I attempted to write this post while cruising through Nevada at 80mph. I thought it was decent, but shortly after I hit save I began to converse with Sam solely in Spanish. I am not bilingual. My entire Spanish vocabulary consists of about four words, and the next day I discovered that my work was total crap. Apparently writing, like reality, tends to get warped after fifteen hours in the car.
Among the many things wrong with my attempted post was the fact that I once again harped on my exhaustion with the routine of racelife. I realized that I’ve been bouncing back and forth between hyper-focused, emaciated pedal-fiend and real human-being for the entire season, and that almost everything I’ve written this year has contained at least a hint of gleeful rebellion against the reality of pro racing. The one lukewarm thing I could say about my road-post is that it settled on one end of the commitment-spectrum I’ve been exploring this year; I was all human being. There was no sign of the pedal fiend in me last Friday.
Yet apparently human beings can be fast. After riding for eight sleety hours, taking five days off, then deciding to race on a whim and driving maniacally through the night to Truckee, I had my best ride of the year. I beat my nearest contender by over six minutes, then rode my way through most of the D1 field as well, nailing down the second-fastest time of the day. This was all fueled by about two hours of sleep, some gas station coffee, and a week full of bouldering and wine- I can’t even call it rebellion at this point; it was a blatant disregard for everything I know about racing.
So, once again, this sport has left me confused, nervously sweating, and speaking a language I don’t really know. I’ve reached the end of another long season and I’m not sure which message to ruminate on in the impending snowy months. Is it that I shouldn’t try? That competing is absurd? That copious amounts of ice cream and hack-routines are actually good for you? In mathematical terms, it seems that the amount (x) of effort I put in is not directly proportional to the amount (y) of results I get. If anything, it’s an inverse relationship; the less I try, the better I seem to do (and feel.) So what gives?
I think the answer lies somewhere in the fact that, for the last few years, I’ve been working for racing, working for my body, when these things should have been working for me. It’s my life- I’ve realized that my body is just my tool and racing is just something I do. I’ve experienced both the best and worst rides of my life in the last nine months, and no one cares- none of it really matters. My family still loves me. I still have friends. People still like to cook with me (thank god.) So what all this nonsense comes down to is the places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met- all of which (and whom) have been incredible.
Sure I got another stripy shirt this weekend, but the overwhelming emotion I felt wasn’t glory or euphoria or some sudden affirmation of the bizarre life I lead- I just felt lucky to be surrounded by the community I’ve accumulated over the the last few years. I saw riders I’ve raced with, trained with, traveled with, hated and loved. I saw coaches, mechanics, announcers and organizers; basically all the people who have played some part in making my pedaling worthwhile. I felt such an outpouring of positivity (even when Jefferey caught the MSU team in a violent life-sized chess match post-awards) that I can’t help but leave this season smiling.
I don’t know if I believe in racing right now, but I definitely believe in the specialness of this community. If racing is what a body has to do to meet the kinds of people I’ve met and go the kinds of places I’ve gone, then it can’t be all bad.
Fall’s on its last legs here in Bozeman, and the bike’s going in the garage; I’m ready for some of that Winter stuff. Best of all, I FINALLY got the recipe for Elijah Bleu’s incredible breakfast bowl, an arguably safer option than the frightening “cheese, burger, dog” we found lurking in a gas station. I love Truckee.