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!

The Tour de France so far.

I have been wanting to post a few things about the Tour de France ever since it started and continually give my thoughts and opinions as the race progresses, but I obviously haven’t been able to do it. Well, so far at least!

This year’s Tour just keeps getting more and more exciting and I’m sure most of us are all on the edge of our seats every night (or most nights at least) keeping track of how the race progresses! The first week was just marred by lots and lots of crashes, enough to make it look ridiculous! Just to make it clear, it’s not that these pros are lousy in handling their bike, it’s just that because the GC was not as settled as it used to be with a prologue, as well as every rider trying to get into a breakaway or be at the front to try to win a stage, that everyone’s nervous and all fighting for the first quarter of the peloton every single minute. Factor in the wind, GC teams trying to bring their leaders up towards the front, and loads of fans makes things even more dangerous. Also, one important thing to note is that these guys have to be desperate to fight for their positions, because this is their “rice bowl”. You can’t just back off when someone touches you, otherwise you’re never gonna be in contention for a stage win at the very least.

Of course, there were just freak accidents, like the one Flecha and Hoogerland were involved in. That was just plain nonsense on the part of the driver.

Notable wins go to the 2 Norwegians, Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen! These 2 norwegians are crazy strong and canny! They’ve already won 4 stages out of 18 stages, that’s a really good winning percentage!

Also not forgetting the Philippe Gilbert, the rider who just has so much panache, power, and cunningness!! I just love his attitude!

If there was an award for the most consistent performer of the Tour de France, I’m sure that Cadel Evans would be the one to get it! It’s just amazing how consistent he is, not just this year, but for the past few years the very least! He looks poised to take his first ever Tour de France victory, as if winning stages weren’t enough. Actually, no, it’s not enough for him!

Stage 18 has been quite a nail – biting stage, especially towards the finale! Andy Schleck went really early – 60 plus km out and no one wanted (or could) close the gap on him … Till Cadel decided enough was enough and stormed furiously on the pedals. It’s quite sad to see him do all the work, but if you watch the finale, everyone was just dropping off his wheel save a few.

Definitely a man of pure grit and determination. Hard man.

Another hard man? Thomas Voeckler! This man might just be the definition of not only pure grit and determination, but also pain and suffering! My favorite to win this Tour is Cadel, but looking at the way Voeckler is going, I sure do hope he gets a podium finish at least!

Keeping my fingers crossed for Cadel Evans as they head into the final mountain stage tomorrow!

If Cadel’s able to stick with all the main GC contenders and hammer his guts out on the next day’s time trial, I’m pretty sure he’ll be in the yellow jersey!!!

P.S: My opinion of Andy Schleck dropped when he started complaining about the descents and how people only wanted to watch races won on uphills, rather than downhills. That was complete nonsense to me, because I feel that the winner of the Tour de France, arguably the world’s biggest race, should be skillful in both up and down! Removing descents and making races just flat and up is making them unfair and unspectacular. Of course, they have to be within reason …

I’m interested to know what you think! Comment here or on facebook!