Things are not always what they seem

One of my most embarrassing moments on a bicycle was at the conclusion of a race where I made a jerk of myself. This was compounded because I thought I knew something had happened and I responded to it. Turns out what I thought happened didn’t.

Life lesson learned. Don’t react to what you think happened. Act when you know the truth.

I was finishing the final lap of a race on the BMW test track course. Being a relatively new racer and trying to pick up as many points as I could, I sprinted for the line hoping to get inside the top twenty. In doing so, I zipped around a couple of riders who (older and wiser) were winding it down as they approached the line.

One of them was a teammate of mine. I know I frustrated him because I was a noob. I tended to do stupid things — not dangerous, but tactically infantile.

As I went past, I heard something a long the lines of “What the —- are you doing? You’re going to ——- hurt somebody!” Now, first of all. This was a true statement. I shouldn’t have altered my line to weave through the slower riders. Basically, the race was over. However, nobody likes to be cursed at.

Well, I got angry and assumed it was my teammate who had had words with me in the past — though not cursing. I went off on him and said some things in anger. I even posted a tweet expressing my anger.

Guess what? It wasn’t my teammate. It was the other guy. Actually, the more I’ve taken the time to understand my ex-teammate, I realize that isn’t anything he would do. Now, he might silently rip your legs off in the next race, but he wouldn’t act out like that.

I had to publicly apologize for my stupidity. I’ve grown to respect his racing knowledge and abilities even more as I’ve grown to understand the “rules of the peloton.” Now I’m glad I had the opportunity to race with him and am enjoying his son seeming to follow in his footsteps.

Now, that brings us to this weekend. Yesterday, I posted the race video on YouTube. Before I watched the video, I crafted my race report. I ended up having to change my post after I watched the video because something I thought happened, didn’t.

Toward the end of the last lap, Darrin Marhanka came around me. Almost immediately, Rodney Dender also came sailing past on his way to bridging over to the break. From my vantage point on the front, it appeared that Darrin had pulled Rodney up to the front to launch him and then move over to control the pace.

On the video, I realized that wasn’t the case. Darrin came up through the field alone until he got to his teammate, Chris Knetsche. You can see Darrin say something to Chris and then move up to come around me. You then watch Rodney attack from further back in the field.

Even seeing the video, I thought Darrin was coming to Chris to let him know Rodney was going to attack and they should settle in to hold back the pace. What I saw happen seemed to be consistent with that. However, even your eyes can lie.

What happened was Rodney had told Darrin that the break looked dangerous and that the team should work to bring them back. Marhanka had come forward to tell Chris that they needed to move to the front and help pull (which would have made me happy).

Darrin had no idea that Rodney was going to attack at that point. He was not coming around me to hold the pace for Rodney’s attack. He was coming around to start working. Of course, when he saw Rodney take the flyer, he eased off to allow his teammate to get the gap.

This is what makes racing a bike so interesting. It is so much more than pedaling as hard as you can. There are strategies and politics going on constantly. It is kind of like life!

However, just like in life, your assumptions can get you in trouble. Don’t act just on what you THINK happened. It is always good to OBSERVE what happened. Even better, it is a good idea to talk to people and find out what ACTUALLY happened.

It will help you understand tactics better. More importantly, it will help you avoid messing up relationships.