Everybody Has Bad Days: Learning From Larry Warbasse

photo: AquaBlue


Everyone has a bad day.

For some people, that means over-sleeping your alarm, jumping out of bed, rushing to get dressed, snarfing some food, hustling out the door, and yet you are still late.  And you have food stains on your shirt from snarfing too fast.  And yeah, your shirt is on inside out.

For others a bad day may mean one that is riddled with poor decisions, mostly because you didn’t learn from the previous poor decision that you literally just made.

And yet for others, it may be a day that is marked by absolutely nothing of your own doing.  It was just a bad day.  And those can be the worst kind of bad days because not only was it not your fault, you couldn’t really have done anything different.

Traverse City’s Larry Warbasse had a bad day at La Vuelta and it wasn’t his fault.  Through absolutely no error on his part, Larry hit a stray, abandoned bike that resulted in broken bones and a quick descent from being at the top of his riding game to almost bottom.

But Larry, being the amazing, positive person that he is, decided to flip the script and learn something from this.  He says:

“That was when I realised this: it’s the contrast that makes sport and life so great. It’s going through those lows that make us appreciate those highs so much more. This year I have had my fair share of both. But when you always have sunshine and roses, they start to lose their appeal.”

“It’s being down that makes me want to be back up and on top.”

I love his perspective so much.  Sure the words are inspiring, but man – his attitude is amazing.  He literally went from winning the US Cycling Pro Road Championships to literally not being able to feed himself.  And his response?

 “…being down that makes me want to be back up and on top.”

And this is true for nearly everything we face, whether it is a test in class, an emotional struggle, or a physical struggle.

I think we tend to focus on physical struggles because those are so easily imagined.  Oh man, I didn’t ride fast today and only turned a 55 minute Speed Of Light. But behind the scenes, a huge part of every struggle is rooted in your mental attitude.  And when you are down, it is entirely too easy to curl in on yourself, turn on the pity faucet, and bath in your disappointment.

But that isn’t what makes winners the people they are.  Winners look back and say “I want to be back up and on top.”  And they fight like mad to get there.

So what does all of that have to do with Traverse City’s youth mountain bike racing?

We are team of positive people.  But we are also people who get knocked off of their game from time to time.  People who struggle with a giant hill or a long ride.  But throughout these months of riding together, I have seen each and every one of you hit a low point only to come out the other side with a smile.  It is a good attitude that will carry you far on a bike – and in life.  And an attitude that you will come to rely heavily upon as we enter the fall race season.  So let’s get started and remember:  “I want to be back up and on top.”







Bill Unger is Norte’s Varsity Team manager. Regardless of life’s trials and tribulations, inhaling the sweet scent of pine while riding any number of trails always brings calm   and solace to Bill’s otherwise busy life as an I.T. Consultant for Ollar Consulting.  It is this view of “biking as therapy” that Bill hopes to bring to the Norte! Varsity team, as well as getting a chance to explore northern Michigan with some of the coolest kids on the planet.


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