Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week #44: The Ghost of 'Crossmas Past

It's not just all physical
I'm the type who won't get oh so critical
So let's make things physical
I won't treat you like you're oh so typical
I won't treat you like you're oh so typical

After my unfortunate experience at the Cincy 3 Cyclocross Festival last year, I was a little nervous about how the weekend would go this year. Everything has changed since then, except the racing part. I was the exact amount of slow and discouraged as I was this time last year. The weekend had been long planned out, and I still wanted to be there for the experience; the racing part was just sort of my price of admission.

So my goal going into the weekend was simple: don't get upset about doing badly. Unfortunately, the most efficient path that I've found to this end is to basically just turn my brain off before the race starts, pedal, and force myself to care as little as possible. This is still kind of difficult starting smack in the middle of a 75-woman field, because just moving forward on the course is difficult and requires a lot of painful accelerations. The girls taking turns slowly and fumbling in the mud aren't even competition to be beaten but merely obstacles between myself and the finishing line. And in this lay my failure to achieve my seemingly simple goal.

Despite my goal to not end my races upset about doing badly, both days I ended up getting very bitchy at good friends who are two of the nicest guys I know because of ill-placed heckles. The problem was that I was already in the middle of bunched-up first-lap pain and frustration where all I wanted was some some clear space to ride my bike. Like, "I seriously don't care if this person drops me or I drop them; I just don't want them one bike length in front of me anymore." So as I was trying so hard to just get through it and not care, it was a very bad time to be told that I was going backwards or looked like I had given up. I didn't quite conjure up the tears of last year's Harbin Park (which would have lead my placing better at least), but I certainly didn't react in a dignified manner.  

Only later did I realized why this was so upsetting for me. Basically, I didn't like being made to feel guilty for not caring. Of course, this wasn't exactly the intention of those heckling me, but thanks to old feelings and habits that's how I interpreted it. The ability to suffer willingly is the most highly praised characteristic in the cycling world, so unabashed unwillingness to suffer must be the greatest sin in cycling, right? So by pointing out that I was unwilling to suffer, they were basically saying that I was a horrible human being, right? 

I've been spending the last few months trying to detoxify myself old myths and self-criticisms by reminding myself that the cycling world is not the real world, so the irony is that I was so upset about the implication that I was a horrible person in cycling terms that it caused me to act like a horrible person in real-world terms. That is definitely not what I wanted to happen, but old habits are hard to break. I just lived a little too long in a very constricted world where the holy values of cycling world were the be-all and end-all of existence, and my inability and unwillingness to live up to those standards made me constantly unhappy. 

Now I'm spending my time surrounding myself with people who enjoy cycling, but who also love me based on real-world standards rather than those of cycling world, and I'm much happier except when those old ghosts come back to haunt me. I just have to keep reminding myself that they're dead, and hopefully they will eventually fade away.

At least there was fun after the pain was over. Here we are adding a little bit
more light for the pro women at the Kings CX night race.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

How happy I am that you have found that there is a world outside of cycling! And by the smile on your face in the "sparkler photo" it's evident that you are happy! Yes, you will have set backs. We all have them... but despite an unhappy day here or there, you can have joy in your heart at all times!

I am reminded of a photo that Dee took - Keep Calm you are too old to turn pro anyway! Life is too short to take cycling that seriously if you aren't being paid to race, or on scholarship to race!

Be happy! Be joyful and ride your bike in between all the other life experiences! It's much more fun that way!