Lying to Yourself

Photos by: Dan Sharp
Thoughts by: Joe Staples

Below, is a 15 second segment of a 17 minute thought process I had as I rode with Jeremy up Saltzman, a gravel climb just outside Portland, Oregon.

I can hold this for 17mins…. easy.

This is well below 300watts, I’m cruising.

He has a compact, I don’t need one.

He must be too hot in those knee warmers, he’ll overheat before the gate.

He shifted down, he must be fading.

I haven’t gotten out of the saddle yet, I’m so strong right now.

All of these things were kind of lies. But they were lies I needed to tell myself to justify more pain. At the top of the climb it struck me, there might be a correlation between how good a liar you are and how good a cyclist you are.

We lie to ourselves that we can do things that we might not be able to do, we lie to ourselves that saving 24g on a set of brake calipers will help us ride faster. We lie to ourselves that having bread for breakfast instead of cereal will help. That 3 less PSI in our tubs means we should be able to hold the front group in a cross race. And we lie about training.

I haven’t ridden in 4 days.

I did a weight session yesterday, we should ride easy.

I’ve been kind of sick.

Externally, we lie about how bad we are. Internally, we lie about how good we are. It’s all lying. Some of the best cyclists in the world have been caught telling far worse lies. But, they are the best cyclist in the world. To get to where they have, they’ve told far more “you’re feeling great, you can hold his wheel” lies. Maybe you have to be better at lying to be better at riding?

Or is that the other way around? Does riding make you a liar?

Am I saying that we all suck? Certainly not. Maybe if we don’t lie to convince ourselves we can do things, we wouldn’t be able to do them and in my book that is far worse than telling yourself the truth and never doing anything.