Slow Rider Up: An Existential Tour de Moi

14 Mar

Here’s what’s happened thus far this morning:

  1. Woke up with a headache and nausea at 5:30AM for a 6:30 ride.
  2. Almost biked over a dead raccoon.
  3. Was called out as “Slow rider up!” by the peloton behind me.

C’est la vie.

The headache: quelle surprise. I went out to dinner last night and specifically ordered dishes that were chock full of migraine triggers such as mushrooms, nuts, soy sauce, and dried fruit. So now I know that one or two or all of those things are no good for me.

The dead raccoon: très triste. And since I was doing my workout (4 x 3 minute sprints with 2 minutes RI) on Virginia Key, I wound up having to look at the animal over and over again while riding back and forth along that same short stretch of road. It was a bummer.

The slow rider call-out: j’abandonne!

I know the guys weren’t being mean, they were being safe. I’m glad they saw me and I’m glad they called out because then I got over and they rode along happily at whatever, 28-30mph, and thanked me too. So it was a very polite exchange. But the words “Slow Rider” got into my brain and lingered there on broken-record repeat for several minutes

I know it bothered me because I’m already frustrated with my bike speed. So when I heard “Slow Rider,” it hit a nerve that’s been raw for a while now and simply reaffirmed what I already feel: that I am a slow rider. And I kid you not, I  fought some tears. They came and went quickly and I know they had absolutely nothing to do with training or biking or triathlon.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking about positive self-talk lately. There is quite a bit written on affirmations for athletes and specifically on how they work in terms of the body-mind connection. From Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter’s website:

The mind and body are so well connected that the body often does not know whether a phrase or image is real, dreamed, or imagined. So when your mind creates an image of success, your central nervous system and whole body will process that image as if it were real. Most of the time our actions are reflections of our mental pictures. These pictures are placed in our mind most often by words. So choosing the right words can make or break a performance.

Affirmations are supposed to be phrased in present tense, not future, and in positive terms. Also, they should be short. Check out this article on affirmations from Livestrong.

So with all that in mind, and considering my weepy bike ride this morning, my new affirmation should be something along these lines:

I am a fast rider!

But here’s the thing: I have a hard time saying this because objectively it is not true. An article on, explains the knee-jerk reaction to positive thinking that is, for many of us, our default:

You may think that making an “I am” statements [would] be a little embarrassing. By saying, “I am the best in the state,” when actually, you have only qualified for the state competition once may be hard to believe.

The numbers don’t lie. On average, my top speed is about 17mph. And when I say “I am a fast rider” either out loud or in my head, I think of all the hard data that proves this is simply not true. And then I feel like an ass. If you’re like me, great! You have an insta-friend. Here’s what that same article on ToTheNextLevel recommends:

Start with ideas that you can readily accept. Then, as you become comfortable with the concept start using statements that you think you are close to reaching. Most experts suggest that the athlete should make statements that are in the present. By saying “I am…” you tell yourself that you have already achieved this goal. If you tell yourself “I will be the best” it places the statement into the future and leaves room for doubt.

I’m going with it because it’s all a little Existential anyway when you really think about it and I can get behind anything Existential. Objectivity died along with God at the end of the 19th century. There’s no guarantee that the future will happen and the past is nothing but a fog of rumor and speculation. So all we have is the present moment–and that moment doesn’t last very long anyway. Which means that now, right now, in my present reality, I am a very fast rider.


And even the father of 20th century Existentialism, JP Sartre, who you might not necessarily associate with athletics or positive affirmations had this to say on the topic of human potential:

Man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have.

And yes, that is a picture of Sartre on a folding bike. Score.


One Response to “Slow Rider Up: An Existential Tour de Moi”

  1. manonmona March 15, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    Reblogged this on Espacio de MANON.

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