Early in my academic career, somewhere around the fourth grade, I began deciding what grade I’d get on the very first day of class. If I liked the subject and if it came relatively easy to me, I’d decide I would get an A. If I understood the subject but didn’t like it all that much, I’d go for a B (and maybe a B+ with a little luck and a friendly teacher.) I’d only allow myself a C once in a great while, and those for subjects that I didn’t like and were also hard to grasp (Geometry anyone?) And, for the most part, I got the grade I set out to get. My parents, to this day, will tell you that I should have been able to get all A’s but they were never able to motivate me to put in the time or get interested enough to strive for academic excellence. And, I thought I was trying as hard as I could, so I don’t know if they were right.
Later in life, the attitude of being better than average, a solid B+ student, became my way. I displayed all the attributes of being an over-achiever but always ended up being solid, if not spectacular. It seemed, even when I really wanted to excel at something, I was destined to reach my ceiling fairly quickly. I was a good baseball play, but a role player, a good golfer, but not a scratch player, and good producer for my brokerage firms, but not a superstar.
I wanted to be a superstar at something. I was determined, dogged and positively motivated, but there was always something to keep me from spectacular success.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to get off my own back and relax a little, there’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying life. I took this attitude to cycling and just went out and had fun. Like I told a friend on a ride, “I just want to ride my bike. I don’t want to do triathlons, I don’t want to run, I don’t even want to do sit ups. I just like riding.” And; that’s what I did.
I started riding longer endurance events, Century Rides, but I didn’t exactly race through them, for me they were survival battles. Last month I rode in a world class cycling event, La Vuelta de Puerto Rico, and it was, frankly, an embarrassment. My Dad Bod was not able to handle the faster pace of the ride or the significant climbs. I spent a lot of time getting swept up by the support vans.
Before I attempt a ride like that again, I realize that I will have to make some changes and I’m torn about them. I’ve reached a point where I need to either get more obsessed with cycling or just treat it as a nice pastime. (I think we all know which way I am going).
To become a better rider I need to get leaner, lighter and stronger. I’ll need to build some muscle and get a lot faster. I’m heading into this mission with no guarantee that it will work, I may work hard for a year and still not be able to ride with the great riders that I encountered in Puerto Rico. Cycling is becoming a metaphor for aging gracefully (if not ferociously) and I need to work hard to get a B+ this time.. At the same time, I’m going to make lifestyle changes that I’m not all that crazy about: I’ll have to go to the gym more, eat better, drink less, and, in general, become a more obsessed person. I don’t know if I am able to do it; I really don’t. I like potato chips and sangiovese very much.
I’ll keep you posted.