Mental strength: The willingness to suffer

Shut up legs!

So you’ve got the highest VO2max values in the world …

Your LT values are through the roof …

You’ve got the latest, super – light, fastest looking bike around …

You’re decked out in top – notch gear … from your helmet to your shoes …

You show up at the start line and a wave of whispers go through the rest of the peloton.

BUT. If you ain’t willing to suffer, there’s no way you’re gonna win this race.

One of the beauties of cycling is suffering. That’s right, S-U-F-F-E-R-I-N-G. And if you don’t have a hard man mentality or a mind willing to suffer, you’re not going to succeed in this sport, win a race, or let alone hang on to your local group ride.

You often hear quotes turned cliches like “mind over matter” … “it’s not about the bike” … and cliches being cliches, you often start to doubt them or filter them off in your mind thinking that it’s just a whole lot of nonsense and “macho-ism”.

But think about it, it ain’t nonsense. Just ask any serious elite cyclist or professional, and they’ll all tell you the same thing, that if you aren’t willing to suffer on your bike and sacrifice a bit of comfort and trade it for the hardship cycling has to offer, you aren’t gonna improve.

Personally, I’ve had many days where I’d to psych myself up and drag myself to get onto the bike, especially in bad weather or from the lack of sleep. I’ve done intervals and pushed myself to the limit that I’m left gasping for air and trying to recover from the pain felt in the legs for minutes before I can start moving again. I’ve seen fellow teammates and cyclists push themselves till they fall onto the ground as soon as they cross the finish line. Most recently, I’ve attacked, cramped up straightaway, and just kept going despite still cramping and broke – away.

We all need to be able to say “SHUT UP LEGS!” and force our body to obey the mind if we truly want to improve, or win. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

Suffering is the essence of cycling, and pretty much for most things in life. If you learn how to suffer in cycling, you learn how to grit your teeth, put in the work required, and suffer in life. Vice versa.

P.S: For an introduction to the world of pain, do check out these videos at www.thesufferfest.com and if you still do not feel like you’ve suffered enough, let them know! They’ll make sure you get your money’s worth!

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