Except I am, I realized, in three ways.
The first is the little races I have with myself. I’m not really tracking closely, mind you, but I look at my cyclometer every morning when I get to work. The cyclometer (think “odometer on a bike”) doesn’t track total elapsed time—it tracks pedaling time plus mileage.
When I look at the numbers, I compare how much time it took me that particular day as compared with what I think of as the average time, which is around nine minutes, maybe nine and a half. On a day with a strong headwind I get slowed down. Yesterday morning, to my surprise, I did the ride in 8:17 without really trying to hurry. (After all, I don’t want to sweat on my way to work.)
The second competition is between biking time and driving time. I don’t often get to go head to head with a driver heading to the same destination. But my boss now jokes, if we’re both leaving for a downtown meeting, that I’ll beat him there.
He’s right. He’ll walk to the parking lot, drive his SUV, park it somewhere, and have to walk to the meeting. I’ll ride point to point and hitch to the rack or a sign outside whatever building we’re heading to. Voilá! I win.
The third way I’m in a race is the similarity I’m guessing at between riding in traffic and riding in the peloton.
Not that I’ve ever been in a peloton, mind you (that long line of guys who sort of keep up with Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador and all the rest, if you’ve ever watched the Tour). I thought I might race for real, trained one winter, got really, really sick in the spring, and never rode in a race.
So I can only go off the descriptions Sweet Hubs shares of what it’s like to ride in the local races organized by Spokane Rocket Velo and Baddlands, and what I’ve seen of the races when I volunteer at the check-in or as a course driver.
When I sprint through traffic—when I look over my shoulder to gauge how close that person behind me is (in a car) to see if I have time to make my move—when I ride in a pack all streaming through a turn (with the rest of them in vehicles, of course)—when I have to slow down on the climb and I know the person behind me has (ahem) more gas in the tank and therefore can go faster and will pass me—I’m racing. Politely, of course.
And I win every time. Because I’m racing for fun.
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