Don’t listen to me. You can’t trust me. I’m fast, so I lie. All the greats lied. Of course, those that say they didn’t are still lying today. That’s a big part of being fast. Other people can’t trust you. You’ll leave them in the dust. They can’t be allowed to catch up to where you truthfully are because if you’re honestly fast you’re always ahead of their questioning. That’s where I’m gonna be by the end of this race, having to deal with their questions. How are you so fast? Will you share your secrets? We want to know your story better.
I wasn’t there at the finish last week for good reason, and the week before doesn’t need rehashing at this point. Sometimes, it’s like what can you do? Besides, technically today’s race lines up better with my training. I should feel good today. You almost can’t expect to win races like last week. I just couldn’t have won, but I’m going to win today. I’m going to win today. I am going to win today.
That’s the kind of confidence I’m supposed to have. Don’t forget to be confident. I keep telling myself. I try telling myself what I know without too much interrogation. Too many questions. Am I bicycle racing? Is that a question? Am I asking myself because I’m scared, and my fear is manifesting itself as doubt? I keep telling myself to be confident. Don’t ask what you can’t answer. Make that a habit. What would I have to be doubtful about? Of course I’m bicycle racing. What kind of a question is that anyway? That’s the part that’s not doubtful. That’s something that I know.
There are races all the time. There was a race Friday just like Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If there are rarely races on Friday, there are never races on Monday. There is no reason to expect that I would ride badly on Monday. Of that I am confident.
Here, Monday afternoon, that’s where everyone else is. I’m here too. Opportunity is here. I want to win. To be first. I’m confident. Of course, Saturday made me more confident. Of course, Sunday was supposed to have been an easy day without the imminent stress of Monday. Sometimes the only thing you can do is keep going. Sunday is never a day of rest when there is something you want. Goals don’t take a break. They don’t care if you’re not racing today. Goals are still there for tomorrow.
Now, the anxiety is starting to make itself known in my legs. They are twitching. They twitch again. I can taste the nervousness in the air, and I know that it’s all coming from me. I’m the only rider here weak enough to be nervous on the starting line. Doubt. There are races all the time.
Then, it starts. The hypothesizing always starts before the race even begins. But I have a race to win. The biggest efforts of my day are still ahead, so I better not spend too much energy imagining what’s going to happen. It’s not enough to imagine. You still have to realize your imagination. Anyone can dream, even losers. I dream all the time. Once, in a dream, I had already won this race. Now, waiting to start the race and it’s already getting harder not to doubt what I’m doing. My thoughts are all over the place. What I am saying. Do I still want to win or what?
I don’t feel recovered after yesterday. Sunday was supposed to be my rest day. Thinking back now, I should have done all of the races of the weekend, including Sunday. I probably prepared badly leading up to this by sitting out yesterday. I know the other riders that weren’t there yesterday, and I’m not threatened by them. Is anyone threatened by me? Do I want them to be? Maybe it’s better to go unnoticed. There’s probably more glory in the come-from-nowhere-win. That guy wasn’t even there yesterday!
I’m full of contradictions. Wait. Go.
I thought everything was perfect. I was confident. Maybe that has been my problem this whole weekend. I have been overly confident. Not now. I am definitely not confident anymore. I can’t confidently say that I even care if I win. I’m numb to desire. I have drained myself. I have wanted this for too long. Now, I’m just curious to find out what happened in the race we still haven’t started yet.
I didn’t feel good Friday night. Now I see that I gave it too much too soon without really engaging in what was happening right in front of me. Anyways, I didn’t feel good. Sometimes you don’t feel good. What can you do? A poor performance can make you doubt your strengths. Do I really want to win races? What about Saturday? And what about Monday? There are races all the time. It’s ok not to feel good every day.
A race every day this weekend, including the rare occasion of Monday.
Of course, I only did three of the four races.
After Friday, I knew where I was. Not feeling well has a way of making you take better care of yourself. I took it upon myself to make a higher priority out of being smart on Saturday and on Monday too. Forget Friday.
I was there for Saturday. You could say I was made for Saturday. Like we were made for each other. Saturday reminds me of how I imagined Monday. I come in first, no big deal. Am I coming into form at just the right time? I don’t dare say it, but I sure like to think it secretly to myself. Am I remembering Saturday or imagining Monday?
Saturday gave me confidence, but I’m starting to fear that my confidence was unmerited. No one was there Saturday. I didn’t beat anybody. I’m afraid. That thought scares me. I feel like I have had the ideal mental preparation for a Monday such as this, but I can’t trust that feeling. I can’t trust anything anymore. I can’t trust myself. I want to be fast, so I lie. I don’t tell anyone that. You know you can leave things out. That’s a way of lying to others.
It was foolish to think that I could ever have recovered on Sunday if I really wanted to win today, the way I’m riding. It’s not likely that I have it today either. Sometimes you don’t have it. You know today wouldn’t be the first time. Most Mondays I feel great. That’s how it’s been in the past. Today, I don’t know.
Sometimes I don’t even feel like a cyclist. You tell people that you ride a bike but you don’t tell them you’re a cyclist. If I’m not then who is? But I’m not. So who is? I lie; remember? This whole image thing is a bunch of bologna. That’s all that cycling is, an image thing. I look fast. Or don’t I? Lying is part of being successful. Fabricating stories. Making it up as you go along. All the greats did it. The ones that are alive still do. Maybe I should start telling people that I’m a cyclist. What a bunch of fucking bullshit.
It’s still Monday. I can remember telling myself I was made for Monday, a true Monday child. I remember thinking that it’s a shame there aren’t more races on Mondays because I would probably do well in them. I usually feel so good on Mondays. Afterall, I was born on a Monday afternoon in a hospital probably overlooking a race course similar to the one today. Like I said, I was made for Monday. And all race courses look the same after a while. You learn the nuances until you discover that they don’t matter. It’s all the same race. In fact, it’s all the same moment. You trying to keep going. You trying to convince yourself to stop. You reminding yourself not to listen to your own arguments; you’re a liar, and everything is simultaneous.
Everything according to the plan. Whose plan? I’m fast so I make the plan, even if it’s a lie. The pre-race preparation consisted of doing easy laps around the race course. How will I take that left there? I looked for and found (or did I decide) on the most important sections. I am ready
So, I went to the start-line since the race was beginning soon. I don’t like the start of races. There I am, just like that. Poof. All of the sudden. Never close enough to the front. Always worried about my awful position and lack of foresight. That always really bothers me even though it never really matters.
I get to the front when I want to.
I’m going to win today. Today is mine. It is my day for my winning. Monday was born for me. Monday is tailor-made for me. It fits me like a glove. But not like these gloves I have now. They are miserable to wear. I have them here as a built-in excuse because they’re what I’ll think about when things get tough. When my legs are blowing up, I won’t think about the pain. I’ll think about how uncomfortable these gloves are. I know because I’ve spent a lot of time out of breath barely cranking out the effort thinking of nothing but how terrible this particular pair of gloves is. And how expensive they were, too. Why did I buy them anyway? Maybe they’ll be good. Stupid. That was a failed experiment. No, Monday and me are like my old gloves. The ones I had before I got these damn things. Now, those were awesome gloves. I never thought about them at all.
I shouldn’t complain though. I used to spend all of my thinking power hating the perpetual slipping of my glasses down my sweaty nose. Now, it’s the glove on my hand as I reach to push them up that I’m focused on. Attention is funny like that, being that it can only be focused on one thing at a time. I suppose anything is better than focusing on the pain. I can remember feeling the pain. I’m not confident that I really know the pain, at least not well enough. They say one is never sufficiently accustomed to how much it hurts. But I can remember it. And I know that my memory is not sufficient to remind me how it’s going to feel. It’s going to be worse than I think.
I don’t know. Maybe, I am blowing things out of proportion. I am too focused on tiny details. You study the nuance until you learn we’re making it up anyway. The details don’t matter. Unless you want them to. This is always the problem. Like how I like to blow the pain out of proportion. Pain is a constant. It is there, and since we don’t have adequate equipment to measure it, it’s best to think of it as the same. It’s more manageable like that. That’s a good way to lie to yourself. You can always make a constant out of a variable, if you’re fast.
If you’re fast you can lie, especially to yourself.
There’s really no way to transcribe your thoughts anyway. I know if I am lying to myself. But I don’t remember if I did or not. The negative thoughts are like the positive ones; they never really existed anyway. Not until you write them, or say them. Not until you do something. Not until you make them into something other than thoughts. Thinking a kind of action.
I have to stop all of this thinking. I know that’s impossible. Attention is funny like that. It’s always focused on something, on one thing in particular. Don’t think about stopping. You’ll only feed it. I should stop before the race starts. I should stop before this gets out of hand and I start to hurt my chances.
Thinking is a problem and a solution. If someone attacks and someone else pulls through, that’s the kind of thing that causes the pack to string out. If you’re not at the front, you’re not in the race. That’s no lie. If I’m at the front and I pull through as the riders in front of me start to die, a few of us could form a gap. It happens. But cooperation is never the instinct. If you’re in a breakaway, you’re fast and you could lie. Or maybe you’re not fast and you lied to get here. You’re well on your way, and we’re all skeptical of each other. I would pull through slowly at first, but after a while, cohesiveness has a way of growing on everyone. Rhythm. Rotating. Smoothly. Yes. We fall into the whole. I know the hard sections. Before the race started. Every time through the headwind, a glance to the side. The gap is growing.
Today, I just can’t stop thinking. My attention is everywhere but not on everything. And me, I am not. Here. Monday. Now. Nope. No one. Not me. And not you either. I don’t trust anyone. What if they’re fast? I remember not to think and almost try to stop. But why? These aren’t bad thoughts. Are they? I know better than to stop thinking at a time like this. The effort alone is enough to kill a man. No, I won’t stop absurdly telling myself yes.
They can’t catch us now. There is no possible outcome except for a sprint finish between the five of us. Who can I trust to mess up? Who’s the slowest most trustworthy rider here? I want to make a constant out of him. I’m feeling confident. Is it me? Can I trust this feeling? Fuck, I have a race to race. Start to finish.
First through the last corner will win the race. You lead from the front. If you’re not at the front, you’re not in the race. All I have to do is wait behind. Those last couple of riders will go too early. I get to the front when I want to. Definitely before that last corner. I decided that before the race started. Every time through the headwind, I am looking for the last corner. Of course, no matter how many laps you do, it’s not the last corner until the end of the race.
Five, Four, three laps to go.
They ring a bell to signify the end. One lap to go, I know this. Why am I reminding myself now? It’s like I just barely even started imagining the whole thing. A breakaway will never happen. I have to get to the end to even hear that bell. And if I’m not at the front, who cares? I’m so far from the front here on the starting line it’s like I’m not even in the race.
Five, Four, three, two, one. I count down. I am confident that’s how they do it. I would never tell anyone any of this. I shouldn’t even talk like this to myself. I’m going to stop. I didn’t say that.
It’s beginning. The start is impossible. I tell myself what I know. The start is the whole race, but it won’t matter by the end. How do you start something? You forget that the beginning was inevitable. We’ll begin, and I’ll forget. It always happens like that. A whistle. That’s how they start bicycle races. They blow a whistle. They don’t shoot a gun.
Guns start other things. Should I go? Go! Before the others hopefully. I am getting ready to race. I am drafting; it’s an entry in my riding journal. It could take more pages to write about a win or a loss. I wonder what will happen as if it already did. I wonder if I won. I go all out like the outcome isn’t predetermined. I wonder if it was enough. The last corner, the sprint finish, me and Monday. My old gloves.