Last night I attended a memorial service for a local cyclist named Jerry Shafer, who was killed last weekend in a bike/car accident. Jerry was a very influential guy in the cycling community, and sadly I only knew of him, rather than actually knowing him. During the memorial, which was held at the Redmond Velodrome, a number of folks took the microphone to share memories of Jerry. One guy used the term “legit.”
I’ve been searching for a word to describe how I feel about why I do the things that I do. I spend a lot of time, money, thought, and effort on athletic pursuits, despite the fact that I am no gifted athlete. In fact I’ve never won any athletic competition. So if I’m not going to win why do it. Why push so hard? Why spend so much energy? I now have an answer: I want to be legit.
For the past three years I’ve been deeply involved in bicycle racing. In bike racing hitting the ground is just part and parcel of the sport: you will hit the deck the only question is when. When it comes to falling I’m not really worried about possible physical trauma, but I am worried, very worried, about being the nut who causes a crash. The cycling community is tight knit, and it’s a long road living down the reputation of being a bozo.
Being legit means earning the respect of your peers. “Earning” is the keyword in that sentence. You earn respect by showing up ready and willing to work hard for your teammates. You earn respect by putting in the time to develop your technical skills. You earn respect by accepting your bad days for what they are – bad days. You earn respect by racing hard while simultaneously supporting not only your teammates but your opposition – winners don’t turn their foes into losers.
Being legit is one of those elusive goals: something you strive for, move toward, but may never grasp.