Are You a Winner? I’m Not

The Andy and The Shawna. Photo: Jim Merithew/

“Did you win a lot of races when you were younger,” asked my friend Andy, during a recent bike ride.

“No,” I said. “No, I did not.”

Although, I appreciate Andy being able to visualize me thrusting my arms into the air as I cross the finish line. The glorious moment of me holding off a charging pack, hammering the final kilometers, digging so deep into reserves I collapse as I cross the line is something I have only imagined and never experienced.

“I come from a long line of pack fodder,” I responded.

This is not completely true. I once won a stereo from a church raffle, although I didn’t actually buy the ticket, a buddy of mine bought it for me.

I was also once Indiana Clip Photographer of the Year way back in the day.

And if I remember correctly I might have won a best cake decoration during a hard-fought Cub Scout competition.

But that’s about it.

It’s not that I don’t like winning or winners.

I love winners.

I helped photo edit a very talented photographer’s Pulitzer Prize.

But when the announcement was made I stood as far back in the room as I could. I loved the win, but I was off-the-back during the moment of glory.

I guess if I ever pictured myself becoming a bike racer, it was more as a domestique then a podium contender.

I like the idea of being of service.

I’ve been reading Domestique:
The Real-life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro
by Charlie Wegelius and I can totally relate.

Ok, not totally.

I mean he was a professional bicycle racer for many years, after all.

But the idea of burying myself for another to have glory.

Going back to the car for bottles.

Railing at the front for the first 120k, even though you know you are going to end up dragging yourself across the line much later.

The idea of sitting in the gruppetto with the broom wagon breathing down your neck, just desperate to stay inside the time limit so you can live to serve another day.

All this excites me.

Maybe it’s because I know nothing other than being first loser.

Or maybe it is because I lack the killer gene that makes one thirsty for victory.

Or maybe it’s just the fact I think life is about the journey and not the destination, so I don’t hunt Strava KOMs or finish lines or the limelight.

Actually, I’m pretty sure it is because I am a great big wimp and when push comes to shove I can’t handle the heat, so I get out of the kitchen.

Whatever it is, I’m fine with it.

And, I guess, in the end that’s a victory for me.