Thursday, November 17, 2011

"The last place finisher won this race, same as the first place finisher, we all won."

For your eyes only. Gleaned from the nimble, albeit secretive mind of the DBD Maestro. The heir apparent to the Great Mallory. Sir Eki submits his 11 Lessons!

Eki’s 11—
1. Equipment Does Matter. It doesn’t have to be the best, but it can’t be some beater from the 70’s if you’re planning on jumping into the deep end. I’m a firm believer in meticulous care of the machine. I often think about the bike from top to bottom, front to back before the big dance. I continually ask myself, “What could go wrong?” Solve all little issues that annoy you about the bike before the event. I go into races knowing that I can BEAT on my bike with reckless abandon and it will perform for me. In races where your life could potentially be on the line, the equipment becomes a means to an end, if it survives, it’s a bonus!

2. Picture it...All in your Mind...Sounds cliché, but it isn’t. I think about the most important races daily. I try to visualize myself “doing it”. I try to see myself getting through the tough stuff, like fixing the bike in the night, getting myself “unlost”. I plan how I will calm myself in adverse situations, possibly dangerous ones. I picture WINNING (winning is defined by you).

3. Believe. This one should be right after #2. Aint no one out there gonna believe in you, but you! Don’t be afraid to talk to yourself, be your biggest fan and cheer leader. I have literally said these words to myself out loud, “Nice Job!”. Leave no room for doubt. Quitting is never an option. Plans for worse case scenarios involve a lot of walking, not phone calls. Of course there are circumstances that do involve quitting, but I rarely talk about them, so I won’t here. There is never any thing wrong with last place. After finishing the Trans Iowa I told my wife on the way to the hotel, “The last place finisher won this race, same as the first place finisher, we all won.”

4. Embrace the Pain. Accept that it will get harder than you ever imagined. I try to think of the pain as an old friend who’s come back to visit. I’m talking about the kind of pain and hardship that shakes you to your core, scares you! This is the kind of pain that one needs a plan for. When it comes, stay calm, slow down and KEEP MOVING. And, most importantly know that it WILL PASS, it always does. You will feel good again.

5. Keep your Head Up. One tends to sink physically and emotionally as the hours wear on. Remember, you do this because you love it and because you can. Pick your head up, look around, take it all in, and be present. We only go around this crazy merry go round once and it may be a race, but it’s also the minutes of your life. Find your “horses” out on the prairie, you’ll know when you see them and no one will ever be able to really understand, but you.

6. Find a Friend. Hey, you’re never alone. Well, sometimes you are, but if you’re around others don’t take yourself or your situation so seriously. These are some pretty good athletes around you and 99% of the time some pretty cool people too. Get to know them, share the load, and take an interest in their life, you just might learn something. Some of the best memories of the things I’ve done on a bike come from people I’ve met along the way (i.e. Dave Pramann, Troy Krause – both Trans Iowa vets with whom I “shared the load”).

7. Stay Humble. We’re all human beings. We’re not just racers, be respectful, polite, and appreciative. No one likes cocky or conceited people. Everyone is struggling out there; some are just going faster than others. Take the time to listen to their stories; they’re just as important as yours. I’ll bet you had trouble with the same sections of the race as they did.

8. Be Afraid, Very Afraid. Respect the event. If I’m not nervous I know I’m doomed. There’s a big difference between confident and cocky. I try to be confident in all races, but realize that I am not bigger than the race. I must respect the course and its enormity, therefore I must be careful in regard to effort, safety, and the overall decisions that I make throughout.

9. Prepare. Think it through. Start with categories like food, safety, tools, hydration, and clothing. Then move through each area over the course of weeks working off of lists. I often start a list at work and at home. I add to these lists every time something pops into my head and then organize it all later. Plan for every scenario like, “what if I crash?”

10. Take Something from It. Leave the event a richer person. I try to ask myself what I’ve learned about myself while I was out there, did I like what I found. What kind of person are you? The event will tell you. They’re gifts given to us by race directors who often don’t really know what they’ve given you – only you know and that’s what makes it so special. I’ve been reduced to tears after finishing big races before. Some may think the emotion comes from the release of being done with such an intense experience and that may be true, but I think it comes from going inside to a place one rarely gets to visit and being o.k. with what’s in there.

11. Say Thank You. You don’t have to make it a big deal, but make sure they know that you walked away better for what they gave you. Sometimes a hand shake and a look into the eye is all it takes. This goes for your closest one too. “Thanks for letting me chase after these things …and thanks for letting me catch them”.

Thank you, Mr Ek!!!!!!!


  1. Sir Eki's words burn through me like a shot of aged Irish Whiskey. I can think of only one additional "lesson" that is--Lesson 12: Always have your kit-revolver in tip-top shape and make sure the ammo is fresh. One should only need one bullet to do ones duty...
    Bravo Eki,
    Sir Ernest Shackleton