Warning: This post will contain a lot of melancholic and sad thoughts. If you have trouble reading material that may come off as depressing, I suggest you skip ahead until next time.
Today’s road race was a clear indicator that I do not have what it takes to be a competitive cyclist. The course was a spirit breaker to say the least. Here is an image of the race flyer and my attempt at said race:
For those of you unfamiliar with riding statistics, this race favored the climbers of the world, a quality I did not feel to disadvantaged by at the start. To summarize how the race went in seven words or less I would say,
“Fitness, check. Bike condition, check, mental….”
Two weeks ago I finally realize the importance of psychological strength that comes with competitive cycling. I would argue that this is just as important and the hours upon hours we put in physically training for that big day. Many of us sacrifice our social lives to the point of foreshadowing divorce for success.
I have mentioned before that the learning curve that comes with racing can be frustrating. I’m not blaming cycling specifically. The same can be said for all competitive sports. There is a mental strength that comes with the status of being an elite athlete, a strength I am realizing I have been lacking since before I took up cycling.
Ever since the second half of my high school career, I thought I was on the right track in life by joining the wrestling team. It boosted my GPA, got me from doing drugs & binge drinking, and increased my self esteem tremendously. What I failed to realize from all these changes in my lifestyle was how to mentally power through when times got tough during a match. For those of you unfamiliar with how competitive wrestling goes, imagine going out for a morning jog. You know you’re jogging for a set amount of time, so you have some mental preparation for the event. Now ease your jog into a sprint once you feel comfortable. From there maintain that sprint for two minutes. Tired yet? Now, without breaking composure, take a thirty second break and get ready for another two minute sprint. Still not tired-out yet, lets throw one more in there after your second break for good measure. What’s that? you’re still not home yet & you’ve taken the route that involved an uphill climb to get home and you need to be back home to finish some work you’ve been putting off for weeks now. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to deal with the challenges that lay ahead. This is one wrestling match in a nutshell.
There was one point in time where I was fine with this and accepted my fate out of fear from being reprimanded by my coach, and from failing my classes. Having graduated high school, I find it incredibly difficult to go back to that same stressful point in my life. It may be necessary to return to that point in hopes to achieve success in a new arena, but that, amongst other social conflicts have made that transition increasingly difficult.
I was no state champ when it came down to wrestling results, but I had a level of discipline. A level I have been unable to reach since 2007. To transition things to the cycling world, it should be thano surprise when revealing my apprehension to go back into that same state of mind. Perhaps that is where my troll-like rhetoric comes from. Maybe all of this hate is a defense mechanism I am not recognizing and channeling through the flaws of others.
The point I am trying to get at is that there is s resource I am severely lack in. To the point that it is bringing out the depressing feelings that are all too familiar. All through out my race today I was reconsidering my approach to competitive cycling. When the going got tough (when the gradient started to increase into double digits) I couldn’t help but allow these thoughts to surface. I know that no successful athlete would allow such thoughts to surface and let it consume his/ her performance. Here, inlays my flaw, and my inability to feel or other matters outside the two-wheeled world.
When all was said & done; when I finally bowed out (gave up) on the race and everything became so suddenly clear. There was an aspect of training I had been avoiding for so long, which probably gave me the confidence to proceed with this type of athletic sport to begin with.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the psychological strength is just as important as the physical strength of athletes. I thought cycling didn’t require such strength and I have been proven wrong, many many times over and over again. I have spent hundreds of dollars to finally realize that I had been lacking in discipline I had been avoiding since high school. Disciplines that have affected my vegan lifestyle this passed month. This has lead to an all time low in my self esteem. This in combination with the time spent away from others has left me with a hopeless feeling of unhappiness and an inability to feel emotions.
I’ve devoted so much time to my newly found craft that when finally faced with an issue that has inhibited me from further progress for so long that it leaves me questioning existence as a whole. I can’t think of a reason as to why I am not winning races, and basking in the glory I so desperately long for.
I want the glory and attention many people seek through instagram photos and facebook check-ins, and selfie photos that I so despise. Having been denied this noble alternative has shown my emotional instability. This instability has brought out emotional damage I am just now realizing.
I raced today; did bad, and am reevaluating my approach to cycling as a whole. I still see myself riding all the time. I just want my emotional/ psychological approach to be improved while I try and re-configure what I want to do with my life. Having polished off a bottle of wine, I know my perspective may be skewed. Perhaps I need to go through the motions (both high and low) to get the social lack of attention some may seek through religion or whatever social aspect they may cling to when times get tough. I don’t know the next time I will be racing competitively. I know the time will eventually come. When the confidence that comes with the same level of discipline I have applied to high school wrestling, I know things will be better. Until then, I’m not sure what’s to become of me. Maybe I’ll turn things around, maybe I’ll kill myself before I get the chance.
As a result of all that has surfaced, I am finding it increasingly difficult to feel anything outside of the two-wheeled world. I can remember in previous posts that I have avoided the fine line that separates sadness and depression by acknowledging that I am still able to feel general emotions. Even with my sister suffering from a psychological disorder that has inhibited her from everyday activities such as a normal (full length) day at school, or the social weekend party that comes about for a third-year high school student of her age. All of this is increasingly hard to find empathy in. The inability to feel general emotions send off a red flag in my head. The only issue there is there is no one there to respond to said call.
I will be going through the motions that may come, and hope to reset my psychological efforts the same way an AED restarts the electrical activity of the heart.