My previous blog post was about the 2017 Steaming Nostril/Runny Nose event a few of days ago. I don’t do a lot of racing, so when I do, these events tend to stick in my mind for a few days (maybe because my body is still reminding me of the effort).
I am not a racer and although I’ve entered a lot of events, I never really have been a racer. I will, however, agree to my brother Jeff’s quote: The older I get, the faster I used to be. I enjoy competing and challenging myself, but these events are more than that for me. Finishing third in my category was a nice surprise, but I would have been more satisfied had I been healthy and fit enough to ride the longer 65 km distance and finished 247th. And that will come back with time.
During the event, I was able to ride a comfortable pace for most of the ride, and I was able to chat with riders around me. We talked about the energy at events like this, and how amazing it is to just be around people with a similar passion for cycling. During my recovery from concussions, I’ve become more interested in why people ride and why they enter events like this.
My reasons for cycling include:
- fitness and health benefits
- being outdoors
- friends and the people I meet
Sometimes I wish I could skip these events and just find a good place to take photos. When I see the expressions on cyclists in the middle of a race or event, I get a sense for why they might be riding. After carrying a bike up an unrideable, muddy hill at the end of a difficult race, it would be easy to find things to complain about. It’s cliche to say that a positive attitude can get us through challenges. But there’s some truth to it. Look at the faces of people as they carried, pushed, dragged their bikes up this steep climb. But nobody I talked to complained. Yes, the wind was tough. Yes the farmer’s field was wet and soft. And the hill climb was hard. But everyone was smiling and comparing stories. We signed up for it, and we knew what we were getting into. It was challenging, but that’s why we did it.
For some race photos, check out Ines Fisher’s photos. Also on Facebook, Lauren Daniells took some fantastic photos at the event. Here’s my favourite pic that Lauren took of me. My tongue was out, not because I was hamming it up for the camera, but because I was panting. I was just about to bribe Lauren (and other spectators at this spot) to carry my fat bike to the top (this was about half way up the climb and I was offerning $20 but had no takers!).
I believe that it is human nature to seek familiarity, linearity, comfort and routine; life seems easier this way. It’s predictable and safe. Maybe it’s uncomfortable to get your favourite cycling shoes covered in mud, or accumulate so much mud in your derailleur that you can’t shift gears. Maybe your new carbon bike frame got covered in mud and you got your new kit dirty from the mud puddles. But you challenged yourself and you grew from it. And maybe that’s why we feel like we’re among kindred spirits when we enter events like this: we were in the battle together and we’re growing together.
A couple of bloggers have written about their experience. Matt Surch, who finished second overall, gives his take on How the Race was Won. Team Colin has added his wit to a blog entry about the race here. And I expect Riot to blog about it at some point.
If you’re interested to see how the long-course leaders passed me twice (and essentially went twice as fast as me), check out this Strava Flyby (hit the orange PLAY button in the upper left corner).
I’ll end with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizen in a Republic” speech (from 1910). While the purpose of the speech wasn’t specific to sport, it definitely resonates for those of us who put ourselves out there, not to win, but to compete:
The credit belongs to the man (or woman) who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.