Cycling: Filling a hole, Fueling my ego

Leading the Therapeutic Assoc. boys into the 2010 Elkhorn Classic

Leading the Therapeutic Assoc. boys into the 2010 Elkhorn Classic

battling for the win in a two man break at the Icebreaker Criterium

battling for the win in a two-man break at the Icebreaker Criterium

For Thanksgiving I’m in Bend to get a little R & R before Saturday’s Civil War Football game.  It’ll be nice to get some time away from Corvallis, to get a little thinking, reading, writing, and web-site building, in before I head back over to the valley.  When I arrived I threw on my running shoes and found myself running around Summit High School, on the same roads that I used to race weekly criterium’s back in my cycling heyday.  When thinking about topics to address for my blog I usually come up with the best stuff while running or cycling.  Being on the same course as I used to race my road bike on brought back a lot of memories about how I used to act, speak, and think, as a cyclist.

Please don’t me wrong, I love the sport of road cycling, and I will strive to race from time to time.  These accounts of what I was like back when I was racing having nothing to do with the sport necessarily.  Most of what happened as a cyclist was purely my own doing, given my fragile mental state at the time.

From 2008 to 2011, when I took cycling quite seriously, as an amateur Category 3 racer mind you, I was in the midst of rebuilding myself from my financial and emotional downfall in 06/07.  In many ways sinking myself into the sport was good as it was a healthy activity that I used to help get me back in shape.  I also forged countless friendships that I hold dear to this day, even though I am not around the scene as much anymore.  By being the Team Director for the Therapeutic Associates Cycling Team I was able to learn a little about people management, sponsorship solicitation, and managing ego’s.  I see myself using these positives as I move forward in my current career in work and athletics.  But for every positive, there are negatives.  One moment stands out in particular.

In 2010 I led a competitive TAI Cat 3 team into the Cascade Cycling Classic stage race, a well-known Pacific NW classic.  Being the team leader I rallied my teammates and helped get them believe that we could do some damage in the overall standings.  In those days I had a blast being the guy behind our strategic approach as a team.  Sending guys off in breaks, bridging gaps, setting tempo, attacking other teams, and taking advantage of other riders weaknesses, was our MO.  Team tactics do not always work as planned, but when they do, it is an extremely satisfying feeling, especially from a captain standpoint.

The first stage of that race was a 70+ mile stage with a mean 3 mile drag up hill to the finish in the Mt. Bachelor parking lot.  Our team had been solid all day, working together and looking out for each other.  We did our best to set up our climbers for the last climb up from Sparks Lake.  As we began the final ascent I settled in mid-pack to survive with the group, as I’m not a natural climber, to not lose a ton of time on the first day.  Half way up the hill another rider crossed his front wheel with my back wheel, which caused my rear deraileur to break, leaving my bike un-rideable.  What happened next was a good indicator where my maturity and emotional instability was at the time.  After the “rub” I yelled “FUCK” at the top of my lungs, called the guy that hit me several profanities, and proceeding to throw my multi thousand dollar bike into the woods.  I threw a tantrum that a 5 yr old would be proud of.  It was an incident that often refer back to because of how childish it was.  And my reaction after the race?  Drive down from Mt. Bachelor, go to the Circle K store, purchase 3 Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA’s, and proceed to drink all of them in one fell swoop.  Looking back I feel foolish for having reacted the way I did.  But it was a terrific example of the type of behavior that I grew accustomed to displaying.

My reasoning for such a reaction stems from a few things, ego being one.  For me to not finish that race as the “leader” was a hit to my ego.  I deemed myself weak, unworthy, a soft cyclist, which is ridiculous thinking given it was because of an incident that was out of my control.  Back then cycling was the only thing that I identified myself with, I was good at it, and with a shot-to-hell confidence and ego problem I took any negative experience as a major blow to my self-worth.  I prided myself by how fast I was in Time Trials and how aggressive I was in road races.  It was everything to me.  And when things didn’t go right, I lost my identity, and I drank to feel better and more confident again.  It was a vicious cycle and addiction, one I feel proud to say that I have broken.

Now that I’ve achieved  a bit more balance as a professional, an athlete, and a friend, I find myself having fewer of these emotionally immature thoughts, especially when it comes to endurance sports.  I’m relieved in many ways.  I’m glad that I didn’t offend anyone in the cycling world by saying something emotionally charged and stupid, I would’ve hated to alienate anyone because of the fact that I was acting like a child. Cycling will always have an important place in my heart as it did help me get back on track when life was at its hardest.  Because I’m not cycling as much I’m on a mission to convert my riding buddies into trail runners, because I do miss the long hours of training and bonding with them.  So if you’re a cyclist and you get a text from me to go for a run, I won’t be offended if you don’t answer.

 

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