My boss from my first job after leaving school was in the shop recently and whilst we were chatting I was reminded of something he told me shortly after I began working with him . One day I was in his office and he asked me if I knew why I got the job over quite a number of other aplicants . I replied that I must have done well in the interviews . He said that whilst that was the case the actual reason for my employment was the bike . He said that unlike most teenagers I had self discipline and an ability to apply myself to the task at hand or to put it more simply he knew that I didn’t have trouble getting out of bed in the morning . This was news to me but now looking back I guess he was right .
All of this put me thinking as to what the crossover between cycling and general life are and here’s what I came up with ;
Goal setting . Every cyclist has a goal wheather they realise it or not . It may be to become National champion or it may be to complete the 160 km Sean Kelly challenge . They are all goals which have to be focused upon and planned for . Most cyclists start from the end and then work their way back . If it is a particular race on the fifth of August a cyclist will plan the previous week to be a recovery week , preceeded by three weeks of increased intensity leading up to the recovery week and follow this formula back to the date on which the plan is being drawn up .
Similarly if the goal is to loose a 10 kg the bike is a great way to accomplish this . Starting from the desired weight and working back with the aim of loosing a half kilo per week which is quite possible if enough time is spent with the legs on the bike instead of under the kitchen table .
Having a goal gets you up out of bed and up on the bike even if the rain is falling and the wind is howling .
General life is also like this . If you have a clearly defined goal it is much easier to achieve something than just plodding along hoping to win the lotto .
Visualisation is also a big part of goal setting and every cyclist has been on their own riding along pretending that they are in a race with only a few km to go with an unasailable lead and we al know how good that feels . This is why some group training spins become so competitive . The Ballymac spin is a prime example of this . Being first man over the line into Carrick is like winning a world championship and he will be spoken about for the rest of the week . This is also why Powers the pot will often be seen as Alpe D’huez or another similar Alpine climb .
In everyday life this also works . I’ll bet that if you speak to a Merc or Bmw salesman they will confirm that very often someone who calls in and is driving a mediocre car but sits in and takes one for a test drive and gets the feel of one of these machines and who calls in a second and third time will eventually be back to make the purchase . This is visualisation in action . When they leave the showroom and sit back into their normal car it still feels like the merc or beemer to them and they keep picturing themselves driving their dream car and if you can dream it you can do it .
Persistence is another key attribute of all cyclists . We all have been hanging on for dear life at the back of a group feeling like letting the wheel in front go and just freewheeling . But if you just hang on for another ten or twenty seconds it wil very often ease up and you will get a chance to recover . The same is true when you push yourself to the limit on a tough climb . No matter how much you feel like getting off and walking if you keep telling yourself to do just one more pedal stroke eventually you will reach the top and feel a great sense of satisfaction .
Life is like this also . Sometimes things get hard wheather it be a job , a relationship or whatever but if you hang in there long enough eventually it will have all been worthwhile . Now this doesn’t mean that you should stay in a bad situation just hoping for the best but if it is something worth your time and effort then it is worth giving a proper shot . Too many people nowadays quit as soon as they reach a bump in the road and miss out on achieving what they are capable of because of this .
Helping others . Every cyclist has given a helping hand or been helped along at some stage or other . Wheather it be a shared water bottle towards the end of a tough stage of the Ras ( or even better a shared can of coke) a spare tube handed over or a gentle push towards the top of a climb we have all helped or been helped . Assistance like this is never made a big deal of or even spoken about . But actions like these are what create the comraderie and frendships that are all part of being a cyclist . Just stop for a second and name five friends of yours . Chances are they are mostly fellow cyclists and this is because of the mutual respect which has been created on the bike .
Take a look at those people in everyday life who are really sucessfull in all areas of their life and not just financially and you will find that these are people who may be involved in some form of charity work or volunteer organisation helping others . They will also have an open door to those who would ask for advice and will help others in any way they can . In the shop we have experienced this on a number of occasions when established business people willingly gave us valuable help and advice .
Finally enjoyment . The bike often brings out the child in people and often a guy in his forties or fifties will tell you that he feels like a teenager when he is out on the bike . There is always some form of slagging or a bit of craic going on in any group of cyclists . Also every sucessfull cyclist does it because they enjoy it and not vise versa .
All sucessfull business people also tend to be people who enjoy what they do and are not watching the clock all day wishing that they were somewhere else . They enjoy their work but also enjoy their down time . Life is short and every moment has to be made the most of . It is such a waste to see people who spend their bigest block of waking time doing something which they dislike ie ; their job . Luckily very few cyclists fall into this catagory .
Whilst all of the above may seem a little abstract here is an example of someone who has been successfull both on and off the bike ;
Sean Kelly . The fourth best cyclist of all time . A super organised businessman . An accomplished television comentator . Happily married to Linda with two very normal nice kids . Gives a huge amount of his time to charities such as the blazing saddles among many others . He has been on the local papers with four different events in the past four weeks . Will help and advise anyone from the casual charity cyclist to potential Tour winners , and will treat both equally . The biggest practical joker in the Ballymac group . I was once told that the measure of a man is not how he accepts criticism but how he accepts praise and Kelly is an example to all of how this should be done .