Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Frank-ly, here's what I think:

I wrote this as I was sitting in Carbondale, Colorado on my aunt's cattle ranch, in awe of the land, the wilderness, the 6000 feet of altitude, the lightning storms, and most of all, the amazing life I am so grateful for. What has come of the last few weeks of racing? Some missed marks, some lessons, some near misses, and some so-so results. Overall, some victories that may go un-articulated, but I will take a risk here, and share some of my thoughts, because now's as good a time as any, to do it. To those of you who read this. Thank you.

I am on my way to my potential as a bike racer. Only I will know when that day, year, month, race, comes. I imagine it will be in the next few years.

A bit about my big picture: Why do I do what I do? Why press on? In a sport so brutally competitive, and full of suffering, where the chances of winning are slim for most of the competitiors?

"Never more than 30% of the peleton is a major factor in a bike race. As a matter of fact, there are never more than 5 or 6 riders in a field of 100 who are strong contenders for any race, including the Tour de France." (Carl Cantrell)

So why settle for being pack fill? What's the point? Is it settling, or is it being a true competitor?

I do it, because I respect myself and my competitors more every time I race.

If I wasn't doing it, and the rest of the 70% of the peleton wasn't doing it, we wouldn't have bike races.

I have a dream that all women can look one another in the eyes and recognize how powerful each other are. Can we all just stop talking smack for a minute? Why do we love Elis Bradshaw, Karla Kingsley, Kim Anderson, Carrie Cash, Starla Teddergreen, Morgan Kapp, Dawn Neisser, Sabine Dukes, so much? They are models of women in sport, of mutual respect between female competitors, that we all can look to. Kudos to all of you!

I have a dream that all adults will reclaim their sense of play, and remember that playing is the way to learn more about themselves. Michael Hernandez is a great example of this. He has brought a sense of play and fun to the sport that no one else ever has. Thank you Michael.

I have a dream that all young people are treated with complete respect. I will continue to hold out that young people are models of wonderful human beings, and that their brilliance and power is our present, not just our future...(as if the future even existed).

I have a dream that all athletes discover along their path, that real competition means to have our competitors at their best, and that winning isn't just winning, no matter what. Crossing the finish line first, too often reinforces an ego that fosters the inability to look across to those you have "beaten". If it weren't for those of us who come to the starting line, to play, to race, to compete, the "winners" would be riding by themselves.

A true victory is one that combines the crossing of the finish line with a genuine advancement in the inner world of the athlete.

Lance said: ...."winning only measures how hard you've worked and how physically talented you are; it doesn't particularly define you beyond those characteristics....If you're willing to examine failure, and to look not just at your outward physical performance, but your internal workings, too, losing can be valuable."

Do I want to WIN an actual bike race? Of course!

I want to win, now, more than ever.

As I chase my dreams, I invite you to re-examine your own dreams, and walk the path that leads you in the direction of those dreams, no matter how small your steps.

Thanks for reading.


Holly said...

Hey Laurel! It was good to see you at Cascade (I guess that was a long time ago now!)--I am sorry I didn't take the time to chat with you a bit more while we were there. I was kept insanely busy trying to figure out how to be a good director. I wasn't so great at it, but I tried! And learned a ton.

Anyway, I hope to race with you again soon, although there might not be much more racing for me this season--my shoulder's well enough to ride but I'm still not ready to race yet. Good luck in your next race! Always great to see you out there!

velogirl said...

nice post, Laurel.

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Very good post. All of our experiences are valuable & take us that much closer to where we want to be, as long as we're open to what they're telling us.

You're getting there. :) And having fun along the way.

pedro said...

not only a nice post, but an impressively tough ride last night. your riding far exceeding your post ride commentary! ;)