Sunday, November 11, 2007

We just had a near-life experience...

How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?
Me, I'm not a fighter. Truth be told, I've never been in a fight. I guess once my brother and I had it out: a puberty-fueled, fist-flying, knock down, blood-for-blood, eye-for-eye battle over who had rights to use the TV. It ended when my mom grabbed me off of him by the scruff of the neck. I felt that maternal hand on the neck and my body went limp - knowing full well that an accidental errant fist making contact with her would have surely ended my life. I don't think it truly counts as a fight, but I digress...
A guy who came to Fight Club for the first time, his ass was a wad of cookie dough. After a few weeks, he was carved out of wood.
For me, and I think for a lot of the amateur bike racing scene cross is our Fight Club. We gather several times a week. We push each other harder and harder each minute. We battle for the perfect line; we bury ourselves to get the first shot at the barriers or the sand; we'll lick our opponent's plate clean before we start in on our own dinner. Together, we dive deep into the pain cave and come out the other side purified. Hell, we even have a set of rules negating their own existence.
When the fight was over, nothing was solved, but nothing mattered. We all felt saved.
My good friend JF always said to me, "Racing is good for the soul." There are very few things that teach you to train, focus, persevere, suffer, fight, and test your physical/mental/emotional constitution like racing. Fighting for the top of the podium, or even just fighting to finish a race is a reminder that you can suffer for an end purpose. The lessons learned on the bike transfer to the rest of life.
Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic.
I ended my mountain bike season this year in great shape, ready to attack the cross season with good fitness and a new challenge - the B Men field. I knew it would be hard, after the previous season's series of top 5 finishes in the C Men, to willingly become a mid-pack rider fighting for a top 20 or top 15 finish. But the prospect was exciting - no guts, no glory - a top 10 or 5 finish in the B field would be amazingly satisfying.

This fall, cyclocross has felt, at times, like a bit of a burden. Things have not played out ideally. My work schedule has required a painful amount of travel. Travel like this disrupts training and racing like you wouldn't believe. You get no consistency in your diet, your bedtime, your training, your routine. It's near impossible to focus. Your fitness fades. My results this year reflect this.
After fighting, everything else in your life got the volume turned down.
At the same time I have finished every race I started, regardless of the amount of pain experienced. I have fought for 25th, 30th, DFL. Why? Why do we sacrifice our week's alloted free time? our money on race entry fees? countless hours on the road commuting to races?
Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing. Like the first monkey shot into space.
After a trip to Houston this past week, I raced Beacon yesterday. Fun, fast course. I hung with the 2nd chase group of 8 for the first 4 laps, then stacked it up in the barriers the second to last lap. Caught my foot on the 2nd barrier and did a nice laid-out Superman in front of the crowd. No physical injury, but my ego was bruised and my focus was shattered. I sat up and rode the last lap tempo tempo. 30th out of 60 or so riders. But it's no longer about the result.

Tough Cookie
and I hit up Homegrown last night before a viewing of American Gangster. I went to bed early, feeling kind of crappy and woke up with a sore throat, congestion, and a little cough. I'm coming down with a cold. So I slept in, and my $25 entry fee for HPCX is now a donation to the Rutgers Cycling Team. But on the bright side, thanks to Zayne B., I now have telemark boots and was able to mount my bindings - mama, I'll be a free-heeler soon.

3 comments:

IF Chicks said...

Sleep is a big challenge for me. When I actually get enough it's amazing how good I can feel.

Scheduling things like sleep, eating, recovery,warmup and dealing with limited daylight can be a challenge. Good call to take today off.

Next weekend you will need to turn your "big game" on for crank bros..think the good vibes of gloucester. See you in jersey ?

Suki said...

have I ever told you...



I'm thinking pink may not be your color.

JenBob said...

travel for business is just as much a Fight Club as anything else that taxes your body, mind and will.

Hang tough and keep kicking.


Though some rest might be a good idea right now.