by Gus Rodriguez, PCG Coach
I have heard it said that there are two kinds of cyclists: those who have crashed and those who will crash. Lately, I have been doing the crashing. So when Hank called me and told me to write this week’s blog, naturally I started writing on bike handling skills. Then I thought I should stick to something I know a little more about: overcoming adversity.
While racing at Leadville last year (a 100 mile Mountain Bike Race in Colorado) I was involved in a crash. Two surgeries and 3 months of physical therapy later, I was back. Last week while training for my comeback at Leadville, that’s right, I crashed.
This time it looks like one surgery and a few weeks of PT should do it. I have had what some people would call a string of ‘bad luck.’ It has been almost 16 months since I have finished a race. I will admit I started to feel sorry for myself. I sat around for a while and pouted, wondering how I got into these situations in the first place. I was in shape and did the things I needed to in order to have a great race. Yet things keep happening. I think most of us start to feel that way when something bad happens.
Whether it’s bad Chinese the night before your ‘A’ race, a catastrophic mechanical failure, or lawn darting your body into the side of the Rocky Mountains, unexpected things are going to happen to you. They happen to everyone; especially in sports with so many variables. How can you not feel disappointed and depressed when you have put so much time and effort into training and your race doesn’t happen the way you planned? I began to question myself and what I was doing. I recall driving to Physical Therapy one day to work on raising my arm over my head. In my mind, I could not have been any farther from racing. That same night I also remember thinking how difficult it is setting up a bike trainer with one arm in a sling. That was the cycle my mind was in.
After all the conversations I have had with myself, it always comes back to one simple thing: this is who I am. This is who we are. We don’t wake up at 5am for swim practice because we have a ‘hobby.’ We do it because of something inside of us. It is part of us. It is what makes up tick. We are not ‘normal’ people. Ironically, our toughness is exactly the trait that helps us through these events. Realize that these events are going to happen. Know that it is not going to change you, only change what you have been through. Be positive. Remember to have fun. Brainstorm ideas that you can use for next time, but try not to dwell on the event or how bad things have turned out. Most importantly though, surround yourself with people that will help you; good people. Use your coaches. Use your teammates. We all experience the same things and can help each other out. Adversity is like mile 80 on the bike at Ironman. Things seem bad at the time, but if you keep pushing forward they will get better. Keep persisting.
I have been lucky to have some great friends and family. Through every tough time, I have had a good friend to help me through, usually the same one. And so I start the road to my next comeback. I don’t know what will happen but I know I will get through it. Not because I have some magic pill I take in the morning, but because I tell myself that, EVERY DAY. I WILL make it through whatever comes. And on really down days one fact will give me a lift: my bikes have made it through every crash……….