I wonder, no, I hope that being in a certain state of mind can and does effect ones fitness. I realized on Saturday, with some surprise that I had forgotten how to race. The simple, considerably mundane functions of racing–pace, strategy, fueling, etc–seemed to escape me from the outset. Slowly those old habits returned, or rather, I re-applied them the best I knew how, as the race wore on. And I am left wondering if the shock and awe that I experienced as the field rode away was as much a product of my legs as it was of my being mentally unprepared for just that contingency.
Alternatively, it could have also been the fact that my perpetually delusional state of mind was working over-time in convincing myself that all was well and that ‘everything would be fine’. And of course I am reminded of so many of those phrases that pacify each of us into trying something dangerous, new, or in many cases, utterly foolish. And really, bike racing has and continues to fit into all of the above. Does it not?
But on to the phrases:
“It’s not that steep.”
“I don’t think it’s all that far.”
“I’ve done this before.”
“I’ve read about doing this.”
“I’ll be fine.”
And so on. I am certain you can come up with more. And indeed we all do, from time to time, convince ourselves that ‘everything will be fine’ despite the facts that indicate otherwise. And yet, everything usually turns out in the end, and after much trepidation in the furnace of affliction, to be just that: Fine. But despite that, there is still that worrisome presentiment that accompanies any worthwhile endeavor. Whether on the bike or not. And I suppose in the end that is what makes an adventure, exactly that. Certainty in any undertaking would only serve to neuter the satisfaction that is normally inherent in such activities. That ability to put oneself ‘out there’ (literally, as well as figuratively) is what I believe makes something as simple as a bike race so magnificent to begin with.
A bike race, like the wanderings of Don Quixote, provides that opportunity for one to fight and then eventually to win “…the battle with himself, and that according to what he’s told me, is the greatest victory anyone could want.”
Quixote, Pablo Picasso