Tejvan wins a national UK cycling race!
- The latest news section of http://www.srichinmoycentre.org includes a story about Tejvan winning a UK national cycling title.
I am sure I join a chorus of voices offering him enthusiastic congratulations!
I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the cycling championship.
When I joined the Sri Chinmoy Centre in 1999, I wasn't doing any sport. But, encouraged by Sri Chinmoy's philosophy I took up running. Unfortunately, after a few months I got a bad knee injury. A few years later, when it got better, I thought I'd stick to cycling. Cycling was something I'd always liked, though I hadn't really done any races. In fact, when I was 15 I came last in a school cross country race. I remember retiring there and then, deciding I didn't have good genes for sport. But my retirement from competitive sport proved a little premature!
I remember at the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, 2003 Rockland State marathon being one of the lead cyclists. Rupantar later said Guru was asking about one of the cyclists (me) and making some comment about me on a bike. Unfortunately, I can't quite remember what Rupantar reported Guru had said. But, as a fairly new disciple, any kind of attention from Guru was nice! I didn't accredit too much importance to the fact I was cycling at the time.
Next year (2004), I started doing some cycle races, and I did much better than I ever expected. It was a lot of fun. In those days, everyone in the centre was into running, hardly anyone did cycling (though that has changed a lot in past few years). I never did even a 2 mile run, I was always saving my legs for cycling. Though a few people did mention Guru's own forays into the cycling world - for example, the Pepsi 24 hour bike race in the late 1970s. It was great to see those photos of Guru cycling, it gave a lot of inspiration.
In 2007, I received my spiritual name, Tejvan. When giving the name to my centre leader, Guru said a few things, including something like 'Tejvan is our cycling champion' I'm not sure of the exact words, but a few people definitely heard cycling champion.
I was intrigued by what Guru meant. Was Guru just saying something nice to give me some general encouragement? Was it a champion attitude or something like that? or was Guru seeing the possibility to be a real national champion? In 2007, to be a national champion was a dream, but a bit of an outside chance. For a few years, I did OK at cycling, I was juggling several things and, with the odd injury, wasn't able to commit everything to cycling. But in 2010, I started winning more races and getting on the podium was now quite realistic. In 2010, I was 4th, missing out on the podium by just 1 second. In 2011, I was one of favourites, but it didn't quite happen on the day, I finished 5th, just 12 seconds behind the winner. 2012 was a short hill (making it more difficult for me, I finished 12th, still a bit disappointing). In 2013, I thought I had a good chance, but I had already seen quite a few chances slip through my fingers. And I was also starting to be quite a bit older than my main competitors - 36 as opposed to an average age of 19-26. They often say hill climbs are a young man's sport. I'm not quite over the hill. But, it wasn't as if I had too many more good opportunities. The thought did cross my mind, if I didn't win it this time, I might never win.
I knew it was possible to win, but I also knew it was very possible I wouldn't. The race is usually decided by very small margins - a few grams here, a few seconds there, even the direction of the wind. When you look back, you can feel everything is destined to happen. But, before the race it didn't feel like that!
The day of the championship was a great experience. I felt surprisingly calm, despite the pressure and dreadful weather. A few weeks earlier I had ridden the course and decided a tailwind would give me a little advantage because tailwinds benefit the lighter riders. Well, you have to be careful what you wish for because the UK had our biggest storm since the 1980s. It meant a 30-40mph perfect tailwind up the climb. It was quicker going up than coming down! Although it was wet, I felt the weather gods were smiling on me this year.
In the end I won by 2 seconds, which is such a fine margin over 2.3 miles. (time of 7.57). It was my 13th hill climb of the 2013 season - 12 - 1st places, and 7 course records. It was my 9th attempt at entering the national championship and the first time I got on the podium. It was a great experience to finally win.
Of course the supreme philosophy is to accept defeat and victory with the same attitude and detachment.
He is the great winner
He is the greater winner
Who is the cheerful loser.
He is the greatest winner
Who gives equal value
To victory and defeat.
He alone is the real loser
Defeat from victory.
- Sri Chinmoy – The Dance Of Life, Part 19, Agni Press, 1973
Before the race, I did feel I'd practised detachment with defeat quite a few times. I thought it would be nice to experience success, and try and practise detachment with something different for a change!
After the race, the national cycling magazine interviewed me for quite a long time. It's quite rare for an unsponsored amateur to win this championships, it's usually won by young professional riders (including quite a few former Tour de France riders). The guy interviewing me was a nice chap, and quite interested in the spiritual aspect of the Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team. Because it was such a wet day, I spent quite a bit of time meditating in the car near the start line before I started to warm up. The interviewer thought this interesting, though I have to say my meditation wasn't particularly good. But, sometimes it's still nice to go through the motions, better than worrying about the result!
Good old Aryavan from Australia came along to hold an umbrella for me whilst warming up. He was great to have around, saying afterword he felt as if he had won himself. That was so nice to hear, and perhaps this is the ultimate victory when we can feel others' victories as our own. It's nice to win, but even nicer to share it with others.
It's a funny thing age. I'm 36 and people mentioned it's a good performance for your age. But, I do know of people transcending in the physical at a much older age than 36! I look forward to the next few years to see what I can do.
One final thing of interest; back in the summer I happened to come across a talk Sri Chinmoy gave in the 1980s on swimming the channel. In this talk (from my own memory and retelling) Guru was saying that all disciples had the capacity to swim the channel, if only they had faith in the spiritual life and relied on the power of grace.
Well, I don't know about swimming the channel, I think I would have to put on 20 kilos before attempting that! but the talk was very powerful. I felt Guru was saying that you can definitely achieve very high goals, but if you're really following the spiritual life, don't just rely on your own efforts. Remember the essence of the spiritual life is to invoke grace from Above. That was my understanding of the talk, perhaps others would take something from it. But, I got a lot of energy, enthusiasm and confidence from reading Guru's talk on swimming the channel. Not quite the same as climbing a steep hill in North Yorkshire, but I assumed the same principle!
news item by Vilas:
A blog on this topic on wining, losing and happiness.
http://www.srichinmoybio.co.uk/blog/self-improvement/winning-losing-and-happiness/p.s. you would not believe how many cakes I've received since winning two weeks ago, you would think people are trying to 'fatten' me up.
I am one of the thousands, congratulating Tejvan and I am sure I am speaking for many when I am saying how proud we are about his achievement.
Tejvan, now that I finally figured out how to reply I must at least send you a big CONGRATULATIONS - it's a marvelous achievement - and it's not just a cycling race, it's a HILL race on top of it!! . Is cycling up hill as tough as running up a steep hill?
I also really appreciate your insights into your cycling history - very inspiring. I watched Vilas' link and the pictures and comments are great, thanks for sending it.