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'bike race' - U of Chicago - How did you get caught?


Cruud 1 / 3  
May 31, 2010   #1
Essay Option 1.How did you get caught? (Or not caught, as the case may be.) Inspired by Kelly Kennedy, a fourth-year in the College.

Two weeks sinceafter I was able to ride a bike again I entered my first race of the season. Surgery had kept me confined to pedaling indoors. The basement were I was kept was void of natural light, instead illuminated by a tiny TV that played Lance Armstrong's "Time Trial Training" and chirped optimistic music. Still in that artificial light, I reflected the characters onscreen, confident and convinced these indoor sessions would prepare me for race season.

That race started out better than expected. Contrasting the year before, there was no hail, no icy roads and no wind following the common belief that 10 mph above the highway speed limit is an acceptable velocity. Last year I came in third in the juniors race, but I needed more of a challenge. I registered myself with the two lap category four riders. This group between one lap category 5 "beginner" riders and stronger three lap category 3 riders, left me in a field of "know just enough to be dangerous" riders. I certainly fit that description. Indoor training made me fit enough but other components weren't there. The saying "you never forget how to ride a bike" is only partially true. Two weeks of riding can't prepare you for knocking elbows in a turn, slipping on gravel or the soreness in the hands and seat found after traversing miles of chewed pavement on skinny tires.

I managed to hang with the lead pack for twenty miles. Around the final turn of the first lap, in front of a long climb back to the start area there was a wipe out, separating me from the leaders. The pack climbed onward but an effort usually reserved for the sprint brought me to pack once again. Halfway completed, twenty one miles in, as I pedaled through the start/finish banner I was dropped. My brief triumph of catching up put a tiredness in me I've only felt since in the last meters of a championship rowing race and final miles of 100 mile "century" self imposed time trials. I biked alone for a few long miles, facing the wind alone drained the remaining energy out. Then I was caught. Caught by the other stragglers, caught by other races but most of all caught by the knowledge there exists a title lower than dead last. I imagined "Christian Ruud - DNF" on the bottom of the results page. DNF, did not finish. The results never explain why, usually it's assumed that a mechanical issue or crash took the rider out. Occasionally though, it's someone who has given up. For the last 15 miles I raced the cornrows and cracks in the road, fueled by a hatred of the idea that I would commit only to go back on the promise I had made to myself.

The results of that race are online. My name is printed on the very bottom in 41st place. It was a full field that day of 50, but mercifully the event organizers didn't publish the nine DNFs. Some people are driven because they cannot accept losing. That race, while one of my worst, is one of my proudest. I can accept losing, in competition I'm most scared of coming across the line with energy left. After 42 miles, I finished as the start/finish banner was being taken down. I was on the verge of collapsing, completely emptied but I was anything but defeated.

Thanks for reading! Really appreciate the feedback and I'm happy to read your papers as well.
ivyeyesediting - / 85  
May 31, 2010   #2
Hi Christian!

I really like your essay and offbeat approach. Upon first reading, this quirky UChicago prompt creates an ethical booby trap, but you've found a great way to flip it on its side.

The great thing about this essay prompt is that it invites creativity. So, that's what I'd really push you to do here--take your essay to the next level, creatively and narratively speaking. A few thoughts:

-In your introduction, maybe you can suggest you're practicing outside (until the end of the paragraph). Paint the picture, put the reader inside the race and the experience. Creating ambiguities like this will keep your narrative interesting and keep your reader guessing. Your angle could be both funny and offbeat.

-Reflect more deeply and own your strengths and your faults. The expression ""know just enough to be dangerous" riders is interesting, but begs the question--looking back do you think you were cocky? Did you overestimate your abilities? Overall, I'd love to get a stronger sense of what you're made of in this essay. UChicago really looks for intellectual eccentricity (reinforced by this prompt) in their student body, so try to infuse a little more of yourself throughout.

-Create a stronger sense of action and presence in the moment. You write:

"I managed to hang with the lead pack for twenty miles. Around the final turn of the first lap, in front of a long climb back to the start area there was a wipe out, separating me from the leaders."

You're a greater write and should be able to find a descriptive alternative here.

-Toy with language. While keeping this essay in your authentic voice, you should find euphemisms for unwieldy expressions like "put a tiredness in me..."

"The results of that race are online. My name is printed on the very bottom in 41st place." I love this! Confessional, slightly funny and spirited. As you continue to refine this essay, I would strive for that same level of bold authenticity.

Great work so far!!!!

Best,
Brooke
OP Cruud 1 / 3  
May 31, 2010   #3
Here's the first edit. Mackenzie thanks for the contractions pointer! The edits were very good, you're great at proofreading!
Brooke, thank you so much for your input on this paper! I don't usually write personal papers so your advice was very helpful. I'm a little afraid to use humor more because of that, but I will attempt it later. I agree that I do sound contrived at times and I need to put more character into this paper.

Edits on this page were done after posting the 'first edit.'

Surgery had me confined to pedaling indoors. The basement wh ere I was kept was void of natural light, instead illuminated by a tiny TV that played Lance Armstrong's "Time Trial Training" and chirped optimistic music. Still in that artificial light, I reflected the characters onscreen, confident and convinced these indoor sessions would prepare me for race season. Two weeks after I was able to ride a bike again, I entered my first race of the season.

The race started out better than expected. Contrasting the year before, there was no hail, no icy roads, and no wind blowing 10 mph above the highway speed limit. Last year I came in third infor a juniors race, but I needed more of a challenge. I registered myself with the category four riders. This group, which was between category 5 "beginners" and stronger category 3 racers, left me in a field of "know just enough to be dangerous" riders. I certainly fit that description. Indoor training made me fit enough but other components were not there. The saying "you never forget how to ride a bike" is only partially true. Two weeks of riding cannot prepare you for knocking elbows in a turn, slipping on gravel, or the soreness in the hands and seat found after traversing miles of chewed pavement on skinny tires.

Two miles away and downhill from the start, some exhausted riders rubbed wheels with each other. Unable to navigate the wreck, I watched as the rest of the pack rolled past and away uphill. An effort usually reserved for sprints brought me to pack once again. Halfway completed, twenty one miles in, as I pedaled through the start/finish banner I fell off the back of the pack. The brief triumph of catching up reduced my legs to putty. A fatigue set in that I've only encountered before in the last meters of a championship rowing race and final miles of 100 mile self imposed time trials. I biked alone for a few long miles; str uggling against the wind with every turn of the pedals. Then I was caught. Caught by other stragglers, caught by other races but most of all caught by the knowledge there exists a title lower than dead last. I imagined "Christian Ruud - DNF" on the bottom of the results page. DNF, did not finish. The results never explain why, usually it's assumed that a mechanical issue or crash took the rider out. Occasionally though, it's someone who has given up. For the last 15 miles I raced the cornrows and cracks in the road, fueled by a hatred of the idea that I would commit only to go back on that promise - that I would not quit.

The results of that race are online. My name is printed on the very bottom in 41st place. It was a full field that day of 50, but mercifully the event organizers didn't publish the nine DNFs. Some people are driven because they cannot accept losing. That race, while one of my worst, is one of my proudest. I can accept losing. In competition I'm most scared of coming across the line with energy left. After 42 miles, I finished as the start/finish banner was being taken down. I was on the verge of collapsing, completely emptied but I was anything but defeated.

You guys rock!
kenziii 7 / 35  
Jun 1, 2010   #4
Eek! I'm embarrassed that I missed the were, where in the beginning! Sorry to not offer more critiques, but I think I've done all I can for this essay. It is fabulous. If you have time today can you look over mine? Thanks!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jun 1, 2010   #5
Two weeks since after I was able regained my ability to ride a bike, I entered my first race of the season.

...convinced these indoor sessions would prepare me for race season.(right here, you should add one more sentence before ending the first paragraph. The last sentence of the first paragraph establishes a major theme for the essay, so end it with your thesis statement by interrupting the narrative (i.e. story) to give the sentence that expresses that main theme/idea.

Ha ha, I like this. You have a cool writing style.

Use a hyphen:
Halfway completed, twenty-o ne miles in, as I pedaled ...

...through the start/finish banner I fell off the back of the pack. The brief triumph of catching up had reduced my legs to putty.
srandhawa 10 / 157  
Jun 7, 2010   #6
You do realize this was last yrs UCHICAGO prompt? Or did you apply this yr and just want to post this essay? if your a rising senior applying this fall, the essay prompts going to be completely different, UChicago's gonna throw another one of their infamous essay prompts at you, gluck, this was the essay prompt i also used for mine when i applied back in the fall( and just about everybody i know used it)


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