29 August 2012

Winning feels good

Emotions are real when races come down to seconds
We talk so much about competition. About preparation, measuring power, pain and suffering, who will win, who didn't win; in the end only one man wins. And when he wins all those miles spent on the road no matter the weather, all those injuries recovered from, all those times saying no to temptation, of ignoring the doubters and finding steadfast belief in the self, come rushing to the foreground of the mind.
What else comes forward is how much competitors appreciate the men that get out and compete against them. When elite athletes are trained into a concrete habit of focusing on their ability to win, it is actually uncomfortable for them to name who else might win. I believe they learn to talk about the strengths of others out of courtesy and the need to answer interview questions about their opponents. But basically these questions are like trying to derail a speeding train that has slowed enough to let us get on board for a brief moment in time. One does not become one of the top cyclists in the world without a competitive nature that goes to the core of their being.
These cyclists are not like us. They have that "right stuff" that only some are gifted with. And although we enjoy seeing them do things just like we would do, there is an intensity that burns deep inside them to win. There are cyclists all over the world who have a dream to compete at this level, but they will never get there. It requires the perfect storm of talent, hard work, family support, team support, sacrifice, opportunity taken, and an unyielding belief in the self.
Release that much bottled up intensity from the start line in a pack of colored lycra, and emotions are bound to come out when an individual delivers a win on the finish line. I believe that is why we as fans are drawn to the moments that the camera captures just prior to and after the winner crosses the finish line - because we are trying to share the human experience. The thrill of victory, the reward of a hard fight well done.

© All Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
Tyler Farrar wins Stage 1 in Telluride   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
When Christian Vande Velde recently won the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, years of riding a bike were rewarded. He more than deserved to win. And the men who competed so strongly against him were able to turn on-a-dime to acknowledge the achievement of their good friend. A good competitor raises the performance of every other competitor in the field.
Christian Vande Velde earned admiration and respect for being an excellent competitor.
Honest respect   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
And all the other competitors showed their emotions as well at the end of a brutal week of racing.
Sweet victory   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
An emotional Tejay on the final podium in Denver. He is a true fighter.    ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
The youthful joy of Taylor Phinney   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
And playfully stealing the limelight from his friend Christian
Jens Voigt, a man whose emotions run the gamut   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
A successful and grateful Tyler Farrar (with the Mayor of Denver)
Tom Danielson feeling the pride as his son receives the podium kisses
Team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek celebrating their week of work as Best Team
Realizing the rewards of hard work
Congratulations Christian Vande Velde on your win of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Winner Christian Vande Velde   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
He won a bowl   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
And some champagne   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
And our admiration   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
A heartfelt farewell to George Hincapie. You inspired us all with your dedication of 19-years to the sport of cycling. Looking forward to following your next accomplishments as you and your family grow together outside of competition, but inside of cycling.  [Read an earlier Pedal Dancer post: George Hincapie is retiring ]
George and Melanie Hincapie   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
Good luck George!   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com
Winning feels good
Relax. The competition is over ... for now    ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer.com