“Every pedal stroke is a question mark.”

The podcast host was telling the audience about Super Flag, a painfully steep climb here in Boulder. The last kilometer gets so steep and the quads and the lungs burn so much that it feels almost impossible to reach the top without getting off the bike and walking. I know how that climb feels, and I’ve done it without dismounting thanks to a healthy amount of cursing.

“Every pedal stroke is a question mark.”

I loved what he said so much that I wrote it down in the middle of my evening trail run. It’s what makes being an athlete so exciting.

The question marks were frequent and exciting in my first year swimming competitively in high school and then during my best running years, representing The University of Tampa in track and cross country.

Do I take one extra breath before the wall?

Should I have gone to one extra optional morning practice?

Do I go now or save my kick ‘til the end?

I suppose they’re like opportunities to learn, to push ourselves, to blindly and faithfully keep going no matter what?

“Every pedal stroke is a question mark.” It’s how I feel about cyclocross right now, too.

Will I get bucked off my bike down and around this steep off camber section?

Did I take the first two laps too fast?

Did I burn my matches pushing through the sandpits?

The metaphorical shrug of the shoulders. I think that’s what I love about racing so much. I love flirting with failure then crossing the finish line in victory. I love feeling like an athlete again. Not just a self-identified athlete who hobby jogs and wears matching spandex and gets on a road bike with friends every now and then. But an athlete on paper and in front of crowds.

I think the question marks keep me alive, especially when my foot’s at the top of the stroke and everything that’s left inside me is channeled into moving forward. To keep from falling over and walking up to the mailboxes at the top of Super Flag.

I race again on Saturday in Broomfield, CO. My fourth. A friend told me the course is unforgiving and that last year several riders ended up in the hospital. I’ve never ridden there before, and so many questions filled my brain, except one: “Will I have fun?”

I already know the answer to that.

Push on, PUSH ANIMALS >>>

3 Replies to ““Every pedal stroke is a question mark.””

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