Passion: Always remember what you love about the sport and the reasons you do it. You will have days that are not fun and workouts that are not fun. You push through these because you know in your heart that you love to ride your bike. The reasons to love cycling are varied, but those that do not love it will not get very far. Every day on the bike cannot be fun, but every day on the bike cannot be miserable either. Cycling is too hard of a sport and involves too much sacrifice, too much pain, too much danger and too much disappointment to continue very long if you don’t absolutely love it. Remember what you find the most fun about riding your bike, and go back to that whenever you need to find motivation.
“Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Awareness: Know yourself. In order to prepare, you must train your weaknesses. Minimizing your weaknesses will give you the opportunity to use your strengths in competition. But being prepared isn’t just about preparing your body, it’s also about preparing your mind. Know the requirements of your events. Know the courses and know your competition. You have to step out of your own head, your own suffering in order to see what is really happening in the race. Bike racing is not about overpowering your competitors with brute strength and force, it’s about reading races and looking for opportunities to use your strengths to put yourself in the right position to win.
“Be what you are. This is the first step in becoming better than you are.” – Julius Charles Hare
Discipline: Discipline is doing what is in your best long term interest even when it isn’t convenient or fun in the short term. You have to train sometimes even when you are tired. You have to go to bed early sometimes even when you would rather stay up late. You have to eat healthy even when you think junk food may taste better. You have to work for a teammate sometimes even when you would rather work for yourself. Training is an investment. Everything you put in you will get out (and more), but you must first have the discipline and patience to make short term sacrifices in order to have long term success.
“The first and the best victory is to conquer self.” - Plato
Persistence: It is OK to fail. If you never fail, you are never really challenging yourself. Prepare as well as you can and most of all by try your best. There are times when your best is not good enough, and that is OK. You will go back home better able to prepare for the next event because you can target exactly the areas you need to work on. There are also times when factors out of your control such as weather, crashes, illness or injury will hurt you, but you cannot let these things define you. Spend your time and energy on the things you can control.
“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” – Vince Lombardi
Courage: It is not good enough to have strength; you must also be willing to use it. Have the courage to be a part of the race, not just part of the pack. If you want to win, you have to risk losing. Most of us are capable of much more than we think we are capable of, and one of the most rewarding and exciting aspects of sport is the ability to push the human body beyond what we thought possible.
“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky
Respect: Show respect for your parents, your teachers, your coaches, your teammates, your competitors and most of all yourself. It is OK (and even encouraged) to ask questions when you don’t understand something. It is also OK to express disagreement as long as it is done in a respectful manner. It is NOT OK to knowingly act against the wishes or direction given to you by your parents, teachers and coaches. It is NOT OK to bring harm to your teammates or competitors or impede their ability to compete fairly. Drugs and other forms of cheating are shortcuts that serve only vanity. When you cheat you show disrespect to your sport, your competitors, all those that support you and most of all yourself.
“Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing.”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Responsibility: You are responsible for your own life. Teachers will teach, but they cannot make you learn. Your friends and teammates will support you, but only if you support them as well. Parents will do all they can to help you, but they are human and they will sometimes make mistakes, forget, or become overwhelmed so you have to help them help you and you have to ask for help when you need it. Coaches will help advise you on how to train and race, but you are the one that has to put in the hard work and try to execute on your plans.
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Balance: It is not healthy or beneficial to devote yourself 100% to any one thing and that thing alone. Those that do so will not be successful in bike racing or in life. Cycling may be a high priority in your life but you must also cultivate other interests and participate in other activities. Just as it is important to exercise your body, it is important to exercise your mind and also to cultivate personal relationships. Leave time not only to complete your school work but also time to explore yourself, pursue other interests and to give support all of those that you receive support from. You will not always have a perfect balance in your life. There are many times when you must sacrifice a little balance in order to be great, but this is not sustainable.
“You can’t have too much of everything.” – Abdullah Ahmad Badawi