I spent a number of years, roughly 2006-2012, racing bikes instead of painting. I wasn't really painting anyway and I've always loved riding my bike. And I've always been competitive. Bike racing is an incredibly difficult, grueling sport with a very steep learning curve. It's especially difficult when you start in your mid- to late-30s having never been athletic. I discovered I lacked fast-twitch muscle - the kind that allows sprinters to sprint - but I was able to develop my slow-twitch, the ability to ride hard for a very long time. With a lot of training - riding two to six hours five days a week, every week, for years; going to week long training camps in hilly country every year and racing roughly 40 races every year.
I was pretty hopeless when I started. Dropped from the pack in every race, nervous and sketchy on the bike. But I learned. I became a very solid pack rider, I worked very hard on explosive power so I could stay with the pack in the surges. I lost weight so I could climb more quickly, but was still heavy enough -- and balanced enough -- to ride in strong, gusty wind. I ended up being good at long, flat road races, the longer the better, especially if there was some complicating factor - bad weather, gravel roads, etc. I actually won some races. I moved up a category.
And I learned how to set goals, short term, mid term and long term goals, and to achieve them through hard work, time and effort.
This is a long way of saying that while I regret not painting those years, I learned so many valuable lessons that are serving me well now as I get rejection after rejection from exhibits and publications to which I'm applying. If it came easily, would it even be worth doing? Doing something difficult, something new, something uncomfortable builds character. Achievement means so much more when it's hard-won.
So I'll keep on.