It would have been exciting to climb into the mind of Fabian Cancellara as he settled into time trial mode and completed his amazing performance in the Tour of Flanders. It was his first win in the Belgian Classic. Perhaps, but you can rest assured that he had been there before.
Anyone that participates in competitive sports does it. Drive through any neighborhood where a lone child is shooting baskets. Hang around long enough and you will hear… “3 – 2 – 1…” at the last second the ball leaves the hands to arch up toward the rim… “Brrrooowwwwaaaannnn!” The ball clangs off the side and the child, undaunted, picks up the ball again to try once more. Finally, success! “And the crowd goes wild…” You hear that unmistakable sound of “the crowd”, cheering and clapping, coming from a single mouth.
It is the dream. Probably sports psychologists call it visioning. It is one of the motivators that leads a competitor to train and survive in the midst of the struggle to claim the top spot at the end of the day.
I have a dream. Actually, I have several variations on a theme. There is a race that I would really like to win. I’ve ridden the course before, but never won… except in my mind.
One iteration mimics Cancellara’s lone victory away from the field. In my mind I have felt the surge of victory, viewed myself glancing behind to see the field no where in sight, and crossing the line in victory. I even have it down to what I will do once I cross the finish.
Another option has me coming out of the slipstream of another rider in a field sprint. It is close! You would call it a camera finish, but I still take the win. I always do… in my mind.
It is an awesome feeling, winning. Once you’ve won, you know better how to dream. Cancellara certainly knows how to win, and that made living his dream all the more sweet. From the moment he announced his intentions to find victory in the spring classic, I’m sure he started dreaming of how and when it would happen.
There is another lesson to be learned from the Swiss champion’s race across the cobbles. He did not let set backs within the race deter him from the dream. After suffering a mechanical on one of the tactically dangerous portions of the course, he kept his calm and began setting out once more to make a dream come true.
From near the end of the field he steadily worked his way up to the front and once there he just kept on going. The realization that he had avoided a catastrophe and was now success was within his grasp must have given him a realization of hope. It was not long, as Boonen fell off his wheel, that hope gave way to victory. A dream came true.
I’d love to know what was going through Cancellara’s mind as he grabbed the Swiss flag and rode through the wall of sound as the fans cheered his masterful ride. Better yet, I’d love to see my own dream come true. They do, you know.