I race bicycles professionally. In this work, success demands structure: the meticulous deconstruction of a goal into tiny pieces, each carefully measured to build upon the last. Everything about my present serves a future finish line.

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The fog softens the light and our voices. Everything feels secret. I know these hills. I know this road drops down to the little store where years ago I stopped with my collegiate team that first year of racing, before it was really racing. We ate cookies on the warm cement outside and let our stuffed-cheek smiles say everything.

I dive for the first corner of the descent and feel that familiar thrill. Out here there is no finish line.

This kind of letting go isn’t easy for me. I’ve spent my career obsessing over details that can make or break a result. I know there’s an equation of torque and tensile modulus in every corner. I notice millimeters and nuances of carbon fiber construction. I know what power outputs I should produce on any given stretch of road.

We hit dirt connectors and secret roads among the redwoods. We surge over rollers and startle cows and shout jokes over the wind as we descend. I see ocean waves frothing over mussels on the cliffs and how the light is changing on the horizon. I’m chasing a wheel, a line, anything but a result.

To take one’s work seriously does not require taking oneself seriously. The opposite is true.

The wind whips off the Russian River. We sink into our chairs at the café as the light warms and wanes. We hold our coffees with both hands, spent and glad.

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