Before I was a cyclist, I was a tennis teaching Pro. Here’s the short version of a long story:
- University of Montreal (Phys.Ed. and French Literature)
- Club Med Cancun, Mexico
- Bridgehampton Tennis and Surf Club, NY
- Team Scandinavia, Florida
- Team Scandinavia, Japan
- Mont-Tremblant – 2 years of goofing around – mountain bike – knee surgery – High school teacher – road bike – massage therapist – more road bike – writer.
At one point, tennis was my life. I would teach from 8 to 11, train from 11 to noon, eat lunch, nap until 2:30, and teach again from 3 to 6, 6 days a week. Loved it!
But teaching is very different from playing. You hit the ball in a way the clients can hit back. You don’t always put as much spin, you don’t hit it as early and aggressively as you’d like, you don’t aim for the lines and don’t hit as deep as you could. Basically, you play a politically correct kinda game, making sure the clients look good and hopefully come back for more private lessons! When you finally get on the court for a match after a few hours of teaching, you realize that your timing is off. That sharp edge you need as a player is gone. You slowly loose your temper and start missing easy shots. Your confidence level drops. You lost your game. Playing tennis is no fun anymore, as it becomes a psychological struggle with yourself.
I believe I was a great, dedicated teacher but a poor player. Where was I going with that? Hmmm, oh yeah I remember: the difference between tennis and cycling. When I played, I experienced more bad days than good ones. I was very hard on myself, getting frustrated or discouraged every time I’d miss a shot in the net. Lots of negative thoughts, bad words and inevitably, a few wrecked racquets… Not the greatest picture!
Cycling is in many ways, totally different. It clears my mind, inspires me, forces me to dig deep into my soul to push away my limits. Once I’m in my kit, I put on my pokerface (like my good friend @raceG206 likes to say!). Hiding behind my glasses and helmet, I become a forceful rider; strong, confident and gutsy. Unless my back is really hurting, nothing can get to me. Enjoying every pedal stroke, in and out the saddle, up and down the mountains, having fun sprinting for signs with Pat and trying to learn not to attack too soon!
Don’t get me wrong, I often think about tennis. I miss hitting my two-handed backhand down the line, coming to the net or taking the ball on the rise on my forehand… But things have changed. My spine and major muscle groups involved say there is no way back. I’m ok with that… As long as I can ride my bike!
I said it before, I’ll say it again, “my bike; my lifesaver, my soulsaver!”
Have a good Tuesday!
PS Yes, I will be watching Wimbledon for the next 2 weeks!
Started playing when I was 8 years old!
Club Med Cancun, 1996. Don’t try this at home: a full western forehand grip!
Japan, 1998. Can’t remember why…