The world of endurance racing is filled with many truths, some of which are discussed openly, while others remain hidden. Endless hours on a bicycle in the middle of nowhere cause one to face these truths head on. Athletes must reckon with a multitude of factors, whether they want to or not. The course itself must be dealt with, fitness levels need consideration, gear and nutritional decisions may be right or wrong, but most importantly one must look inside him or herself and come to terms with the question that will inevitably need to be answered: Will I keep going?
So often we pour over races in our minds in an effort to discover what really happened out there, what went so wrong for someone else, or at times for us. We frequently find what we’re looking for, we see the rationale for quitting, and most times we understand. However, what we don’t look for are answers to why or how those special few kept going. They fought demons, overcame adversity, and somehow saw things through to the end. Why did they keep going when everything around them screamed QUIT?
Could it be the promises made to friends and loved ones that keep them going? Perhaps a strong sense of ethics is what keeps the engine running? Or, is it the fear of seeing disappointment in a loved one’s eyes? Some make promises with themselves and see breaking that promise as the most difficult thing to do. Others may be in search of something bigger than themselves, on a quest if you will, for a meaning that only they will understand. They become bent on finding answers to questions that may have been swirling for years or even a lifetime. A finish line is something they can eventually touch, something that is tangible, but it seems that it is the journey toward that line that provides the answers they so desperately need. For some, questions of physical strength, mental fortitude, and constitution of self need answers.
Oftentimes the decision to just keep going is made at a kitchen table many months before a wheel ever touches a starting line. There is something bigger than the completion of an event at play here and whatever that something is often ends up sparring with pieces of a person that never get talked about with friends. It’s deeply personal. The real struggles are not with weather, equipment, or food, but in defeating self-doubt.
Doubt often presents itself in the form of a voice surfacing in the darkest hour, flatly stating, “You’ll never be good enough. Why do you even try?” Subduing the demons of doubt is the most difficult part of any race and when it is completed successfully discoveries are made that are greater than any race will ever be.
Maybe this is why they keep going.
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Tim (Eki) Ek
Tim Ek was born and raised in Duluth, Minn., and still calls it home. He’s always had a passion for competition and seeking his own extremes. Tim's true love is the woods: Out in the wild is where he clears his head and finds his peace, and he prefers getting there by bike. Tim Ek: The Eki Chronicles, ekichronicles2.kinetic-fitness.com