Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why do I suck at everything?

After posting “why little guys suck at time trials,” and “why big guys suck at climbing,” a guy comes up to me and says, “I really liked your blogs, but what I want to know is why I suck at everything.”  I looked him over, and as gently as I could stated, “Your Daddy was a pansy.  Your Momma was a pansy.  They had sex.  And now you’re a pansy.”

OK, so maybe I didn’t say those words exactly.

However, it does bring up an important point: Genetics play a role in our abilities to ride a bike fast.  It is certainly not all about training.  The fact is, we can train harder and smarter, but there will always be people who go faster than us.  AND, if they are dedicated (as you know almost all bike racers are), then they too will train harder and smarter.   Hence, insofar as fitness preparation, goes things tend to equalize in this tug-of-war.  But genetics remains on their side.

Of course, those of us lower on the evolutionary scale can make up some fitness differences with tactics and tools.    Tactics can play up to a 30% role in the right conditions, and almost nothing in the wrong conditions.  Key here is to out-smart, and out-play the competition.  (Contrary to popular belief, this is not as simple as sitting in and sucking wheel.)  Tools (bikes, parts ‘n stuff) can also play a role in helping us perform better.  If we lump race preparation and hydration in the tools category, it plays a much larger role.

I am not saying that the genes that control the body’s physiology will determine the ultimate winner of every bike race.  I am saying that in the real world, where the participants are equalizing the other factors, it is the few that we cannot control that gives select people the edge.

Do not lose heart.  So long as I am doing my best, I actually enjoy getting the crap beat out of me at races.  It tells me that those other guys are doing their best too.  The fact is that winning a race is nice, but does not yield any respect from me. (Actually, consistently winning yields quite the opposite.)  Respect comes when you do your best with what you were given.