I’m Done with Winning

This is just a general message to the masses, to inform whomever might be reading, that I’m done with winning, and the reason why is because it wasn’t working for me, on many levels.

I haven’t been winning races for a long time, as it has probably been noted. This tendency of mine was again questioned earlier in the year, when another cyclist, who also never wins races because he doesn’t even race, asked me if I thought I was going to win the next one coming up.

“Oh, I hadn’t even thought of it,” I said. “Ilike to see what happens.”

“No, no, you’re going about it all wrong. You should be there to win.

And then for the remainder of the ride, he gave me examples of why it’s so important to have that winning mentality.

I forgot to ask him why he doesn’t race anymore, and actually, when he did race, which races he had even won.

Regardless, I chewed on that thought for the rest of the season as my own personal experiment, because what if, after all these years, I’ve been going about it all wrong. What if I wasn’t winning because I just don’t have that winning attitude. Maybe I need to change my approach.

Well, several races later, I have concluded that it is a waste of time, and can actually turn whatever was fun about racing into a miserable experience. There are so many factors that you cannot control: there are flats, broken spokes, and then the talent and abilities of the rest of the field. The best you can do, as far as I’m concerned, is to keep riding your bike, and focus on all the things you love about it, and to hell with the rest.

Well, according to these “winners”, feeling good about the effort, or just trying to stay on someone’s wheel, or climbing as hard as you can and still getting dropped, but still never giving up because you just never know what will happen, just isn’t good enough. You are complacent. You are settling.

Well, I just want to say this: people who think about winning all the time, who talk like it’s normal, like it’s supposed to happen, like if you’re not winning there is something wrong with you, are boring and probably should upgrade soon anyway, or try a race with real climbs in it and get in touch with their humility and show some respect for those busting their bums week after week, and not winning, and still feeling good about it.

I think a true test of character isn’t how many races you’ve won, but how you treat the world when you lose. Losing with grace and dignity is an acquired art. Not everyone can do it. That’s why some people who don’t win quit.

Well, that’s what I have to say about that.

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About katiekelly

I grew up in a parking lot.
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8 Responses to I’m Done with Winning

  1. Emily says:

    Great post Katie! I have never won a race and most likely never will. I know that when you pin a number on you should race to win, but as you pointed out, you need to have that winning mentality. For some of us, just having the courage to line up for a race is a win. Think about how many people bike and how few people race. Why is that? As you pointed out, there are so many factors you can’t control. I often think that unless you have the raw talent you need all the stars to be in alignment in order to win. I am still waiting for that to happen.

  2. katiekelly says:

    Or maybe you don’t need that winning mentality. Maybe there’s more to it than that. Even the fastest, most “successful” racers don’t win every race. There’s got to be some driving force, deeper than winning. My coach, who medaled in the ’84 Olympics, says his in his best moments, he felt a release. It was painless. It sounded almost spiritual to me. I think we’re limiting ourselves if we think we have to win races to experience something like that. So that’s it, from now on, I’m not even thinking about winning anymore. I mean, just in case anyone notices a difference. 🙂

  3. lauren says:

    i never think about winning. but i think a lot about having fun. and enjoying it.

    maybe that’s why i never win.

  4. olivier says:

    Katie, you rule. Just wanted to say hi and let you know I’m quitting racing in about two weeks from now. I’ve already started selling stuff, and I’m going to save up and get a bike with a basket so I can just get up and go riding in my sandals and have a picnic somewhere. And you know, I did win a few races, but they weren’t necessarily the memorable ones, except that I won and that feels good. Like you said the biggest challenge is finishing a race after you got dropped – and I had way more of those… But now it’s time to use my bike for picking strawberries.

  5. katiekelly says:

    Olivier, does this mean that when I come visit you, that I should bring my Breezer city bike? I still haven’t forgotten my plans to visit. I’m just too poor to take public transit on trips outside of the immediate Bay Area.

    Thanks so much for your comment! I had the best race of my life after your racing advice. And it was fun, too.

    Lauren, I think that having fun and enjoying it is more than what a lot of people can say.

  6. chris says:

    Katie – I think about winning all the time, though it hasn’t happened yet. Close but not yet. However, I certain understand your points and respect your view on this.

  7. katiekelly says:

    Chris, I’m not opposed to winning. I’m just not going to limit myself to winning. I want to open myself up to all the possibilities.

    Didn’t you ever watch Star Wars?!

    How do you think Luke Skywalker became a Jedi Knight, anyway?

    Altho’ cycling blindfolded might not be so wise.

  8. pedro says:

    For the record, I rarely thing about winning either. Except that one time, when I made a 4 man break last year in a 100 person field. Along with thinking about winning, I also thought I could get a top 4. But then, with a lap and half to go, attacks started flying and I got dropped. I was then TT-ing for my life, and I died. The whole field swept me up in the final corner and I was DFL.

    The moral is bad things happen when you think about winning. Now I just think about crashing. It’s working marvelously

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