As this year has progressed, I've been able to drop (or add) things to my life to become a better cyclist. I started riding regularly last November. My first limiters were fitness and weight. As the time went on and I still couldn't hang with the best of them, I looked for reasons. I found a few, but in the end, I still was unable to keep up for the whole WNW.
I came close a couple of times, but never quite made it.
I refuse to accept my age as an excuse. There's really nothing I can do about that and anyway, I still believe there are things I can do to get better. Two obvious ones are things like certain types of training I neglect (intervals) and the amount of beer I drink (more than I should, not less).
There's also the continuous application of the things I have improved on this year:
Oh yeah, and racing. Racing is really the only way to get to top speed. So who knows if that will happen. I'm not going to make any claims about what will happen. I've already done way too much of that (and been wrong).
During this self-analysis thingy throughout the year, I've become aware of a fear I have. What if I do everything correctly and I still can't keep up? Deep down, I don't believe that would happen. I believe that if I paid closer attention to everything I'm doing I could become one of the best. But maybe not. The fear is I would get no better and then not only would I still suck, now I wouldn't have any excuses to use to rock myself to sleep.
I've realized that I find comfort in my excuses and/or rationalizations. Last year, I made some blog post about chasing down Munson and Miles on the keystone. I was proud of the achievement at the time, but then Shim made comments that showed the boasting for what it really was. Pointless drivel. Who cares? It proves nothing unless you go out there and test it against racers.
I was glad for the revelation. Since then, I have tried to make an effort not to boast. Let actions speak for you.
This fear of failure after having done everything "right" is sort of a safety net for me. I am free to say "Well, I could have performed better, if ..."
Even though I saw boasting about what did happen or what would happen in the future as meaningless, I still was not ready to completely abandon my safety net.
Then two days ago I read something that completely floored me. I had to read it several times to get the meaning of it. It didn't seem true. I couldn't grasp how someone could think this way. It was just a few words in a book. It's been going through my mind ever since as I try to come to terms with it.
I am reading the book "Domestique" by Charly Wegelius. It is his story about how he came to understand and relish the role of the domestique in the pro peloton.
He had been obsessed with the idea of being a pro cyclist from a young age. He's talking about his first few pro races and his thought process in preparing:
I had to have trained properly, eaten properly, stretched properly and recovered properly too. It was an issue of conscience; if I lost and I had done everything, then I could accept it. But if I lost and there was one little box I hadn’t ticked, I couldn’t forgive myself.
The answer of course, that is 49 years in the making for me is: How can you live with yourself if you never really gave winning a chance? I am still not sure I grasp the mind of a person that is completely without excuses, but hopefully it's coming. But again, I can't speak to the future. Maybe I will get it maybe I won't.
One thing is for certain though. It really doesn't matter that much at all. Whew. As long as I remember that, I'll have one excuse to hang on to if I come up short (assuming I do actually compete at some point, which I probably won't).
Thanks Dr. Blog, I don't know if I feel any better or not (I don't) but I just wanted to talk through it a little bit.