I’ve toed the line at some pretty big bike races. Some of them had climbs of over 6000’ with more than 40 switchbacks. Other races featured multiple Tour de France winners, elbowing me just like any other Joe Schmo on a bike.
I’ve been so scared I was in the bathroom up until a few minutes before the firing pistol went off. My head has surely held me back from more good rides than I’d like to imagine. I always though, “If I can just get out of my own way, I’ll have a great race!”
Well, in 11 hours, there’s a race going on that is bigger, longer, and more epic than any I’ve ever done before: the Dirty Kanza 200. Imagine a single, masochistic squiggle along country roads through the Flint Hills of Kansas, over hill and dale on some of the roughest gravel rock in the country. You might not want to drive on it, much less ride any kind of bike on it. But I’ll be racing with about 1000 new friends on a Boo SL-G….planning to complete the entire thing, hoping to complete it quicker than most.
I’ve figured out a few things since I quit racing bikes for a paycheck. Well, maybe I still race bikes for a bike company, that pays my paycheck, but it’s definitely not as serious! And that is maybe the most critical thing I’ve learned—which may not apply to others, but definitely applies to me: I need to not take things too seriously. Actually, I need to just not give a SHIT of any kind. And that allows me to not stress, and just focus and do the best race I can do. Rather than worry about all the peripheral goings-on that relate to success, admiration, jealousy, insecurity, etc. I just have a clear head and play it as it lays.
Well, a very smart person I know has now opened my eyes up to another idea: “fake it till you make it.” Yes, I’ve heard and known about this for most of my life. But…I am starting to understand and truly appreciate it. The idea behind this rhyme is quite profound. It concerns the inability to succeed without “success”. It’s similar to the phrase, “It takes money to make money.” Think about those with whom you associate: you likely value intelligence, creativity, work ethic, reliability, trustworthiness…and most of those traits seem to be possessed by successful people. Therefore, you’re naturally attracted to successful people.
But now think internally, of yourself—you might have intense doubt about a risk you’re taking, a leap of faith that might result in a crash and burn. In that instance, you have two options: exhibit that fear, or exhibit strength. In the former, you might be totally honest—yes, you have that fear, you’re human, and no one will fault you! In fact, they’ll give you advice, help, concern, and more. In the second case, where you show false confidence, you’re being dishonest about your true feelings. You’re basically lying to everyone, and I’ve been profoundly opposed to anything but telling the truth.
So I’ve always stayed away from this idea, faking it until I “made it”, because it’s felt phony, false, even totally dishonest. But this wise person has gotten me to think otherwise…and appealed to my pragmatic side, in order to overcome my initial gut feeling of disgust towards this phony path. She’s made light of the fact that the end result of “faking it” is much preferred to the sympathy and “help” that often comes with being honest about one’s feelings of doubt and fear. The end result of faking it is that you attract people, you motivate and inspire with possibilities, and even more importantly, you instill within yourself the courage to take on something BIG.
This leads me to Dirty Kanza 200, which is now just 10.5 hours away. I’ve never done something like this, and I really have not been riding my bike much. Like, REALLY not been riding…I’ve been too busy skiing! But I was apprehensive, scared, dreading this event. I would be found out! I would disappoint! Myself, my friends, family, fans, Boo customers, etc. Oh the horror!
Even in my attempt to “not care”, which usually works, I realized that I actually DID care, and it no longer provided the comfort because I don’t feel prepared! My one silver bullet, failsafe method of getting over my nerves just hasn’t been doing it! But FITYMA is coming to my rescue. Because I can be confident that, even having NEVER done a race like this, I will simply do it. And I will hopefully do it damn well. Because I’ve been through some shit, and when it hits the fan, I know I can deal.
So ironically, this ability to “fake it” is important because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s akin to “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” But it goes further, because nothing important in life is done solo…so you need to convince others that you can DO IT! And if you think you can, and you convince OTHERS you can too, then you have your own support and the support and confidence of others that are important to you and can help ensure success.
So yeah, I know this race is gonna be epic. Hell, it’s been raining for about 15 hours straight, and stopped just 15 hours before the race starts! So yeah, it’s not just a “standard” DK200 which is apparently quite a challenge…it could set a new high water mark for suffering on a bike, period. But I know I’m going to give it the best freaking shot I have and I am confident it’s going to produce some brilliant stories! And hopefully a good result, too.
If you see me with a big stupid shit-eating grin at mile 160, with easily another two HOURS of racing to go, you’ll know I’m faking it so damn hard that there’s only one option: I’m going to make it!!