Yesterday, Monday, October the 23rd of 2013, I officially began implementing my rigid structure of this winter’s training routine. The week prior, I hopped on an Amtrak train headed North, disembarked in Leavenworth, hitch-hiked up Icicle road, and then trekked through the Alpine Lake Wilderness reserve in the Northern Cascades. Seven days I spent alone in the outdoors.
During this week of isolation my goals were simple: read through my old journals and write reflections on my life thus far. The cold bitterness of sub-freezing temperatures, hundred mile-per hour-winds, and occasional white out snow-storm conditions was the ideal setting for me to let go of inner chaos, thus finding a calm and tranquil mind-set to understand the direction in life I must take.
(Nature knocks me to my knees with her seductive violence)
Over the last ten years I have filled hundreds upon hundreds of pages in journals with my small, tight, elaborate penmanship. To read through these journals can be very difficult to stomach, for I write to forget many of my struggles.
Lying in my tent shivering, snow outside forming a cocoon around my tent, I willingly went back to old mentalities I have long tried to let go. The journal that stood out the most, entitled, “It Has Begun,” was from the year I escaped life to go on a fantastical road-trip circumnavigating the USA. In this journal, the self-analyses is brutal, and, at times, nostalgically eloquent.
(Life is really this simple)
Below are two excerpts that glaring stood out from this particular three-year-old journal. Let me first say: while in the Wilderness last week I opened this journal for the first time since the conclusion of my road-trip over two years ago.
These particular journal entries were written about halfway through my road-trip at a point directly after a breakdown where I realized I had formerly quit cycling from my lack of belief in Self. These entries were the very first moments of awareness concerning my love of bike racing, my love for Art, Adventure, and Athletics, and my desire to pursue this sport to find of what my Mind and Body is capable.
The following excerpts were transcribed verbatim from my journal with only small corrections in grammar and spelling. I won’t take the time or bother to analyze them. I’ll just let them exist as they are and accept:
(February 10th, 2010): Two days before the full moon. Illness cannot deter my body from responding to the full moon. I can feel my energy building and my health responding to the mental shifts I’ve been making in reaction to the new insight and knowledge gained. Training lessons learned hard.
The main morsel of Ego check is: Knowing one’s Self fully as an athlete is often knowing when to quit and accept defeat. The Body will respond to what the Mind afflicts upon it, and if this affliction is constant overtraining, then chronic illness will be the inevitable consequence.
The lack of belief in one’s Self as an athlete results in overtraining because the lack of belief builds on urgency to perform—which often leads to over-exertion, then illness, and ultimately the sense of manifested Self-defeat.
A cycle of sub-conscious Self-sabotage resulting in a Self-constructed failure originating in: the lack of belief in Self.
Whereas. An athlete who believes in his/her capabilities is aware of the amount of methodical day-to-day committed workouts required to excel over a long period of time. In a confident athlete there are no training binges or recovery benders. The neurotic, drastic fluctuations in performance level does not exist in a confident athlete; rather, a sustained, non-plateau, and ever increasing ‘increase’ in performance exists, firmly founded and rooted in years of base-training, sacrifices, Self-evolution, and respect of the Ego’s fragility and tendency to be Self-delusional to avoid accepting the areas of growth—a.k.a. one’s personality weaknesses and Self-imposed limitations—needed to be eradicated by compassion and dedication to the Self.
Results, meeting goals and expectations, are not necessarily reflections of hard work. Contrarily, the root cause is love and respect of Self, which manifest the secondary reaction of: Hard Work. You see, if you believe in your Self, you realize you are worthy of working hard on and investing in. You become worthy of committing to your Self.
On Belief in Self:
(January 28th, 2010): When one is trying to obtain greatness in a field (let us use cycling as our example) and struggles to obtain greatness resulting in the individual quitting, or Self- sabotaging, or fluctuating between obsessive commitment and scornful rejection of the sport they love, then there exist a deep seated lack of belief in Self rooted as the cause.
Many will remark: ‘this cyclist is not dedicated enough to achieve greatness,’ or, ‘he/she lacks the drive and focus to be great,’ or, ‘commitment evades this athlete and he/she will never amount to anything.’ All these superficial remarks and observations are of the secondary struggles this athlete faces, and with all secondary reactions, one must find the true, originating cause. Since we already established that cycling greatness is the Racer’s dream—that greatness is not a haphazard spur of the moment decision—we must then easily declare that the Cyclist lacks belief in Self.
If the Cyclist does not recognize this root cause, he/she can react in many ways to his/her frustration of not being able to commit. The first is to lie to his/her Self, which can take numerous forms: projecting Self-hatred and bitterness of Self onto the sport (i.e. ‘I hate cycling. What a waste of time.’), or, Self-denial (i.e. ‘I don’t need to train. I can just race on my talent.’).
Shirking the necessary dedication to achieve greatness, the easiest and most common conclusion is: ‘I’m not good enough and so I quit,’ which translated through the knowledge of no Self-belief actually reads: ‘I do not believe in my-Self enough to take the risk to fully dedicate my life to a dream because I am too scared to fail, for my lack of Self-esteem can only focus on failure instead of the reward that struggling to achieve greatness brings.’
Thus: the Cyclist who loves the sport and respects his/her-Self will stay dedicated to the sport regardless if he/she achieves greatness. His/Her belief in Self is strong enough to recognize it is the struggle that brings rewards, that it is the risks wrought into dedication and learned cold competence that fills the Racer with contentment and meaning.
(The Soul seeks to be understood)
The ultimate conclusion of my outdoor adventure last week was: I love bike racing and will continue to pursue it passionately amongst all the setbacks and hardships. As I always say, Life never stops and waits for you. This winter is purely going to be Next Level Shit.
Ego: watch the fuck out.
This past race season was filled to the spilling brim with lessons. In order to progress, I must learn from the past. As promised, this off-season of rigorous training will also be filled with many essays focused on the adventures and explorations of our Minds & Bodies.
Be on the lookout for more blog posts. My ambition is to pump one out about once a week. You need to realize, on a daily basis you have more time than you think because in life you have less time than you think.
(Forever to be a Bike Racing Gypsy)
“All I want to do is train and write and have an occasional wild dance party,” –Me (January of 2010)