Aug 31, 2011

No satisfaction

No, this is not some sort of bike tribute to the Rolling Stones. This is all about my cycling and somewhat about my life philosophy.

I may have mentioned this in one of my other posts, but one of my best friends and a very accomplished athlete (read: multiple times record holder) in his own right, has as his email signature the following phrase: “Development ends where satisfaction begins.” Allegedly, it’s something his coach in college, John Hudson, used to say.

Frankly, I never consciously lived or trained by that motto, but in essence, it succinctly summarizes my approach to cycling and how I feel about the challenges I choose to tackle (on or off the bike).

This came up after I finished DMD, as it has after the Ride of The Immortals. People often ask why, after having suffered so much on the bike, I long and wait with excitement to do the same ride again in year’s time?

I think people can generally be classified into two categories. There are those who have a list of challenges they wish to accomplish, and after finishing each one, they check it off the list and move on. Then, there are those who after finishing a challenge ask themselves: Yes, I’m done, but is this really the best I could do? I am definitely the second type.

After finishing a challenging ride, my feeling of self-pride and accomplishment is quickly overtaken by self-criticism and reflection. What could have been different? Where could have I shaved more time? What do I need to do to do better? No matter how great my performance may have been – relative to my previous performance or as compared to other participants – I am never satisfied with just having “done it.” I don’t take my accomplishments for granted, but I don’t put them on pedestals either, so to “speak.”

The way I see it: If I’m completely content and satisfied with my performance after an event, it is the equivalent of admitting to myself that this is best I can do, and I unequivocally refuse to do that. How can it be any other way? How can I be completely content about having done something while at the same time knowing that I wasn't at my fullest potential? In my mind, this is a catch 22-type question because I feel that I can ALWAYS improve, which in essence means I'm NEVER at my fullest potential. (I'll stop that here because another sentence in this direction and I'll be tempted to quote Voltaire on metaphysics, in French!)

After finishing ride of the immortals, having beaten my previous finish by almost one and a half hours in much harsher conditions, the joy of the accomplishment was almost in an instant replaced with an unrelenting desire to do it again and faster. I felt the same way after DMD, and after Mt. Tam double and after Mulholland Double (unfortunately it looks like I’m not going to get a chance to repeat this one as this was the last year of this ride, but fingers crossed).

Am I missing out on something? Perhaps. Maybe I’m missing out on basking in my own glory and relishing my accomplishment for days or weeks to come. But honestly, I don’t see it that way. I feel that what I gain in motivation, drive and the desire to make myself a better cyclist, among other things (as I said this applies to other aspects of my life I don’t blog about), far outweighs the prolonged admiration of my own accomplishments.

I’d be very curious to hear what those of you who read my blog think about this.


  1. Some people are nuts. You're one of them. (In a good way). :)

  2. I've been reading this blog a while as I've been working on my own double century attempts. Great work on these rides, really enjoy reading the war stories.

    I think it is good to have a period of satisfaction after an accomplishment, but if that goes too long before another challenge I start to get soft. As long as I'm coming back for more attempts I know I'm going in the right direction.