Feeling a need to improve

Chenoa and a few friends competed in the Tour de Victoria last week and they all had fun, they all suffered a bit and most importantly, they all finished. Whether it was 90 km or 140 km, they pushed hard though the endless steep climbs and brutal head winds to get to the finish line.

For a lot of people that would be it, mission accomplished, get your T-shirt, celebrate and move on. But for Chenoa and a couple of her friends, it was just the start. After crossing the finish line their first thoughts were about better training for next year, more efficient planning and how much time they can knock off in 2017. Is it healthy to always want to improve? I’m no expert on mental health, but I definitely understand the need to go faster.

A couple of years ago a group of us went down to Washington for a 50 mile mountain bike race. I told everyone my goal was four hours and 45 minutes. In reality I believed I could finish in 4 1/2. I was wrong; I did it in 4:46 and have been dying to get back there ever since for one more crack at it. I have a buddy who set a goal for the same race and missed it by 20 seconds. Keeping in mind he had some mechanical issues, most people would call it a win, but nope, he has been stewing over it ever since and wants to go back for the 20 second improvement.

I’d like to blame this need to improve on racing and timed events, but when we ride, the most technical trails and times are never considered. The group I ride with still tries to ride the hardest lines, get further up a rocky trail, or ride smoother than last time out. It has nothing to do with racing, just the need to be better, and it’s not better than other riders, just better than yourself.

Considering we’re all aging and physical improvement is getting further out of reach, I ask again, is it healthy to always want to improve?

Myself, I need goals to drive me; without them I get bored and a little stir crazy. And I’d argue that in a world where less and less people stick to their commitments, less people mean what they say and more often people blame their mistakes on others, maybe it’s extremely healthy to set biking goals, work hard to achieve them and if for some reason you don’t succeed, don’t make excuses, make plans to do better next time.

Who knows, maybe our biking attitude will rub off on our day to day lives and we’ll become better people.

I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…hopefully faster than yesterday!