Is It a Race or a Test?

I’ve been a competitive athlete most of my life. Most sports have come easily to me and I’ve pretty much tried them all.

I played basketball, football, and ran track in high school and I played college basketball. After college, I continued playing basketball, took up tennis and started playing golf in my early 30’s. As I’ve grown older, I’ve scaled back to just golf.

However, a year ago, I started riding a street bike, more to stay in shape than anything else. It captured me immediately in terms of the emotional, physical and mental release it allowed me to experience. It also fed my competitive edge in terms of pushing myself, not necessarily against someone else. Now, I can’t go more than two days without being on that bike. I can’t deny that it does bring out a competitiveness that will always be there.

This past weekend, I rode in my first biking event. It was an 18-mile time trial and I entered for the sole purpose of discovering what kind of progress I’d made. Having never been in this kind of event before, I really had no expectations other than that. However, what I learned in the process was a revelation!

I learned that just because someone in front of you is peddling faster, doesn’t mean they’re going faster. I learned that there’s a significant difference between a series of short, severe hills and a series of long, slow inclines. I learned that the most expensive racing bike doesn’t always mean it has the best or fastest rider. I learned that patience and endurance will almost always outlast speed and more speed. I learned when to go, when to coast and when to grind.

I learned that maturity, wisdom and experience will almost always win out over rash, immature and reckless behavior. I learned that nothing in my daily life is actually a winner-take-all race. I could have gotten angry because riders were passing or gaining on me. I could have screamed about the 20-mile an hour headwind on the way out. I could have lamented that my bike wasn’t as expensive as those of the other entrants.

In other words, I could have mistakenly believed it was a race instead of just a test. I learned that if I just use opportunities like this to be and do better, then I do much better at just about anything.

My advice? If you can’t do that, then ignore the test and keep doing the race. By the way? I achieved my best time by more than two miles per hour and 20 minutes faster and that was into a 20-mile an hour headwind.

Have Mercy!