Cycling has brought many amazing people into my life, as well as taken me on some improbable adventures. As mentioned in a previous post, the major force that drives me in this sport is the community and the friendships that bikes have brought into my life. The truth, however, is that there is more to my drive than the gratification brought on by such stellar friendships. It’s the allure of competition that frequently incites me, compelling me to push my body to its limit.
Whether a big or small race, when I step up to the start line with a group of my fellow cyclists, my heart races with excitement. Sensations of jittery energy flow through every nerve generating an incomparable feeling of vitality. At that point, the win belongs to any athlete or team willing to put their complete energy and effort into the race. Like most competitive athletes, I have a glimmer of hope at the start line that I might be the one to take the win. That hope is what drives me to get up in the dark and the cold to train; to push myself just a little longer when my lungs and legs burn.
Many factors influence an athlete's race outcome: training level, experience, health, age, nutrition, mechanical issues, or lack thereof, just to name a few. In my short racing career I have experienced every one of these in at least one race and have felt the impacts in all of my races. I often wish that my outcomes were exclusively based on training level, allowing me to be in complete control, but this isn’t the case for any cyclist.
Maybe the incomplete control over the outcome keeps me wanting more? The beginning of every race is part gamble, part act of faith. That gamble keeps me going back to compete, and inspires me to push my body to limit while training. Sometimes the outcome from riding isn't pretty: snot pouring from my nose as I groan in pain; saddle sores that impair my ability to sit comfortably for a week; unsightly scars on my legs and arms. Undeterred by all this, I will continue, because who knows, maybe the next race will be mine.