I was talking to a buddy the other day and he mentioned a neighbor of his that is going to be joining our Tour de Cure team and is ultra competitive. He then said, “you and she will probably get along fine since you’re both the same…”
While I acknowledge that there’s a slim chance, that I might possibly be, just a little bit, competitive, I am baffled as to what may have caused this. Growing up, I played sports of all types, but not competitively and not very well. As an adult I’ve played softball, skied and run the occasional 10K. Again, none of these were competitive and being only moderately athletic and partially coordinated, I was never in it to win. Only to have fun.
At some point though, things must have changed. I don’t want to just have fun when we get together for a pickup game of basketball, I don’t want to be the last one down the mountain when skiing, and, I don’t want people to pass me when we’re riding bikes. As a matter of fact, just putting someone on a bike out in the distance is enough motivation to get me to practically cough up a lung and drive myself way into the red zone in an attempt to catch them. I’m not sure at what point this change took place, but it definitely did.
Of course, it also has a lot to do with the people I ride with. On our weekly training ride, where there are a few beginners, I’m perfectly content to just cruise along and have fun. We conversate (yes, I realize that’s not even a word) we joke and laugh and generally have a nice time. Afterwards we hang out in the parking lot and have a beverage and talk about how much fun we just had.
On other rides though, with other riders, the goal seems to be to try to kill each other or push each other to the point that you’re left looking like a Jello shaped mass barely able to lean up against the truck while you gasp painfully for air. As a matter of fact there’s even a t-shirt awarded if you can make someone hurl.
Now, some of my buddies will say that I am the sole instigator of this behavior and that they’d be perfectly happy just pedaling along while chatting, but that’s just not true. They always start it. (usually, by passing me)
And, while I have been known to laugh at fellow riders when they’ve experienced an especially good faceplant or unplanned dismount, I always wait to make sure they’re relatively ok, before laughing at them and mocking them till they cry.
So, back to my original question, at what point did this begin? I’ve thought about this quite a bit and I think it all started when I got married and only intensified when my daughters became old enough to talk.
I’m convinced that losing every argument for the last 25 years and always being the cause for everything that goes wrong in the entire teenage world, has left me with a severe need to punish anyone and everyone that I come up against in a competitive situation.
Unfortunately, I’m not at the level that my skills can actually keep up with my attitude, so what it ends up looking like is me pushing myself to the brink of death trying to keep up with every 65 year old guy that passes me on the bike path while riding his 1970 Schwinn varsity.
Oh well, as long as more of my friends have the team hurl t-shirt than I do, I'm content. (and thereby the winner)