Failure is a Part of Life
First, I’m ok. I crashed hard enough that it snapped my bike computer mount but not much other damage. Luckily, I was riding off-road but I landed on a pile of logs, smashing my head and my upper right quad which will be very sore for a few days.
No matter how skilled or competent we are, mishaps and failures will happen. It can be bad luck, a moment of inattention, or just a plain old mistake. In bike racing, like life, if you’re going all-out, riding that edge, crashing (failure) is inevitable. It’s what you do with that failure that matters.
As I pay there on those logs, in a daze, did I start beating myself up with criticism? “You idiot! How did you crash on this section you’ve ridden a thousand times!?” Did I quit cycling forever? No. I picked myself up, assessed the damage and then starting riding again.
Bike racing has taught me so much about life and perseverance. Unless you’re racing in a category way below your talent, most bike racers lose much more often than they win, even the best pros. In fact, Eddy Merckx, hands down the greatest cyclist in history, won roughly 52% of the races he entered. Astonishing when you consider that most pros never win one race their entire careers. Even Eddy lost a lot of races.
How does this apply to life? Fearing failure is a huge issue standing in the way of happiness and/or success. Many people will do anything to avoid failure even if that means giving up on their dreams and who they really are. Get that safe, boring, practical job instead of starting that business or being an artist.
As an entrepreneur, I am familiar with failure. I don’t believe you can be one without having a comfortable relationship with failure. I admit that I don’t like failure but I’ve learned a lot from each failed project, idea, or company. If you’re not failing then you’re not trying. Embrace it.
Rockleigh Crit Breakaway
The picture above was taken in the final lap of the Rockleigh Crit a few years ago. The 4 of us broke away from the peloton and tried to stay clear until the finish line. Most breakaways fail but we didn’t care. We rode as hard as we could. My HR was 201 bpm and battery acid was in my veins. Coming around the final corner (turn 4) to the finishing straight, the peloton was on us and overtook us as we pleaded with our tired legs to propel us. We failed. I crossed the line in like 15th place, overtaken in the final 200 meters. That’s bike racing. I could have sat in the peloton all race and still finished 15th. I’d rather try and fail than not try and fail.
In life, get into the proverbial “breakaway” as often as possible. Ignore the critics and the skeptics. They never try, never take risks. Let the failures come and go. Being in the breakaway is way more fun than playing it safe, win or lose.