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What it Takes | CX 2021-2022 #6

I trended this year with inconsistency. The past two years that I have made the push to Europe to race were also mottled with inconsistencies although both were in the name of injuries. Namely a resurfaced chronic back issue and then there was that whole dislocated shoulder thing.

My efforts racing in Europe have always been spotty. The courses require not just skill and strength but also incredible levels of mobility to escape endless opportunities to crash and countless moments of near peril. Fitness and support are of course invaluable but the most notable – shock factor if you will – is the terrain.

Out there resolution is often the turning point between capability and failure. With skill and fitness in the bank, merely having the confidence to believe you will ride clean is often what it will take to do so. A tire in constant motion on a steep or off camber pitch will always grip better than one with the brakes flirtingly applied. Hesitation is the stuff of nightmares, to allow the bike safe passage one must disallow the thoughts of anything but the ideal outcome.

The feedback loop for any other approach is affirming and this physical manifestation of the display of positive thought is well transpired into other applications. If you can’t find a sense of boldness atop the bicycle you will get left in the mud. If you can’t establish a feeling of “home” in a foreign environment likely you will not be able to reach your potential in competition.

Often overlooked and beyond the initial dedication to race preparations, the secondary resolve becomes finding the emotional relief of familiar creature comforts and feelings of welcome within a foreign environment. That challenge is as much a component as the racing itself. To compete you must have the usual athletic endeavors addressed. But motivation to push is taking the body and mind to another level, a level that wouldn’t exist without the ability to unwind and recover expressively by having that lower hierarchy of needs addressed.

Dark mornings make for long nights and the creature comforts so common in America are much missing here. I remain impressed with the more conservative experience found in Europe: most homes only heat one central room, training is outdoors in any condition, the grocery offering smaller portions of food, walking or cycling to the store, shops closed on Sundays, repurposing and reusing rather than replacing, single lane roads, no hoses, and definitely no Walmarts.

I struggle most with the indoor cold and no amounts of added clothing layers gets me feeling active and alert like general warmth and sun through the windows. This one factor aside I consider this year in Europe to be one of my more productive ones, I established that level of community that is all the difference for me. It’s more than just finding a space and establishing yourself, it’s having folks to chat with, interaction, welcome, familiarity, a sense of home away from home.

These small successes make for building excitement to return, to try yet again, the next year, another season. Ultimately my goal is to have a year I am proud of, to retire and turn my full focus on the upcoming generation with the knowledge that I truly did give it my best shot while I could. Perhaps the beauty is in the lack of satisfaction, you can always do more, you can always do better leaving you gainfully occupied and forever in pursuit.If satisfaction can come from the process I see no hard in continuing.


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