Cloak & Dagger
44“They’re proud of me in my little village in Switzerland. My wife’s family in Italy are proud of me and that’s enough for me. I don’t do this sport to be famous.” Cadel Evans, Australian Pro
Back in the village, the jerseys of distinction come off and you’re just a guy buying lunch at the bistro. At least the villagers allow you to be even if they admire your accomplishments. Yellow is replaced by a cloak, and different tools replace the dagger of digging deep on alpine climbs. Stealth or disappearing is part of presence, another championship paradox. Stealth is practiced by europros to avoid press and other commitments for downtime with family between races and junkets. Stealth is also part of race presence.
Disappearing still means being vigilant. Perhaps more than any other time, awareness is at its height when trying to be an unnoticeable player in the peloton. Underestimation by others unites with surprise to help stealth form a winning maneuver. There are times when low key doesn’t produce any reactions that require a response. One can stay in the zone but become less of the reason for the race rhythm. It’s a time when not wanting to be famous or play the hero pays off toward a race win.
Stealth may require a bit of acting or of not showing one’s hand or legs actually. It’s sort of the antithesis of aggressive riding, but it can be aggressive – it just does so in the least obvious way possible. For instance, a rider practicing stealth may allow other wheels to take him where he wants to go so he can show himself strong at an unexpected moment. A stealth move may also be attacking the break after a series of failed surges, or mini-tests to draw out and distract. Kipling says it best. Stealth is 45walking with kings but not losing the common touch:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
Prayer for Stealth
“…not needing to force our way…able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” 46Galatians 5:22
We pray for cleverness and class.
Ponder Is there mystery in my riding? Affirm I practice cycling’s espionage. Watch that your cloak gets as much use as your dagger, your cleverness as much as your confidence, your defenses as much as your offenses.
44Cadel Evans Press Conference video on Versus website posted April, 2008 www.versus.com
45“If” by Rudyard Kipling, published in a collection of poems, Rewards and Fairies in 1909, is perhaps the quintessential poem of championship paradox. It’s not quoted in its entirety here due to space limitation.
46The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society