Today, while cycling, I reminded myself that I’m a terrifically competitive person. This was my first time back in the saddle in about two months, and before starting I said to myself, about twenty times, ‘this is for completion only’. That means I wasn’t pushing for times, or speed, just for completion.
Then good intentions got squashed by my inner demon, competitiveness. It nearly always wins over good intentions.
They Called Me Gunner. I (and one commenter to this site) wore this appellation in medical school, and it was deserved. A medical school gunner is one of those hyper-competitive people who really wants to be at the top of the class. I’ve seen other definitions that includes sabotaging others, and there’s a different name for those people, and it rhymes with stick-bed. Time has made me a little more selective about the competition thing, but it’s still in there.
Back to the ride. I was only about 6 miles into it, a beautiful ride on a very popular bike trail on a nice day, so there were a lot of cycllists (and angry loners, too). I was loafing, I’ll admit it, admiring the blackened terrain from a recent grass fire, and then I noticed a cyclist behind me, about 150 feet.
‘Click’ went the switch, and suddenly it became very important for me to Not Be Passed. Now, I’m not going to block or do something stick-bedded, but if I can push harder and keep the same or bigger interval, I’ll do that. And I did, with a series of cyclists who appeared seemingly out of nowhere. It struck me, pedaling with a gastroc cramp, how sometimes that little competitive thing can work against the good intentions.
And it was a good ride, too.