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It’s staring at me from across the room. We all know the feeling when we’re being watched, it’s awkward and uncomfortable, and it’s happening right now.
Even though it has no eyes, no capacity for thought, and certainly no conscience, it’s definitely glaring directly at me. For me, it’s pumpkin pie. Maybe for you it’s left over Halloween candy, an ice-cold beer, or a massive bag of Frito Lays. It seems no matter what you do, that certain something delicious located conveniently across the room is stuck prominently at the forefront of your mind. But you hold off, because tis the season to be disciplined.
Cycling is a uniquely fascinating sport for a variety of reasons, but one that stands out in my mind is how self-disciplined it is. I was very athletic as a kid, taking part in seemingly every American sport, but didn’t get into cycling until I was about 20 years old. Hockey and soccer were the most prominent, so throughout my youth there was always a coach nearby blowing a whistle to do a drill or shouting at the top of his lungs to finish a sprint.
This doesn’t happen in cycling.
Sure there are coaches, there are training plans, there are strict stretching, lifting, and plyometric routines, but in truth these are merely recommendations. Coaches, whether down the road or across the country, prescribe specific training programs and then it’s ultimately a test of the cyclist’s discipline whether he or she fulfills the plan.
It is entirely too easy to be let yourself off the hook. “Three sets of intervals? Oh, who cares if I just do two” or “Geeze, ninety minutes of gym work? Let’s call it an even sixty.” You could be the most inherently talented cyclist in the world, but complacency with this lackadaisical approach will ultimately lead to you one place – falling short.
Thomas Edison wasn’t known for his athletic prowess, but he was spot on when he said, “Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.” It’s the disciplined cyclist who finds the motivation when the weather is miserable, when the legs sear with pain, when the drive simply is not there… and when there’s a piece of pie across the room with a death gaze on you.
It’s very convenient that the off-season is the most delicious time of year. After roughly ten consecutive months of regimented discipline in-season, we cyclists are rewarded with sinfully sweet Halloween candy, the gluttony of Thanksgiving feast (and the leftover meals that begin three hours later), the spicy and potent fall and winter beers that I happen to be particularly fond of, egg nog, and lest we forget the hearty pumpkin pie, which seems to be in season anytime from October through January.
So now that we’re in December, the early season camps are starting up, and we’re getting back into the swing of things, if someone would just please eat the piece of pie so it’s no longer staring at me, that would be very helpful to keep me disciplined throughout the rest of the day.