… being free of the need to win results in greater personal power and performance. Let the possibility of winning keep you alert and sharp. If you win, terrific; if not, feel the joy and satisfaction of having participated. Focus on how well you are mastering specific skills. Notice how the event provided you with an opportunity to display your skills against challenging competition. Win or lose, you have to dig down inside and discover other aspects of your essence.Is this something you can do? Can you compete just for the joy of it?
Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch, Thinking Body, Dancing Mind
More and more these days, I’m convinced that it takes true self-esteem to do this. Personally, I don’t know if I’m capable of it. My worst self sometimes comes out in competition. I tend to become very “all or nothing,” and to take losing -- and winning -- much too personally.
Which is why I’ve stayed away from racing so far. If I trained for racing, I would likely take the whole thing ridiculously seriously, all out of proportion to my low level of experience and talent. And all because I can’t stand to perform one iota less than my ultimate. And – to give the full confession -- because I hate losing more than I love winning. Sri Bobke says this is the secret to being a great racer. The problem is, if you start from there, you can never enjoy yourself – you’re always trying to pedal faster than the inner hounds snapping at your metaphorical heels. And those suckers have no ceiling on their VO2 max.
Still, I can’t stay away from the thought of racing. I tease myself with it over and over. And, if I do it, being the good therapist I am (or try to be), I would have to take the challenge that Huang and Lynch throw down in that quote. So, there’s a chance it could be a healing and empowering experience on an important level.
Last night, I was browsing around the ‘net trying to find out if anyone else out there is bent enough to think about the kinds of things I do when I’m riding my bike. I found the following at epicriding.com, a blog by a fellow who calls himself Grizzly Adam:
I see myself focusing more on speed in the coming year. More on racing, on competition, on winning. The last several months have seen me explore the intangible, even spiritual side of mountain biking… If the idealism I am envisioning is possible in reality, then 2009 will see a merging of both sentiments, both aspects of riding. That is, the speed and the serenity will combine into what I hope will be something like the observations of Abbey and the competitive cruelty of Eddie Merckx.(Go here for the whole piece – and check the rest of the blog out while you’re there. It’s good writing.)
So, we might be few, but clearly I’m not alone out here, trying to pedal holistic circles long enough to alchemically merge some of these polar opposites inside me. Wish me luck, and lots of glucose.