I was born a loser – small, weak, not into sports… in fact I was the last kid on the block to learn to ride a bike. My parents moved us to a different state when I was 7 and then divorced when I was 10. Since I didn’t play sports and was relatively shy, moving to new towns didn’t do much to boost my self-confidence.
I tried to be competitive, even raced BMX when I was 10 and 11. I won a few trophies when the class was so small that everyone got one, or the time I had to beat a 10-year-old girl to get into the main moto. I just never knew how to win; I never had the drive to be better. Don’t get me wrong, I WANTED to be better. I idolized my little brother who was consumed with the desire to win. He lettered in 3 sports in high school – was all-conference on offense and defense in football and was romanced by 2 universities to play football. But I didn’t feel that same drive, I was OK with just participating and then making up excuses for why I wasn’t the best. I blamed everything and everyone and when things got too tough, I quit.
As a 20-year-old, I raced a few mountain bike races. It was a relatively new sport [people were wearing acid-washed jeans and Billy Ocean had one of the top-selling records (yes I said records)]. My goal in these races was to “not finish last”. That meant that my goal was second to last, a goal I always managed to hit. That’s like setting a goal of breathing at least once every hour. I had fun, but my “…bike was never good enough…” for me to do better or this reason or that reason.
I carried that same attitude into every aspect of my adult life. It was OK for people to walk all over me and it was OK if I wasn’t the best, as long as I tried (a little). But at some point, that changed. I started to find focus – in my work, in my life and in things that I enjoyed doing. I found a competitive drive deep inside me that brought out a will to win.
At one point, I got away from cycling and worked at a health club for a couple of years. My high school graduation weight of 148 eventually went to 205 as I found something tangible and rewarding in working out. I eventually returned to riding, and my weight settled in at 180, but I was a different person. I put together a mountain bike that was too small from spare, used and borrowed parts, and I started riding like I never had before. I felt an inner drive every time I clipped in to go harder. I found a serious job that would support my family and I became very good at it. I started a company and grew it into a successful business. But over time I had stopped riding again. I had lost that harmony that I was just starting to tap into in my 20’s. So, on a beautiful fall day 5 years ago, I dusted off my old mountain bike and took a ride. I was rusty and slow, but I felt the passion come through stronger than ever. From that point forward, I made time for myself every day and I let that inner drive fuel me instead of defeating me. 3 years ago, I signed up for a few WORS races. I didn’t do very well, but each time I raced I learned and I worked on getting better. I had no excuses, and that felt great. I owned the losses 100% and that felt even better.
Fast forward to today – I love to toe the line at races. My heart is beating like a lawnmower and I can’t sit still until the race gets underway. I am racing to win and I’m disappointed if I don’t. I expect to win now, yet I’ve never stepped onto the top step of any podium. I have a lot of 2nd and 3rd place medals, which now represent “1st & 2nd loser” to me. I still wrestle with the demons of mediocrity though, like Gaylord Focker with his wall of 8th place trophies. I still want that recognition of a job done “well-enough”, but I know I won’t stop until I step on top of the podium. I might be 80 when I do it, but I know deep down inside that it’s mine for the taking now.