I came across the video below a couple weeks ago, and at this point, apparently so have over 6400 other viewers.
No matter what you may think of Mr. Adam Myerson, something definitely struck me while watching this. Something he sums up towards the end of the interview with:
“It’s just stupid bike racing, you know. But it means everything…”
This quote got me thinking a lot about my own racing. While yes, it is important to keep everything in perspective, a “forest for the trees,” sort of thing; this sort of dedication and love of our two-wheeled affairs is something special. For all intents and purposes, I am a pretty terrible bike racer. The bottom half of the field is where I spend most of my time, and I will likely never place a foot on a podium unless I enter some sort of Bizarro World where I will still not be the victor, but instead will be handing over some flowers and possibly a kiss or two. As is our nature as cyclists, I could easily cite a multitude of excuses, such as school, family, and money (or lack thereof). I could just as easily tell you that I just don’t care, and that I simply love being out there on my bike. The fact is, I do care. I care so much it hurts. Rather, I care so much that I make it hurt every chance I get, by pinning on a number and lining up to get my ass handed to me.
It really makes no logical sense. Shelling out race fees, restricting activities in order to get enough sleep before race day, getting up at dawn to drive hours to a racecourse that I will be on for a fraction of that time, and hoping for the foulest weather that Mother Nature can dish out, all the while. It seems that any right-minded individual would shy away from such foolishness, and likely would do so after their first taste of this asinine endeavor we call bike racing. Stupid bike racing.
One of my favorite insights into the perspective of others towards my efforts on the bike usually occurs the Monday morning following a race weekend.
Friend: How’d your race go this weekend?
Me: Not bad
Friend: Did you win?
Friend: Do you make any money from racing?
Me: You can if you do well enough or, better yet, win.
Friend: Do you ever win?
So why then, why do we put ourselves through this? I struggle to articulate it myself without touching on every cliché imaginable. The freedom of being on a bike, the health and fitness benefits, the sense of competition, the satisfaction of beating the guy behind you, blah blah blah. The fact of the matter is, who cares? We don’t need a reason or an explanation. It doesn’t make one lick of sense, and yet it makes the most complete sense. We do it because we do. We do it because we can. We do it because deep down, maybe not for everyone, but for us, we know that somehow it is simply right.
One of those aforementioned excuses really came on strong this Cross season, and I was forced to hang up the bike much earlier than planned. School has gotten to be a bit much this fall, and I decided to dial back the racing and spend the season getting all of my academic ducks in order, with every intention of coming on even stronger next year. While this all sounds very rational and I know it was the correct decision to be made at the time, it was one of the most painful things I have ever had to do. I am very happy, and extremely grateful, that this was a self-imposed decision, and not one brought on by injury or worse to myself or those I love. There is no doubt that next season will be a big one, and that I will creep ever so slightly towards that podium that will always be out of reach. With that in mind, then why has this been so difficult? It’s simple really: “It’s just stupid bike racing, but it means everything.”