Everyone thinks if they just tried just a little harder... but it's a mind trick. The body only has what it has, and if it's not enough to keep from being dropped, it's not enough. Rocky lied to us. In the end, if you don't have the ability, you don't have the ability, no matter the state of "heart".
These are words I posted to my team's forum about my last race, Banana Belt #3. I got dropped on the second of six laps; just a dismal showing for me. I have my excuses: I raced yesterday and spent 18 miles off the front, there's the month I took off, the field was small so I couldn't surf up the hills, etc. As I was talking with my teammate who actually did finish the race, he was saying that, after I was popped off, they went hard to the start-finish, then kind of took it easy for the whole rest of the race. Of course they did, right? A 66 mile race will be like that. Hard in the beginning to shake things up, then easy up to the end. And this time I was victim to the shakeup.
If only (if only!) I had hung on up that hill the second lap. If only (if only!) I hadn't given up the chase afterwards and got back on. Except it's all a mirage. The mind plays tricks on us. It is quick to forget suffering, it's quick to forget how extended it is at the time. You can always wring one last drop out, right? You can always reach that last quarter of an inch...
And if you could, then the towel is always wet, and your arm is infinite in length. We have limits. Sometimes the mind sets those limits, but most of the time the mind is the one cheerleading and the body is the one asked to do all the work. Bike racing is about finding your limits, your true limits, and extending them. But extending your limits isn't a matter of will power, it's a matter of training and practicing and racing. So you train, you practice, you race... and you allow yourself the opportunity to fail so you can continue to improve.