Generally in life I believe in a ‘Can Do’ attitude. After all, Claire & I didn’t move to Spain in 2004 just to open ‘a cycling business’ we came to open and run ‘the best cycling business in Andalucia’! The same self-belief we had in ourselves, I also apply to many other areas of my life but especially to my riding. There have been many firsts for all of us, as we started to ride and the passion for cycling took hold. Our first 50k, 100k, 160k (100 mile) rides, first TT etc. etc.…. you get the picture! Along the way hopefully we have learnt many things about ourselves, how to prepare for and reach these goals. There are many things to consider; nutrition, training, timing of these events to put us in the best position to succeed.
However, having a positive attitude at the start of any challenge is half, actually probably more than half the battle. If you start off thinking it can’t be done then generally you will fail!
Cycling, in my opinion, is one of those sports where you need to be both physically and mentally strong. So many times I’ve been guiding, on the front of the group, thinking “I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this pace up”. Then a few heart rate alarms start to ding in the group and I’m relieved to know that other riders are on their limit too. This is when the head games start, now I know that others are suffering too, suddenly I have the strength/determination to keep going as I know I’m making everyone work hard to stay in the group. The devil inside tells me to kick to see who comes with me, who is prepared to suffer more, to dig deep and who isn’t. The only real difference is I know everyone is on the limit but where does that extra energy come from? Is it from the desire to inflict pain? Moments before I was ready to give up! So many times have I seen riders on the back of a group just sit up, stop working and get completely dropped and demoralized.
One thing that has struck me over the years is that the actual difference in effort from being on the front of the group or at the back is minimal. Everyone is working hard. The only real difference is what your head is telling you. If you are on the front doing the damage you have the will and determination to keep on dishing out the pain, however, if you are on the back of the group (working at the same rate) you just want to give up and stop the pain!
The same mental strength comes into play when I’m mountain biking. On some of my popular rides there are technical sections that I always ride and other parts that I have yet to master. I know that once I have done it the first time, I’d probably ride it every time. It’s just having the confidence/determination/courage to ride it the very first time that is always the hardest. The body is willing but the self-preservation genes kick in and the head says “NO”! Usually once I have ridden ‘said obstacle’ the first time, I wonder what all the fuss was about.
So get your head in the game, believe in yourself and conquer those goals.
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