Where's the Race?

By Chris Arnold
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The Bonk

This week I want to break from multifamily and briefly focus on a mindset lesson from an old cycling friend.

You wouldn’t necessarily know this, but I found the bike later in life. As a “new cyclist” approaching 30, I learned the ropes quickly and the hard way.

Both because elite athletes in Denver and Boulder surrounded me but also because I have a strong competitive streak.

I remember pushing too hard, going too deep, and finding my red zone all too often in the early years.

One of my worst (and most memorable) rides was in the foothills west of Golden, Colorado.

If anyone knows the area, it’s a complete joy on a road bike. Long climbs, big elevation gain, and a lot of time “at” elevation, depending on where you end up.

After a particular ride of this flavor, we returned to Golden and stopped at a local favorite: Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza.

I was drained and probably beyond dehydrated, but I remember walking in and feeling the relief of food in the air.

Imagine the smell of fresh dough, cheese, and cured meat sizzling in ovens. A fully stocked buffet. All the soda products a drained cyclist could ever ask for.

It was heaven.

Except I had pushed too hard because I was trying to be a hero.

After getting a soda, I remember needing to sit down (on the floor, against the wall, in the busy restaurant…) because I was on the verge of fainting.

Like a slinky, I slumped low, head between my legs, trying to hide from the awkwardness I felt I had created for the group.

I never really knew what the “bonk” was until that moment.

Eventually, I recovered enough to get home, but I wasn’t fully recovered until later the following day.

Slowing Down to Go Fast

Maybe it was the Tour de France kicking off this week, or maybe it was just my mind wondering about and landing in this place.

But I kept thinking about what my cycling friend would say when someone ripped past us on a bike ride.

He'd rattle off in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone, “Oh! Where’s the race?!”

I’d always laugh at that comment.

We were no slouches, mind you, but without fail, there would always be someone faster and stronger.

Someone out to prove a point, it would seem.

Without fail, we’d continue at our pace and eventually see that person coming back the other way, or on occasion, we’d catch them after they blew up.

It didn’t necessarily register then, but this lesson hits home as I’ve moved further into my career, marriage, and experience as a dad.

It doesn’t always need to be fast.

This thing we’re all doing isn’t a constant race.

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As we hit the second half of 2023, remember that simple question.

“Where’s the race?”

Sometimes there is a race, and you need to press on the pedals – no doubt.

But more often than not, the race is self-imposed. Or it’s a result of your environment, which may need a reassessment of its own.

A funny thing usually happens when we slow down: we level set, gain clarity, and ultimately “go faster” anyway.

We settle into a sustainable pace and progress towards our goals.

More importantly, we don’t end up on the floor, shattered, after pushing way too hard for far too long.

Maybe it’s me, but I’d rather enjoy a nice meal after a successful effort rather than recover for a day because I didn’t pace myself.

Are you avoiding the bonk?

Or are you making your way to the floor?

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