I have driven over 2000 miles over the course of 4 or so days, spread out over the last 9 days. I have driven 100,000 miles or so in the 4 years I have owned my current car, most of it to bike races.
This has taught me a few things about the people I roll around with, and a lot about myself.
Here are things I know (or suspect):
- I can’t tell all I know; my friends and teammates would never forgive me.
- I know guys who are smarter than you would think; I know guys who are dumber than you would think, too.
- I know at least one widely looked-up-to hardman who has spent a lot of time on the therapist’s couch; and I know guys who wake up on race day, and it’s even money whether they get suicidal, or drunk, or win the bike race.
- I know one guy who barely knows his dad; and a few who barely know their wives.
- I know a surprising amount of guys who are simply happy most of the time. Uncomplicatedly happy, no angst. Huh.
- I think I know a team director who used to keep himself going during stage races with amphetamines. Nobody piss tests the DS, right?
- I know gifted athletes with good hearts and Calvin’s work ethic who nevertheless failed to succeed as professional cyclists because they couldn’t play the game.
- I know a few guys who would use performance enhancing drugs if given the chance; I know a few more who have done so; and I know a great many guys who would not, no matter what. Ever.
- I know a bunch of guys that wish they had more balance in their lives, and a few who wish they could give up racing entirely; but I know that every one of them loves it, no matter what they say.
- I know a great many people who owe their health, happiness, social lives, and sanity to bike racing.
- I know the mood of one of my old teammates’ wife by his tone on the phone.
- I also know that the same teammate could recite for you, chapter and verse, the motivational speech I had at the ready for my own wife (then girlfriend) when she was deep in the muck and mire of her PhD.
- I know the words to at least one complete Jackson Browne song, and I ain’t sorry.
- I know bike racing is an addiction, and I am ok with that.
- I know the words to several songs by the Electric Light Orchestra.
- I know what good bike racers eat, and what they don’t. There is really very little logic to it: winners frequently eat McDonald’s, and losers frequently eat like little Paleolithic saints.
- I know that a truly good athlete can relax and fall asleep almost anywhere.
- I know I love racing my bike.
- I know you can never really tell how good a junior rider is going to turn out to be when they grow up.
- I know winning can be inexplicably disappointing sometimes.
- I know that 5:45am in June in the Northeast is just about my favorite time to be in an automobile.
- I know there is a lot about racing bikes that I don’t know.