With the World 24 Solo Championships here in Australia this month it seems like a good time to talk about the freaks of hard. Everyone knows one. The mythically hard rider that seems to overcome anything and everything to pull out amazing rides time and time again. Injuries, bad weather, mechanicals. They never break! Nothing seems to stop them and they become the stuff of legends. No-one understands how they can do it. Well, I know the theory and on a good day or two I have put it in to practice. And so can you, once you know the tricks.
So you want to know the difference between them and those mere mortals (the rest of us) that pull the pin or find it too hard when the slightest thing turns against us? Well, it’s a quality the sports psychs call resilience and in a sport like cycling that glorifies and reveres suffering it is the unobtanium we all want. I am going to tell you what it means, and how to turn it on.
Resilience is being able to bounce back from setbacks in your performance. It is bought about by being able to remain focused and positive despite those setbacks and it is THE crucial element to mentally being a hard ass. [quote_center]It is cycling’s holy grail – the teaspoon of cement; the HTFU secret ingredient.[/quote_center]
I have your attention now right? So here is the deal. Staying tough is about being able to make bad situations three things. Temporary, Specific and External. Temporary is about thinking it will end, and you will get an opportunity to get over it. Specific is about making the effect narrow. External is about making it not your fault. If you want to be a freaking superhero that can cruise the apocalypse and have a good day, then you do the same tricks with good things; but these we make Permanent, Global and Internal.
Let me give you an example of a setback and how we can change our perception for better results.
A 24 hour solo rider is 9 hours into their race and 2 minutes ahead of their competition when they have a puncture, losing 9 minutes and their first place position.
Our pessimistic rider, who will soon be home sulking on the couch, says to themselves. ‘That’s the entire race gone then. There is no way I can make up 7 minutes in one lap. I just can’t ride the rocks on this course without puncturing. I am probably going to get more because I am tired and sloppy. I can’t win, I might as well forget about it.’ Before they know it – they have made a setback Permanent, Global and Internal – which creates the perception it cannot be overcome and all is already lost. There is no way this rider will finish.
Our hardest woman you know rider has a different take. She instead says ‘it is just one lap, I have 15 hours to make it up. It’s unlucky for me to get a puncture, once I am past this one it is really unlikely I will get another. It’s not anything I did, I am doing fine. This course is rocky and it is hard not to get caught at least once, there’s a good chance my competition will have one too. If I can change it as smoothly as I can and just get rolling again I have a good chance. Let’s see if I can! I got in front once so I know how, I will do it again. She forgets about the puncture and rides on to complete the race.
As you can see – the same event viewed from different perspectives can lead to a very different outcome. Try it. You will definitely notice your hard quotient increases. Once you get this mastered, then you can begin to tweak the positive results to build confidence and strength. We’ll take a look at that in Part two.
Rubber side down!