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Talansky and Hesjedal led the break all day, and...

Andrew Talansky Diary: Letting go and moving forward

"Christian Vande Velde came in and said to me, 'You can bet that worse things will happen during your career, but you have to let this go. If you don’t, I promise you more bad things will happen, it will eat you up inside.' ”
2011 Amgen Tour of California, stage 7

I can count on one hand the number of races I have quit in my cycling career. And I don’t need all the fingers. From the start of the stage I knew something was wrong, I could feel my back begin to tighten and the moment the road went uphill and the pace lifted I fell backwards through the peloton. Soon I was alone, drifting through the cars. It was as if I was pedaling with one leg, helpless to catch the mass of riders pulling away from me. I couldn’t make myself suffer as I normally do on the bike, couldn’t coax the lactic acid to fill my legs because my body would not allow it; the pain coming from my back was unbearable. I knew it wouldn’t improve and I was left with no choice. I climbed off my bike on the side of the road and waited for our second car to come up to me. Silently, I got into the car, angry with myself, frustrated with what was happening, feeling sad and let down. Robbie was talking to me from the driver’s seat but I wasn’t hearing anything he was saying. There is no easy way to quit a race. The tears you see on the faces of cyclists who are forced to abandon races are real. There is no worse feeling.

With time comes perspective and that pain of failure eases a bit. Our wonderful team chiros and physio guys got me in working order and I’m sticking with a solid routine of stretching and core work that has me pain free. Now, I am heading back to the U.S. In two days my mid-season break will begin. I’ll leave my bike at home and go somewhere warm and sunny with my girlfriend to mentally and physically recharge. I will admit that I have had a successful season so far, the main effect of which has left me hungry for more. It is my first season as a professional at this level and I am still learning the balance of rest, training, racing and every other aspect that being a professional cyclist entails. Every week, every month, I learn more about myself, as a person and a rider. Success is easy, winning is easy, it’s failing to achieve your goals that is hard. When we win, we might briefly reflect on how we got there. However, when we lose, or fall short of a goal, we spend endless amounts of time trying to determine what went wrong. I’m learning that sometimes it is better just to let things go.

The old saying, when you fall off the horse you have to get right back up again, is true. You have to confront your doubts and your fears head on and, most importantly, you can’t let one bad experience affect you. After a crash in California that was out of my control, I lost time and with it the white jersey. I was fuming silently in my hotel room after the stage when Christian Vande Velde came in and said to me, “You can bet that worse things will happen during your career, but you have to let this go. If you don’t, I promise you more bad things will happen, it will eat you up inside.” Those were words of wisdom, which I am still trying to grasp. It’s easy to say but hard to do. Christian was right though, more so than I realized at that moment. Now, having had to stop Suisse, and feeling those waves of disappointment and defeat, I have let it go. There is always another race, a new opportunity to achieve my goals.

Right now, it is time to rest and recharge. I did the same thing last year before going on to a great end-of-the-season performance at Tour de L’Avenir. Hopefully, this year I will be trading that race for the Vuelta, a prospect that brings me a great deal of excitement and motivation. After I return from my break I look forward to taking you readers with me every step of the way through the rest of the racing season.

Andrew Talansky is in his first season with the Garmin-Cervelo team.