What Makes a Thing Lucky?
The cyclists I know who take part in any sort of events, will often have objects which they deem lucky and therefore must have with them when attempting a ride of importance. Usually, though not always, this item will be a pice of clothing - which means it gets worn a lot, and as a result might be faded, discoloured in the wash, threadbare, torn and patched up repeatedly, or perhaps too small or too big for the rider, having been acquired at a time when their body was differently proportioned. No matter. In preparation for the event, this lucky thing will be sought out with manic determination. And it will be worn regardless of condition, replacing the rider's anxiety with a sense of familiarity and calm. It is, after all, lucky.
Ah but what makes it so? Is it having worn the thing during multiple race victories or completions of tough events? Is it having received it as a gift from someone special, or on a special occasion? Was this item worn by another rider, whose skill or strength might rub off on us, if only a tiny bit, if we wear it too? Does this thing happen to be our favourite colour, or stamped with our lucky number, or manufactured on the date of our birthday? Does it contain some secret message of significance that makes sense only to us, and sin this secret way signifies luck? Any of these things it could very well be.
It was only recently that I realised that I too have a lucky cycling item. I knew it when I began to search for it in preparation for an upcoming brevet, and, even though it was by no means the only item of its kind that was suited for the task I wanted it for, I began to get flustered when I did not immediately find it. It is a woolen cap with earflaps, in a houndstooth pattern. It is half a size too big for me and, by the end of a long ride sits lopsided under my helmet. Its 3-panel design does not flatter my face. It has not been washed in 2 years and smells like the soured strawberry Yahoo I spilled on it in a previous encounter. And it just so happens that I've worn it on my longest, coldest, dampest, dirtiest, hilliest, most uncomfortable rides - which, in the end, also left me with the loveliest memories. I did not win anything during these events. I did not do particularly well time-wise. I don't know what exactly makes this silly hat lucky. All I know is, when I finally found it, ran my fingers over its wooly texture, caught a whiff of its absurd but familiar scent and tucked it into my pocket, I let out a sigh of relief and relaxed. Finally, I was ready to go.