Stage 2. Mt. Hood. Perseverance. Or lack thereof.

I needed a pick me up after today’s stage so I did a quick google search and found some motivation:

“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.”

~ Tom Hopkins

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”

~ Calvin Coolidge

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

~ Winston Churchill

The life of a cyclist is full of ups and downs.  Lots of climbing followed by lots of descending.  Lots of suffering followed by lots of resting.  Lots of failure followed by lots of success…wait.  I meant “followed by very little success”.  Let’s face it, there are 100 people in a race vying for one spot.  99% of the contenders are going home unhappy.

But the tiny little bits of success we do see, those fractions of mere glimmers of hope, are the only thing keeping me going–keeping all of us going.  I think you need one good day of riding, one good result or training day every month or two throughout the season to keep your motivation high enough to continue.  For me, I had a couple good days of training last week.  That did it.  I haven’t had a good result all year yet, but those intervals are enough.  If I hadn’t had those, I’d be in serious question if this is what I want to do with my life right now.  But because I had those, I am not asking those questions.  I know I’m progressing.  Slowly but surely.  Every once in a while I surprise myself with an out of character good showing of form.  Though, more often than not, racing has forced me to deal with depression, regret, disappointment, and HUGE let downs.  Basically we’re all a bunch of depressed, semi-anorexic dudes with buff legs who are way too self-conceited for the good of humanity.  Dealing with failure is probably one of the most important things to take away from this sport.  Obviously at some point everyone has to say when enough is enough and either make it their full time hobby (as opposed to full-time life obsession) or just move on entirely.  But knowing when to keep going when it seems like quitting is the only option, and push through the dark moments–that’s what’s really important.  At some point the pace lets up and before you know it you’re off the front.

I had a terrible race today.  Absolutely ridiculously bad.  I finished in a groupeto containing 76th to 95th place, over 10 minutes down. I actually made today much worse than it should have been by getting down on myself mid-way up a long climb, and giving up.  I was riding at the front going into the first ascent of the 7-mile climb about 30 miles into the 85-mile race and blew up half way through.  In fact, I didn’t completely blow up, even.  I sort of realized all of a sudden that I was hurting a lot and wouldn’t be able to maintain my spot in the peloton for the rest of the voyage up the long climb.  It happened suddenly.  One minute I was fine the next I was done.  I thought I should be doing better than I was, and when I saw that I wasn’t one of the top 20 strong guys that day like I thought I should have been, I just gave up and had myself a good old fashioned pitty party.  I should have kept digging hard and would have had a much better race if I had (almost everything came back together on the descent that time) but I had already given up, deciding that if I wasn’t strong enough to do anything today I might as well just give up now and feel bad for myself.  I spent the rest of the race in a groupetto wondering what else I’d do in life if I were to quit the sport right now.  Nothing came to mind, which I think is the answer I was looking for and I decided I should continue racing.  I imagine most people’s physical cracking point is way above where their mental cracking point is.  I usually feel like I can deal with pain pretty damn well.  And I usually feel like I can deal with adversity and suffering and a challenges pretty well too.  Today I could deal with nothing.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know why my legs won’t do what I feel they’re capable of either.  My legs and mind were not where they should have been today, but there’s always tomorrow.

My form has been extremely up and down lately.  Kind of like this song:

I can only wait and continue trying to find out when they’ll feel good again.

I know a lot of cyclist in the same boat as me right now, so for everyone out there, realize we all feel like shit some times (a lot of the time) and that we don’t do this because it’s easy and fun.  Fuck that shit.  What’s the point of doing something easy?  This lifestyle is only worthwhile because it’s extremely mentally and physically challenging.  So keep at it and just know that you’ll slowly get better as long as you stick with it.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

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