Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So, you wanna be a bike racer?

From Chris Roettger, Mesa Cycling Team, racer for 5 years, Photo by lynn lamoureux

So, you wanna be a bike racer?

You want to go fast and think you can dig deeper than you ever have before. You want to see what your guts are made of (and you just might).

Have you ever ridden so fast for so long you collapsed at the end? So hard that when you finished you thought you’d never want to ride a bike that hard again? That you lost your lunch or power-ade or whatever the contents of your stomach? That you wondered how your heart stayed in your chest while it frantically pounded? That all you could hear in your head was blood pumping so heavy it sounds like hard rain on a tin roof? And your lungs couldn’t get enough air for the burning?

Have you ever?

Have you ever ridden down a hill so fast that you had to completely turn off the logic of what might happen if you crashed? So fast your skinny wheels vibrated? So fast you were afraid to take your eyes off the pavement quickly flying under you just to look at your speedometer? So fast you knew there was no stopping with brakes. Your eyes water as you strain to focus on what will keep you upright. Have you ever done that twelve inches behind another rider? With riders on both sides and behind you?

I have. I love it. And do it as much as I can.

It’s ridiculous and illogical. It’s breath-taking and admirable. It’s going beyond what you think your body is incapable of. And doing it over and over and over again. A constant game of chicken against your own will and your competitors. You say, “I will go faster, harder, longer in the wind, downhill and around corners. I will leave you if you can’t keep up. I will win this battle of wills over muscles and heart and lungs. I will win not just because I train my body, but because I train my mind and my mind tells me I can beat you.”

I have done this. I am one of the masochists. I will train; in rain, in traffic, in snow and cold and wind, on hills, in basements, gyms for hours that add up to days and weeks. I will train early in the morning or late into the night on top of running households, raising children, studying, working, living.

So, then, it’s your turn in the adrenalin-loaded game of chess. Train, race, suffer, and have the hardest, best time of your life.

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