Thursday, September 13, 2007

Saying Goodbye to 2007 Early

A long heart-to-heart talk tonight with a good friend EK -- my quasi-cycling coach, financial advisor and doctor. The result: my 2007 racing season is effectively over. But I'm OK with that. Next year looks brighter than last - far brighter than ever.

I embarked on a journey almost 6 years ago to learn about myself. A journey necessary because there was a gulf between what I believed what I was, and what I actually am. An that gulf has narrowed significantly. I like who I am, more so than what how I used to see myself. So before I turn my eyes to the future, I want to reflect on what I've learned this year on my journey of self-discovery. Here's an abridged list...

  1. The desire to compete - and win - is not an elitist endeavor. Racers always strive for excellence, but nothing is more humbling than being in the presence of other people dedicated to greatness.
  2. Don't listen to the naysayers. When I tell people of my racing goals, I often get the "You're crazy" response. Racing hasn't left me feeling crazy. It's left me feeling fit, healthy and active. The people that try to squash your dreams are those that have given up on their own.
  3. You are never too old. I've been told I'm too old for this probably a hundred times. (I'm paraphrasing SeanL here...) People are always saying how they're getting old as if they revel in it. That "old" talk is a bad philosophy. Aging is a part of life, but getting old is a state of mind. I felt older at 26 than I do now at 34.
  4. The life of a racer will always be unconventional. Many people will not understand it. Don't let that bother you.
  5. Winning at racing is not really very hard. However, losing is a lot easier.
  6. Never underestimate sources of inspiration. Inspiration and encouragement can come from sources both near and far. Read SeanL's blog from the beginning. Read Bruce's blog, a guy who started mountain bike racing at 50, to inspire his wife. Read Pinkgurugal's blog and walk away uninspired - I dare you. I've never met any of these people, but they are testaments of what CAN be done with a lot of heart, soul and determination.
  7. In racing sponsors are golden. Never, ever underestimate the belief that someone willing to give you massive amounts of money to go racing has in your ability to succeed. Their investment isn't to have you win, but to see you grow. Grow, no matter the cost. That is your obligation to them, not to win immediately.
  8. Keep your perspective. Racing is fun. Whether it be on a bike or in a car. When it ceases to be fun, it's time to take a break. Take a day off. Have a beer. Have twelve if that's what it takes. Never lose sight of that.

I could ramble on about the lessons learned, but it's time to look forward to 2008. I've posted my spring mountain bike race schedule to the right. It starts in February, so no time like the present to get ready!