Friday, January 2, 2009

If You Don't Go When You Want to Go...

"Riders ready..."

I have a personal New Year's resolution this year, but I am also going to have lots of them for cycling, as well. Some of them are pretty straight-up training goals, like adhering to a fully periodized riding program (per Joe Friel) for the first time.

Others are a little more incendiary. I plan to participate in my first cycling race in 2009. That's a pretty exciting one, init?

The thing that makes me most nervous about that one isn't the idea of losing, or winning, or crashing, or even having no #$?%&! idea what I'm doing. (Those do make me nervous, by the way.) The most scary thing about it is that I'll like it.

I already spend quite a lot of time training on my bike, or fixing my bike, or buying stuff for my bike -- or thinking about training, fixing or buying stuff for my bike. I have a somewhat obsessive personality, and if I jump into this whole culture around bike racing, I could be done for. There's so much to learn, so many ways to improve, so many events to try, books to read, goodies to buy.


I've been waffling about this a long time. I've gone over and over the (perfectly sound) reasons why I shouldn't try racing, things like "I'll be 45 in a couple months, I'm older and more tired and more physically fragile and more busy, and involved in a really good marriage I'd like to keep that way, blah blah blah blah blah..."

Yeah, right. And then I look at those perfectly functional guys in their 50s and 60s still rippin' up the field every weekend. And I know in my secret little black heart that I am envious of them. End of whining.

Then there are other reasons, too, some of them strong, most of them not. All of them have buzzed around in my head for a year or more.

On the other hand... I can't stop thinking about it.

My wife and I were watching a fun little soap-bubble of a movie last night called, "The Fastest Indian in the World." Anthony Hopkins plays a quirky old gearhead whose life consists of upgrading his beloved 40-year-old Indian motorcycle. (Hmm, constant absorption in a two-wheeled vehicle... sound familiar?) His dearest dream is to travel with it from his native New Zealand to Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, to see if he can break the land speed record. It won't surprise you that a heart-warming series of events allows him to go. As he's leaving, he turns to a young boy, a neighbor who's worked his way into the old man's heart. He winks at the boy and spits out a homespun Kiwi aphorism: "If you don't go when you want to go, when you do go, you'll find you've gone."

Corny as it was, it hit the inner nail right on the head.

If I continue to flip-flop about racing, the excuses I mentioned will get more true every year. Or, I could admit to myself that my constant picking at this question tells me there's something in there for me. If I love it -- or even just can't let go of it -- then there's got to be something in it custom-made for me to learn from, grow by, chew on. Of such stuff is the righteous life made. And if I don't like it, at least the question will be settled. But I have to try it.

I talked it over with my wife, to make sure I had her support. I made certain promises (e.g., not to disappear from her life, not to get too whiny if I get hurt or injured, that kind of thing) and the deal is on. (She's a real good'un.)

So, there's a big one for Aught-nine. I guarantee you you'll be hearing more about this. Stay tuned.



idon'tremembereatingcorn said...

Rowe said she would support us at the feed zones.......

Velosopher said...

Wow! What more could you ask for?

suitcaseofcourage said...

I am so psyched that you're going to get into racing! You're gonna LOVE it - and you're gonna totally HATE it. Such is the racer's personal hell. We're not getting any younger and you'll never forgive yourself if you don't give it a try - especially considering how it's been haunting you.

So c'mon in - the water's fine. I'm looking forward to following your progress and hope to see you out there soon!