ULTRACYCLE LIFE (2) – Self-Reflection
The key messages from this second issue of Ultracycle life are: 1).Take the time early on to determine why you are interested in participating in an event such as the Tour of BC and 2). By adopting an educated project management approach you will increase the probability of reaching your goal.
More than once you will ask yourself “Why Am I Doing This?” For some the question arises when contemplating registration, for others during their training. It can be the result of nervous anxiety as the start date looms and doubt will always occur at the start line. This is quite normal and every athlete from the novice to the experienced should take the time to engage in self-reflection early during their journey to personal excellence. During the event when the going gets tough you will ask yourself “Why Am I Doing This?” If you cannot answer this or if you have the wrong reason then it is likely that you will withdraw and join the classification Did Not Finish (DNF).
Initially, the prospect of participating in such a long and demanding event may seem daunting….and it is. Forming a responsible support crew, budgeting, training effectively, equipment selection, nutrition planning, event logistics and a host of other challenges suggest that it is best that you take a structured project management approach. A project has a defined beginning and end and is undertaken to achieve a specific goal. The mistake that many make is solely riding the bicycle. This is not adequate preparation. This long-distance endurance athletic event is much different than anything that you might have experienced previously. Success requires education and being proactive, thus avoiding unexpected surprises after the clock starts. Success requires a team effort.
Each athlete will have their own unique reason for taking up the challenge. You may wish to keep the reason to yourself or share it with you family, crew and others important to you. Importantly, although you are backed up by a support crew you are the individual on the bicycle and no one else can turn the pedals for you, fully understand your motivations or the difficulties of the event. One factor is clear, motivation must arise from within yourself – you are doing this for yourself and for the charitable causes that you may be raising funds for – not to impress others. Doing such an event to impress or please others is a prescription for disaster.
Considerations to think about during your period of self-reflection:
- Are you experienced at cycling for long periods of time? Have you read the event information and analyzed elevation grades, weather, and the average speed required to finish before cut-off?
- Are you experienced at riding a bicycle during the night? Is your night vision adequate? Are you able to tolerate sleep-deprivation?
- Do you have the mental toughness to keep going when it gets difficult? Is your reason for doing the event strong enough to keep you going when it gets difficult?
- Have you read the stories and learned from others who have successfully or unsuccessfully participated this or similar events?
- Do you have the support of your family, peers, and others who are important to you? Do you have a trusted confident or sports psychologist that you can engage in discussion?
- Have you had a recent medical examination by a sports medical practitioner? Have you completed a VO2 maximum cycling test to determine your aerobic state and provide you with information on your training zones?
- Are you willing to make the time commitment to prepare with strength, flexibility, and endurance training? Do you have a personal trainer and/or massage therapist experienced in preparing athletes for this type of event?
- Are you able to recruit a motivated and responsible crew chief and support crew members that you can trust? Your job as the cyclist is to rotate the pedals – all other logistics are the responsibility of your support crew. Are you and/or some of your support crew skilled in bicycle maintenance and repair of common mechanical breakdowns?
- Does your medical insurance cover participation in such an event? If not, then you will need to obtain supplemental insurance.
We will be discussing these and many other factors in subsequent issues of Ultracycle Life. Finally, even with the most meticulous preparation understand that things can go terribly wrong. Some happenings cannot be foreseen and are simply beyond your control. Learn from what went wrong and try again. It is all about self-discovery.
Successfully completing a challenge such as the Tour of BC is well within reach of anyone who has the right self-determined reason and is willing to prepare effectively. Subsequent Ultracycle Life articles will provide you with information to assist you with reaching your goal.
Clawson J.G.S. and D. Newburg. Powered by Feel: How Individuals, Teams and Companies Excel. World Scientific 2009.
Karageorghis, C.I. and P.C. Terry. Inside Sport Psychology. Human Kinetics. 2011.
Smith, L.H., and T.M. Kays Sports Psychology for Dummies. Wiley. 2010
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Ambitious people will always experience the negativity of others who do not share your passion, dreams and desire to experience what is really important in life. They will try and dissuade you from your goal. Contemplate carefully the “food for thought” in the lyrics of the timeless song printed below. Please note that the lyrics were written many years ago, but the message applies to both genders.
Frank Sinatra — My Way
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way.