Look around and you will see self-reproach in the face of those who didn’t quite make it as they exit the finish arena, contemplating the run that wasn’t quite enough. Trying to remember every moment and explain every second lost. The dream to have another chance, to pedal once more, brake less and be more fearless.
What about the ones covered in dirt? From the first pedal they gave everything and more, they were hungry, but one slight movement in the wrong direction, one moment gone wrong, one missed line and they lay on the ground in a crash that will take away their chances of what most will only every dream of, the dream to stand atop the podium, to be the best, to be number #1.
If you are a downhill mountain bike racer the line between being number one and watching the awards ceremony from the crowd is razor thin. What's five minutes of your life? We know that a lot can happen in 5 minutes. World Cup series leader, World Champion, hope, hopelessness, something amazing or something that you will regret for the rest of the season and maybe the rest of your whole career. You world is spinning out of control and the only thing that contains it is when the clock ticks green and you have five seconds to exit the start gate and make that five minutes the best of your life.
You are not alone when you aren’t winning, you're not the only one who knows what it means to have missed it. There are seven World Cup rounds and one World Championship. Only eight times will someone stand on top of the elusive podium knowing that they did what it took. They will stand alone; no one else knows how it feels, there aren’t hundreds of people relating to them in that moment. They are admired and well regarded, receiving the utmost respect for being the one who did the amazing and lay it on the line. A winner, a true champion.
In the moment winning is perfect, a poetic ride, but be careful because there is a world of competitors out there striving to be the best. It's the best and worst place to be, it isn’t handed to you, it doesn’t come easy and you can never ever stop working for it. It will always be hard!
The hardest thing about the first three World Cups has been finding the fine line between fast enough and too fast - where is 100%? Why is it so hard to ride fast enough and safe enough. That's the funny thing about racing, you want to give all but hold back just enough. The clock shows you the dark red light as it slowly counts down to green, in that moment you have one last chance at determining which side of the fence this run will belong to.
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