Riding with cyclists who are much faster & stronger than me has balanced my ego. On days I feel inadequate I’m reminded of how far I’ve come in getting stronger, and when I stray too far toward bravado, I note who I’m riding with and the pain they could dial-up!
Have I improved? Absolutely. Even though I can’t prove it with FTP metrics since I don’t use a power meter, a quick look at Strava will reveal that my MPH average is up. Add to that the positive feedback I’ve gotten from teammates and friends and I know I’m making good strides.
The TN Senior Olympics are 25 days from now. I have no idea how many cyclists I’m competing against and to be honest, it really doesn’t matter. My motivation has to continue to be working on building power and strength in order to ride “my race.”
Battle The Wolf Pack
The Germans have a great proverb:
“Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”
Aside from exercising my muscles, I’ve worked on becoming mentally strong. Based on the results of the 2017 SR Olympics, I know the competition will be tough so I have sought rides with the toughest riders in my neck of the woods. Yes, it’s intimidating to ride with those who can dish out a world of hurt, but it has forced me to address my excuses and fears. Sometimes I can hang. Sometimes I can’t. But even when I’m dropped, I don’t whine or make excuses but instead, I note my progress (“At least I hung on longer!”), acknowledge that they were stronger, and vow to come back for another round.
I also force myself to ride in ways I didn’t do before when on fast rides: I make myself ride close to the front and take turns pulling. Each time I do, my wolf pack looms, baying that I’ll fail, that the effort is too hard, that I’ll hit the red zone. But I’m learning to counter my fears with thoughts like:
“So? At least I tried.”
“True. But I want to get better so it’s worth the risk.”
There’s one other aspect I’m adding that is vital for me to prevent burn out: to remember why I love cycling.
Don’t get me wrong. Training is hard work requiring dedication, determination, and grit but remembering my passion (and having some fun every now and then) revives me to dig deeper and hang on if but a minute more.
How will I do at the Sr Olympics? No idea, but I do know I’m going to be as prepared as possible, be alert to my prowling wolf pack, remember to have fun and hope to dish out some hurt of my own! 🙂