Motorsport is popular around the world, and the USA is no exception. With many different series around the country, often taking place throughout the entire year and in all weathers, the US boasts some on the toughest races on the calendar. I spoke to Kaitlyn Vincie, a reporter and broadcaster in many of these championships, […]
“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
The longer you wait to do something, the harder and more burdensome it becomes, but I finally returned to CrossFit after years of hibernating and recovering from injuries.
I debated even coming back at all, with all of my neck, shoulder, wrists and ankle injuries, but after all of the pressure I’ve been putting on myself to get another pro podium, and all of the guilt I experienced for not even finishing my last race, I needed something to shake things up. It was a crucial decision that I should have made a long time ago. In the two months since I joined, I reached my goal of attending three classes a week among record soreness (and embarrassment.) It’s humbling, being the high-achieving perfectionist that I am, and intimidating being the weakest link having to scale routines, but it forces me to ramp up slowly and focus on my form. “Trying to make something perfect can actually prevent us from making it just good.”
It’s been over a week since the start of the official “offseason” but it’s only now sinking in that dropping everything for Saturday night Supercross is done for a few months – I’ve been from from Boston to Vegas lately covering (sometimes from the couch) 17 races in 18 weeks. Along the way, I found a deeper appreciation for those who get to spend the whole season on the road and traveling to every event; I attended seven in person and wondered what it would be like going every single week; I wanted to be lucky enough to find out. While working on plans for next season and listening to The James Altucher Show, his latest with Maria Konnikova explained luck:
“How much of our lives do we control? How can you maximize what you can control? How can you learn to tell the difference between skill and chance? And how do you actually make decisions that way?”
Never yield to remorse, but at once tell yourself: remorse would simply mean adding to the first act of stupidity a second.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Over the last week, I’ve had the opportunity of looking at last Sunday’s event at Interlake State Recreation Area in hindsight, and it got me thinking about regret. I pride myself on not having many, if any, regrets in life, because everything happens for a reason: “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.”
But I regret quitting, especially since I finished just one check and still managed a fifth out of nine – only two completed all five checks.
There’s power in regret: using it to do things differently the next time I want to quit when something I encounter doesn’t meet my expectations, and rain falls for days leading up to the race and turns the tacky course into an iceskating rink.
From the moment I crossed the starting line and my tires skidded around the first turn, I felt trapped and cold, both my bike and my body uncomfortable skating through water-soaked ruts, and I was terrified of going fast, crashing (check), getting stuck (check) and losing my gloves, goggles and grip (check). Once that happened, I lost focus completely and couldn’t get out of the fog of fear, (nor did I want to), so I pulled off after the first checkpoint. Looking back, I should have pushed through my fears and faced them head-on. I should have just said, “Bring it on,” “I love fear,” and “Fear sets me free.” I should have turned against my fear and pushed back with confidence in my skills and my equipment, regardless of what I was experiencing on the outside feeling unprepared. I should have considered it a learning opportunity, since I rarely encounter knee-deep underwater conditions, especially when it’s cold, wet and raining.
So, I’m learning to live with it, and I imagine going back and making a different choice. Next time, it will be easier to keep going, and I will be less scared, because I’ve learned that fear is not absolute; it’s relative to the direction you’re going, and if you move toward your fear over and over again in life, you’re less afraid.
Plus, nothing bad would have happened had I forged on (most likely) so I was actually fearful of a situation that did not even exist and more worried about my times at each checkpoint or others’ perception of my finish. When, in order to be fully myself, I should have shoved my fears aside and maintained the stance that I was going to give whatever I had to give, instead of hiding from myself and my inexperience as a mud rider. After all, the only thing that will actually improve my mud riding skill is mud riding.
Too bad I only discovered this truth in hindsight.
“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” – Henry David Thoreau.
Heading into this weekeend’s enduro, I’m thinking about the fruits of my labor since the last one, and what I will experience over 60 miles of the never-before-seen trail. I visualize focusing on getting to reconnect with my motorcycle and enjoy myself in nature, pushing through the day’s challenges and attempting to ride calm, cool and confident even when my bike misbehaves. Best case, “she” may even impress me. Worst case, it’s a cold, rainy day, and I have plenty of tear-offs.
I’ve hit somewhat of a writer’s block in terms of posting – case in point: I’ve been working on this post for over a week, writing notes and saving tabs, but I can’t seem to get anything published. I realize there is peace to be gained from the ability to find inner stillness, but it feels like I’ve plateaued in terms of productivity, and I’m officially in a slump. Where, then, do I go from here? Well, whenever I don’t know what to do, I don’t do anything except turn inward, returning to bikram, work-day meditation, CrossFit and pleasure reading – currently The 4-Hour Workweek and listening to The James Altucher Show on iTunes.
Since I haven’t been blogging, I’ve had a lot of time to think about thoughts I haven’t written or talked much about, and that’s getting clear on how I can become a bigger version of myself.
Truth be told, I’ve been waiting for the perfect platform to start, but, thanks to coaches like Tucker Max, Brad Meltzer and Jimmy Wang, I’ve started to realize that I’m acting too small – I already have a good enough platform and my own unique voice (and enough good ideas,) and so that’s where I need to begin.
“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” Thomas Aquinas
The crowd is the gathering place of the weakest; true creation is a solitary act. – Charles Bukowski
A 1987 New York Times article – “The Racer’s Edge: A Strong Psyche” quoted an issue of Psychology Today magazine: “There seems to be no slowing down our on-going love affair with the car,” and it’s the same way for me and dirt bikes. I’ve had “an enchantment” with motorcycles ever since I can remember; it’s how I was drawn to my profession and one of the many reasons for so many miles on my truck.
The article quotes study after study of what it takes to be a champion “things far greater than time, money and desire … and much more than a lucky break,” and the distinct psychological strengths necessary to drive competitively: “a champion driver is easily distinguished by his mental and personal characteristics, testing higher in such categories as self-sufficiency, calmness, intelligence and emotional stability.”
Another study compared the mental differences between novice drivers and nationally licensed sports car racing drivers at the Sports Car Club of America driving school – “The licensed drivers had higher abstract ability, more emotional stability, more highly developed consciences, more boldness, more self-assurance, more tough-mindedness, more resistance to emotional stress, more creativity and higher leadership potential. These differences are all the more remarkable because the novice driver trainees possessed an almost identical profile, differing only in terms of degree on each of the traits.”
You don’t need a study to tell you that championship enduro racing does not appeal to most people, (mainly just the 800 riders who pre-enter every race months in advance.) Enduros are long and tiring with unpredictable conditions and a huge amount of alone time, which is precisely why it suits my nature.
Lately, I’ve found myself opting out of group rides in favor of a solo session. After all, I don’t need anyone to ride my dirt bike for me anymore (except in Colorado); I know where I’m going, and I’m in complete control when I’m by myself as far as speed and distance are concerned – sometimes, riding with others becomes more of a burden, especially when I only get one on-the-bike training day per week; either I’m in the underdog situation, or I’m barely breaking a sweat.
In Florida, the pros of riding by myself in the woods outweigh the cons. Unlike in the mountains where I won’t ride solo for fear of falling off of a mountain never to be seen again, the biggest problem with riding the Florida sand by myself is having to pick my own lines while avoiding the four-foot-deep whooped out quad trails. This search for the smoothest, fastest line, I’ve noticed, makes me feel like I’m in race mode when I don’t know what to expect around each corner. When I’m training behind someone faster than me, I can naturally settle in and let my focus be on my line choice behind the leader without wasting energy determining our direction. Out front, I’m forced to lead (and believe in) myself.
“…many are probably wondering if they could do it. No doubt some of them could. And no doubt they are special and few.