Monday, 28 September 2009

On Competition

So with the fall comes love for all things cyclocross. It's fun to ride skinny tires on dirt. Plus, you get a chance to suffer with your buddies for an hour, engage in friendly competition, then drink beer. I get it. That's why I played Ultimate for so long.

But, honestly, I'd rather do all of the above, and just skip the racing part.

Over the course of 10 or 15 years of playing Ultimate at the college and club level, I came to realize that what I disliked about Ultimate was the tourneys. I hated the early morning jitters, the nerves on the line, and reliving blown plays before going to sleep at night (it was never the great plays that stayed with me). But mostly I got tired of doing brutal track workouts and plyometrics, then getting my hat handed to me by better teams (and there were many better teams).

In the athletic food chain, I was a herbivore. Not bad, but not good. Fast, but not fast enough. Solid, but unimpressive skills. And a lack of the assassin gene that makes for good competitors.

Each tournament served as a brutal reminder of my adequateness, and I grew weary of my place in that hierarchy. Unfortunately, winning (or at least not losing so much) had become my sole measure of happiness. Eventually, injuries spared me from even more frustration with the game, and I quit cold turkey for a year.

Then, one gorgeous Sunday, I went out to play pick-up and rediscovered how much fun the game was when I wasn't so fixated on the win/loss column.

Having gone through this cycle with Ultimate, I don't want to risk my love of the bike because I'm bummed about mediocre results in a local cyclocross race. Sadly, I don't think I can suppress my ego enough to relax and have fun.

So what I look for in sport now is camaraderie, a chance to be outside, and the satisfaction of being fit. I will always want to be one of the faster people in the group, but mostly I get happiness from the leaves swirling around as fall creeps in, the sun off the Bay, the spookiness of a night ride, the reassuring grip of the drops at 50 mph.

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