Monday, June 26, 2017

Reflections On A Big Weekend In Cycling

Sarah Cooper finishing Trans Iowa v12 as Ari Andonopoulous looks on.
The month of June seems to have become the pinnacle of cycling, at least to my mind. Obviously, here in Iowa we all were rooting for Sarah Cooper, a RAAM rookie and an incredibly talented and focused athlete. This weekend she attained not only the goal of finishing this tough, 3,000 plus mile, cross country event, but she was the first placed female finisher, and led the event in that category, if not the entire way, for the majority of it. Not only this, but amongst solo competitors, she was ninth overall, (by my observation and according to results I have found.)

So,that's a big deal. I want to say "Congratulations Sarah!", and also to the team that supported her, many of whom I know. Good job!

But there were a lot of other things going on. All just over the weekend. I know folks that garnered "National Championship" jerseys in the first ever Gravel Nationals, just held in Lawrence, Kansas. I know a guy that finished the Lutsen 99'er over the weekend, and I know some folks that are on the Tour Divide route, another grueling event, which has many coming close to finishing there.

I'm probably missing a few things.....

To all of you, a hearty congratulations on your accomplishments. I guess as I reflect on the enormity of Sarah Cooper's accomplishments, and of those of several other folks, it becomes hard to process it all. As I think about this, I can only offer a few observations......
  • The "watching of dots" and the comments posted on social media make me think that this cycling thing has the power to bring folks together. Actually, it isn't necessarily the sport of cycling. We, as human beings, seem to have the capabilities, at times, to be very supportive, encouraging, empathetic, and positive. Cycling can be a catalyst for this. Big challenges seem to pull us together, even if we are sitting on our butts in office cubicles or whatever. The protagonists are the rallying point, but there is something worth latching on to here that we all can draw off of, whether we are sportsmen or not.
  • There is also a perceived negative effect by some onlookers. The "heroics" of others can seem to make us seem weak, small, and not very good. I hope that if you are feeling this that you understand that these folks that pull off these challenges are, for the most part, just like you. They have their bouts of self-loathing, doubt, and are prone to depression at times as well. They in no way want what they do to have this negative effect. Talk to someone. Don't let it fester......
  • You don't have to "go big" to get the same feelings and respect from others. I read about an event over the weekend that featured 100 miles of gravel. There were people commenting about how their finish was sweet and very memorable due to some folks being there at the finish to cheer them in. The event doesn't even have to be that big to get the same feelings. I know that there are events, like the Dirty Kanza 200, that seem to try to place a monopoly on having that vibe, that, "find your limits" thing. But don't you go thinking that they have a lock on that for a minute. The point is, go take on a challenge, and no matter how big or small it is, you will grow. You may not even finish it and it may be a life changing event for you. This could be just riding, or walking, or running, or whatever for any distance. Don't measure your challenge by the Tour Divide or RAAM. Your challenge, whatever it is, is just as big a deal as those events are. 
Just a few things I felt about all of the weekend's goings on. Thanks for reading............

3 comments:

Robert Ellis said...

Congrats to Sarah! GravelGrinder Nationals was a super fun event. I highly recommend it!

Katharine Ankofski said...

Love this post, GT!

Guitar Ted said...

@Katharine Ankofski- Thank you!