This is the best advice I give myself in the all the races I’ve done. It not only applies to racing a bike, but to life. I find that bike racing is often a microcosm of life as a whole. There is success, hard work, difficult times to push through, things that happen and you don’t know why, loss, and failure. Failure. Failure. Failure. Failure. I know that quitting should not be synonymous with failure, but it sure feels that way.
Failure is not something I’m accustomed to in my life, or in anything. I’m what you call an obnoxious “Type A over-achiever.” The last time I failed at something was 3 years ago. The Vapor Trail 125. It was the year that the start was pushed to midnight due to a snowstorm in the mountains where we were heading. It was my first year doing endurance events and I had never been so scared to start something in my life. I remember standing under the carwash in Salida, in the pouring rain thinking, “I’m going out in that?” I started the race, but disaster happened, one after the other. First, my lights on my bike did not turn on and would not turn on. I was so determined that I told myself I’d walk all night if I had to. I did have a spare headlamp in my bag. Then, my backpack broke and I had no way to carry all the warm clothes I needed to survive the nasty high alpine snowstorm. That was it. I had to pull the plug. I was depressed by it. The majority of people pulled the plug that year.
Accepting defeat. It’s not easy. I could not go out in public on Tuesday because I was too sad. The guy at the bank asked me how my day had been, a simple question. I had to turn away. I went to yoga on Tuesday night because my mat is a place where I work on self-forgiveness and acceptance. I thought, “If I was still out there, I’d be somewhere around Leadville.” I was hoping that the beads of sweat rolling down my face were masking the fluid leaking out of the corners of my eyeballs.
It may be hard to understand. It’s just a stupid bike race, right? There’s so much more to life than a bike race. It’s not about the bike race. It’s about working so incredibly hard for something, overcoming fear and starting the race only to fail a pithy 24 hours later because my “gut” told me so. I wish I had been sick, or that my bike had been broken. It may be easier to swallow. Maybe I mentally burned myself out obsessing so much about the race that by the time it came around, I had nothing left.
Failure and defeat, albeit heartbreaking at times are a part of life, and part of what make us human. I’ve said myself that if we always succeeded, we’d never grow… but I think the growth is not in the failing, but in the ability to press on after defeat. To accept, feel, work through the pain of loss… possibly make amends, and then – to move on.
It’s only been 2 days since I left the CTR. I still think I made the right decision although it was not an easy one. Something deep inside me stopped me from continuing. That is an incredibly rare occurrence, but I listened to my gut feeling. To be all Boulder new-agey or whatever you want to call it, perhaps there was some weird reason and the universe was giving me a message to stop. Maybe something awful would have happened to me had I ignored my gut and kept going. Or… maybe not. I do not question my ability or my determination within myself. If I constantly quit things in life, I’d question myself more. I’m happy with the things I’ve done so far, and I am trying to accept that even though I put so much heart and effort into this event, it simply was not mean to be this year. If it was, regardless of the circumstance, I would have pressed on.
I decided yesterday to stop wallowing in self-pity, the take a deep breath and to MOVE FORWARD. (if only it were so simple). While the sting of this week will stick with me for months, I refuse to sit around being depressed. I’ll be sad inside for awhile, but the next event is set. I will not waste all my hard work to get fit for CTR.
NEXT STOP: BRECK EPIC. Jeff and I won the coed duo category here last year. It was my first mountain bike stage race. This year, I will be racing the solo category. I’m excited because the last stage race – Transylvania Epic – was a training race. I showed up exhausted. This race – I may be emotionally exhausted, but I have a week and a half to recover Physically? Tapered and ready. Aug 14-19. Yeah!!
Thanks to everyone for your support. I’ve received a great number of messages, comments, calls, texts – I really really appreciate it.
You know… I think I might want to go ride my bike now, and maybe start thinking about 2012 CTR.