Risk It For the Biscuit
"Gotta risk it for the biscuit!"
At some point, I have said the aforementioned catch phrases, daring someone else or even myself to push the limits that little bit farther. And, as I sit here writing on the eve of the Charm City CX race, I find myself thinking a lot about risk. But the kind of risk I'm thinking of isn't necessarily physical. Rather it's mental and emotional.
For example, if I'm racing a weekend cross race in my local scene, I have no problem trying new things.
Attacking from the gun? Sure, let's roll the dice!
Starting back row and practicing passing people? Practice makes perfect, right?
But if I'm in a UCI race, I dare not do anything that could be considered out of line. The emotional risk is too much to fathom.
Better said, the risk of failure is too great.
Is there any difference between one race and the other? Not really. Still a bunch of dudes in tight clothes, riding, running, and jumping with their bikes in a park for an hour. But the idea of failure keeps me from jumping off the deep end.
In general, I would say I'm pretty risk averse. I think most are conditioned to avoid risk. We don't want to hurt ourselves, physically or emotionally, so we stay in our comfort zone, never truly finding our limits. I'm envious of those who can "turn off the switch" and just take the jump. But I'm worried that if I take the same leap myself, I'll never recover from that failure. It's a slippery slope to go down, and it's a slope that slides you right back into that box you've created for yourself, the one you're desperately trying to climb out of.
This journey, to be the best cyclocrosser I can be, requires failure.
It is necessary to go out there, get kicked in the face day in and day out, then pick yourself up and go do it again the very next weekend against the very same guys. In my training, I've been working to embrace the suffering, to take ownership of it. The pain I feel is my own, and my response to that pain is also my own. The same goes for failure. I can choose to get down on myself and pout about a poor result. Or I can look at the performance, analyze what went wrong, and look to improve upon it the next time.
The latter should be my only response. It should be the reason that I go out and try new things, the reason why I put myself out there, why I jump off the ledge. Yes, I want the UCI and ProCX points to qualify for Nationals in January. But I've qualified the past two seasons, so what makes this year any different?
I'm better than I was in 2016. I'm faster and stronger. So at this point, there isn't anything else to do, except go for it! There's no option but to risk it all, knowing full well that if I fail, I'll come out alive on the other side and get ready to do it all over again.
Yours in failure,