are sometimes smooth and silky, and other times tired and tight.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Darwin Rewards

I subscribe to a theory. The theory is pretty simple: the dumber you are, the bigger an advantage you have as a bike racer. Thoughts, doubts, concerns… they don’t get in the way. You just go for it, without a care in the world.

Youth used to compensate, the whole invulnerability thing. When I was young, I found myself going to the Emergency Room at least once a year: broken leg skiing; partial finger amputation; head split open from falling out of a tree; front tooth broken from doing a face plant into the back of a van while on my city bike; etc...

That devil may care attitude helped quite a bit with my racing. I used to do completely idiotic things for no better reason than the fact that there were some upgrade points to be had. Squeezing through gaps that weren’t there, taking a turn with way too much speed, rubbing bars in a sprint. What an idiot I was.

The one memory of those bygone days that still resonates is from a race in upstate New York. I’ve forgotten almost everything about it, apart from the sprint. I had missed the initial jump, but to my surprise I was actually passing others who had gone too early. Riding in the right gutter, focusing on the finish line, I was sprinting for what would turn out to be 6th place.

I was about to squeeze past a rider on my left. He must have seen me, because the next thing I knew the gate was closing, and he ended up shoulder checking me. Let me remind you this was in the midst of a Cat 4 sprint. Even now I find myself a little irked with the guy, but that the time I was furious. Even more so, because after our first knock, he did it again, trying to force me to brake, or force me off the road. How I managed to stay up, I still don’t know.

Fortunately for me I somehow managed to find a few one last surge of speed, because just as he went to check me one more time, but I had slipped past him, crossing over the line, the sound of scraping metal behind me. My nemesis had crashed himself out.

A few minutes passed, and I heard my name being called on the PA. Was I going to be disqualified because some idiot thought he was Djamolidine Abdoujaparov? I approached the officials and discovered that they wanted to confirm who I was, because I had sprinted under their finish line cameras vantage point.

Later on, in the changing rooms, I saw the wannabe Abdoujaparov, standing under the shower, covered in road rash from knee to face, feeling sorry for himself. Priceless.

Now, after writing this anecdote, I realize that stupidity isn’t exactly an advantage after all.

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