Friday, August 28, 2015


Racing a bicycle takes heaps of motivation.

It's not required at the start of the race. It may take a measure of courage to roll up to the start, but not motivation.

The motivation I'm talking about typically isn't required until at last 3/4 of the race has passed. It's at that point when the relentless attacks have beat down the morale and willpower of the peloton so much that all naturally occurring gumption is gone. From then on out, it comes to the superior grit and resolve of the few to fight it out to the line.

At this point, injected inspiration is necessary.

Frustration may fuel some furious cranks. Being yelled at by teammates for not covering attacks, seeing stupid or reckless bike handling in the peloton, or even racing on streets so broken that it seems a tank battalion rolled through earlier that day are some examples of irritations that may spur action when things get spicy.

Positive thinking can also provide that little extra something-something when it matters.

I've heard that some people tape things to their handlebars. Jens Voigt was famous for his "Shut Up Legs" quote. Writing the name loved ones on handlebars is also commonplace, but I don't know of anybody who does this. Apparently, seeing their names will make you think of the sacrifices they've made to allow one to race in the first place. I haven't tried that yet. Maybe I should.

I've had several instances where a positive thought carried me through a rough patch. For example, while attempting to bridge, I may think about the time at the Twin Bing race a few years ago when I witnessed a racer successfully getting across to the winning breakaway in a horrendous crosswind. At the moment, I was gassed and could not fathom where he got the strength to make the jump and then toil through no-mans-land for several minutes before latching on to the break.

Another time came from earlier this season, when I witnessed 15 year old Dillon McNeill's Melon City M5 criterium race. Dillon got into an early three-man (two men and a child) breakaway with a pair of weekend-warriors riding real carbon racing bikes and wheels. Admittedly, I didn't give the young McNeill and his junior gearing much of a chance at holding on to the breakaway. It was a long time to be away, and the course had a long downhill section that would require him to carry a high cadence to remain in contact. But lap after lap, he was there. With about eight to go, a surge popped him off the back, but on the ensuing lap, he dug deep and caught back on. On the bell lap, the eventual winner attacked and opened up a gap on Dillon and the other guy. In the end, he was out-kicked for second place. It didn't matter to me that he didn't win, or even take second. What mattered was Dillon's tenacious persistence. The kid just didn't give up. He suffered for sure, but he kept the pressure on, clawed back when necessary, and held on. It made for a great race to watch, and a lasting impression on never giving up.

If you've raced, then you've experienced these moments too. I'm sure you have your own subroutines that kick in when it matters most. I know this because you've made me suffer more than I wanted to at the end of races.

So I'm curious, what gets you motivated?

Haha, I just heard my younger brother's voice in my head saying, "Donuts".

Hey, if it works, use it.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

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