I know some people who will not ride unless they have company. I am not one of those people. I like riding with another person or with a small group (or even, occasionally, a large group), but I’m also happy to go riding by myself.
And yet, I never ride alone. There’s always that stupid voice in my head, right there with me, providing a narrative, giving advice, and making remarks about my riding ability.
Frankly, I don’t care for him much.
Meet the Voice in My Head
Oh, he (yeah, he’s male) doesn’t talk all the time. In fact, sometimes he’ll go for long stretches without saying a word. And the times he chooses to talk actually says a lot about him. It’s always when I’m right at my limit. I could use some encouragement. And so that’s when he says things like,
- “So. This is all you’ve got, is it?”
- “Any time you’d like to step it up, feel free.”
- “Come on. Go. Seriously, it’s time for you to stop holding back.”
And, sometimes, he doesn’t say anything at all. He just laughs. Man, I hate it when he does that.
No Comfort, No Help
As near as I can tell, the voice in my head lives to motivate me exclusively through the medium of sarcasm and derision. Why is this the case? I mean, this is just a voice in my head. It’s me, talking to me. Why can’t I say nice things to myself?
For example, I’d love to hear me say to myself:
- “Hey, you’re headed for a personal best. Keep up the good work!”
- “Don’t worry about fading. You’ve done your best.”
- “You can do it! I have complete confidence in you!”
Come to think of it, never mind. That guy sounds like a motivational speaker. I think I prefer the sarcastic, snide guy.
Maybe It’s Just One Guy?
I did extensive research for today’s post, consisting of instant messaging with my friend Dug for a few minutes. First off, I should point out that it’s not easy to broach this topic. Asking a guy if he hears voices in his head is similar to accusing that guy of being insane.
Dug said that of course he heard a voice when he’s riding hard. As near as I could tell, it’s the same guy I hear. Condescending, disappointed, and curious as to why you’re even bothering if this is all you’ve got.
I developed the theory that perhaps everyone has the same voice. That there’s just one snarky, ethereal guy, wandering the earth and whispering mean-spirited remarks into our ears. A disappointed, snide, and sarcastically amused spirit guide for cyclists, if you will.
Or Maybe It’s Not
Then, because I am an extremely intrepid journalistic type who always wants to get my facts straight, I conducted even more research, this time in the form of an instant message conversation with my brother-in-law/friend Rocky.
It turns out that Rocky has got a voice, too. But it’s a way different voice. His voice tells him, in a matter-of-fact way, to cut it out. “This is stupid. You are not getting paid for this. And this in not fun,” it says to him.
And when Rocky really dials it up, a completely new voice barges in. This one doesn’t even talk. It just belts out a primal yell.
I’m pretty sure my inner voice has never yellled. Maybe that’s why Rocky makes all the technical moves, and I clip out at the first sign of danger.
Based on my exhaustive research, I make the following assertions about cyclists and inner voices:
- All cyclists hear voices when they ride hard.
- The type of voice you hear corresponds to the type of rider you are.
- None of the voices are friendly.
- We are therefore all either equally sane, or equally insane.
I am of course, interested to know what kind of voice you hear, what it says, and under what conditions.
Also, I’d like to know if mine is the only one that speaks with an outrageous French accent.