Friday, April 18, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Actually, the Hellyer track IS a country for Old Men =). I think we have more successful masters racing compared to any other category. But that's not my point in talking about No Country For Old Men, a movie by the Coen Brothers based on the book by Cormac McCarthy.

When I first read the book, I'll be honest, I wasn't really a fan of it. There were unresolved conflicts, jumps in points of view, irregular punctuations. In short, it didn't make a lot sense to me. 6 months later, after reading books on risk, randomness, chaos theory (nonlinear), I finally understand what Cormac was saying in his book. The book is brilliantly original because it is written to reflects the unstructured randomness of life. Sh*t happens, and sometimes there's no rhyme or reason for it. It's hard for many of us to comprehend this since we're rational thinkers. We need an explanation even if there isn't one.

In cycling, when things don't go our way in a race, we second guess a lot of things we did to try to make sense of what happened. What went wrong in our training, what did we drink/eat, or not etc? We want a reason for the cause -a narrative fallacy. But life is not that simple or always controllable for that matter . Things happen and you just have to say brush it off. Beat it and bounce! Seriously, there's no sense second guessing yourself .
There's a lot of unstructured randomness in life and cycling, too.

I had a great conversation with Roman during our drive down to the track on Wednesday night. I brought up the idea of randomness and nonlinear progression to him. He's a really smart dude. And I have a lot of respect for what he's achieved, on and off the bike. He got his law degree from Hastings while he was racing as a pro for the top domestic cycling team, Healthnet. He was telling me a story about how he placed in the top 10 at the Sea Otter Road Race while riding for a small DIII pro team McGuire. At the time, Sea Otter was an NRC race and attracted a lot of the best pros. His ride was a break through result and caught the attention of some bigger pro teams. He re-calls thinking how he was flying. But then the following week at a much easier race with less competition, he got dropped at the Wente Road Race. He didn't even finish the race and drove home, bewildered. WTF? It didn't make sense why he had such a bad performance a week after a break through result. But then the following week, with no expectation at all, he won a difficult stage race back east.

When things don't go your way, just remember that progress is nonlinear. There's a lot of chaos and randomness that we can't account for or make sense of. But regardless, keep trying and it all works out in the end. Good luck racing this weekend!

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