Racing a bike is risky.
Racing a bike is revealing. It peels away layers of bravado and confidence. It exposes us for who we really are. What we really are. No amount of talking or training or skill can hide the stark, naked reality of a bike race. Our core is turned inside-out for anyone and everyone to observe.
Racing a bike is a gigantic leap of faith.
Taking that leap is a process. It starts with registration, and continues from that initial point of commitment with training, equipment testing, nutritional improvements, and any other number of pre-event rituals that each of us engage in. The process varies in particulars from one rider to another, but the end is the same: a successful race. But even that is nebulous. What constitutes success? Is success, broadly defined, nothing more than minimizing the exposure of our weaknesses? Or is it entirely the opposite? Maybe success—victory—entails embracing the complete and total manifestation of our shortcomings, and discarding them as irrelevant.
Is that why we continually race our bikes?
Isn’t testing our physical and mental limits just once, out of morbid curiosity, enough to satisfy the urge to know what those limits are? Why do we insist on racing over and over, year after year? Every race is an opportunity to fail, to be exposed as a liar and a fraud. Every race is a blind leap. An act of faith.
You don’t need to be religious to appreciate that so much of our lives are based on irrational, emotional, and illogical impulses. That is, on faith. Falling in love is a classic example. Can you explain why you love your wife? Can you articulate why certain music is moving, or why you like the taste of salt?
Bike racing is inherently illogical, inexplicable. But we do it. We race. And for some reason, we love it. At some point we all fell in love with chasing our limits in pursuit of overcoming weaknesses. Are we better for it? I hope so. I think so. Exposing—knowing—our deepest limitations and our most hidden fears is the only way to beat them. The entire proposition is intimidating and frightening. What if we don’t like what we find? The risk for physical and emotional disaster looms shadowy and inevitable. Failure is imminent. But nevertheless…