Those who ride with me know that I have a passion for the Sprint. That is not to say that I am built for it or that I am any good at it. In fact, I am built for the exact opposite—climbing. However, on our weekly Tuesday ride out of Two Rivers Coffee we have one KoM point and two Sprint points. While I always dig (double-pun there) that climb, I am constantly dreaming about the end—a flat, fast, and slightly tricky sprint.
Sprinting brings out a whole different part of the bicycle racer than climbing or TTing. Whereas much of that is pure, unadulterated suffering, Sprinting is somehow more primal, requires a snap, and is consuming. Connoisseurs of the Sprint salivate at the thought.
This leads me to believe that Frank Sinatra would have been a fabulous Sprinter. For one thing, Sinatra had that snap. There was something distinctly fast-twitch about his mannerisms; you could even here it in his voice. It is an innate, biological makeup that takes over your body, eclipsing the depths of suffering along at 35mph, and turns you into an all-encompassing fit of grinding muscles and power. When the truly talented Sprinter hits the button, it is like a switch getting cracked against a tree trunk or a whip retracting at just the right moment and in turn breeching the speed of sound.
Sinatra was also a tough guy. Though he played to teenyboppers in the early part of his career (he would try to kill himself during this period, saying he was a shame), Sinatra hit his stride after he broke away from that mold and let himself, his real self, shine through into his work. So it is that the Sprinter only achieves greatness when he sheds his self-doubt, his adversary’s shadow, and supporters’ weight.
That, too, you can hear in Sinatra’s voice. Just listen to “My Way.” Listen to the rasp, the deep, primal boom of his voice, and the explosion of raw, unbridled go-f*ck-yourself. He knew what it was to unleash that ravenous roar of rage on the pedals; I can be positive of that, despite not knowing if he ever owned a bicycle.
Like a great Sprinter, Frank Sinatra knew how to adapt. There were more bombs and missteps in his career than anyone can recall, but what people do remember are the successes, the major high-points. As such, the Sprinter must also adapt.
Obviously, no race is the same; therefore no Sprint is the same. Sometimes you are blocked out and other times you have complete tunnel vision. When do you shake the wheel in front of you and when do you hold it a tenth of a second more? When do you go early, alone, and off the front and when do you wait, wait, and wait (sometimes ultimately waiting yourself off the podium)? Adaptation is key.
Perhaps most important is that Frank Sinatra didn’t even like “My Way,” but felt that he must sing it. It is now the song that is considered to be his greatest achievement. Perhaps in that lies the real truth—that the Sprinter Sprints not because he loves it, but because what builds inside must bellow out, lest it consume him.