I just won two National Championships on consecutive days. Makes me feel really, really good. For me it’s a good story but there’s a better one.
I’m getting old. I feel it every day. I have an artificial hip and an artificial shoulder, thank goodness. I’m getting old.
What doesn’t get old is the fight to win, whether it’s on a bike or any other playing field. It starts as a boy and after sixty years, it’s still there like I was a boy. I can’t quite figure out why it hasn’t gone away but I am happy it’s still there. I wish it on all my friends and hope it never goes away.
A hockey buddy of mine when I was a teenager said something to me once and I never forgot it. He said his father told him to always ‘play it like a man but enjoy it like a boy’. Why compete if you can’t compete that way.
I lined up with about 20 other guys yesterday, all 60 years or older and every one of them wanted to win that race like they were young boys. I love it.
Every one of us hurt until we couldn’t make it hurt more. I got in a break 25 kilometers into a 101 kilometer race with two other guys. For the next two hours we were a spur-of-the-moment team. Maybe it’s just something Canadian but it seemed to me that each of us shared equally knowing that only teamwork would keep us away. There was no sitting in or soft-pedaling when it was your turn to pull.
Of course the trick was to save just enough and figure out how to use that savings for that one fatal blow to knock out your ‘teammates’. Yesterday was my day to figure it out just a little bit better than the other two but, after only meeting them for the first time the day before at the time trial, I felt a connection to them and a respect for them that comes with the sharing of the pain. Kind of like young boys.
It’s the other part of this fascinating weirdness. That’s sometimes the cool thing about racing bicycles on the road, the impromptu creation of teammates that disintegrates into selfish aggression then strangely resurfaces as that connection again in the parking lot after the race is over. ‘Play it like a man, enjoy it like a boy’.
I did that yesterday and want to do it again and again and again and I wish for you the same. To quote Bob Dylan, “May You Stay Forever Young”.