For those of you who have never visited the fine burg that is Flagstaff, Arizona, there is a watering hole/convenience store/refuge for dorky cyclists known as the Pay N’ Take that is unlike any other establishment in which I have become inebriated. When I first moved to this town, I spent most nights sitting at the bar, drinking myself drunk and talking to no one because I knew no one. The Pay N’ Take was my first real home in this town.
Fast-forward five years and I barely go in the place anymore. I just don’t drink like I used to, and now that I’m all marriaged up, I don’t really feel any strong desire to go out to ‘meet chicks.’ I have also since found a more permanent home that is less like a barstool and more like an actual home. All good things.
Last night, however, I wandered into the Pay N’ Take, and I’ll tell ya, the barstool still fits just fine. While I was there, I ran into the Gnome and Scott (Goldmember, I believe he’s been called once or twice, though I’m not exactly sure why), and we had an interesting chat about racing bicycles and the mental trauma such races inflict. More specifically, we talked about what runs through our minds when the race begins, when the race keeps going…and keeps going…and keeps going…and keeps fucking going…
Scott’s point: when racing, shit gets emotional. And not just in a “fuck my legs hurt” kind of way. It’s more like a “why the hell did my dog Skippy get hit by the mailman’s truck when I was in third grade?” kind of emotional. Irrationally emotional. The amazing thought processes that happen while racing are like none other. I can’t think of a single activity that makes me think so irrationally.
Case in point: a few years back, I was doing a 24 hour race in Colorado called 24 Hours in the Sage. It’s in Gunnison, and it’s a cool course. It was my first solo crack at a 24 hour race, and I saw shit. I mean, I SAW shit. Like a white minivan driving through the desert at two in the morning. It wasn’t really there, but goddamn if I didn’t swerve to avoid it anyway. The Lohan pays good money for hallucinations like that.
Funny thing is, the white minivan did not even surprise me. It was like I was waiting for the damn thing. What was surprising was the downward spiral of disjointed thoughts that followed. Am I destined to be a failure? Why didn’t I kiss Jen in the fifth grade? I hope I’m not homeless when I’m old. Does anybody really love me? I fucking hate mayonnaise and any sonofabitch who eats that congealed bird spunk. There is just no goddamn reason David Hasselhoff should be a multimillionaire. Do I take shits more than normal people do?
Okay, so that’s sort of funny and quirky and entertaining, right? Well what about when shit starts to get real? When you start having arguments in your head, and you’re always losing the arguments? When you land on something that really stings, that you don’t go near when you’re straight and sober and off the (racing) sauce because that shit just gets too out of control? The why-didn’t-daddy-love-me shit that gets you down and out before you even start? That failed marriage seeping into your brain, that fist fight in the locker room, that heartbreak, that let-down, that time you pussied out, that time you shit the bed…
Yeah, that kind of shit. That’s the white minivan.
Racing does that to me sometimes. I was relieved to hear I wasn’t the only one.
I’m not sure it actually qualifies as a moment of clarity, or if it’s just oxygen-starved brain cells ringing the death knell, but I think there’s a lot of entertaining stories to be made simply by racing, by depriving our bodies, by stretching our means, by going too goddamn far. I’d like to hear your stories. What’s your white minivan?by