Disclaimer: I realize that this post officially marks me as a big ol' sap, and I should point out that my 12-year-old self, who is still very much alive and well, is rolling his eyes and going, "OMG PLZZZZZ don't humiliate us, dude!"
Today I learned many things -- or in some (maybe all) cases, was reminded of many important lessons that I've learned along the way and possibly forgotten. I was reminded that 'The Secret,' corny though the book and the movie may be, really works. I was reminded that Harry Potter is a straight-up dude (more on that later). And, perhaps most importantly, I was reminded that winning isn't everything.
I should probably begin by mentioning the fact that I didn't race today, though it seems like Seiler and the other fellow (Jim?) who run the short-track series together probably would've let me, at least for fun (at one point, Seiler -- commenting on the variety of bikes at the race, said as I picked my QS up from his resting place in the grass, "...And there's a guy with a -- we'll call it a drop-bar mountain bike!").
However, I still don't quite have all my ducks in a row, and as such have not acquired my UCI/USAC license for this year (d'oh), on top of which I didn't bring any cash to pay the race fee, because I was figuring that since I didn't have a mountain bike, racing wasn't an option. I basically showed up to pound some stakes, cheer on a couple of races, and ride home.
That, however, doesn't stop me from learning things at this race.
The race, in particular, that struck me as a learning opportunity was the very first one -- the "kids' race" (not to be confused with the Juniors group), which gives kids who aren't ready for prime time a chance to have a go at bike racing and win some prizes.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were all kinds of kids in the kids' race. The youngest were a pair of three-year olds -- so small they were pretty much relegated to their own de facto single-speed division, since their bikes were so small that any associated derailleurs would have dragged the ground (plus, I don't think anyone makes a geared bike in a 12" wheel size). One was a little boy, one was a little girl.
The little girl had fallen over during her warm-up lap, but gamely lined up for the start anyway. About five meters from the finish line, she was ahead of the little boy by a few lengths, duking it out in what Seiler called 'The Battle of the Threes' -- and there, though she was, in essence, winning her (unofficial) group, she stopped.
She put on the brakes (that is, she put her feet on the ground) and simply stopped and stood stock still. She wasn't going anywhere, period, and nobody was going to make her ride so much as one more meter, let alone five. Her dad, who had been patiently trailing along making sure that she didn't topple over (the boy's dad was doing the same), finally kind of shrugged, picked her up, and wheeled her bike off the track.
Winning isn't everything. Even when you're five meters from the line.
Sometimes there are more important things in life. I have no idea what was going on in that little girl's mind, but obviously something was way, way more important to her than continuing her race -- even though she was, in a sense, winning her own group, even if that group wasn't officially recognized.
This was obviously a little girl of strong will and considerable character. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of her both this season and in years to come.
Second: about 'The Secret' ... it more or less has to do with the whole idea of mind-over-matter. It's something I've really struggled with, the past few months, as I wrestled with an on-again, off-again depression (one that continues to challenge me). I have been trying to overcome the obsessive-compulsive thoughts that roar into my brain -- kind of like badly-timed freight trains -- to tell me how fat* I am, or how hopeless my quest to become a competent (if mediocre) bike racer looks, and how closely I resemble the Michelin Man in my team kit.
Today I managed to convince myself that I look and feel and am awesome on the bike. Thus, I did feel awesome on the bike. I don't know that I was actually awesome, but that doesn't really matter. Likewise, my shadow looked pretty awesome, and that made it possible for me to visualize myself as I hope to look in a few months, when 'cross season gets rolling.
The idea, as The Rocky Horror Picture Show's opening title track puts it, is this: "Don't dream it -- be it." Inside this chunky chrysalis, a svelte bike racer is preparing to hatch.
All this 'feeling awesome' put me in a pretty good mood. I've noticed that when I'm in a pretty good mood, drivers seem to drive better. Whether this is a 'law of attraction' thing, or whether my attention system favors nice drivers over grumpy drivers when I'm in a good mood doesn't really matter. It is what it is.
Thus, as I spun my way home, I happened to notice a nice driver who pulled up behind me at a four-way stop, made no effort to pass me at the stop sign or in the intersection, and waited politely for me to wave him around on the next segment of road. As he passed I shot him a smile and noticed A) that the driver in question sat at the while of a white Galant (appropriate, eh?) and B) the driver in question was Harry Potter.
Okay, so maybe he wasn't really Harry Potter, but he looked at least as much like Harry Potter as I do when my hair is short (which it totally isn't, right now) -- and I look enough like Harry Potter that I will probably never have to buy another Hallowe'en costume as long as I live. I look enough like Harry Potter that I have more than once, while riding through the city in a sweater, white shirt, and tie, been greeted with cries of, "Look! It's Harry Potter!" I look enough like Harry Potter that -- well, I think you see my point, here.
So, anyway, long story short, Harry Potter is a righteous bro, and stuff. He was nice to me at a point in the ride where I was pretty much cooked. I had been out on the bike more or less since noon, excepting a brief break to walk around pounding stakes into the ground on the hills of Seneca Park and then watch a couple of races -- and I had rather hammered it home, since DD's Aunt C is coming for a brief visit tonight, so the consideration was deeply appreciated.
*WRT my fatness, or lack thereof: in my purely rational mind, I realize this sentiment is somewhat ridiculous, and probably not really something people who are legitimately obese want to hear -- the thing is, my personal psychosis about my weight is precisely that: a psychological disorder, and it applies only to me. I also recognize that as someone who has, from time to time, struggled with an actual eating disorder, participating in a sport that is occasionally called 'a very expensive eating disorder' might not be the best idea ever. Still, I love bikes, and I love riding bikes, so I don't plan to stop. I just plan to remain vigilant, carefully sorting the sane thoughts about my weight from the totally-out-of-touch-with-reality ones, and to set a reasonable, healthy weight goal -- 145 pounds, instead of 125 pounds (I would be happy, though, with 155). I have seen how I look at 125 pounds. It's not pretty, though at the time I didn't know that.