw, aggressive riding gets you somewhere. Although it may not get you a win, it may get you a podium kiss. If the kiss isn’t your thing, it also gets you respect. In life, it may not be aggressive riding but it may be just being decisive. To make a plan, make a move, believe in it, believe in yourself, believe in your teammates (or colleagues). Maybe we don’t do it for the glory, although the flowers and kisses are nice, we do it because we believe we can. You don’t always get the champagne, but you get the satisfaction of trying. Pushing your limits, and not holding back. Somedays you may win, somedays you may fail, but you know that you are committed and strong. And, that podium isn’t so bad either.
There are the days that you need to relax, uncoil, and enjoy the scenery. Bike racing isn’t about going hard all the time, it is about going hard at the right times. I am very talented at riding my bike very slowly at times. I will never lose this skill. There are important days where it doesn’t matter your watts, your heartrate, your calorie expenditure, it just matters to enjoy the outdoors, enjoy the company, and enjoy life. Work shouldn’t be all work all the time. We are all allowed to play every now and again, and remember why we do what we do. We love it.
All roads do NOT in fact lead to Rome. Surely there is a paved road between Lucca and Pisa, but why take the simple route? Why take the same path that everyone else does? It is the adventure of life that keeps us going. Each path that we chose in our lives takes us somewhere, but it isn’t always the destination that matters, it is the adventure that we achieve along the way. We may not make it to Pisa, we may not always make the team, we may not always achieve all of our expectations, but we enjoy the ride just the same. Dirt roads or not. Typical methods or not. We learn, we grow, we laugh and that is what matter the most.
You are taught what you should do, and how you should prepare, but you also need to be prepared to live a little. Maybe it isn’t always about the gels, the bars, and the proper protocol. Maybe sometimes it is about enjoying the local flavor, stopping on the side of the road to “sample” the local “fuel”. Peaches anyone? We know what our bodies require for optimized performance, and I know my body appreciates the variety, and the ability to branch out. Locally grown, organically grown, sometimes supporting the local farmers is not always a possibility. However, when you get the luxury of that first juicy bite into a ripe plum that is warm from the summer sunshine, you remember to appreciate the simple things in life. Slow down every now and again and just enjoy life’s simplest pleasures.
When you are in a bind, or maybe just hot, humid weather, be trusting and fill up those bottles, cool off, and rely on your friends and family to support you. Sometimes our saving grace isn’t where we expect it, and sometimes it is. Keep your eyes open looking for that familiar comfort of a water spicket helps your recognize your support when you truly need it the most. And, remember, you should be drinking at least one bottle per hour when riding. Much more liquid may be necessary when the weather is hotter. Sorry, had to lecture momentarily.
Finally, don’t forget to let others enjoy the view as well. If we are constantly thinking about ourselves, we forget to let those around us relax a little as well, sit back, and to peruse the surroundings with us. My Look 585 likes to look around every once in a while too. I try not to forget to let her enjoy what she does too. Why should I be the only lucky one? Remember to extend appreciation to those that help us in life. It may be a friend, it may be a riding partner, it may be a dog, or it may be your faithful bicycle…appreciate them. Thank them. Sit back, and let them take the spotlight.
No, bike racing isn’t rocket science, but it is sure fun. We can take practical life lessons from just about anything, why not riding our bicycles. I am glad to be home, and I am looking forward to returning. Have a home base and a community of support is so nice to come back to…
Thank you for the ride..