Undefined enigma of sorts, PRO is an aspirational essence - one of those things that “if you have to ask…”. In fact, if you’re wondering why it’s capitalized, you’re probably on the right track.
Opining in my never-humble manner while cooking dinner last Friday night (and after taking yet another rib about running a frame pump on a Dogma 2), I came to the conclusion that the concept of pro has little to do with sock cuff length, shaved legs, neon-yellow helmets, what you eat on rides, your FTP wattage, carbon tubulars, or even your past race results.
I began dwelling on my somewhat-harrowing San Dimas/Redlands adventure last month (possibly fueled by the fumes of reducing pear balsamic vinegar), and giving a fair bit of scrutiny to the mentality of our veteran riders; looking for ways that I could improve my own performance. Something hit me, especially while revisiting the last day of Redlands.
We were up against the wall, with Paco (our team captain, GC honcho, and Iberian vino connoisseur) down a good chunk of time from the GC lead. Our director sportif laid out the plan of attack to put Mancebo in yellow, being honest in his assessment of our capabilities/roles for the infamous Sunset Road Circuit Race. It became apparent that the brunt of the load for winning the race would fall to the shoulders of our strongest riders.
It was then that I knew what made these guys, by definition, pro. We were all tired. We weren’t in what I’d call optimal spirits, and the rain forecast for the day wasn’t lightening anyone’s mood (especially after the torrential San Dimas road race the weekend prior). It was obvious Paco was a bit knackered, and probably would’ve much rather have been sipping Castilian wine at home instead of destroying himself in the final minutes of that race - in a frigid downpour. So, when he went off the front with about 20k to go in the bike race (and from our understanding at that time, had taken the lead), I was struck with a certain sense of awe and respect. He went out and did his job. Period. The circumstances didn’t matter - he and the strong guys around him left it all on the course, just what their team had asked of them. THAT, in my nubile rookie eyes, is PRO - win or lose.
(top photo credit: Tommy Chandler, Competitive Cyclist; bottom photo badass bib-fixing credit: my awesome lycra-adept mom)