*I stole the title from a psych review. Sacha dropped a note suggesting he wanted me to write stuff that might be a little more conversation provoking and perhaps more intimate. So, lets talk secrets.
Well, lets start here with a lesson I learned from an old teammate named John Slover. John's been racing forever (back when Cadel and Tony Cruz were on Equip Cheval) and aside from sharing with me many of my favorite moments, (if you can call getting teabagged while asleep in a hotel in Wisconsin a fave) there's this little tip.
I was struggling in a masters race, in way over my head and killing myself just to hold on. That it was a flat crit made it all the worse. John rolled up alongside of me and handed me a chapstick (of all things)... and told me to say out loud, "I feel good". He said any time he's suffering he tells himself he feels good and somehow it passes. I thought, this is the stupidest thing ever, and I did whatever one does when confronted with stupidity. I embraced it. So, once my chapped lips were made better (I wish I were kidding.... but seriously... so nice to have a moment in the dry air to do lip care) I said out loud, "I feel good". Shit, even when I was puking I'd tell myself I feel good (I tended to be a puker and a quitter).
Now, don't get me wrong... I was never very good as a bike racer and the goals I set had less to do with getting results and more to do with riding well for what I had to offer... but that "I feel good" thing works. It works well enough that it cuts through any negative self talk even when your limbs are falling off and you're bleeding out of your eye sockets. It works when you're getting owned by friends that are fitter than you and you're struggling to keep up or keep them in sight, and it buys you a boat load of happiness on the bike when there's usually just room for you and suffering. Try it. I feel good (even though I really feel awful). I feel good. Say it out loud. I know this is stupid... but it's a rare trick that works. Save it for when you're about to cave in and sit up and lose the group. Or when your off the front and fading. Shit you not.