This is a hard post to formulate. I've realized my thoughts are disjointed and discontinuous at best. But what I want to convey are my thoughts on balance.
I'm not a pro-athlete. I don't get paid, or supported, to race my mountain bike. I actually sink my own resources into what is essentially a hobby. In my mind my activities have greater significance than mere hobby, but in the strictest sense that's all they are.
That I try to discover truth about life, the universe, and myself through this hobby is irrelevant because I do that constantly, ceaselessly. That I use it as a vehicle (of puns!) to maintain this blog is only circumstance.
We invited Doug, of A Year of Living...Humm...Dangerously, to dinner Tuesday night. I asked him about his blog. The title is somewhat temporally limited. He said he couldn't think beyond Saturday. I could relate. Last year my universe ended on August 11. Beyond that was only a void, impossible to sound, and black as The Nothing. At that time I fully intended to finish the race.
This year, with one failure under my belt I'm less sure. But the event horizon on this year's race is less opaque. Somehow in my letting to of the obsession, regardless of the outcome of my efforts I Saturday, I've shined a light into the future and have revealed a more constructive path for myself.
Let me back out of this rabbit hole and get back to the point. I'm not an athlete justified in this endeavor by some outside reward. I only stand to gain satisfaction in attaining certain personally agreed upon milestones. Total contentment for me would only come through finishing in less than 9 hours. Since I've not worked hard enough to pull that off I will concede a silver buckle. Short of that nothing will resolve this desire in me. That silver buckle will represent a convoluted journey through my body, mind, and soul. Have I found the answers I went pedaling after? Perhaps. Am I a better person for having take this path instead of others more conventional? I don't know if I'm the most qualified person to answer that question.
One of my most nemisisial demons is a propensity for bucking convention and doing things my own way out of spite. Maybe in some abstract way this whole affair has been my attempt to answer some unspoken or unimplied suggestion that normal, average, and responsible adults don't sign up for mountain bike races that begin and end in Leadville, Colorado.
My obsession is rooted in a fear of living a mediocre life. But all lives are mediocre on a day to day basis. Again*, my perceptions trip me up.
I've not hired a coach. I've not maxed out credit cards to get a high end bike. I've not ridden the thousands of recreational miles I knew would benefit me in a few day. I've not given up my stress-related weight gain. I've not denied myself comfort foods or unprofitable (from a race standpoint) diversions.
I have taken ever granted opportunity to ride. I have tried to make my rides count. I've tried to cut back on all the unhealthy things I eat and drink. I have tried to sikowanulize myself to understand why I'm doing this and how I could do better. I have tried to give more of my time to my family. I have tried to be better in my profession.
One truth that's become apparent this week is that to find balance I've not really been able to give up one or the other aspect of my life. I can't give up family and career to race bikes. And I can't give up racing in Leadville just yet.
Tuesday I out last year's demons to rest. They've been silent as the tomb. No longer am I in Colorado to make amends for last year. I'm fully focused on finishing now because finishing is what I want to do. Finishing is the only thing that will confirm my abilities, my determination, and my domination over fear and doubt.
Looking beyond Leadville (because this year I can) I am confident I won't ever need mountain bike racing to solve my problems of no confidence ever again. At the very least I won't allow it as an admissible option for problem solving.
If I were able to pull back to 30,000' I think is see that all of this has been vanity. There is no real purpose in it except to satisfy my selfish inner need for recognition.
I came in first in one cross country meet as a teenager and I never got a medal or a trophy. Despite all of the life energy I've expended on various efforts throughout my life I just never seem to feel as if my contributions matter. It doesn't seem like I exist fully in this world. Sometimes I feel like a ghost of a person. It seems unfair to be ignored, marginalized, overlooked...except my rational mind knows that's not really true.
There are people who love and value me. I know this. It's no secret. There must be something else I'm missing. And what floats to the surface is my chronic lack of self-confidence. Why I'm searching for self-confidence from the seat of my bike might be the biggest mystery of all.
My gut tells me that is I could somehow validate my worldview, and all of my life choices up to this point, then I would find the elusive answer of how to gain the confidence I lack.
* This is a reference to something else I'm writing.