Unavoidably, the Interbike experience includes walking through the odd casino. Emphasis on odd. From the wall-to-wall cigarette smoke to the unsolvable maze of each casino’s layout, the experience is as foreign to my daily routine as Wall Street is to fiscal responsibility.
Slots, poker, craps, roulette, blackjack, Baccarat, Keno; there’s a game to please every gambler. They couldn’t be more different from cycling.
Games of chance, are, by their very nature, reliant on mountains of luck. The only real skill available—card counting—will get you 86’d from the casinos faster than Michael Phelps can cross a pool.
If nothing else, gambling proves that hope is alive and well, which is something we can be grateful for. However, it is difficult to fathom the attraction to a win so statistically unlikely as to make the game virtually pointless. And when the win does come, knowing that anyone could be in that chair right now, how can that fruit taste anything other than sour?
Cycling teaches us the harder fought the win, the sweeter the taste. And yes, every race is a gamble, but your participation is anything but generic.
You’ve trained. You’ve worked on skills to make each pedal stroke efficient, handling skills to hone your line and have watched your competition week after week to figure out the real players.
Consider it in the extreme: Were you to line up against a child, the conclusion would be so foregone, the victory so assured that any adult who took the bait should feel embarrassed. Securing a win, any win, isn’t what competition is about. Surely the truest victory should come as a surprise to all involved.
What could be more fulfilling than looking to the rider who finished behind you and thinking, “Wow. I wasn’t sure I could beat him.”
Image courtesy of John Pierce, Photosport International