14 July 2008

The Tour de France ~ Competitor vs. Completer

Unless you've been living under a rock or you're completely out of touch, you probably know that the Tour de France is going on. For the first time ever (not a Lance Armstrong fan), I've found myself completely hooked. I'm getting to know the cyclists, the teams, the commentators and I'm falling in love with the incredibly gorgeous countryside of France. Apparently, I'm going to have to go on a cycling tour of Europe.

One of the reasons I've been watching the race is that I'm hoping that maybe through osmosis I may be able to pick up on some of the skills of these incredible riders. I've learned that I'm a pretty visual learner and that I can pick up on alot of things just by watching other people do them well. I've really been watching the guys corner and power up the hills. I've already learned that they have different gears on their bikes and that they have an incredible capacity for performance. Maybe someday I'll be able to carry 25 mph up a hill...

I've also learned alot about the race itself, including the different roles the teammates play, the different stages, the different goals, and the different awards. Most people only know about the coveted yellow jersey, but there is a green jersey, a red polka dot jersey, and a white jersey. There is also a team competition for points. The yellow jersey is worn by the overall leader. The green jersey is worn by the cyclist who has accumulated the most points (each stage has a variety of places where points can be earned, like who's first up the hills, in the sprints, etc). The red polka dot jersey is worn by the rider who is "King of the Mountains" and has received the most points for hill climbing. The white jersey is worn by the best young cyclist who is under the age 25.

Each cyclist has their role and their goals. Some are going for stage wins. Some are going for specific jerseys. Some are their to help a member of their team win the tour. Some are there because they were invited and because they want to complete the tour, which leads me to some of my thoughts.

One of the commentators mentioned the other day that some of the riders are there to be completers. In the Robbie Ventura article I posted last week, the idea of being a competitor versus a completer was mentioned. I've been thinking alot about it this idea and while I certainly haven't come to any sorts of conclusions, I do have some thoughts that I wanted to put out there. So, here goes...

At any given race, there are competitors and completers. When I step up to the start line of a marathon or 1/2 marathon, I'm a completer. I know that the likelihood of me ever winning a marathon is so not happening. I'm aware of that and yet, I still love to run marathons. However, when I step up to the line of some triathlons, I'm a competitor, which is not a surprise to those who know me well. I don't think there is anything wrong at all with either of these mindsets. In fact, I think it's probably a good thing mentally to consider where you place yourself in races and in life.

Sometimes in life, I'm a completer. There are certain tasks and events and responsibilities need to be completed. There is no reason to try to be the winner or be the best. Does that mean that I don't have to give my all or try my best? Absolutely not. All it means is that some days I'm a completer.

However, at other times in my life, I'm a competitor. I can think of several situations where I am incredibly competitive. Robbie Ventura said that competitors are rarely happy because they're constantly pushing themselves to the limit. I haven't decided how I feel about that yet, because on Saturday when I was competing in the triathlon, I was pretty happy. I love the feeling of pushing myself to the limit and I especially love reaping the results, like coming in high in my AG. I'm not sure if I can change this facet of my personality because it's been a part of me since I was a teeny child (according to my parents). In fact, I actually love the fact that I'm competitive because it's really fun to win.

So, I guess I need to tie all of this back to the Tour de France. I'm completely loving the competition that exists between the cyclists. I'm also really enjoying hearing the stories about the different cyclists, their roles, and why they're in the race. I feel like every one of these men are competitors, but on any given day they can be completers. The sprinters are there to complete the climbs, but to compete on the flats. The climbers are there to compete the climbs and to support their teams on the flats. I'm fascinated by their ability to focus and to complete such an arduous task. I wonder if they ride up to the start line deciding whether they're going to be competitors or completers. Whichever they decide, I'm sure that they put out their best effort and decide to achieve their goals and complete their tasks for the day. Oh, and they get to see some incredibly gorgeous country while they're doing their jobs.