Sunday, May 14, 2006

Getting hit by the bus versus stepping in front of the bus

I've been thinking about what sets experts/pros/elite riders apart from the rest of us. Sure genetics play a big part. But just because you have a big heart muscle doesn't mean you're going to be fast.

The longer I've been riding the more I think it is mental toughness that really sets the good guys apart. It's not even as much about the time that you put in. Especially at the typical XC distances. I think it is more about the pain you dish out.

Some people call it pain tolerance. But I think it is much more. You crash, or have a tooth ache, or whatever. We all handle the pain differently. Some can't take it others can tolerate it better. But with cycling, it is slightly different.

It's not about how much pain can you tolerate, but rather how much pain can you put yourself in to a position to tolerate. Meaning you have to create the pain. Just because you are in a race or chasing someone does not automatically mean you are going to hurt. You personally have to make yourself hurt.

I compare it to getting hit by a bus. Although this is purely in the extreme illustrative sense and not to be taken literally.

Anyone can get hit by a bus on any given day. And yeah, it is going to hurt and those with higher pain tolerance will deal with it better provided they are not dead.

But how many people are willing to step in front of a bus?

Willingly, step of the curb into the path of an oncoming bus.

In training and training races, I wish I could step off the curb. In real races, that isn't smart racing, as you want to go as fast as you can w/o getting hit by the bus, just chased by it. But in training, the more you get hit and the harder you get hit by the bus the stronger you get.

This is what separates the top guys in any class from us. Not their bike, or gear, or coach, or the amount of time they can train that you can't.

You can't buy it. It is free for the taking. Ailse 7 buses and trains. only.


At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a great article in Dirt Rag issue 120 by Gene Hamilton about Mental Toughness.


At 1:47 PM, Blogger ashwinearl said...

Here is that article FYI:

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got hit by a bus during high school cross country practice about 15 years ago and I can tell you no self-inflicted pain from racing comes close. However, I do agree that those of us that do like to ride to our maximum must like to suffer to some degree.

At 1:07 PM, Blogger mags said...

sure, mental performance is important. BUT, without the required physical attributes, it really doesn't matter how tough you are.


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