I think we’re all guilty, when we come close to winning but just miss because of one decision or another, of replaying the final moments of the race and thinking if I’d done this or that, I could have had it. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent doing that over Chalk Creek or Sugarhouse or the TMac crit or even Tuesday night at RMR. All of those are races I think I could have won had I made some decisions differently. But I didn’t, and I didn’t win.
In each case, I learned something valuable that I can hopefully apply the next time around. But no matter how much I preach about the learning experience or the value of failure, such philosophical rhetoric is a smokescreen to others and a salve to myself for a lack of results. I would trade what I may have learned by losing for the win every time.
On the rare occasions when I’ve won, I’ve learned at least as much from those experiences as I have from the dozens of times that I’ve lost. Even when replaying the would haves, it’s only conjecture that a different decision would have led to a different outcome; there’s no way to know for certain. Only when you win are you certain that your training was adequate and your tactical decisions were correct.
As evidence, look no further than the weekly Ski Utah Criterium at the DMV. Dave Harward dominates the A flight. Even when Tour of Utah pros showed up, Dave put on a clinic. He knows how to win on that course and knows how to win more than one way. The collective knowledge everyone else has gained by losing to him more often than not is not enough to overcome that.
My brother Steve has lately developed a similar record in the B flight. Last night he won for the fourth week in a row and the seventh time this year. He too has learned how to win, and the rest of us are at a disadvantage because we don’t know what he knows, and the only way we can learn it is to beat him. Good luck with that.