I need to suffer better.
I finish too many races and rides with a smile on my face. I need to finish barely knowing my own name.
Or referring to Levi Leipheimer, as Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski did after the Leadville 100 as “Tour de France Podium Guy”.*
Sunday afternoon, riders in the Tour of Utah had far-off gazes in their eyes. A week of hard racing in the Wasatch had completely ruined many of them. Scorching paces at the front of the peleton, day after day, did not exactly help matters. The suffering was tangible. And I envied it. Afterward, many of the riders looked just exactly like this poor soul from the Trek/Livestrong team. Not even two wristbands could hold back the pain of finishing the day—and the Tour— on Utah’s version of L’Alpe d’Huez.
Overall winner Levi Leipheimer suffered—although, very quickly—up the hill. And if you have ever wondered why you are not as fast as he is… take a look at those legs.**
*Take a look at Todd Wells in that video. Cooked.
**You know you’re a cyclist when you check out the legs of other guys.
Rider after rider crossed the finish line, depleted and cross-eyed. I felt no pity. No sympathy. Only admiration and envy. I want to suffer like that on a bike. Or, to put it in other words—the words of Jonathan Vaughters, in fact—”It just doesn’t matter how your legs feel, you have to stop caring how your legs feel.” Words to live, and to race, by. Words I will be taking with me to Park City on September 4th.
In the end the suffering is always worth the effort. Nothing is better than looking back and saying, with unsubtle pride, ‘I did it.’